There’s a creation story that comes from the Samkhya philosophy – one that describes how the material elements came to be. This story informs both Yoga and Āyurveda. The simple version goes something like this:
First there was unified consciousness, puruṣa.
From the cosmic vibration oṁ came ETHER or SPACE, the background or void in which other things could exist.
The ether began to move and there was AIR.
As the air moved and created friction, there was light and FIRE.
Fire transformed and liquefied what was there and then there was WATER.
Particles of water became solid. That was EARTH.
The story is Āyurveda’s foundation for many of its ideas about how we are in the world. It is from this story that we can begin to understand the doṣas (vāta, pitta, kapha) and why something we eat or the season of the year has an effect on how we feel and what kinds of problems or emotions come to the forefront of our experience. But the thing that strikes me today is the possibility that this is not only a story of the material and manifest world at the beginning of time, or even how the world around us can affect us. This is a story that describes how each of us can create and make something manifest in our lives now.
So here it is…
Five essential elements needed to make something wonderful manifest in your life:
- We need space. If our days, minds, or hearts are completely full, there won’t be the necessary space to start something new. If I am convinced that my partner is totally wrong, and there’s no space in my heart and mind to hold the possibility that he could be right in some way, then it’s not going to be productive. If I want to begin a daily yoga practice, but my schedule is packed, then it’s not going to happen. So first, we need space.
- Once we have the space, we take action. The way in which we feel the air or notice it’s presence in the world is when it moves and we feel it across our skin or we see it blow the leaves in the tree. Movement in some direction is required in order to get to the next step. Even if the first attempts aren’t in the perfect direction, you’ll find it out by trying and sticking with it.
- From movement comes fire: light of knowing and the process of transformation. Fire is represented in our world with the sun, which gives us light and makes it possible to see. We can also think of the campfire, which transforms the logs into fuel and leaves them different then they were before. Transformation is possible because of the element of fire.
- From this transformation comes a flow. Water carries something from one place to another. Think of the fluids circulating in the body or the movement of the waves in the ocean. Think of the minerals that build up around the kitchen faucet and become hard and solid. The solid stuff is carried in the water.
- When something is in us, and the thing we desire is part of us and of our lives, then this is earth. It’s solid. It has some weight. It’s the minerals depositing themselves inside of us becoming our new habit, our new way of talking to our partner, our better way of caring for ourselves.
Part of the richness of this creation story is the map it lays out for bringing something wonderful into our lives. Even though this is presented as a list of one through five, what we really should have is 1a. 1b. 1c. etc, because all the elements, all the things we need in order for something to come to be in our lives, comes from space/ether. Space moves and there’s air. Air, which is made up of ether, is the fire. The fire becomes the water. The water becomes the earth, but it is all made up of the #1 essential element: space! Space is where it all begins.