The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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akasha - 虚空・空 (Skt; Jpn koku or ku )
Space. One of the five elements or six elements. Akasha indicates the physical space where dharmas, or things and phenomena, exist. It is characterized as unhindered and without obstacles.
Akasha (or Akash, Ākāśa, आकाश) is the Sanskrit word meaning "aether" in both its elemental and metaphysical senses.
Meaning in different philosophies
In Hinduism, Akasha means the basis and essence of all things in the material world; the first material element created from the astral world (Air, Fire, Water, Earth are the other four in sequence). It is one of the Panchamahabhuta, or "five elements"; its main characteristic is Shabda (sound). In Sanskrit the word means "space", the very first element in creation. In Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati, and many other Indian languages, the meaning of Akasha has been accepted as sky.
The Nyaya and Vaisheshika schools of Hindu philosophy state that Akasha or aether is the fifth physical substance, which is the substratum of the quality of sound. It is the One, Eternal, and All Pervading physical substance, which is imperceptible.
According to the Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy, Akasha is one of the five Mahābhūtas (grand physical elements) having the specific property of sound.
Akasha is space in the Jain conception of the cosmos. It falls into the Ajiva category, divided into two parts: Loakasa (the part occupied by the material world) and Aloakasa (the space beyond it which is absolutely void and empty). In Loakasa the universe forms only a part. Akasha is that which gives space and makes room for the existence of all extended substances.
In Buddhist phenomenology Akasha is divided into Skandha, Desa, and Pradesa.
The Vaibhashika, an early school of Buddhist philosophy, hold Akasha's existence to be real.
Ākāsa is identified as the first arūpa jhāna (arūpajhāna), but usually translates as "infinite space."
Adherents of the heterodox Cārvāka or Lokāyata philosophy of India hold that this world is made of four elements only. They exclude the fifth element, Akasha, because its existence cannot be perceived.
The Western religious philosophy called Theosophy has popularized the word Akasha as an adjective, through the use of the term "Akashic records" or "Akashic library", referring to an ethereal compendium of all knowledge and history.
It is believed by many modern Pagans that the Akasha, Spirit, is the Fifth Element. Scott Cunningham describes the Akasha as the spiritual force that Earth, Air, Fire, and Water descend from. Some also believe that the combination of the four elements make up that which is Akasha, and that Akasha exists in every living creature in existence; without Akasha, there is no spirit, no soul, no magic.
The Five Elements are worked with to create positive changes on earth. This is done through meditation to bring about beneficial changes in one’s life. Akashan spirituality is holistic.
Practitioners learn to maintain mental and physical health through meditation, exercise, ritual and diet. They are expected to have a profound commitment to their life path.
The upward point of the pentacle, the pentagram or five pointed star within a circle, represents Akasha. The others represent Fire, Earth, Air and Water. While Earth is considered "north"; Fire is "south"; air is "east"; Water is "west", while Akasha is "center".