In this article I talk about the core teaching of Hermetic spirituality. That core teaching being the science of the four elements. The Spirit/Akasha not technically being an element though I will say five elements from time to time. I will show the connection between ancient and contemporary schools and why the correspondence is very important.
Being that my focus in spirituality is in the Hermetic Sciences, my study includes all schools of thought, but especially schools which are in direct correspondence to the ancient source. Such studies have shown me several that operate, though in disguise. Sufism is one of them. Yoga is another. For now, I call your attention to a forces in the Vajrayana school of Buddhism known as five Dhyani Buddhas(as seen in the image of this post). These five beings are known as the Tathagatas(The Immortal one), each corresponding with one of the five elements. Buddhism is one of the most eminent mystery schools of antiquity still existing unscathed to this day. Now, you may be scratching your head thinking of why I just identified Buddhism as a mystery school, when in every other case it is identified as either a religion, philosophy, or even more often, “a way of life”. Yet, that it has existed in this current age with the identification of religion only speaks to its inherent cloaking ability, due to the genuine adepthood of its protectors, as well as the effectiveness of its system of transmission. Buddhism teaches meditation as its main method of achieving the knowledge and experience of perfection, which to them is the dissolution of all that which is illusory, the envodiment of all that which is eternal, and that final realization being the end of the personal ego, thus the end of reincarnation. This root spiritual aim sought for throughout various schools of Buddhism should be familiar to the student of comparative religions. It is a echoed in the gnostic scriptures. And it’s most ancient correspondent is Egypt, where in the book of Coming Forth By Day(Aka Book of The Dead) is aimed for the exact same result. Those abstract rituals, philosophies, sciences and arts by the priests of Kem were in the Greek and Roman times readvised, simplified, and adapted to those times being faced by the initiates and adepts, and has now been officially known as Hermetism for at least 2300 years. The central idea is that man in his essence is divine, yet largely ignorant of this because of the creation of duality within the mind, which manifested as various subtle dimensions within the consciousness, matter being the lowest with its generator called the brain being the cause of all manner of delusion, due to its personalization of physical phenomena through the five sensations. But, ironic as it is, it is through the harmonization of these five senses which are in them selves expressions of the five elements, that man brings himself back into a position of living in the experience of his divine nature. With that brief reminder of the Hermetic work, I call your attention back to Buddhism. I say Buddhism is not a religion because it does not promulgate a stiff theology which places man outside of the divine. For instance, when something is forbidden in Christianity, it is because according to “God’s law”, it is “wrong”. When something is forbidden in Buddhism, it is because, according to practice, it is ‘unsuitable to spiritual progress’. These are two vastly different attitudes towards restriction. One is based on superstition, the other, on science. When existence is broken down into parts, it’s mystery is unveiled and coveters of secrets can no longer cast a shadow of ignorance over misguided minds. Since Buddhism gives instructions to the student on how to cultivate psychophysical knowledge of the self for the purpose of becoming a Buddha, an illumined being, it is not in anyway a religion, but a Spiritual Training Course that should be given its proper legacy as High Magic and Theurgy. Trusting that you now understand my demonstration of the direct relationship between hermetic science and Buddhism, I enter the main course of this essay: The Four Primordial elements. I’m not going to go into the complete science of these expressions as that would require an entire book. However, I’m going to show the importance of their incorporation in spiritual practice, for attaining internal and external balance, which cures all disease, both physical and mental. Before I begin however I want to say what I mean when I use the word Magic. From the hermetic view, it may be simplified as: the Mental act of expressing or impressing through one’s divine nature (see definitions of Theurgy and Thaumaturgy). In this definition magic is not limited to one or a few processes, but any process that has to do with the consciousness being directly engaged by man from his I Am, or Spirit. The four elements are the primordial forces which inspired the Indian sages to channel a psychophysical diagram called the Chakras. Each have a color, organ, power and weakness correspondence. Interestingly, the Tibetan Buddhist don’t use the seven chakras but the five which correspond with the five elements. In Tibetan buddhism, The five elements are expressed through the deities called the Tathagatas. In this system, practices are advised for the realization of the deities qualities in the practitioner. For instance, Amitahba is the tathagata of Fire, his color is red, his sense is sight, his powers range from meditation, clairvoyance, will, concentration, and mastery over electricity. He also has a mudra and symbol. With all the correspondences known to the practitioner, practice begins by incorporating the various parts to the whole, physical exercise, breath work, stillness, visualization, and uniting the visualization with energy being conjured by the magnetic and electric forces of the mind. The same procedure would be followed with each elemental deity until the qualities are realized within the magician and a balance of the higher and lower forces comes into expression. Often times these teachings are given partially in religions or other systems without informing the practitioner that they are based on elemental correspondence. What I like about Buddhism is that it teaches the harmonization of all elements not just one or two. The ascetic meditating in the cave for instance may appear to be a master to the uninitiated, yet, he avoids the challenges he fears will arise from engaging with society. He fears the effects of certain elements that he has not yet balanced within himself. The phrase be in the world not of the world is appropriate here, as what it means to the mature student is “be mindful towards your existence”. To be mindful means to be patient and observant, as only then can you know that you are beyond all phenomena and have nothing to fear. You especially have nothing to fear when you become aware of the fact that the initiates and adepts from the past have left behind various information on HOW to remember who and what you are. The elements are vital to our day-to-day life. A healthy cultivation of fire in the personality gives life to inspiration, vitality, and creativity. Of water, empathy towards others, calmness in difficult situations, patience. Of air, peace amongst others, thoughts directed towards growth and advancement, ability to comprehend. And of Earth, control over ones personal economy, experiencing prosperity, having a support system. Lack in any of these scenarios is due to an imbalance of elemental force in the psyche. The result of having spirit operative in our psyche will impact all the elements. You will know, because it will seem as if things are just happening in your favor. This type of magic you see in the life of Adepts of mystic traditions like Yoga and Sufism. In a Turkish television series on a judges path towards Sufism, the local Sheikh is shown throughout the series as constantly being taken very well care of. This is because of his direct relationship with source energy. In my view, from the magic standpoint, working with the elements is the most simple yet effective method of reaching illumination and cutting the ties which bind the soul in dense matter. And I’m not the only one who sees it that way. The ancient students of Tehuti who scribed the Emerald Tablet stated in the very first paragraph of that manuscript: “as all things were made from the meditation of one mind, so all things are born of one thing. It’s father is the sun(fire) it’s mother is the moon(water). The wind(air) carries it in its womb, the (earth) is it’s nursemaid. It is the creator of all works of wonder in the world.” The mind drives the elements but the spirit or Akasha activates them. You may find greater resonance with working through the Chakras however, but you can use one or the other or both simultaneously as they do not conflict. Either way the teaching is that harmonizing them not only organizes the mundane, but activates the sublime. ONLY practice will tell.
Further reading: Initiation into hermetics, Franz Bardon
The elemental equilibrium, Virgil
A master guide to meditation and spiritual growth, Roy Eugene Davis
Healing with form energy and light, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
Emerald Tablet, Hermès Trismigistus