In the Scheme of the 5 elements, the most unclear and annoying is Quintessence/Spirit/Ether/Space. It is both Power and Void. It's the foundation, and culmination of the other four elements. For me personally, when it is producing the other four elements I call it Spirit/Ether, but when it is being produced by the "right balance" of the four elements I call it Quintessence. That is just my Alchemical studies leaking out.
In Alchemy when the big four are in perfect harmony they produce a fifth essence, an essence that demonstrates the perfect nature of a thing.
That is all lovely, well, and good, but honestly what do we DO with it? There is a Tibetan story (that I suppose started as an indian story) about Nagarjuna the Alchemist, who was tested by the elementals. Of course the first for were floods and fires, and winds and rocks.. but the fifth was a HAIL OF SHARP WEAPONS!
DUDE! Apparently, sharp weapons were the test from the elementals of Space because they kill by creating a space in the body, e.g. cutting!
Also via Buddhist teachings, the feeling assosiated with Space is enough room to breathe, which comes in very very handy. Especially when dealing with discomfort.
Yesterday I had a migrane. Now, for those of you who have never had them, a migrane is like if someone stuffed your head with razors and broken glass and then shook it as hard as they can, till you:
a)begged for death
d) all of the above
Technically I had a migrane aura, where, at least to me, all of your physical senses are magnified to a point where everything is a source of pain. Sadly this happened at work, when I had a very full client load. So I shove as many rapid release pain medications into my head as I can safely do without traumatizing my kidneys and killing my liver, and I wait. And nothing happens. I sit in my therapy room with the lights off, and wait some more.
Then it occurs to me: "Think like a Mage!" as one of my mentors would bellow. Space.. enough space.. I took a few deep breaths and stopped running from the pain. Stopped tensing up, stopped focusing on how much I hate how this feels and I wish I could just die or pass out. I sat in my pain and didnt run from it. I sat in it and kept repeating, "there is enough space here for this pain. It will soon pass, and till then there is space enough."
I brought to mind my clients, many of whom have serious ailments and injuries, and I was here to help them, and if I didn't then no one would that day. So I greeting them with genuine smiles, and simply focused on there being enough space.. there was a world outside of my pain, and my pain would be gone soon anyway, so there was no point in contracting my view to focus on my suffering. Other people were suffering too, and I'd do my best to help them through it.
Now, that didnt make the pain go away, I eventually stopped wanting the pain to go away and just accepted it as another thing that was happening and got on with my day. The blessed blessed medication made my pain go away, and after that I was much more functional. But the space to accommodate that pain was the difference between "not functional" and "functional".
It's times like that, that I understand the difference between suffering and pain. I felt pain, but I did not suffer. The pain was simply there, just another sensation, and then it wasn't there, and I remained. Ever the Mentat wannabe.