Thank you, Lang, for bringing up this question on the “air element” or “vāyo.”
First, I moved Lang’s post from the “Questions About Puredhamma Posts” to the “Posts on ‘Elephants in the Room’” because the post in question is in the “Elephant in the Room 3 – Ānāpānasati” section. Of course, Lang could not see that because for this first week of posting as the “Home page” the breadcrumbs at the top of the post does not show the section.
Regarding the main question on “vāyo:”
There is a bit deeper explanation of the terms pathavi,āpo, tejo, and vāyo.
I just revised #7 of the post “The Origin of Matter – Suddhāṭṭhaka” as follows.
– The word āpo comes from the tendency to “attach or get attracted to worldly things” (“bandena gatiya” or “බැඳෙන ගතිය” in Sinhala means the “bind together,” which leads to liquidity in science). Tejo comes from “fiery or energetic” (“théjas gati” or “තේජස් ගතිය” in Sinhala), and vāyo refers to “motion/vacillation” (“salena gatiya” or “සැලෙන ගතිය” in Sinhala). They are all created in javana citta that arise in mind in minute quantities that cannot be detected. However, yogis with abhiññā powers can generate large amounts of matter like a flower.
– Added October 29, 2022: There is a deeper explanation: According to the above explanations, āpo, pathavi, and tejo can be attributed to lobha, dosa, and moha. Vacillation in vāyo represents uncertainty; that represents mundane alobha, adosa, amoha, or the ignorance of the Four Noble Truths. See “Six Root Causes – Loka Samudaya (Arising of Suffering) and Loka Nirodhaya (Nibbāna).”
Thus, we can say that vāyo is the “better element” compared to āpo, pathavi, and tejo. The latter three can be attributed to the “kāma loka” and vāyo can be taken to represent rupa loka lying above the kāma loka.
– P.S. Thus, we can indirectly connect to anariya yogis getting into anariya jhāna with breath mediation (by overcoming lobha, dosa, and moha, temporarily, i.e., without removing anusaya.)