In Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (AN Book of Five. 5.14), the Buddha said:
There are these five powers. What five?
- Power of Trust
- Power of Energy
- Power of Mindfulness
- Power of Concentration/Meditation/Unification
- Power of Wisdom.
What is the Power of Trust?
Endowed with trust, one places trust in the enlightenment of the Tathagata (one who has thus gone (beyond suffering).
What is the Power of Energy?
One arouses energy for abandoning unwholesome qualities and developing wholesome qualities. One is strong, firm in exertion, not casting off the duty of cultivating wholesome qualities.
What is the Power of Mindfulness?
One reaches supreme mindfulness and remembers and recollects what arose and what was done.
What is the Power of Concentration/Meditation/Unification?
One enters the first deep meditation with happiness and joy.
With the subsiding of thought one enters and dwells in the second deep meditation, which brings unification.
With the fading away of happiness, one dwells in the third deep meditation, equanimous, mindful and with clear comprehension.
With the letting go of pleasure and pain, one enters and dwells in the fourth deep meditation. There is purification of mindfulness by equanimity.
What is the Power of Wisdom?
Wisdom discerns arising and passing of mental/material phenomena.
This is noble and penetrative leading to the destruction of suffering. This is called the Power of Wisdom.
“These are the five powers.”
Brief Comment on the Five Powers of Mind
All five powers share an equally important relationship. None exist independently of the other four.
Let us remember all five powers recognise beneficial changes taking place with the development of the powers and the impact when we neglect their significance.
1. Teachings made a shift away from faith, a significant feature of religion and views in secularism/science. Faith means accepting what we are told without expertise/experience to prove and confirm. Faith has a value such as taking a step into the unknown to develop experience. Trust has a foundation in teachings/practice to go beyond all suffering having the experience to recall ending a specific problem(s). Trust supports confidence to act based on experience rather than theory. Through reflection and recollection of worthwhile steps already taken, we find the trust to continue.
2. I read Albert Einstein and other scientists stated: “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” Human experience shows the daily changes in energy – waking state, dream and deep sleep. We experience changes because of health/sickness/happiness/stress and more. Practice includes the development of energy for health, ethics, meditation, creativity, service and more. Harmony with energy contributes to its wise application. Practice experiences changes in energy and the conditions for it. This includes experience of loss of energy, burnout and pursuit of activities causing suffering for ourselves and others. We experience ways to create and establish energy, while death reveals the end of energy, the end of the life force.
3. Mindfulness emphasise the importance of reflection. We need to remember with accuracy past experiences, what we thought, said and done and surrounding circumstances. Mindfulness of what arose for insights contributes to the opportunity to develop all five powers of mind. The power of mindfulness does not reify the present moment, the here and now, into a substance, into a thingness, into self-existence isolated from past and future. The power of mindfulness has a much bigger remit than trying to live in the present moment as much as possible.
4. Samadhi (in Pali language) has a three-fold meaning. 1. Concentration. What is worth concentrating on in life in the short and long term? 2. Meditation. What is worth meditating upon to expand all five powers of mind? 3. Unification. This is a deep sense of wellbeing through experiencing a depth of happiness, joy, equanimity and not being bound to pleasure and pain. Samadhi contributes to the meeting of mindfulness and clear comprehension.
5. The application of wisdom applies to seeing the causes and conditions for any kind of suffering from unhealthy behaviour to subtle levels of hindrances to clarity. Seeing means capacity to penetrate issues which brought worthwhile change. If understanding arises, the issues stand under us. The issues cease to have an unwelcome impact upon us. Wisdom responds to life with trust, energy, mindfulness and a depth of concentration/meditation and unification of being.
Final Word. Such a teaching from the Buddha truly deserves a high five.
Stephen Fulder, a senior Dharma teacher in Israel,
has written a book on The Five Powers. Here is the link