The Fifth Element

The question is which element to choose,
which one you best identify with,
which is stronger or most likeable.
The first is Earth, the solid matter, all that is concrete,
which more often than not, however,
is submerged and drowned by Water.
Water also quenches every Fire -
Fire which devours all is always powerless against it,
except when it combines with Air,
which then can dry up any lake.
Is Air then the most powerful of elements,
since nothing can subdue it, pin it down or even see it?
But there is in Buddhism a fifth element
denominated Wood, which is organic.
Of all organic forms, wood is the hardest and the most enduring,
which is why in Buddhism it has come to symbolize the essence
of this fifth of elements, which is simply life.
It is dependent on the other four,
it has to breathe with Air, it has to grow and live on Earth,
it can't do without Water, and the Fire is its energy.
But basically, all four elements have together that one function only
to support the fifth and make it possible,
the only really meaningful and interesting, important element,
the toughest and most usable longliving form of which
is that most precious Wood we all need knocking on at times.

So let's just plant more trees, the most invaluable support of life
producing air (that's oxygen), providing energy,
enriching earth and binding the wild waters
and not take them down,
for that would ruin everything on earth,
let loose the fires and the waters
and impoverish the air - in short,
a tree is of as much importance as the life of any man.


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