The Five Element Theory

A simple beginning to understanding Oneness

We live in a highly technological age where knowledge is growing exponentially. Our children do not picture life without a cell phone, a microwave oven or indoor plumbing. Children study science as a regular part of their curriculum; they do not question that travel to other planets is within the realm of possibility. We know that the training of medical doctors is primarily based on science. Within the history of the human race, modern medicine is relatively new. In terms of thinking about the interconnection of everything in the world, it would be difficult for us today to conceptualize how one would comprehend life in our earlier history. Understanding the nature of life, way back then was primitive by current standards. There was a time when the earth was considered to be flat. Today, concern about falling off the edge of the earth into the unknown seems foolish.

With this background information, let us consider the formulation and simple nature of the Five Element Theory, which developed in the Orient several centuries ago. The Five Element Theory is a conceptual model based on naked-eye observation. This theory represents five aspects of the world; five essences which represent the cycles of the earth. They speak to the developmental stages of life that are continuously recycling in the same pattern.

The basic factors of the creative cycle of life are:

  1. Wood – represents the birth phase of all growing matter.
  2. Fire – creates gases, the burned matter adding to the composition of Earth.
  3. Earth — in its maturing phase creates dirt and soil.
  4. Metal – earth in its decaying phase forms metal and all inorganic matter.
  5. Water – inorganic matter in its death/rebirth cycle creates moisture.

This five element creative cycle can be shown as a pentagram with a clockwise rotation. Internal in this pentagram is the control cycle. As an example: the water element controls the fire element, the fire element controls the metal element, etc. The creative cycle maintains its balance by the control cycle.

A good deal of Oriental thought and practice stresses the need for balance in all things, as expressed in the concept of Yin and Yang, which preceded the birth of Jesus. The theory of Yin and Yang encompasses everything in the universe. It is a representation of the dynamic balance of opposites and the processes of unfolding events and change. It is a unique way of viewing the world and the universe.

Everything contains Yin and Yang. They are two opposite but complementary energies that are interdependent. Some common examples are: tall and short, night and day, hot and cold. Humans are considered to be male or female. The Yin and Yang theory supports the idea that within a male there are female characteristics and vice versa. Therefore, the energies of male and female are complementary. In other words, you cannot have male without female any more than short can exist without tall. This is a foundational principle used in traditional Chinese medicine.

This simple, primitive theory formed a basis to understand the universe, our planet, and the human body in a unique way. It provided a predictable path to follow and led to solutions to correct imbalances in the human body. This basic theory evolved into a highly detailed and technical understanding of the body that did not require sophisticated technology. For example, the Oriental medical community did not use blood samples, but were able to come up with the same diagnoses as Western medicine practitioners. Just as chiropractors have gained credibility with the Western medical community, Oriental philosophies and practices have been steadily gaining credibility in the Western world. Acupuncture would be a good example; originally an Oriental practice, it is now increasingly accepted by the Western world and is used for a variety of diagnoses.

It is amazing to me that such a simple construct could open the door to revealing the inner working relationships of our planet and our bodies. The Five Element Theory evolved into a model that was used to understand the interconnected oneness nature of all living things, which is a concept known as Oneness. This evolution led to greater depths of knowledge which are holistic and useful.

By understanding the concept of Oneness, there are endless ways to engage with reality in a world that is alive and, therefore, constantly changing. There are practical implications of understanding oneness/wholeness: Everyone has choices to make. Wellness is related to wholeness or complete harmony. For example, a foot specialist who is focused on fixing your foot must be aware of the relationship between your foot and your total body. Short term fixes that do not address long-term or holistic solutions are not successful.

The same principle can be applied to social issues, such as that of war and peace. Addressing crime in our inner cities cannot be healed until the root causes are eliminated. Racism, poverty and a lack of opportunity are the issues that must be corrected. Putting people in jail is a Band-Aid to social unrest. World peace is not possible unless the core issues are satisfied. Appropriately addressing the real sources that create imbalance of any kind is the holistic path to a world that works for everyone.

What we have called God is the evolutionary drive of consciousness in the universe. – Marilyn Ferguson, The Agrarian Conspiracy