The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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The Wind Element
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The Wind Element represents the "Moving" and "Changing" energy of the Karma Family in our existence. Our tendency to Act, Create, and Change is our expression of the Wind element. From this point of view, even thinking and feeling are considered action, because they involve a movement from the position of stillness. To meditate on the wind element, one could meditate outside in a place where there was occasional wind or watch the movement of a candle flame. We could also use a rotating fan to give the same environment.
We experience the wind energy internally as all of the movements of energy or vibration within our bodies. Modern science would call them hormonal secretions, blood circulation, breathing, and nerve impulses, as well as changes in muscle tensions. Any movement of energies inside our body/mind, including the sensations of thinking and feeling, digesting, excreting, and orgasm count as our internal wind element.
We may notice that the Wind also represents force and pressure. We connect to it through our breath. Wind is the result of changes in atmospheric pressure. We feel it as changes to pressure against our bodies. Though it is invisible, we see it through the movement of forms. By moving forms it creates sound (rustling leaves) and it is by changes in the position of Forms that we notice this existence of wind. The best more modern example of this is when people perform the wave during sporting events in an arena. We notice a rise and fall like a wave as each group of people stand up and then sit back down again. We see the leaves of one tree move forward and back and then the next tree, etc, etc, and this is one way that we see the wind. The speed of movement of the leaves and the degree of bending of the trees helps us determine the actual force of the wind.
Wind is involved in interactions. If we eliminate the divisions of persons and objects in our perceptions for a moment, it is possible to see how there are changes in one object or being which then cause changes in another object or being. It is like the effect of ripples in a pond when a stone is dropped in the water. These changes can be strong and severe or mild and tranquil. They can be energizing or calming as energy either builds up or dissipates. It becomes like a flow like waves on the ocean, or a like dance of motion and force.
The Wind is like a caress, a touch. It can also be like a slap or a punch. When we feel the energy, we can feel it build up, crescendo, and then dissipate. It's almost as if we feel it approach, arrive, and disappear. It doesn't really do this, because all of these sensations occur within our own bodies as part of what arises with our perceptions of the "outside" world.
It absorbs moisture and dries. In the movement of forms, it also picks up and moves the other 5 elements. We've noticed how it changes the position of solid objects (the Earth element). It also redistributes moisture (Water). It moves Heat (Fire) from one area to the next, as can be seen in ocean currents and the Water element as well and not just in the air currents of the Wind element. Also, by moving objects from one position to another, it is also moving the spaces (Space element) from one place to another.
It is not constant. The wind does not blow all the time and it does not blow at the same force continually. Sometimes it blows really strongly and sometimes very gently. Sometimes there is no wind at all. Wind is very unstable and constantly changing. It requires the solidity of the other elements to anchor, block, or direct it.
It has no boundaries. Air currents move the water to create waves. Trees bend and push back against the wind. Friction with solidity slows it down. It's like a river, it is easier to direct it and difficult to stop it completely. Even when we die, our energy doesn't stop. It leaves our body and then disappears to recombine with other energy. Bodies decompose, like a slow version of a log being consumed by a fire. The energy then merges with the earth and the air to be recombined later on, perhaps being absorbed by the roots of a plant or tree. The energy then moves into the fruit and is consumed by a person or animal and converted into animal tissue again.
As with all elements, the Buddha has said in many sutras, "Whether it is the internal wind element or the external wind element, they are just the wind element. One should understand with direct wisdom, "This is not mine, This is not me, This is not my self." We often make the mistake of over-identifying with something that is basically an ever-changing process.
When we recognize that these impulses and movements, internal or external, are movements that arise based on forces and energies from the past, and that we have a choice about what we do with the experience of these impulses, then we have a better chance at directing our energies towards peace and joy instead of frustration and dissatisfaction.