January 2015 Newsletter
The Four Elements - Earth, Water, Air and Fire
A few weeks on a clear Monday evening my four year old daughter stood in front of me, while staring at me with a serious expression on her face and repeated four words "Adama, Maim , Aveer , Ash". I held her in my arms, smiled and asked her to repeat it, and only then I've realized what she said – it was the four classical elements in Hebrew – Adama is Earth, Maim is Water, Aveer is Air ,Ash is Fire. The next day at the same time she did the same thing, so I was curious, is she a reincarnation of a stoic Greek Philosopher? I smiled, "sharpened" Occam's Razor and went with her to the living room. I found my elder daughter and my wife hooked to the screen watching reruns of the animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender”.
Trying to figure out what’s the fuss I sat down and watched and was surprised to recognized many spiritual and philosophical Asian concept, especially Buddhism and Taoism. The plot takes place in a world in a human civilization which is divided into four nations: the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. Each nation has a distinct society, wherein people known as "benders" have the ability to manipulate and control the element of their nation using the physical motions of martial arts. The show's creators based each bending style on an existing Chinese martial art. At any given time, only one person in the world is capable of bending all four elements: the Avatar, who serves as an international arbiter.The protagonist of the story is Aang a 12 year old child who is the current incarnation of the Avatar who must bring peace and unity to the world by ending the Fire Lord's war against the other three nations.
the past few weeks we actually asked each other “what is your
element” and it became a sort of a game - each one of us
chose an element and described it’s characteristics and had
to tell the other one why he chose that particular element and
Here’s a brief explanation about the classical four elements:
The four elements as a doctrine that explains the structure and the essence of matter and the world of phenomena were first explained in the fifth century BC by the preSocratic philosopher Empedocles. He called the four elements "roots". He claimed that these elements are indestructible and unchangeable and that the combinations between them create structural differences. According to Empedocles there are two forces that control all matter. These two forces are love and strife.
Love attracts the different forms of matter, while strife separates it. These two forces create variation and harmony in the universe, as attractive and repulsive forces. Similar to the Taoist Yin Yang concept, these two forces strengthen and weaken their position but neither force ever wholly disappears from the dominance of the other.
In the primeval order these two forces and the elements co-existed in a condition of rest and purity in the perfect form of The Sphere. In this original state the forces were dominated by Love while strife guarded the edges of the perfect sphere. Eventually the force of strife rose into dominance and dissolved the harmonious state of the primeval matter thus creating the world of phenomena with it's light and dark forces and what we perceive as a dualistic reality. These ideas were probably the basis for the Jewish mysticism –The kabbalah with the idea of the endless eternal light dwelling in a state of rest and inertness and the shattering of the sphere – Ha'klipa - Hebrew for "shell" creating the world of phenomena, light and darkness, good and evil.
According to Empedocles these forces dwell in every human, and as our souls gain knowledge through reincarnation we reach the eternal. The use of these ideas and recognizing our “own element is a powerful way of finding your way and your true nature.
And the question naturally raised is: What is your element?
Thank you for reading
With Great Love
David and Ka-Gold Team