2-4 – The Five Powers

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The Five Powers

19] “Again, Udāyin, I have proclaimed to my disciples the way to develop the Five Spiritual Powers. Here a monk develops the Power of Faith, which leads to peace, leads to awakening.

He develops the Power of Energy, which leads to peace, leads to awakening.

He develops the Power of Mindfulness, which leads to peace, leads to awakening.

He develops the Power of Collectedness, which leads to peace, leads to awakening.

He develops the Power of Wisdom (which means seeing and understanding the links of Dependent Origination), which leads to peace, leads to awakening. And thereby many disciples of mine abide having reached the consummation and perfection of direct knowledge.

These are the same as the Five Faculties, but they are called Powers because of their ability to purify mind and make it wholesome and clean.

We will now continue with the Ānāpānasati Sutta.

14] “In this saṅgha of monks there are monks who abide devoted to the development of loving-kindness … of compassion … of joy … of equanimity … of the meditation on foulness … of the perception of impermanence—such monks are there in this saṅgha of monks. In this saṅgha of monks there are monks who abide devoted to the development of mindfulness of breathing.

Loving-Kindness, Compassion, Joy, and Equanimity are known as the Four “Brahmā Vihāras” or the Four Boundless States of Mind, or the Limitless or Immeasurable States of Mind. This is because there are no boundaries or limitations on mind when they are practiced.

The meditation on foulness is suitable for those who have a strong affinity for lust arising in their minds. It is practiced by reflecting on the elements and the disgusting nature of our body parts. For example, when you look at a beautiful person and thoughts of lust arise, you can imagine how desirable that person would be if all of their body parts were to be turned inside-out! Will your mind then think, “Oh! What a lovely intestine or liver!” or “Wow! What beautiful bile, pus, and phlegm that person has!” How much lust is there in mind at that time? Thus, this meditation helps people with a lustful personality to come more into balance.

The perception of impermanence does not actually refer to sitting down and thinking about how everything changes. (Remember, TWIM is about seeing with a silent and spacious mind.) It is referring to the meditation states of “Infinite Space” and “Infinite Consciousness” where mind sees just how fleeting these mental and physical phenomenon truly are and you realize just how unsatisfactory this is. Plus, the biggest insight is when you realize all states of existence are just a part of an impersonal process. In other words, you see and understand that there is no controller and that there is no self making these things to arise. They arise by themselves. They are there for a brief moment and they go away without you having any control over what happens.

We will now proceed to the next section of the Ānāpānasati Sutta, which speaks about “Mindfulness of Breathing”.

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