Four Basic Elements
In classical thought, the four elements Water, Air, Earth, and Fire frequently occur; sometimes including a fifth element or quintessence (after “quint” meaning “fifth”) called Aether in ancient Greece and India. The concept of the five elements formed a basis of analysis in both Hinduism and Buddhism. In Hinduism, particularly in an esoteric context, the four states-of-matter describe matter, and a fifth element describes that which was beyond the material world. Similar lists existed in ancient China and Japan. In Buddhism the four great elements, to which two others are sometimes added, are not viewed as substances, but as categories of sensory experience.