I have started a cycle of lessons in class based around the five elements: earth, water, fire, air and space as explained by Samkhyan philosophy.
Samkhya is one of the six major philosophies that originated in India. It describes the full spectrum of human existence by revealing the basic elements that make up everything in the universe, including the components that make up the body, mind, and spirit. Samkhya names each element, teaches us its function, and shows us the relationship it has to all of the others.
Yoga takes the Samkhya philosophy into the realm of experience, starting from the gross or physical level, moving next to the subtler levels of mind and spirit, and then returning to the gross with a higher level of consciousness.
Samkhya states that the individual human being has 25 elements, or evolutes, that develop progressively out of one another.
I gave (what I hoped…) was a very simple overview of these elements in class.
My version, which was a bit like “Spot the Dog Learns Samkhyan Philosophy” went a bit like this….(and don’t worry there is not going to be a test…)
- First there was consciousness, from which evolved all of nature.
- All of nature is affected by the forces of passion and inertia.
- Somewhere in between these two forces is the experience of feeling balanced.
- Humanity evolved a higher mind or intellect.
- Humanity evolved the ego which connects us to the subtle elements (sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell) and to the gross elements (earth, water, fire , air and space).
- Humanity evolved a lower mind that connects us to the world via the organs of perception (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin) and also the organs of action (hands, feet, mouth, reproductive and excretory system).
So there you have it, Samkhya in a nutshell! If you are already lying in a darkened room with a wet flannel across your eyes, probably best not look at the diagram below….
..I did warn you!
We have started work on the earth element, and that will be our focus for the next couple of weeks. I PROMISE there will not be such a long philosophy lecture next week 🙂