Cosmology and Five Elements

At its most basic level, Chinese cosmology holds that the Universe is composed of three layers: Tian (Heaven), Di 地 (Earth), and Ren 人 (Human Beings). Tian and Di give birth to the Ten Thousand Things; among these, Ren is the most valuable treasure. Each of these three layers is composed of the Five Elements: Shui 水 (Water), Mu 木 (Wood), Huo 火 (Fire), Tu 土 (Earth), and Jin 金 (Metal).

The Five Elements are connected with Universal energies and thus reverberate within and between Tian, Di, and Ren. Human Beings are a microcosm within the Universal macrocosm, and our bodies reflect these Universal energies. For instance, the Five Zang or Yin organs (Heart, Liver, Spleen, Lung, and Kidney) are related to Earthly energy. The Six Fu or Yang organs (Small Intestine, Gall Bladder, Stomach, Large Intestine, Bladder, and Pericardium) are related to Heavenly energy. The energy of the Five Elements provides a medium for connecting Heaven, Earth, and the Human Being.

The Five Elements do not merely refer to Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. The Chinese word that is translated as “element” here actually means movement, change, or development. Each movement has its Yin and Yang aspect, and each should be in balance. In a balanced environment, one will live peacefully and feel fortunate.

The energies of the Five Elements are also reflected in the Five Planets: Mercury represents Water, Jupiter represents Wood, Mars represents Fire, Saturn represents Earth, and Venus represents Metal. These five planets combine with the Sun and the Moon to make the Qi Zheng or Seven Rulers.

The position of the Seven Rulers with respect to the 28 Chinese lunar houses determines all that has already happened as well as that which will come to pass. This ranges from events on the Earth, such as flood or famine, to national events, such as war or personal fortune or misfortune.

The 28 lunar houses are divided into four directions: East, West, North, and South. Each direction contains seven houses. The four directions plus the center are yet another reflection of the Five Elements. Each of the seven houses forms a Universal spiritual pattern.

What is this Universal spiritual pattern? In the East, it is the Blue-Green Dragon. In the West, it is the White Tiger. In the North, it is the Black Turtle and Snake. In the South, it is the Red Bird.