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Requisites of Enlightenment

Venerable Ledi Sayadaw



The word-explanation of the term indriya is:

Indassa kammam indriyam,

which means that indriya signifies the act of ruling or of controlling, by rulers. "The act of ruling by rulers" means that wherever the ruler rules, nobody can go against him.

In the present context, the control or rule that one exercises over one's mind is the essential point in these Controlling Faculties.

There are five such Faculties [1]:

1. Saddhindriya(faith),
2. Viriyindriya(energy),
3. Satindriya(mindfulness),
4. Samàdhindriya(concentration),
5. Pannindriya(wisdom).


Saddhindriya is (to some extent,) synonymous with saddhà. But there are two kinds of saddhà, namely:

1. Pakati-saddhà, Ordinary Faith, and
2. Bhàvanà-saddhà, Faith Developed (or matured) by Meditation [2].

The Faith and Confidence (saddhà) that leads ordinary men and women to perform acts of Almsgiving (dàna), Morality (sìla) and "surrogate" (or rudimentary) Meditation (bhàvanà) [3], -- is called Ordinary Faith (pakati-saddhà). Here, as was shown in the simile of the madman (Chapter 11), although such saddhà is to some extent a Controlling Faculty, its control does not extend to the capacity of controlling the unstable minds of ordinary folk in the work of meditation (bhàvanà). Control is exercised over the instability only to the extent of leading to acts of Almsgiving, Morality and rudimentary Meditation.

Without Faith and Confidence (saddhà), the mind never inclines to kusala-kamma (wholesome volitional actions), for ordinarily it takes delight only in evil acts. This holds true also for the effort to attain to the Purification of Virtue (sìla-visuddhi) or to engage in the study of the sacred texts. This is how ordinary wholesome acts (pakati-kusala-kamna) are produced by the control of Ordinary Faith (pakati saddhà), which is undeveloped (by genuine meditation: abhàvita).

In the work of attending to a subject of meditation (kammatthàna) for the practice of Tranquillity and Insight, Ordinary Faith has not sufficient control over the mind as the mind is apt to recoil and rebound from that Faith and to turn elsewhere. In meditative work, Ordinary Faith is not sufficient.

It is Developed Faith that prepares the seed bed, so to say, for the acquisition of great strength and power through the practice of meditation, such as Mindfulness of Breathing.

In the context of the "Requisites of Enlightenment" (bodhipakkhiya-dhamma), it is Developed Faith (bhàvanà-saddhà) that is called saddhindriya, the Controlling Faculty of Faith. In the field of meditative exercises, it represents the disappearance of unstable and oscillating attention and the appearance of a clear and steady mind [4]. The mind's attention can be steadily fixed only on those objects which it finds clear and unbefogged. The practice of Body Contemplation (kàyagatà-sati), such as Mindfulness of Breathing, is the preparation of the seed-bed for bhàvanà-saddhà, i.e. Faith and Confidence, developed and matured by meditation. If the mind is fixed on the Contemplation of the Body, such as the out-and in-breaths, it amounts to the attainment of Developed Faith. If then the work is continued in the fields of Tranquillity (samatha) and Insight (vipassanà), the ability to destroy the three planes of Personality Belief (sakkàya-ditthi) can be acquired even within this life. The work of samatha and vipassanà needs for their proper performance, the reliance on a teacher who is very learned in the Dhamma.


Viriyindriya is, to some extent, synonymous with viriya. But there are two kinds, or degrees, of viriya, namely:

1. Pakati-viriya, Ordinary Energy, and
2. Bhàvanà-viriya, Energy developed by meditation.

Another classification is:

1. Kàyika-viriya, bodily energy, and
2. Cetasika-viriya, mental energy.

Ordinary Energy (pakati-viriya) can be easily recognized. Persons who possess much Ordinary Energy in worldly matters can easily attain Developed Energy (bhàvanà-viriya). The strict ascetic observances (dhutanga) of a monk are instances of Bodily Energy of a developed nature (kàyika-bhàvanà-viriya).

