The Wings to Awakening

PART II: E. THE FIVE FACULTIES

Indriya - the Pali word translated here as "faculty" - is connected with the name of the dominant Vedic god, Indra. Thus it carries connotations of dominance or control. Buddhist texts contain several lists of faculties, both physical and mental, but here the word denotes a list of five mental factors that must reach a state of dominance in the mind for Awakening to take place. This set is one of the most comprehensive in the Wings to Awakening, as it covers all of the factors explicitly mentioned in the sets we have covered so far, and in addition lists conviction, which the other sets imply but never specifically mention. This is why this set forms the framework for Part III of this book, in which all of the main factors of the Wings to Awakening will be discussed in detail.

As we noted in II/A, the faculties in this set form a loop in the causal progression of the mind along the path, as opposed to the "holographic" formulae of the sets we have discussed so far. Two of the faculties-the frames of reference and right exertion-we have covered in detail already. The other three-conviction, concentration, and discernment-we will discuss in detail in Part III. Here we will limit ourselves to some general observations about the set as a whole.

In the causal loop depicted by five faculties, the emphasis is on how the elements of the "concentration aggregate" in the noble eightfold path-right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration-can lead the mind from a state of conviction to one of discernment. To borrow terminology from 106, this is the process by which the mind goes from the preliminary level to the noble or transcendent level of right view. This set can also be regarded as a description of how conviction, when put into action, inherently leads through the concentration aggregate to transcendent discernment.

Passage 69 defines the faculty of conviction as the four factors of stream-entry. Other passages define these four factors in two separate ways: one [70] listing the factors leading to stream-entry, another [71] giving the factors that characterize the person who has already entered the stream. Both lists are relevant here, as the person working toward stream-entry must act on conviction, while a person who has entered the stream is endowed with the unwavering conviction that comes with the first glimpse of the Deathless.

In both cases, the factor of conviction has several dimensions: trust in the ability of wise people to know the ideal path of practice, belief in their teachings, and a willingness to put those teachings into practice. Western analyses of faith tend to separate these aspects of conviction, and some writers have tried to decide which aspect is dominant in the Buddhist tradition. In practice, however, all three must work together, for in Buddhism the object of conviction inherently involves all three at once. The primary focus of conviction is the Awakening of the Buddha, and this in turn ultimately comes down to a conviction in the primacy of the mind in creating kamma, a conviction in the efficacy of kamma in shaping experience in the round of rebirth, and a belief that the Buddha made use of mental qualities accessible to all in using the laws of kamma to bring about an end to kamma and thus escape from the round. Kamma and the use of kamma to transcend kamma constitute both the truth that the Buddha taught and the explanation of how he discovered it. Thus, trust in the Buddha and belief in his teaching are two sides of the same coin. At the same time, these truths concerning kamma are also the situation in which the listener is currently placed: the causal nexus that determines both the dynamic of continued life in the cycle of rebirth and the way out of that cycle. So, by definition, conviction in the Buddha's Awakening is something that must be acted on. If one is convinced that one is entangled in a kammic web that can nevertheless be unraveled, one will naturally try to learn from the example of the Buddha or his disciples, developing the same mental qualities they did and attaining release oneself. Thus, unlike a religion where trust involves the belief that the deity will provide for one's salvation-either through grace or as a reward for unquestioning obedience-trust in the Buddha and belief in his teachings means that one's salvation is ultimately one's own responsibility. In this way, trust, belief, and a willingness to act are inseparably combined.

This is why conviction, the first member of the set of five faculties, leads naturally to persistence, the second. Persistence here is equal to right exertion, which develops mindfulness as the most essential skillful quality in the mind. As we saw under the frames of reference, the proper development of mindfulness leads to concentration, or the four jhanas, while the jhanas provide the foundation for the arising of discernment, the fifth and final member of this set. When discernment is strengthened to the point of transcendence, leading to the attainment of stream-entry, it then confirms the truths that were previously taken as a matter of conviction and faith [74]. This confirmation feeds back into the causal loop, strengthening conviction, which provides the basis for developing the faculties still further until Arahantship is attained. At that point there is no need to be convinced that the practice leads to release into the Deathless, for one has fully realized that release through direct experience [89].

