The Importance of the Element of Earth
What Does Earth Element Mean?
Sadhguru: In Yogic terms, when we say “Earth,” we not only refer to the planet but also to the most fundamental element in the making of our physical selves, and of everything for that matter. Our physical self is essentially a combination of earth, water, air, fire, and akasha. Earth is the most basic and stable of the five elements. When it comes to the energy system and chakras, the earth element is associated with the muladhara. It is the basis that all the other elements build on. Though the element of earth is part of physical matter around us too, it is best we start to perceive and understand it from the basis of our lives, because most people only really experience their own body and mind. Knowing and experiencing the element of earth from within is part of the Yogic process.
Whenever you eat food, you swallow a part of the earth. Essentially, we take in a part of the planet to sustain the body. Consequently, how we treat the planet is how we treat our own bodies. It is all the more important to look at what role the element of earth plays in our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. If the element of earth does not cooperate with you, you are not getting anywhere. If the body does not cooperate, whatever aspirations you may have, you will not get very far. Unless you are completely detached from the physical, it will determine just about everything in your life.
The essence of your physicality is formed by the earth that you have taken in. Earth is the core physicality of who you are but it is getting in the way. You can easily transform water and air. Fire takes some effort but it is not really in the way. Just getting that little earth out of your way is complex because you are identified with it and you are trying to change it. What is a stepping stone has become a hurdle now because you are identified with it.
The Element of Earth - The Real Mother
There is a deep understanding in the Indian culture that the earth is the mother. We are born of the earth. Our biological mother is only a representative who is also born of the same earth. The real mother is the soil that we carry as our bodies. The very body that you carry right now has been millions of bodies in the past – insect, snake, cow, monkey, and human being. I am not talking about the evolutionary process, but the soil going through every form of life. Soil is not a commodity. It is older, wiser, and far more intelligent and capable than you. It is a far bigger process than you are as a person.
But these days, we have started referring to soil as “dirt.” If children put their hands in the soil, today’s mothers will say, “Your hands are dirty.” They are not dirty – you are touching the source of your life. When you mistake the source of your life for dirt, the chances of you putting your roots down, growing to your full capability and potential, and seeing flower and fruit are remote.
If a tree thought, “My roots are getting dirty,” there would be neither flower nor fruit. A tree understands that when it sinks its roots into the earth, this is the source of its life. But we – the seemingly most intelligent species on the planet – are not able to get this. This is a source of many problems that human beings are experiencing right now. Forget about enlightenment and seeing other dimensions of life, human beings are not even able to be healthy, which every other creature is able to do quite effortlessly. This is because they do not sink their roots into the earth. Somewhere in their minds, it has become dirt.
Here is a poem penned by Sadhguru on Soil.
The Soil that you walk upon
The Soil that you treat as Dirt
Is the Magical material
that turns into leaf, flower
and fruit. All that you
know as life was at one time
held in the eternal pregnancy
of the Sacred Soil. Mother
to some and Dirt to some other.
But the Sacred Source of all
The life encasing cage
of the body is but the Soil.
Under farmer’s Till, potter’s
Wheel, above all the Divine Will
It turns into Magical Mill
Mastering the Earth Element
Bhuta Shuddhi is a way of taking charge of one’s body, to shape it the way you want, so that it functions the way you want. But at the same time, becoming super capable with the body can also be trouble for some people. They get more identified with the body because it is functioning so beautifully. So Bhuta Shuddhi comes with a certain balance, mastery and dispassion. All practices are devised to keep the body very fit and efficient, and yet keep a certain distance from it. The practices of earth are specially designed in such a way that they are never really taught without a proper initiation, because dispassion should be the first step before competence, otherwise people will get more entangled. Particularly practices concerned with earth are very strongly governed like this because if your body becomes super capable, if competence comes without that distance, you may become more ignorant than the way you are right now.
You must get the dirt out of the way, but at the same time, you cannot exist without it, so you have to make it more competent and conscious. The same clay can be made into so many things. You can make a ball and throw it at someone or you can make a pot out of it. You can make just a pot to hold water or you can make a very beautiful porcelain out of it. You can do many things depending upon how many processes you are willing to do to that piece of clay. You are also made of the same material. Depending upon how many processes you are put through, accordingly the quality of this keeps on rising. If the quality of it rises without the necessary distance, it will become an entanglement. Practices concerning earth element are taught in a particular way so that this balance of competence and space happens. Both should happen together.