As we enter the Autumn season, we contemplate landscapes that remind us that we, as part of nature are shedding the Summer season to make room for Winter, inevitably giving way to renewal and light. We reflect together on what can empower the mind in its journey toward illumination, “enlightenment.” One group of factors given prominence in the Buddha’s discourses on the thirty-seven requisites of enlightenment is the Five Spiritual Faculties: faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom.
These faculties can be activated to coordinate and channel our natural energies toward achievement of inner harmony and balance essential to true freedom. Without training, the mind is prey to greed, aversion and ignorance that lock us into projecting past into present and rehearsing for the future. Although these forces promise fulfillment when satiated, they consistently fail to deliver. Developing the faculties, we train the mind into the power to at least, minimize, and at best, uproot these tendencies.
The pre-existent natural capacities that exercise the functions of these faculties may seem ordinary as they are found in our everyday lives: trusting confidence in higher values (faith), vigorous effort toward the good (energy), attentive awareness (mindfulness), focused concentration (concentration), and intelligent understanding (wisdom). Yet, in the Buddha’s teaching, they can, appropriately developed, transcendentally propel our practice toward realization, manifesting maturity in the contemplative development of insight, the direct road to awakening.
In the coming weeks, we will discuss each of the faculties and their roles in our process. Interested? Reflect on which of the faculties needs strengthening and how to gently weaken unbeneficial tendencies, making room for growth into the new.