January 29 – Review

By | January 29, 2023

Dear Friends,

Over the course of the month, we have looked at each of the five faculties and their progression, as described in a series of talks from Gil Fronsdal.

Whenever there are lists like this, it can feel overwhelming, like we have to study for an exam in order to pass. If that’s arising for you, please let that go. I personally find it helps to know there are these processes; that they can be developed; that they support more ease and peace and love in myself and in the world. With time, they start to make sense in the arc of my practice, and then the list doesn’t become something to memorize but rather something to live. I hope you’ll have some faith in that process for you!

Still, it can be fun to review what we did, so I will post a day by day summary below, in case you want a quick link to the topics this month.

There is also a great one-page summary of the Five Faculties from Insight Meditation South Bay, that distills the topic into a few key points. You can find it here:

More than anything we memorize, this is something we practice. We try things; we see what works; we course-correct. We spiral back and start again and again.

As Gil said in one article:

To learn a skill you have to apply yourself and practice regularly. You learn most quickly when you practice every day. So too in meditation. And in meditation, as with any craft, we learn from our “mistakes.”

The five faculties–confidence, persistent effort, mindfulness, concentration, and discernment–are skills that we all already have to some degree. Recognizing and cultivating them as part of our meditation practice can help us develop our meditation and also manage our life experience to benefit ourselves and others.

Gil Fronsdal, “The Five Faculties”

I hope you have found this exploration interesting.

With good wishes,

You can find all the posts from this month on the blog here:

  • 1 – Baking with the faculties – an overview of the five faculties – and thinking how they apply to baking cookies
  • Saddha / Faith / Confidence / Conviction / Trust
    • 2 – Placing the heart upon faith – the faith that is inspired, heartfelt
    • 3 – Confidence – strength to actually engage in practice
    • 4 – Convinced that this is possible
    • 5 – Supported by trust
    • 6 – The deep peace of acceptance
  • Viriya / Energy / Effort
    • 7 – What it takes to begin (again and again)
    • 8 – What we let go of and what we cultivate – right endeavor
    • 9 – Delight in our capacity to be aware – continuous effort
    • 10 – Something begins to unfold – when effort become a flow
    • 11 – Let go, let go – effortless effort
  • Sati / Mindfulness / Awareness
    • 12 – Here. Just this. – simple mindfulness
    • 13 – Simple act of recognition
    • 14 – Settle back and watch – observation
    • 15 – Things change – observing change
    • 16 – We’re all beginners at times – abiding in awareness
  • Samadhi / Concentration / Collectedness
    • 17 – Centering and letting go
    • 18 – Like a bee on a flower – connecting and sustaining awareness
    • 19 – Everything coming together into one place – unification of the mind
    • 20 – A wellspring of joy – well-being and joy
    • 21 – Deep equanimity – equanimity as the fruit of practice
  • Panna / Wisdom / Discernment
    • 22 – Wisdom that arises in the forge of suffering
    • 23 – What’s happening and how we relate to that – distinguishing wisdom
    • 24 – Saying yes or no with wisdom – decisive wisdom
    • 25 – Something gets revealed – revelatory wisdom
    • 26 – A reference point of understanding – liberative wisdom
  • 27 – Balancing the faculties
  • 28 – From faculties to powers
  • 29 – Review (you are here)
  • 30 – Going forward with the faculties (coming tomorrow!)
  • 31 – Closing gratitude (coming Tuesday!)