It has often been said that much of our spiritual journey is an attempt to tame the ‘monkey mind’, as the mind is often compared with the actions of a monkey-jumping from one thing to another. It would be true to say that the serious spiritual work does not begin until one has tamed the ‘monkey mind’, at least to some degree.
But often little thought is given to the relationship of the elements within the field of the mind as often we are focused on what we perceive to be the highest teaching or essence of Divinity; yet, by understanding the elements within the mind one can actually come closer toward their goal of the highest teaching or essence of Divinity.
To grow in spiritual realization one must realize that the elements have a higher (para) and lower (apara) manifestation within the mind; with the key being to cultivate the higher and reduce the lower manifestation of the elements. For the purposes of this study, para could be compared to harmonious and apara to disharmony. Likewise, one must realize that the mind consists of multiple layers as well and has a complex relationship with the elements.
The elements and their Sanskrit names are:
The earth element in its higher form (para) provides stability within the mind, providing a firm groundedness to the mind. It is in the manifestation of the earth element that a grounded clarity is present within the mind. This can manifest as consistent thought as well, as opposed to scattered thought. In its lower (apara) form, the earth manifests as inflexibility, stubbornness, ‘standing ones ground’, immovability, there is little reason, purpose or logic to the position that one takes. At this point the mind has become dogmatic, rigid, and inflexible.
The water element within the mind is strongly associated with emotions. Water teaches one to flow with the issues of life. In its para manifestation, the mind flows around obstacles. Providing a gentle flowing to the energis of the mind and ability to problem solve. In the apara manifestation, the water in the mind is more akin to rapids. There is a lack of harmony or gentle flow, rather the mind is chaotic, turbulent and conflicted. The mind become filled with swirling eddies of currents, undertows and disharmony.
The fire of the mind can bring about great transformation. In its higher form, it is digestion of experience and digestion of information. Generally, society values this element in the mind the most, as it is associated with education. The fire of the mind can cut through the illusion of the world.
In its apara manifestation, the mind becomes too cutting, often unleashed against those around us, easily cutting them into pieces. This element is strongly associated with sensory input, which is a type of food for the mind. In working with this element, it is important to embrace higher foods to strengthen the transformative qualities of the minds fire.
The air of the mind is the movement of the mind and electrical energy in a sense. Certainly there would be a vital energy to this element within the mind as well. In its para manifestation, the mind has good energy, understanding, comprehension, and quickness. These qualities would manifest in a stable form of mind, otherwise the lack of these qualities would be the apara manifestation. For example, if the mind was too quick, ungrounded and could not stay focused, this could be the apara manifestation of the air element.
The akasha or space of the mind is the expansiveness of the mind itself, as the mind is beyond our physical being. One way of looking at the akashic mind, would be to see it traveling in all four directions, though the truer reality is that the mind is in all directions and does not actually travel. When people astral travel, they don’t actually leave their body, though many use this visual tool to aid in astral travel, rather they travel throughout the conscious field of the mind. The para manifestation of akasha would the stillness of the mind.
The elements of the mind have a more complex relationship then presented here. As an example, if air was too high in the mind, the addition of the earth element within the mind can bring the stability of the earth to the airy movement of the mind. If one had too much air in their mind and they tended to over think, be too mental or worry too much by increasing the earth element stability would be increased in the mind.
By Yogi Baba Prem Yogacharya, Vedavisharada