Thursday, August 27, 2015

Four Elements

My prison penpal asked about the four elements common among cultures all over the world. I used an example to explain.

One of my favorite things to do with my teacher is grappling, wrestling to immobilize the other on the ground. I'm a beginner, but I enjoy the whole-body challenge of moving like Water. Water feels soft; it always finds its lowest point through the smallest opening, sometimes even rising by adhesion through a bit of fabric. The smallest hole can empty a vessel of water, even break it in the process. (It feels soft, but is strong.) So in grappling I am learning to be soft and liquid, seeking any open space at every moment.

Simultaneously an opponent seeks to restrict my movements, so often I have to be like Earth, committing to a motion to escape. This can feel scary when I don't want to hurt my partner or myself, and too much Earth can get me stuck opposing a closed way. That wastes energy, Fire, and leaves me exhausted and weak.

Air can help me: a feeling of spaciousness in focus. Usually when I am pinned down it's uncomfortable and hard to breathe, but if I give up panic and slow my struggle, I conserve Fire for making that small "hole" when it becomes possible.

To succeed, in grappling or living in general, one must use all four elements skillfully and interchangeably. They are, after all, a construct in the oneness of being. When one is able to be as much a part of the present situation as a wave is part of the ocean, skillful action flows easily from being, without division into elements.

May all creatures find ease in every situation.