The underlying element throughout the development of this causal loop is the mental quality of heedfulness [78]. The texts explain heedfulness as a combination of right effort and relentless mindfulness, but as a quality of mind it goes deeper than that.

Heedfulness realizes the dangers inherent in the round of rebirth and redeath, and the fact that those dangers are inherent in each careless act of the mind. It thus fosters conviction in the possibility of a release from those dangers and a sense of urgency and precision in the practice. This combination of urgency and precision provides the impetus for the full and thorough development of the faculties as one seriously pursues the possibility of release through the skillful development of the mind. This pattern of heedfulness developing the five faculties in the quest of the security of Deathlessness mirrors Prince Siddhartha's own quest, which began with his conviction that there was no need to resign himself to the tyranny of aging, illness, and death, and ended with the discernment that brought about his actual escape from that tyranny. This pattern also calls to mind the famous verse from the Dhammapada, that heedfulness is the path to the Deathless [80]. The five faculties can be taken as an elaboration of that verse.

Because the five faculties are means to Deathlessness-rather than ends in themselves-they must not only be developed skillfully but also used skillfully as they are developed. The texts emphasizing this point focus on two of the faculties: persistence and discernment.

The passage dealing with persistence [86] is probably the Canon's most explicit analogy between the performance of music and the practice of meditation [I/A]. One should tune one's effort so that it is neither too intense nor too slack, just as the main string of a musical instrument should be neither too sharp nor too flat. (We have already encountered this issue of balance in the proper development of the four bases of power, and we will encounter it again in the factors of Awakening.) One then tunes the remaining faculties to the pitch of one's effort, just as one would tune the notes of one's scale to the tonic. Only then can one take up the theme of one's meditation-the four frames of reference [148]-just as one would take up and develop the basic theme of one's musical piece.

As for discernment, passage 88 brings out the point that one's mastery of the faculties is not complete until one discerns the "escape" from them. Normally the texts make this comment only about deceptively attractive objects or unskillful qualities in the mind, but here they use it in connection with skillful qualities. What this means is that there comes a point in the practice where one must go beyond even such skillful qualities as concentration and discernment. They are skillful precisely because their full development allows one to go beyond them. This point is made explicit in 187, which shows exactly why the right view constituting discernment is right: it is the only view that opens the way going beyond attachment to views. D.1 [MFU, p. 111] adds that an awakened person-through regarding views not in terms of their content, but in terms of the effect they have on the mind-comes to discern what lies beyond views, and yet does not hold even to that act of discernment. As a result of knowing but not holding, the mind experiences Unbinding in the here and now. This "knowing but not holding" is yet another reference to the perceptual mode of emptiness verging on non-fashioning: the culminating point for each set in the Wings to Awakening.

69. Monks, there are these five faculties. Which five? The faculty of conviction, the faculty of persistence, the faculty of mindfulness, the faculty of concentration, and the faculty of discernment.

Now where is the faculty of conviction to be seen? In the four factors of stream-entry....
And where is the faculty of persistence to be seen? In the four right exertions....
And where is the faculty of mindfulness to be seen? In the four frames of reference....
And where is the faculty of concentration to be seen? In the four jhanas....
And where is the faculty of discernment to be seen? In the four noble truths....
S.XLVIII.8

70. Factors of Stream-entry. Association with good people is a factor of stream-entry [115]. Listening to the true Dhamma is a factor of stream-entry. Appropriate attention is a factor of stream-entry [51]. Practice in accordance with the Dhamma is a factor of stream-entry.
S.LV.5

71. Now with what four factors of stream-entry is the noble disciple endowed? There is the case where the noble disciple is endowed with unwavering faith in the Awakened One: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge and conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine and human beings, awakened, blessed.'

He is endowed with unwavering faith in the Dhamma: 'The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One, to be seen here and now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves.'

He is endowed with unwavering faith in the Sangha: 'The Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples who have practiced well...who have practiced straight-forwardly...who have practiced methodically...who have practiced masterfully-in other words, the four types of noble disciples when taken as pairs, the eight when taken as individual types-they are the Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples: worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, the incomparable field of merit for the world.'

