By been there done that, aged 48: When visiting Tibet, I saw the very same colors of the Bravyan Snails on prayer flags. Is there a Tibetan origin to Bravya?
Well spotted! Bravya is loosely based on Tibetan mythology. David, our author, explains further. It may be a long read J:
In Bön, the ancient Tibetan philosophy, the five elemental processes of earth, water, fire, air and space are the essential materials of all existing phenomena. The elemental processes form the basis of the calendar, astrology, medicine and psychology. Physical properties are assigned to the elements: earth is solidity, water is cohesion, fire is temperature, air is motion, and space is the spatial dimension that accommodates the other four active elements. The elements are correlated to different colors and characters.
In Bön, the elemental processes are fundamental metaphors for working with external, internal and secret energetic forces. All five elemental processes in their essential purity are inherent in the mind-stream.
Among the important aims of Bon are cultivating heart-mind with compassionate activity to benefit others. This is to purify and silence the noise of the mind-stream within the body-mind.
The essence and purpose of the Bön teachings is to introduce the practitioner to the nature of the mind through a process of overcoming the five poisons. The world is realized to be like a mirror in which one’s own face is seen through reflection. One learns to point one’s finger always at oneself rather than others. The Five Poisons are: Ignorance, Attachment, Anger (the most powerful of the five poisons), Pride and Jealousy. We should strive to be more flexible and open so that we can more easily accept good situations for ourselves and others.
Back to the Five Elements:
Earth is shape, support, and structure. Too strong, and it leads to rigidity, which imprisons. Too weak, and it leads to instability. In reaction, rigidity is often a cover for uncertainty. In response, Earth is nurturing, supportive, and free from judgment.
Water is about clarity, flow and adapting. Too strong, and it feels like a threat, a wave or current that will carry you away. Too weak, and there is no sense of connection or flow: things are frozen. In reaction, water is evasive, wishy-washy and difficult to pin down. In response, water is clear and with a transparent, mirror-like wisdom.
Fire is about heat, light and passion. Too strong, and it burns, consuming everything it touches. Too weak, and nothing happens, and all is desolate. In reaction, it turns everything to ash. In response, it warms, motivates, and provides energy.
Air is about activity, ideas, and strategies. Too strong, and it becomes movement for its own sake, tearing things apart in a whirlwind. Too weak, and it becomes lack of movement, loss of identity and meaningless. In reaction, it’s all over the place. In response, it is effective action, just what is actually needed.
Space is about the turning world, which allows things to take form and come into being. Too strong, and it’s the end of the world – earthquakes, volcanoes, tidal waves and storms. Too weak, and it’s like death, the dissolution of any form of being, nothing. In reaction, it manifests as confusion and bewilderment. In response, it is presence, the experience of things just being what they are.