As Gil mentioned several times, the five faculties are capacities we all have. Through our practice we continue to strengthen them. We might start with a little faith and put in a little effort to develop some awareness, then find a little calm, and some improved discernment. This gives us more faith to put in more effort, and so on.
As we strengthen and develop these capacities, they become powers – something accessible and unshakeable.
They are called powerful because they master their opposites. Faith controls doubt; energy controls laziness; mindfulness controls heedlessness; concentration controls distraction, and wisdom (or discernment) controls ignorance. When the five powers are well-developed, the mind isn’t bound by these negative energies and understanding and compassion flourish.Lion’s Roar Staff. “What Are the Five Powers?” Lions Roar, 15 Nov. 2019, www.lionsroar.com/the-5-powers.
Another description from Sarah Doering:
They’ve been called “five priceless jewels,” because when they’re well developed, the mind resists domination by the dark forces of greed and hate and delusion. When the mind is no longer bound by those energies, then understanding and love have no limits.Sarah Doering. “The Five Spiritual Powers.” Insight Journal, Spring 2003, www.buddhistinquiry.org/article/the-five-spiritual-powers.
Just reading those descriptions sparks a little more faith and confidence in my own practice. It’s that “yes” that Gil talked about. Yes, I want there to be understanding and love and compassion that flourishes. That’s why I practice.
Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer’s poem “On International Kindness Day” includes this description of the kind of love our faculties as powers can help to flourish. (Read the whole thing – it’s playful and fun!)
… Everyone thinksRosemerry Wahtola Trommer. “On International Kindness Day.” A Hundred Falling Veils, 14 Nov. 2020, ahundredfallingveils.com/2020/11/13/on-international-kindness-day.
kindness prefers things quiet and calm,
but kindness is ready for action—
ready to take on the world,
ready to travel every back road,
every highway, every main street
and get this ever-loving show on the road.
There’s a whole lot of loving to do.
What has inspired you in this month (or your years) of reflection? What motivates you to further cultivate these capacities?
I have suggested many meditations this month. I invite you to choose what will support you best.
With good wishes,