He is endowed with virtues that are appealing to the noble ones: untorn, unbroken, unspotted, unsplattered, liberating, praised by the wise, untarnished, leading to concentration.
A.X.92

72. Analysis. Now what, monks, is the faculty of conviction? There is the case where a monk, a noble disciple, has conviction, is convinced of the Tathagata's Awakening: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge and conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine and human beings, awakened, blessed.' This, monks, is called the faculty of conviction.

And what is the faculty of persistence? There is the case where a monk, a noble disciple, keeps his persistence aroused for abandoning unskillful mental qualities and taking on skillful mental qualities. He is steadfast, solid in his effort, not shirking his duties with regard to skillful mental qualities. He generates desire, endeavors, arouses persistence, upholds and exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen...for the sake of the abandoning of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen...for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen...(and) for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, and culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen. This is called the faculty of persistence. [49-50]

And what is the faculty of mindfulness? There is the case where a monk, a noble disciple, is mindful, highly meticulous, remembering and able to call to mind even things that were done and said long ago. He remains focused on the body in and of itself-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings in and of themselves...the mind in and of itself...mental qualities in and of themselves-ardent, alert, and mindful-putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world. This is called the faculty of mindfulness. [29-30]

And what is the faculty of concentration? There is the case where a monk, a noble disciple, making it his object to let go, attains concentration, attains singleness of mind. Quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. With the stilling of directed thought and evaluation, he enters and remains in the second jhana: rapture and pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought and evaluation-internal assurance. With the fading of rapture he remains in equanimity, mindful and alert, and physically sensitive of pleasure. He enters and remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous and mindful, he has a pleasurable abiding.' With the abandoning of pleasure and pain-as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress-he enters and remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This is called the faculty of concentration. [150]

And what is the faculty of discernment? There is the case where a monk, a noble disciple, is discerning, endowed with discernment of arising and passing away-noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of stress. He discerns, as it is actually present: 'This is stress...This is the origination of stress...This is the cessation of stress...This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.' This is called the faculty of discernment. [184-240]
S.XLVIII.10

73. Just as a royal frontier fortress has a foundation post-deeply rooted, well embedded, immovable, and unshakable-for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a noble disciple has conviction, is convinced of the Tathagata's Awakening: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is pure and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge and conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine and human beings, awakened, blessed.' With conviction as his foundation post, the noble disciple abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy and develops what is blameless, and looks after himself with purity....

Just as a royal frontier fortress has a large army stationed within-elephant soldiers, cavalry, charioteers, bowmen, standard-bearers, billeting officers, soldiers of the supply corps, noted princes, commando heroes, infantry, and slaves-for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a noble disciple keeps his persistence aroused for abandoning unskillful mental qualities and taking on skillful mental qualities, is steadfast, solid in his effort, not shirking his duties with regard to skillful mental qualities. With persistence as his army, the noble disciple abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy and develops what is unblameworthy, and looks after himself with purity....

Just as a royal frontier fortress has a wise, experienced, intelligent gate-keeper to keep out those he doesn't know and to let in those he does, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a noble disciple is mindful, highly meticulous, remembering and able to call to mind even things that were done and said long ago. With mindfulness as his gate-keeper, the noble disciple abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy and develops what is unblameworthy, and looks after himself with purity....

Just as a royal frontier fortress has ramparts that are high and thick and completely covered with plaster, for the protection of those within and to ward off those without; in the same way a noble disciple is discerning, endowed with discernment leading to the arising of the goal-noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of stress. With discernment as his covering of plaster, the noble disciple abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful, abandons what is blameworthy and develops what is unblameworthy, and looks after himself with purity....

Just as a royal frontier fortress has large stores of grass, timber and water for the delight, convenience, and comfort of those within, and to ward off those without; in the same way the noble disciple...enters and remains in the first jhana...for his own delight, convenience, and comfort, and to alight on Unbinding....

Just as a royal frontier fortress has large stores of rice and barley for the delight, convenience, and comfort of those within, and to ward off those without; in the same way the noble disciple...enters and remains in the second jhana...for his own delight, convenience, and comfort, and to alight on Unbinding....

Just as a royal frontier fortress has large stores of sesame, green gram, and other beans for the delight, convenience, and comfort of those within, and to ward off those without; in the same way the noble disciple...enters and remains in the third jhana...for his own delight, convenience, and comfort, and to alight on Unbinding....

