Of the five elements used in Ayurveda and other ancient schools of life and medicine ‘Ether’ is an interesting concept for a westerner and largely misunderstood or forgotten as it existed in European ancient schools of medicine too. Today it’s often translated to Space but that’s not how I translate it. As per Ayurveda, the Buddhists and the Hindus often speak about it as the unified field of thought and feelings. The Azteks, Greeks, Vikings, etc, described it as the cosmic wind and in Latin Spiritus (air/wind), in Greek Pneuma (air/wind) would be the same concept. Later religions divided Ether from the ‘holy spirit’ (Gods breath), but before it was more of a cosmic breath giving or enhancing life. Basically it is the Life Force in all the living, which in Ayurveda is ‘Prana’.
Other ancient philosophies such as the East Asian often considered the element Ether as what we westerners call a bit plump ‘consciousness’. I prefer to be more precise and call it all our thoughts, emotions and feelings as it represents the unified field of our mental and emotional states, the metaphysical or as Ayurveda calls it the subtle parts of us. However I can’t see anywhere in the texts that it is limited to us humans and I believe animals, plants, waters, mountains, buildings, cities and everything else has a kind of consciousness, or influence too, which the ancient healing modalities did as well. Pyramids were said to have a very strong metaphysical force and any book of symbols or sacred geometry would describe form as an important influencer too. To feel this force/energy or influence we can simply imagine the difference a sky scraper has on us compared to a tree. Both affect us and we use the Gurvadi Gunas in Ayurveda to describe how. It affects us differently depending on who we are since birth and what state of balance we are in at the moment. This thinking gives us the clues on how to heal and balance ourselves in all moments of life. We constantly seek balance or homeostasis.
Healing herbs and spices are often said to have a specific combination and attribute of the elements Ether, Air, Fire, Earth, Water to our mental state and body. They are potent influencers and this is why we use them to heal the imbalance. It’s not only about the components, such as the antioxidants and vitamins, but how the plant influences or contributes to our life in its totality. The Ether in the plants and food affects our mental state in a higher degrees than most acknowledge, both feeling and thinking, and it’s as relevant to consider to heal. This is why loved, organic and vegan kind food is more healing.
Modern science has now studied some of the plants and see certain molecules that we derive the effect to but we are far from having studied them all, if we ever will, and much less understand the totality including the element Ether in the study. And if we consider that we are all different, have 40-50 trillion endogenous small microbial friends in us and that we breath 10¹⁵ microbiome with each breath, who all have their story and Ether to consider, we are even further away from understanding anything on a quantum or cosmic level, but don’t despair, we don’t need to know it all. Ayurveda and other holistic sciences have studied the people who take remedies or do certain things to heal and this evidence-based science is enough to have a good idea of what needs to be done.
While mainstream science invents better and better microscopes to go deeper and deeper into our bodies and plants, or telescopes to go higher and higher into the cosmos, we use our bodies to sense, feel and interpret what can’t be seen yet. Maybe in the future we will find that a certain antioxidant carries the elements in a higher or smaller degree. Then we can merge the two schools of thought and I love that thought, but for now I use both sciences but I trust the bodies of our guests (not always according to the minds interpretation) to know how to heal themselves.