The Four Elements & The Evolution Of Consciousness

In this section we want to take a deep dive into the four elements model, and how we can use it to map the evolution and the development of human consciousness.

We’ve got each of our four elements – the earth, water, fire and air elements.

The first 3 circuits or really – the first 6 circuits are the proverbial “monkey mind”.  The chimp brain.  The level of humanity at different levels.

Once you pass the fire level of consciousness – into air internal or air external, you’re really at a higher level than most of humanity.

Really, by the time you hit air external, this is probably the level of a self-awakened person.

So, we’ll take a look at this in more detail.

Now remember – each of these elements has an internal aspect and an external aspect.  So what happens as consciousness is developing is that it waffles or jumps back and forth from personal to group.

Every time that jump happens, as you progress up the levels from earth to water to fire to air, that pendulum swing between personal and great becomes less and less.

At the initial stages – the earth and water level, the pendulum swing is rather large between internal and external.

We’ll also cover how people at different stages perceive people at other levels of consciousness.

So, let’s begin by taking a look at the internal and external aspects of each level of consciousness. . .


As we’ve said, the earth element generally represents gross” energy.  So, again – Gross, subtle, causal and non-dual consciousness for each of the elements.


The internal aspect of this – the life conditions for this type of consciousness are a state of nature and biological urges and drives.

The physical senses dictate the state of being.

The brain/mind coping capabilities of earth-internal are:

  • Instinctive
  • Automatic existence

Earth internal is just pure survival.  There are no boundaries perceived between the self, others and the environment.

The person at an earth-internal level of consciousness only attends to immediate survival and physiological needs.

Their main concerns are survival, shelter, water, food, etc.

Their behavior is automatic, instinctive, and lacks any kind of foresight whatsoever.

Now – it’s important to understand that all of us are at different levels at different times.  Even though we might socially be at fire – in our home relationships we may be at water.

So there are different strands flowing through our existence, and those different stands are at different levels, as well.

The real reason we want to cover this material is that because regardless of the level of you’re at – let’s say you’re at fire external – this sort of caring and sharing level – if you haven’t fully developed the lower circuitry you’re really at a loss.

The idea here is that as we move each layer or level or element of consciousness we want to incorporate and transcend that level of consciousness.

During your training, you need to work on patching up any gaps in your consciousness and your real world practical skills and abilities at each of these levels.

The mission statement of earth-internal is to “express self now for survival”.

There’s a transitional dilemma that occurs at earth-internal.

All of these levels have a transitional dilemma which causes you to evolve to the next level of consciousness.

The transitional dilemma you face at earth-internal is the awareness of individuality – now the environment becomes a new “world” to survive in.

You recognize your own individuality and there’s a distinction between your internal world and the external world around you.


The life conditions at the air-external level is an existence that’s threatening and full of mysterious powers and spirits which have to be placated and appeased.

This is generally the animistic, shamanistic level of religion.

The brain/mind coping capabilities at this level are:

  • Animistic
  • Traditional and ritualistic
  • Group-oriented
  • Tribal

This is the first time a group structure emerges into awareness.

At this level, events and circumstances in life are attributed to the activities of “spirits” and supernatural causes.

Socially, the group does what the tribal leader and/or shaman tells them to do and there’s a great fear of magical forces at this level.

The mission statement for earth-external consciousness is “Sacrifice now to the tribe and spirits”.

As with ever level, the earth-external level faces a transformational dilemma which drives it up to the next level, which is the realization that sacrificing for the tribe gets you less than using strength and taking what you want for yourself.


According to our model, the water element or water level represents subtle energy, or subtle power, and the ability to be in relation.


The life conditions of the water-internal level are like a jungle where only the tough and strong prevail, the weak serve and nature itself is an adversary to be conquered.

The brain and mind coping capabilities at this level are:

  • Egocentric
  • Asserting self for dominance
  • Conquest and power
  • Exploitative

Water-internal is typified by self-gratification and emotional impulses which drive thinking and behavior.

Actions are oriented towards instant gratification of those impulse, and authority figures use force and violence to control the group and this level of consciousness has no ability to consider consequences over time.

The mission statement of water-internal is: “Express now impulsively”.

This level of consciousness reaches a transformational dilemma when realizing that using force to accumulate and seek pleasure doesn’t solve the problems of the group or society.


The life conditions of the water-external level of consciousness are legalistic, and of being controlled by a higher power that punishes good and rewards evil.

The brain/mind coping capabilities at this level are:

  • Absolutistic
  • Obedient as higher authority and rules direct
  • Conforming
  • Guilt

This is the level of structured civilization – the first level where social rules, laws and norms emerge.

Long-range planning also emerges, which controls and keeps emotional impulses in check.

At the same time, guilt emerges and enforces compliance with group norms.

Hierarchy, organization and logic also emerge at this level.  This level is essentially feudal consciousness.

The mission statement of the water-external level is: “sacrifice self to obtain later for the group”.

This level faces a transformational dilemma upon realizing that rules, regulations and black & white thinking restrict success in a “grey” world.


Once again, the fire element represents causal energy or causal power.  Pushing forward.  Expanding outwards.


The life conditions of the fire-internal level of consciousness are full of resources to develop opportunities to make things better and bring prosperity.

This levels brain/mind coping capacities are:

  • Multiplistic
  • Pragmatic, to achieve results and get ahead
  • Testing options
  • Maneuver

The fire-internal level is oriented towards personal success.

The individual seeks achievement for themselves, and freedom from rigid group rule.

Science, technology and testing are used to solve problems and there is a focus on material success and the acquisition of possessions.