Just as a royal frontier fortress has large stores of tonics-ghee, fresh butter, oil, honey, molasses, and salt-for the delight, convenience, and comfort of those within, and to ward off those without; in the same way the noble disciple...enters and remains in the fourth jhana...for his own delight, convenience, and comfort, and to alight on Unbinding....
A.VII.63

74. The Buddha: Tell me, Sariputta: A noble disciple who is thoroughly inspired by the Tathagata, who has gone solely to the Tathagata [for refuge], could he have any doubt or uncertainty concerning the Tathagata or the Tathagata's teachings?
Sariputta: No, lord....With a noble disciple who has conviction, it may be expected that he will keep his persistence aroused for abandoning unskillful mental qualities and taking on skillful mental qualities, that he will be steadfast, solid in his effort, not shirking his duties with regard to skillful mental qualities. Whatever persistence he has, is his faculty of persistence.
With a noble disciple who has conviction, who is resolute and persistent, it may be expected that he will be mindful, highly meticulous, remembering and able to call to mind even things that were done and said long ago. Whatever mindfulness he has, is his faculty of mindfulness.

With a noble disciple who has conviction, who is resolute and persistent, and whose mindfulness is established ('tuned'), it may be expected that-making it his object to let-he will attain concentration and singleness of mind. Whatever concentration he has, is his faculty of concentration.

With a noble disciple who has conviction, who is resolute and persistent, whose mindfulness is established, and whose mind is rightly concentrated, it may be expected that he will discern: 'From an inconceivable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating and wandering on. The total fading and cessation of ignorance, of this mass of darkness, is this peaceful, exquisite state: the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' Whatever discernment he has, is his faculty of discernment.

And so this convinced noble disciple, thus striving again and again, recollecting again and again, concentrating his mind again and again, discerning again and again, becomes thoroughly convinced: 'Those phenomena that once I had only heard about, I here and now dwell touching them with my body and, through discernment, I see them clear through.' Whatever conviction he has, is his faculty of conviction.
S.XLVIII.50

75. Just as, in a house with a ridged roof, the rafters are not stable or firm as long as the ridge beam is not in place, but are stable and firm when it is; in the same way, four faculties are not stable or firm as long as noble knowledge has not arisen in a noble disciple, but are stable and firm when it has. Which four? The faculty of conviction, the faculty of persistence, the faculty of mindfulness, and the faculty of concentration.

When a noble disciple is discerning, the conviction that follows from that stands solid. The persistence that follows from that stands solid. The mindfulness that follows from that stands solid. The concentration that follows from that stands solid.
S.XLVIII.52

76. It is through the development and pursuit of two faculties that a monk whose effluents are ended declares gnosis: 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world.' Through which two? Through noble discernment and noble release. Whatever is his noble discernment is his faculty of discernment. Whatever is his noble release is his faculty of concentration.
S.XLVIII.46

77. Just as, of all scented woods, red sandalwood is reckoned the chief, even so of all the mental qualities that are wings to self-awakening, the faculty of discernment is reckoned the chief in terms of leading to awakening. And what are the mental qualities that are wings to self-awakening? The faculty of conviction is a mental quality that is a wing to self-awakening leading to awakening. The faculty of persistence...mindfulness...concentration... discernment is a mental quality that is a wing to self-awakening leading to Awakening.
S.XLVIII.55

78. When one quality is established in a monk, the five faculties are developed and developed well. Which one quality? Heedfulness.
And what is heedfulness? There is the case where a monk guards his mind in the midst of mental effluents and their concomitants. When his mind is guarded in the midst of mental effluents and their concomitants, the faculty of conviction goes to the culmination of its development. The faculty of persistence...mindfulness...concentration...discernment goes to the culmination of its development.
This is how when one quality is established in a monk, the five faculties are developed and developed well.
S.XLVIII.56

79. Just as the footprints of all legged animals are encompassed by the footprint of the elephant, and the elephant's footprint is reckoned their chief in terms of size; in the same way, all skillful qualities are rooted in heedfulness, lie gathered in heedfulness, and heedfulness is reckoned their chief....

