The ancient Taoist, by observing and contemplating the working of the universe, devised a theory to explain the balance of the complementary and antagonistic units of which it is composed. The characteristics and relationships of these dynamic units are explained in the Theory of the Five Elements.
There are two cycles that illustrate the interaction between these elements: the cycle of generation, in which each element generates or produces the succeeding element, and the cycle of destruction, in which each element destroys or absorbs the succeeding element.
Because the universe maintains balance through the interplay of the Five Elements, our bodies, a microcosm of the universe, are thought to achieve mental and physical harmony in the same way. Energy flows through the body via the meridians and their respective organs and bowels in well-defined cycles. The cycles depicting the flow of the energy within the body mirror the two cycles that depict the interaction between the five elements in the following manner:
If the energy within an organ is not balanced, that organ, rather than being able to effectively support the organ succeeding it on the meridian circuit, wil adversely affect, or will be adversely affected by, another organ.
In showing that the cyclic interaction between the organs and bowels is identical to the interaction between the elements, the Taoist not only provided a means by which the sayings, "That which is above is the same as that which is below" and "The microcosm reflects the macrocosm", can be realized and understood, but they also provide a means whereby the interaction of energy between the organs and bowels can be accepted as fact in that the basis for the interaction is founded upon the very same logic whereby the five elements is instincitvely realized to be true.