At the heart of symbolism

Unity beneath diversity and diversity within unity


Tower of Babel linking celestial Unity and terrestrial diversity

The five elements

Contrasts of opposites and the union of contrasts constitute the manifested core feature revealed by nature. Once the whole pattern of life has been glimpsed, then all the parts are appearing inevitably strongly interdependent. Conversely, the perception of the part relationships can only unfold an underlying unity containing all of them. Similarly, the human being is inconceivable without the print of unity. What nature or human being unity consist of, remains the unavoidable way to understand their manifested diversity which, in various traditions, is derived from the element systems.

The various element systems represent the basic principles of the lowest manifestation order, the physical or substantial order. In most traditions, they are composed of four elements plus one, their unity or undifferentiated state. The elements do not exist outside the unity and the unity ensures that all transformations operating among each other are properly balanced. This vision may be found within different traditions, which are making a distinction between Nature or the unity of the undifferentiated state and nature or the diversity of the manifested states.

The diversity is the result of generation-destruction processes operating within ecosystems. However, being left to itself, this diversity would soon be transformed into chaos. Ensuring the balance between the generation-destruction processes is achieved by two ways:

  • The process integration within the system unity;
  • The matter, energy and information exchanges with the outside.

Taking these exchanges into consideration independently of their system unity can only produce balance ruptures within the environment. Discovering how these processes fit harmoniously within the unity, understanding how things and beings are working together is the only way to ensure the balance within nature in general and ourselves in particular.

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