Just as all the light of the constellations does not equal one sixteenth of the light of the moon, and the light of the moon is reckoned their chief; in the same way, all skillful qualities are rooted in heedfulness, lie gathered in heedfulness, and heedfulness is reckoned their chief.
A.X.15

80. Heedfulness: the path to the Deathless;
Heedlessness: the path to death.
The heedful do not die.
The heedless are as if
already dead.
DHP.21

81. He wouldn't chase after the past,
or place expectations on the future.
What is past
is left behind.
The future
is as yet unreached.
Whatever quality is present
he clearly sees right there,
right there.
Unvanquished, unshaken,
that's how he develops the mind.

Ardently doing his duty today,
for-who knows?-tomorrow
death may come.
There is no bargaining
with Death and his mighty horde.

Whoever lives thus ardently,
relentlessly,
both day and night,
has truly had an auspicious day:
So says the Peaceful Sage.
M.131

82. The Buddha: 'Mindfulness of death, when developed and pursued, is of great fruit and great benefit. It plunges into the Deathless, has the Deathless as its final end. Therefore you should develop mindfulness of death.'
When this was said, a certain monk addressed the Blessed One, 'I already develop mindfulness of death.'

'And how do you develop mindfulness of death?'

'I think, "O, that I might live for a day and night, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal." This is how I develop mindfulness of death.'

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, 'I, too, already develop mindfulness of death.'

'And how do you develop mindfulness of death?'

'I think, "O, that I might live for a day, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal." This is how I develop mindfulness of death.'

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, 'I, too, develop mindfulness of death....'I think, "O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to eat a meal, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal"....Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, 'I, too, develop mindfulness of death....'I think, "O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up four morsels of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal"....

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, 'I, too, develop mindfulness of death....'I think, "O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up one morsel of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal"....

Then another monk addressed the Blessed One, 'I, too, develop mindfulness of death....'I think, "O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to breathe out after breathing in, or to breathe in after breathing out, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal." This is how I develop mindfulness of death.'

When this was said, the Blessed One addressed the monks. 'Whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, "O, that I might live for a day and night...for a day...for the interval that it takes to eat a meal...for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up four morsels of food, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal"-they are said to dwell heedlessly. They develop mindfulness of death slowly for the sake of ending the effluents.

'But whoever develops mindfulness of death, thinking, "O, that I might live for the interval that it takes to swallow having chewed up one morsel of food...for the interval that it takes to breathe out after breathing in, or to breathe in after breathing out, that I might attend to the Blessed One's instructions. I would have accomplished a great deal"-they are said to dwell heedfully. They develop mindfulness of death acutely for the sake of ending the effluents.

'Therefore you should train yourselves: "We will dwell heedfully. We will develop mindfulness of death acutely for the sake of ending the effluents." That is how you should train yourselves.'
A.VI.19

83. Then the Blessed One addressed the monks, 'I exhort you, monks: All fabrications are subject to decay. Attain consummation through heedfulness.' Those were the Tathagata's last words.
D.16

84. These are the four modes of practice. Which four? Painful practice with slow intuition, painful practice with quick intuition, pleasant practice with slow intuition, and pleasant practice with quick intuition.

And what is painful practice with slow intuition? There is the case where a certain individual is normally of an intensely passionate nature. He perpetually experiences pain and distress born of passion. Or he is normally of an intensely aversive nature. He perpetually experiences pain and distress born of aversion. Or he is normally of an intensely deluded nature. He perpetually experiences pain and distress born of delusion. His five faculties-the faculty of conviction...persistence...mindfulness... concentration...discernment-are present in a weak form. Because of their weakness, he attains only slowly the immediacy [Comm: the concentration forming the Path] that leads to the ending of the effluents. This is called painful practice with slow intuition.

And what is painful practice with quick intuition? There is the case where a certain individual is normally of an intensely passionate...aversive...deluded nature. He perpetually experiences pain and distress born of delusion. His five faculties...are present in an acute form. Because of their acuity, he attains quickly the immediacy that leads to the ending of the effluents. This is called painful practice with quick intuition.

And what is pleasant practice with slow intuition? There is the case where a certain individual is normally not of an intensely passionate nature. He does not perpetually experience pain and distress born of passion. Or he is normally not of an intensely aversive nature...normally not of an intensely deluded nature. He does not perpetually experience pain and distress born of delusion. His five faculties...are present in a weak form. Because of their weakness, he attains only slowly the immediacy that leads to the ending of the effluents. This is called pleasant practice with slow intuition.

