THE TATTVAS …the ultimate journey
I have had one printed, and the colours are more powdery and pastel than shown in the preview. It looks sort of pre-faded, the colours are soft, not ‘dirty’ as above. The t-shirt fabric is fine and lightweight.
This set of symbols describes the stages of being for the whole universe and all human consciousness in a stack of coloured shapes. Before graphic design, there was an older craft.. that of the symbol-makers. These people were the design geniuses of their day, capable of massive lateral leaps, suffused with knowledge of the world and nature and gifted with pitch-perfect visual skills.
For ages these icons have been contemplated as a means of exploring and enhancing inner life.
There are numerous commentaries on the play of the five elements among the world’s sacred writings and there is a core of agreement about their meaning and influence, although different traditions may vary in some respects.
The Yellow Square is Earth; the densest of the elements.
It is the plane of animal consciousness and is characterised as inertia and indifference. In yoga terminology it is known as Tamas Guna. It is the realm of the body where the five senses are the driving forces behind our actions. As humans we unconsciously seek moments of bliss through pleasures, even violence, when in the grip of the earth element.
The Blue Circle is Water; less dense than earth and has the mobility of a liquid. It represents the beginning of self-awareness through knowledge. Known as Rajas Guna it is associated with world of action driven by thought and imagination. The action is the activity of the mind, which we later discover never ceases thinking, and never gives us rest.
The Red Triangle is Fire; fire gives light and heat. It is the realm of the heart and has the effect of transformation and awakening. We see things in a ‘new light’ under its influence. We experience a quickening when fire transmutes the mind and brings on a breakthrough to a static situation.
The White Crescent is the gaseous element Air; air implies space. Lightest of the four elements it symbolises the higher functions of mind and is known as Sattva Guna. In this there is an expansion and lightness as the lower states lose their influence over the imagination and the quest for knowledge and wisdom become the dominant themes. With this experience of space, we often see the ‘big picture’ and gain an overview of our personal journey.
The Blue-Violet Drop or egg, seed, pearl, dot (bindi), flame, represents the subtle element Ether. Also known as consciousness, prana, chi, spirit, life-force, god. This is the subtlest element of all and according to Kashmir Shaivism pervades everything as intelligent consciousness. The quantum physicists of the West are slowly coming to much the same conclusion.
This model of the twenty five Tattvas has been decoded as an ascending sequence from the barely conscious to the fully awake, however it is true to life, and life is not a straight line. The five levels; earth, water, fire, air and ether represent the stages of ascent from unconscious to super-conscious but the modifiers within each state don’t necessarily follow each other sequentially. They indicate the effect each has on the dominant element, for instance double-earth is rock-solid but when water is within earth, it brings movement and begins the process of breaking up the solidity (or ignorance).