However – this consumption, left unchecked leads to world-scale problems.

The mission statement of the fire-internal level is: “Express self without irritating others”.

This level of consciousness hits a transformational dilemma when it sees that power and possessions don’t make them happy and fulfilled on the inside.


The life condition of this level is a habitat, wherein people can find love and purpose through affinity and sharing.  Warm, fuzzy.

The brain/mind coping capabilities at this level are:

  • Relativistic
  • Affiliative
  • Situational
  • Consensual
  • Fluid

Fire-external manifests itself as a “community of sharing” and the realization that we’re all equal, in a community of equals.

The ability to take-on multiple perspectives emerges here, and there is an emphasis on “caring and sharing” and hearing everyone and a strong opposition to capital and corporal punishment.

The mission statement of fire-external consciousness is to: “Sacrifice now to obtain for self & others”.

This “caring and sharing” level of consciousness becomes entangled in a transformational dilemma when it realizes that caring and sharing alone don’t solve serious social and ecological problems.


This element or level of consciousness, as we’ve said is rooted in non-duality.

That non-duality when it comes to religions can be in the form of absolute surrender of the ego to the guru/deity, or as a recognition of the non-existence of any “soul” or permanent self.


The life conditions at this level are of a chaotic organism where change is the norm and uncertainty is an acceptable state of being.

The brain-mind coping capacities at the air-internal level are:

  • Systemic
  • Functional-Egoless (kriya)
  • Integrative
  • Interdependent
  • Existential
  • Flexible
  • Questioning
  • Accepting

This level represents the state of the actualized individual – a person who has made a “quantum leap” in human development and recognizes the complexity of world and systemic problems.

The ability for systems thinking emerges at this level and deep ecology (whether in the traditional sense, social ecology, or any other form) becomes a priority over “caring and sharing”.

The mission statement of this level is:  “Express self, not at the expense of others”.

The air-internal individual faces a transformational dilemma when they realize that complex thinking and models alone still don’t solve significant, world-scale problems.


The life condition of air-external consciousness is “chaordic” – a delicately balanced system of interlocking forces in jeopardy at human’s hands.

The brain/mind coping capacities at this level are:

  • Holistic
  • Experiential
  • Collective consciousness
  • Collaborative
  • Inter-connected

Whereas the previous level was one of self-actualization – air-external is a state of global actualization, where the highest priority becomes global survival and the break down of space-time dimensions requires global solutions.

At this level, there is also a recognition that it may be necessary to sacrifice entire groups or parts of the ecosystem to ensure systemic or planetary survival.

Decision making in air-external combines thinking and feeling, and perceiving combines senses and intuition.

The mission statement of this level is:  “Sacrifice self and others for the world/system”

A transformational dilemma arises at this point when the systemic/eco-actualized individual begins to question – “what emerges after we solve the current problems we can see?”.


Life conditions – To soon to say.  Should tend to be “I”-oriented and controlling and consolidating if the pattern holds.

The brain/mind coping capacities at this level will be next level neurological capacities and open-ended to the limits of the homo sapien brain.

How each level of consciousness perceives the levels above and below it:

Knowing how people see you, how you see others, and how others view others is a key component in all facets of mastering the four elements.

In general – every level sees the levels below it and above it as “criminal and insane”.

So – let’s take a look at ourselves and others from the perspective of each level.

Earth Internal perceives:

  1. No perception of otherness

Earth External perceives:

  1. Earth external as tribal warfare for space
  2. Water internal as rebellious children
  3. Water external as missionary outsiders
  4. Fire internal as merchants and traders
  5. Fire external as troublesome meddlers
  6. Air internal as strange magicians

Water Internal perceives:

  1. Earth external as masses to be controlled
  2. Water internal as strength vs. strength
  3. Water external as rigid moralists
  4. Fire internal as exploiters, thieves and thugs
  5. Fire external as free lunch seekers
  6. Air internal as clueless

Water External perceives:

  1. Earth external as ignorant savages, “white man’s burden” mentality
  2. Water internal as the beast man
  3. Water external as truth vs. truth
  4. Fire internal as right vs. best solution
  5. Fire external as truth vs. false absolutism vs. contextuality
  6. Air internal as relativists

Fire Internal perceives:

  1. Earth external as fresh meat market to exploit
  2. Water internal as a danger to guard against
  3. Water external as rigid thinking and manipulative
  4. Fire internal as an influence war competitor
  5. Fire external as naive idealists
  6. Air internal as a source of ideas to exploit

Fire external perceives:

  1. Earth external as people in need of aid
  2. Water internal as victims of societal abuse
  3. Water external as uncaring rationalists
  4. Fire internal as exploitative parasites
  5. Fire external as a bigger network to join
  6. Air internal as uncaring elitists

Air internal perceives:

  1. Earth external as uneducated, unsophisticated peasants
  2. Water internal as dangerous ego-centrists
  3. Water external as rigid, bigoted moralists
  4. Fire internal as exploitative criminals
  5. Fire external as hopelessly naive do-gooders
  6. Air internal as competent

Understanding this model clearly, and being able to parse what level people are at by their speech and actions in real time, and eventually – being able to parse how they view the world and others around them in real time as well is an invaluable tool for anyone who wants to master the four elements.

At this stage, we’ll get into the earth quadrant of our training – or warriorship.

In a very similar way, we’ve divided and categorized an evolutionary model for warriorship, leadership, strategy and meditation.

So – depending on which level you’re currently at, and where you want to end up, you can modify your orientation in training to more quickly reach that destination and achieve those goals.

Our process flows from earth, to water, to fire to air.

From gross, to subtle, to causal, to non-dual.

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