Mystery of the Five Elements, pp. 155-156

Opening Remarks
Matter is composed of certain invisible forces that come together to weave forms. These are the five subtle elements that work together within every form. Sri Aurobindo now reveals to us the sequence and the process.

Etheric Space
At first was only an etheric Space:
Its huge vibrations circled round and round
Housing some unconceived initiative:
Upheld by a supreme original Breath
Expansion and contraction’s mystic act
Created touch and friction in the void,
Into abstract emptiness brought clash and clasp:
Parent of an expanding universe
In a matrix of disintegrating force,
By spending it conserved an endless sum.

At first a ground has to be laid down for creation to begin. This ground is called Space which is an endless extension of the original vibration or the first stir of creation. As ripples of sound spread farther and farther, Space continues to expand under this original impulsion. The Power or Force that has set this vibration of creation into motion is the original Force of the Divine termed as Breath or Mahaprana in ancient Indian mystic thought. This expansion and contraction creates friction between forward going and returning vibrations thereby giving birth to touch and the forces of attraction and repulsion that works within every atom. This expansion and the corresponding contraction releases and conserves energy indefinitely.

Viewless Fire
On the hearth of Space it kindled a viewless Fire
That, scattering worlds as one might scatter seeds,
Whirled out the luminous order of the stars.

This friction of vibrations and the release of energy gives birth to Fire that becomes the first nucleus for certain forces to come together as if by a centripetal force. These first forms are however unstable. They give birth to Light and the stars are born.

Ocean of electric Energy
An ocean of electric Energy
Formlessly formed its strange wave-particles
Constructing by their dance this solid scheme,
Its mightiness in the atom shut to rest;
Masses were forged or feigned and visible shapes;
Light flung the photon’s swift revealing spark
And showed, in the minuteness of its flash
Imaged, this cosmos of apparent things.

The Fire element with its heat and light gives rise to electro-magnetic forces that pervade space and manifest as waves as well as particles that will become the harbinger of more concrete forms. This tremendous energy then comes together in a dance of charged particles to weave atoms and molecules. Light then awakens the sight and builds the sense of solid forms where there is nothing but charges spinning in empty space!

Miracle or a convincing show
Thus has been made this real impossible world,
An obvious miracle or convincing show.

Seen from one angle this explains creation as the working of forces whose origin we do not know. Yet they manage to build this strange enigmatic world where nothing is solid except to our perception and appearances. Seen from another angle all this subtle arrangement giving birth to the universe is nothing but a wonder and a miracle. Explaining the universe in this way as the complex play of subtle forces does not take away the sense of wonder, it only further increases it.

Audacious mind of man
Or so it seems to man’s audacious mind
Who seats his thought as the arbiter of truth,
His personal vision as impersonal fact,
As witnesses of an objective world
His erring sense and his instruments’ artifice.

The five subtle elements along with the five senses, each corresponding to one particular element come together in collusion and create this mysterious universe whose real mystery is hidden behind its works. But man’s mind takes this appearance of a visible tangible universe as the ultimate reality since he can objectively understand it while the Reality underlying it continues to remain elusive.

Closing Remarks
As we can see, Sri Aurobindo reveals with all the power of poetic beauty this subtle truth about creation as revealed to ancient Indian mystics and corroborated closely with modern physics.

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