the korean philosophy of five elements
by Julian Park
From a long time ago, in Korea, the philosophy of Five Elements has been in place to understand the changing principle of the ever-changing universe, and this simple and unique perception of the principles of change in all things in the universe, has had a wide variety of social and cultural influences.
These are the five elements in English and Korean:
The five elements interact with each other in a circular order like this:
- The stone purifies the water and makes it alive.
- The water makes the plant grow.
- The plant becomes the material of fire
- When the fire burns, it creates soil
- The soil slowly hardens into stone
The following simple image will help you to understand the sequence.
This circulating and ever-changing process of five elements shows that all elements are interrelated, and that all elements in the world are all equally important. In addition, there is a belief that the natural functions of the universe and life can be fully flourished only when each element is chaining to the other element without being isolated or weakened.
The ancient Koreans believed that everything that existed in the world are connected to the five elements, and if any problem occurred, they judged that the circulation and interaction of the five elements became unbalanced. If the Covid Pandemic appeared in Korea hundreds of years ago, Koreans would surely try to find the cause of the imbalance and make it harmonical again.
However, the most important attitude in life that we learn through this philosophy of Five Elements is to respect the process of change in nature and observe and meditate with caring eyes to preserve it. Many modern civilizations today have destroyed nature to bring benefits to human civilization. Such destruction of nature affects the circular process of the five elements, and this is causing damage back to humans.
Five artists, who gathered and got in touch with the Five Elements philosophy, the wisdom of ancient Koreans, are willing to reinterpret and express it artistically. And this begins with regaining and restoring the pure love for nature.
Through our work, we hope that people will be able to reconnect themselves with the nature around them and be amazed with all the elements of nature.