And what is pleasant practice with quick intuition? There is the case where a certain individual is normally not of an intensely passionate nature...normally not of an intensely aversive nature...normally not of an intensely deluded nature. He does not perpetually experience pain and distress born of delusion. His five faculties...are present in an acute form. Because of their acuity, he attains quickly the immediacy that leads to the ending of the effluents. This is called pleasant practice with quick intuition.
A.IV.162

85. These are the four modes of practice. Which four? Painful practice with slow intuition, painful practice with quick intuition, pleasant practice with slow intuition, and pleasant practice with quick intuition.

And what is painful practice with slow intuition? There is the case where a monk remains focused on unattractiveness with regard to the body. Percipient of loathsomeness with regard to food and non-delight with regard to the entire world, he remains focused on impermanence with regard to all fabrications. The perception of death is well established within him. He dwells in dependence on the five strengths of a learner-strength of conviction, strength of conscience, strength of concern, strength of persistence, and strength of discernment-but his five faculties...are present in a weak form. Because of their weakness, he attains only slowly the immediacy that leads to the ending of the effluents. This is called painful practice with slow intuition.

And what is painful practice with quick intuition? There is the case where a monk remains focused on unattractiveness with regard to the body...focused on impermanence with regard to all fabrications. The perception of death is well established within him. He dwells in dependence on the five strengths of a learner...and his five faculties...are present in an acute form. Because of their acuity, he attains quickly the immediacy that leads to the ending of the effluents. This is called painful practice with quick intuition.

And what is pleasant practice with slow intuition? There is the case where a monk...enters and remains in the first jhana...second jhana...third jhana...fourth jhana. He dwells in dependence on the five strengths of a learner...but his five faculties...are present in a weak form. Because of their weakness, he attains only slowly the immediacy that leads to the ending of the effluents. This is called pleasant practice with slow intuition.

And what is pleasant practice with quick intuition? There is the case where a monk...enters and remains in the first jhana...second jhana...third jhana...fourth jhana. He dwells in dependence on the five strengths of a learner...and his five faculties...are present in an acute form. Because of their acuity, he attains quickly the immediacy that leads to the ending of the effluents. This is called pleasant practice with quick intuition.

These are the four modes of practice.
A.IV.163

86. As Ven. Sona was meditating in seclusion [after doing walking meditation until the skin of his soles was split and bleeding], this train of thought arose in his awareness: 'Of the Blessed One's disciples who have aroused their persistence, I am one, but my mind is not released from the effluents through lack of clinging/sustenance. Now, my family has enough wealth that it would be possible to enjoy wealth and make merit. What if I were to disavow the training, return to the lower life, and to enjoy wealth and make merit?'

Then the Blessed One, as soon as he perceived with his awareness the train of thought in Ven. Sona's awareness-as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm-disappeared from Mount Vulture Peak, appeared in the Cool Wood right in front of Ven. Sona, and sat down on a prepared seat. Ven. Sona, after bowing down to the Blessed One, sat down to one side. As he was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him, 'Just now, as you were meditating in seclusion, didn't this train of thought appear to your awareness: "Of the Blessed One's disciples who have aroused their persistence, I am one, but my mind is not released from the effluents....What if I were to disavow the training, return to the lower life, and to enjoy wealth and make merit?"'

'Yes, lord.'

'Now what do you think, Sona. Before, when you were a house-dweller, were you skilled at playing the vina?'

'Yes, lord.'

'...And when the strings of your vina were too taut, was your vina in tune and playable?'

'No, lord.'

'...And when the strings of your vina were too loose, was your vina in tune and playable?'

'No, lord.'

'...And when the strings of your vina were neither too taut nor too loose, but tuned (lit: "established") to be right on pitch, was your vina in tune and playable?'

'Yes, lord.'

'In the same way, Sona, over-aroused persistence leads to restlessness, overly slack persistence leads to laziness. Thus you should determine the right pitch for your persistence, attune ('penetrate, 'ferret out') the pitch of the [five] faculties [to that], and there pick up your theme.'

