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Five powers

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The five powers (Skt. pañca bala; P. pañca bala; T. stobs lnga སྟོབས་ལྔ་), or five strengths are:

  • Saddha-bala: power of faith
  • Viriya-bala: power of energy
  • Sati-bala: power of mindfulness
  • Samadhi-bala: power of concentration
  • Prajna-bala: power of wisdom

These powers are one of the seven sets of the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment. They are parallel facets of the five spiritual faculties.

Etymology

Pañca (Sanskrit, Pali) means "five."[1] Bala (Sanskrit, Pali) means "power," "strength," "force."[2]

Sanskrit tradition

In the Garland of Radiant Light, Mipham Rinpoche states:

Faith and the rest of the five faculties become powerful because the factors that conflict with them--lack of faith, laziness, forgetfulness, distraction, traction, and bewilderment or distorted knowledge--are diminished and weakened. They are referred to as "powers," such as the "power of faith," because they cannot be overcome by the factors that conflict with them. Furthermore, of these faculties and powers, the latter are effects of the former. Faith causes diligence, which in turn causes mindfulness. From mindfulness arises meditative absorption, the ability to rest in equanimity, which eventually results in knowledge of reality as it actually is.[3]

Pali tradition

Bhikkhu Bodhi states:

The faculties and powers comprise the same five factors, though different functions are attached to the two categories. The faculties are factors which exercise control in their respective domains, while the powers are these same factors considered as being unshakable by their opposites. Thus the five faculties exercise control in the respective spheres of resolution (adhimokkha), exertion (paggaha), awareness (upaṭṭhāna), non-distraction (avikkhepa), and discernment (dassana); in doing so they help to overcome their opposites—indecision, laziness, negligence, agitation, and delusion. The five powers are these same states considered as unwavering and as incapable of being overcome by their opposites.[4]

Relation to the five spiritual faculties

These five factors are called faculties when used to control their spheres of influence, and are called powers when they become unshakeable by opposing forces. In the Sāketa Sutta, the Buddha uses the metaphor of a river to describe the relationship between the faculties and powers. "They are like a river that flows around a central island. From one point of view they can be considered different, but from another they are just the same stream."[5]

Notes

  1. See Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 387, entry for "Pañca," retrieved 2008-03-11 from "U. of Chicago" at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.2:1:971.pali; and, Monier-Williams (1964), e.g., p. 579, entry "Pañcaka," retrieved 2008-03-11 from "U. of Cologne" at http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/scans/MWScan/MWScanpdf/mw0578-paJcAGguri.pdf.
  2. See Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 482, entry for "Bala," retrieved 2008-03-11 from "U. of Chicago" at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.2:1:3245.pali; and, Monier-Williams (1964), p. 722, entry "Bala," retrieved 2008-03-11 from "U. of Cologne" at http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/cgi-bin/serveimg.pl?file=/scans/MWScan/MWScanjpg/mw0722-barAsI.jpg.
  3. Dharmachakra Translation Committee 2007, s.v. The Five Powers.
  4. Bhikkhu Bodhi 2000, s.v. Five Factors.
  5. SuttaCentral icon square 170px.png Sāketa Sutta, SuttaCentral


Sources

External links

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