I did a guided meditation today on Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village app. It was based on the 4 elements. Fire, Earth, Air and Water. As I was midway through it, I was contemplating the electrical energy that causes my body to interact with my nervous system and brain. I also thought about how it was present in thunder storms in the form of lightning. Clouds would be what I consider part of the water element and electricity can also create fire. I was wondering if there was any writing about electricity in the Buddhist tradition that might shed light on my contemplation?

  • You could see and comprehension the smallest element yourself by doing this technique. youtu.be/imJwamHsiig?t=297 then you can decide by yourself about the electricity. Even tiniest doubt againsts the meditation.
    – Bonn
    Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 7:16

2 Answers 2


MN28 discusses the four elements. Electricity would be a manifestation of the fire element. The electricity of your nervous system would be interior fire element.

MN28:16.1: And what is the fire element? The fire element may be interior or exterior. And what is the interior fire element? Anything that’s fire, fiery, and appropriated that’s internal, pertaining to an individual. This includes: that which warms, that which ages, that which heats you up when feverish, that which properly digests food and drink, or anything else that’s fire, fiery, and appropriated that’s internal, pertaining to an individual. This is called the interior fire element. The interior fire element and the exterior fire element are just the fire element. This should be truly seen with right understanding like this: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’ When you truly see with right understanding, you grow disillusioned with the fire element, detaching the mind from the fire element.

The lighting in the clouds would be the exterior fire element. Notably, all four elements should not be considered self.

MN28:17.1: There comes a time when the exterior fire element flares up. It burns up villages, towns, cities, countries, and regions until it reaches a green field, a roadside, a cliff’s edge, a body of water, or cleared parkland, where it’s extinguished for lack of fuel. There comes a time when they go looking for a fire, taking just chicken feathers and strips of sinew as kindling. So for all its great age, the fire element will be revealed as impermanent, liable to end, vanish, and perish. What then of this ephemeral body appropriated by craving? Rather than take it to be ‘I’ or ‘mine’ or ‘I am’, they still just consider it to be none of these things. …

Observe the elements without wishes.

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    Thank you very much for your insightful response. It is appreciated highly. Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 4:27

The 'element' or 'essence' of fire expresses the release of potential energy to the 'accumulating', or grounding in case of electricity, earth element. Water is the essence of 'movement' itself and air represents the repercussive actions of an action (in the case of lightning it would be thunder).

If you were to use the example of entire circuit it would be an exchange of all elements working together to create a continuous cycle which reflects a greater environment.

Although I am not using a reference as such, the insight may help you breach that bottleneck in your contemplation.

Cultivate in harmony

  • 1
    I enjoyed your response. Thank you very much for sharing. Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 4:26

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