The Four Great Elements

Gotama thought things were made of tiny 'lights' (rather like quantum mechanics), not made of permanent, unchanging elements. The Four Great Elements are qualities used to describe physical things; they are not a primitive chemistry. These elements can also be used to categorise parts of the body.

Like the six senses, they can be used in meditation.

See also the six senses.


  1. The earth element describes solidity, heaviness, etc. For instance, the bones.
  2. The water element describes liquidity clinging, etc. For instance the blood.
  3. The wind element describes energy and motion, movement and expansion. For instance, the heart, lungs and pulses (because they appear to move).
  4. The fire element describes warmth, energy.

Parts of the Body

  1. The Earth elements of the body are the organs, tissues, and bones.
  2. The Water elements are the bodily fluids blood, urine, semen.
  3. The Fire element is the body's temperature
  4. The Air (or Wind) elements are, for example, the air in the lungs, stomach and bowel gasses.

When seeing the body as the four elements, you may see it as essentially the same the elements in the physical world. For example, the bones are likened to any solid thing, like a stone. The body is not the self, or mine. It is the same as the other physical objects. So the organs are the same, physically, as clay or any other example of the earth element.