Phala

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Phala is a Sanskrit term that means “fruit” of one's actions in Hinduism and Buddhism. In Buddhism, the following types of phala are identified:

  • Ariya-phala also refers to the fruition of following the Buddhist path.
  • Maha-phala refers the great fruits of the contemplative life.

Within Hinduism

In Hinduism, the term phala is translated as fruition, results, effects.[1]

The Yoga-Sûtra of Patañjali (verse 2.36) states:[1]

As truthfulness (satya) is achieved, the fruits of actions naturally result according to the will of the Yogi. (satya pratisthayam kriya phala ashrayatvam)

Within Buddhism

Within Buddhism, the term phala is used to refer to the fruition or results of actions according to the doctrine of karmic action and result.

Alternate translations

The term phala is translated as:

  • fruit (Harvey, 1990, p. 39;[2] Keown, 2000, loc 810-813)
  • fruition
  • effect (Ven. D. Mahinda Thera[3])

Ariya-phala

The term Ariya phala is used to refer specifically to the fruition of following the Buddhist path. The fruition for each of the four levels of the path is identified as follows:[4][5]

  1. Sota patti phala, fruition of stream entry
  2. Sakadagamiphala, fruition of once returning
  3. Anagami phala, fruition of non returning
  4. Arahatta phala, fruition of the worthy one or perfected one

Maha-phala

The term Maha-phala refers to the ten "Great fruits" of the contemplative life. According to the Samaññaphala Sutta, the 10 “Great fruits” (DN 2) are:[6]

  1. Equanimity (upekkha)
  2. Fearlessness (nibbhaya)
  3. Freedom from unhappiness & suffering (Asukhacaadukkha)
  4. Meditative Absorption (jhana/samādhi)
  5. Out-of-body experience (Manomaya)
  6. Clairaudience (dibba-sota)
  7. Intuition and mental telepathy (ceto-pariya-ñána)
  8. Recollection of past lives (Patisandhi)
  9. Clairvoyance (dibba-cakkhu)
  10. End of anxiety & mental agitation (nirvāna)

Comparison to Christianity

The fruit (phala) of Buddhism and Hinduism are comparable the charisms of Charismatic Christianity which are known as the "sign-gifts” of the Holy Spirit, which are the charisms of prophesy, healing, and speaking in tongues, as described in the Christian Gospels 1 Corinthians 12.

References


Sources

  • Ajahn Sucitto (2010), Turning the Wheel of Truth: Commentary on the Buddha's First Teaching, Shambhala 
  • Geshe Tashi Tsering (2005), The Four Noble Truths: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought, Volume I, Wisdom, Kindle Edition 
  • Gethin, Rupert (1998), Foundations of Buddhism, Oxford University Press 
  • Harvey, Peter (1990), Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press 
  • Keown, Damien (2000), Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition 
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