four elements ［四大］ ( shi-dai): Also, four basic elements. The four constituent elements of all things, according to ancient Indian belief. They are earth, water, fire, and wind. These are also understood in terms of their natures or functions. Each corresponds to a quality of matter: earth to solidity, water to moisture, fire to heat, and wind to motion. Their respective functions correspond to four intrinsic functions of the universe itself: to sustain and preserve, to gather and contain, to mature, and to cause growth. Disharmony among the four elements in the human body was said to cause illness. Space, which functions to integrate and harmonize the four elements, is added to these four to make the five elements.