The five senses have five dimensions in the universe. We can classify the entire universe into five elements with their corresponding functions:

  1. ​Smell and the earth element.
  2. ​Taste (tongue) and the water element.
  3. ​Touch and the air element.
  4. Sound and the ether element.
  5. ​Shapes and forms and the fire element (light or fire it’s all the same).

Is there any sixth beyond this in the world? No, there are only the five elements, the five senses, the five dimensions. Each of these five elements is present in one another in a very small and subtle way. The world, the universe is, of course, made up of five elements; so also this body and this mind.

Our mind is made up of five subtle elements. And it’s a natural law that they take turns to dominate. For some time one, then the other dominates, then the third, fourth and fifth dominates. They take turns dominating. Nothing remains dominant forever. The rain comes. You can’t stop the rain. The wind blows. You can’t stop the wind. The sun shines. You can’t stop the sun. It is all ‘happening’. And they have a subtle control on the mind. These five elements also dominate the mind, each causing different moods and sensations to come up. It’s very interesting. It is such precious knowledge!

There are five main types of sensations and moods that arise. One is the sensation or feeling of consolidation, of heaviness – earth element. Another is the fiery feeling or feverishness – the fire element. Movement or wanting to run away and go somewhere – the air element is dominant. A lot of anger, tightness or a burning sensation – the fire element is dominant. A feeling of togetherness, a feeling of consolidation, oneness, a flowing and floating feeling – the water element is reigning. Fear, love, discomfort and total comfort – the ether element.

The different elements dominate, and create such different sensations, feelings, emotions and actions in the body. A person can be sitting very quietly but the moment the air element starts dominating he cannot do so! He starts moving his hands and body, getting up and moving around here and there aimlessly. Some people go on moving or shaking their hands and legs. Have you seen people sitting and shaking their head? The air element is dominating their system. They are overtaken by the air element. You may be sitting quietly when somebody walks into your room, and immediately fire element starts dominating. It comes right from within your head, and you want to shout at them! What happened? The fire element was dominating them. When they came in, it affected you. You were ready and fire element began dominating. You found yourself getting very angry and also, later, wondering why you did it. But you were taken totally by surprise by the fire element! Ether element – you walk into a place of meditation and there is ākāsha, there is space. Immediately you feel spaced out. What happened? The ether element – space is dawning or dominant.

We get carried away by all these elements when we identify ourselves with them. You shouted angrily, and then you regretted it. You identified with it. ‘Oh, I feel so heavy. I shouldn’t be feeling like this. I have to get rid of it.’ You have identified yourself both with the state of the body and the mind. These things are the features in the silence program. The more you go into the silence program, several times, the more will you be able to appreciate this. In silence, you can very clearly observe this happening.

Na prithvī na jalam na agnirna vāyurdyaurna vā bhavān.

You are none of these five elements. And know that none of the elements stay all the time. If you observe, they stay for the time that have to stay and then vanish; they change. But if you are ignorant of this, then a particular element can continue for a long period of time, because you don’t let it go. You try to hold them back. That is bondage.

In fact, nothing is binding you. You are binding something that is moving! The irony of it is that the elements are not binding you; you are binding them! A fly is trying to get out of your room, and you are holding on to it. You are shutting the door! Something wants to escape but you don’t want it to. You are trying to control it. You are binding them. In fact it’s the other way round.

Ēsḥām sākshiṇamātmānam chidrūpam viddhi muktayē.

There is freedom when you realize that you are just a witness to all that is happening. If you could just see that all the states of the mind are temporary.

Chidrūpam viddhi muktayē.

You are just the pure consciousness untouched and unstained by any event or any happening; pure like space. When this becomes well-founded in you, then you are totally liberated. And when is this possible? Right now!

Excerpts from Gurudev’s commentary on Ashtavakra Gita. You can buy the e-book from Amazon.