'Yes, lord,' Ven. Sona answered the Blessed One. Then, having given this exhortation to Ven. Sona, the Blessed One-as a strong man might extend his flexed arm or flex his extended arm-disappeared from the Cool Wood and appeared on Mount Vulture Peak.

So after that, Ven. Sona determined the right pitch for his persistence, attuned the pitch of the [five] faculties [to that], and there picked up his theme. Dwelling alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, and resolute, he in no long time reached and remained in the supreme goal of the holy life for which clansmen rightly go forth from home into homelessness, knowing and realizing it for himself in the here and now. He knew: 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for the sake of this world.' And thus Ven. Sona became another one of the Arahants.
A.VI.55

87. There is a manner of reckoning whereby a monk who is a learner, standing at the level of a learner, can discern that 'I am a learner,' and whereby a monk who is an adept (Arahant), standing at the level of an adept, can discern that 'I am an adept.'

...There is the case where a monk is a learner. He discerns, as it actually is, that 'This is stress...This is the origination of stress...This is the cessation of stress...This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.' This is a manner of reckoning whereby a monk who is a learner, standing at the level of a learner, can discern that 'I am a learner.'

Furthermore, the monk who is a learner reflects, 'Is there outside of this [doctrine and discipline] any priest or contemplative who teaches the true, genuine, and accurate Dhamma like the Blessed One?' And he discerns, 'No, there is no priest or contemplative outside of this doctrine and discipline who teaches the true, genuine, and accurate Dhamma like the Blessed One.' This too is a manner of reckoning whereby a monk who is a learner, standing at the level of a learner, can discern that 'I am a learner.'

Furthermore, the monk who is a learner discerns the five faculties: the faculty of conviction...persistence...mindfulness...concentration...discernment. He sees clear through with discernment their destiny, excellence, rewards, and consummation, but he does not touch them with his body. This too is a manner of reckoning whereby a monk who is a learner, standing at the level of a learner, can discern that 'I am a learner.'

And what is the manner of reckoning whereby a monk who is an adept, standing at the level of an adept, can discern that 'I am an adept'? There is the case where a monk who is an adept discerns the five faculties: the faculty of conviction... persistence...mindfulness...concentration...discernment. He touches with his body and sees clear through with discernment what their destiny, excellence, rewards, and consummation are. This is a manner of reckoning whereby a monk who is an adept, standing at the level of an adept, can discern that 'I am an adept.'

Furthermore, the monk who is an adept discerns the six sense faculties: the faculty of the eye...ear...nose...tongue...body...intellect. He discerns, 'These six sense faculties will disband entirely, everywhere, and in every way without remainder, and no other set of six sense faculties will arise anywhere or in any way.' This too is a manner of reckoning whereby a monk who is an adept, standing at the level of an adept, can discern that 'I am an adept.'
S.XLVIII.53

88. When a Noble Disciple discerns, as they actually are present, the origination, the disappearance, the allure, the drawbacks-and the emancipation from-these five faculties, he is called a Noble Disciple, one who has attained the stream, not subject to perdition, certain, destined for self-awakening....When, having discerned as they actually are present, the origination, the disappearance, the allure, the drawbacks-and the emancipation from-these five faculties, he is released from lack of clinging/sustenance, he is called an Arahant....
S.XLVIII.3, 5

89. The Buddha: Sariputta, do you take it on conviction that the faculty of conviction, when developed and pursued, plunges into the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal and consummation? Do you take it on conviction that the faculty of persistence...mindfulness...concentration...discernment, when developed and pursued, plunges into the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal and consummation?

Sariputta: It's not that I take it on conviction in the Blessed One that the faculty of conviction...persistence...mindfulness...concentration... discernment, when developed and pursued, plunges into the Deathless, has the Deathless as its goal and consummation. Those who have not known, seen, penetrated, realized, or attained it by means of discernment would have to take it on conviction in others that the faculty of conviction...discernment...has the Deathless as its goal and consummation; whereas those who have known, seen, penetrated, realized, and attained it by means of discernment would have no doubt or uncertainty that the faculty of conviction...discernment...has the Deathless as its goal and consummation. And as for me, I have known, seen, penetrated, realized, and attained it by means of discernment. I have no doubt or uncertainty that the faculty of conviction...discernment...has the Deathless as its goal and consummation.
S.XLVIII.44


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