If, after setting up Developed Bodily Energy such as reducing sleep and being alert and energetic, there is still no Mental Energy (cetasika-viriya), such as enthusiasm in keen attention to meditation (bhàvanà-manasikàra), steady application to, or concentration on the objects of meditation (kammatthàna), such as Mindfulness on Breathing, cannot be attained, and the period of work is unduly lengthened without achieving clarity of mind and perception.

Any kind of work will be properly and appropriately done only if the person performing it, obtains quick mastery over it. It will be improperly done if the work obtains mastery over the person. By "the work obtaining mastery over the person" is meant that the work is done without real energy, as a result of which no concrete results appear, and as days and months drag on, distaste (in meditation) and tedium ill body postures appear, leading to sloth. With the appearance of sloth, progress in the work glows down, and with the glowing down of progress, further sloth develops. The idea then appears that it would be better to change the form of the work. Thus constant changes in forms of work occur, and in that way the work obtains mastery over the person lacking energy.

In meditative work, quick success is obtained only by one endowed with both bodily and mental energy. From the moment when Body Contemplation is set up, the energy that develops day by day is bhàvanà-viriya, energy developed by meditation, and it is this energy that, in the bodhipakkhiya-dhammas, is called the Faculty of Energy, viriyindriya. It represents the disappearance of sloth and laziness in meditative work and the appearance of enthusiasm and vigor. The mind takes delight in dwelling on objects on which its attention is strong. Thence, the task of setting up Developed Energy, and graded development, is identical with that of the Faculty of Faith (saddhindriya).

The Faculty of Mindfulness (satindriya), in the context of the bodhipakkhiya-dhamma, means the setting up of mindful Body-Contemplation (kàyagatà-sati), e.g. on Out-and In-breath, and the development of bhàvanà-sati (meditative mindfulness), called Satipatthàna, until Supramundane Right Mindfulness (lokuttara-sammà-sati), as a supramundane Path-factor, is reached.

The Faculties of Concentration and Wisdom (samàdhindriya and pannindriya) may be defined and described similarly.

The Faculty of Concentration dispels the distraction of mind when it is applied in the work of Satipatthàna on such an object as the Mindfulness on Breathing. The Faculty of Wisdom dispels confusion and haziness.

The Faculties of Faith, Energy and Mindfulness, which precede those of Concentration and Wisdom, are like those who raise a king to kingship. They raise the latter two Facuties until the topmost excellence is attained.

After the setting up of Body Contemplation and the attainment of mastery over one's mind, if the Samatha road is taken, the Faculty of Concentration becomes the eight meditative attainments (samàpatti or jhàna), while the Faculty of Wisdom becomes the five Higher Spiritual knowledges (abhinna) [5], such as the Supernormal Powers etc. If the Vipassanà road be taken, the Faculty of Concentration becomes the Voidness Concentration (sunnatà-samàdhi), Conditionless Concentration (animitta-samàdhi) or Desireless Concentration (appanihita-samàdhi), while the Faculty of Wisdom becomes the five Purifications (visuddhi) pertaining to Wisdom [6], the Knowledge of the three Contemplations (anupassanà-nàna) [7] the ten Insight knowledges (vipassanà-nàna) [8] the Knowledges pertaining to the four Paths and the four Fruitions and the nineteen of Reviewing (paccavekkhana-nàna) [9].

This shows how the five Faculties occur together.

The Predominance of the Faculties

It is now proposed to show where each of these Faculties forms a predominant factor.

The Sutta text says:

Kattha saddhindriyam datthabbam?
Catùsu sotàpattiyangesu ettha saddhindriyam datthabbam.

"Where should one look for the Faculty of Faith?
One should look for it in the four constituents of Streamentry." [10]

This means that the Faculty of Faith predominates in the four constituents of Stream-entry. These four are:

1. Unshakeable faith in the noble qualities of the Buddha, such as Araham, sammà-sambuddho, etc.

2. Unshakeable faith in the noble qualities of the Dhamma, such as "Well proclaimed" (svàkkhàto), etc.

3. Unshakeable faith in the noble qualities of the Sangha, such as "Of good conduct" (supatipanno), etc.

4. Completely or perfectly endowed with the Foundation (or proximate cause; padatthàna) of Supramundane Concentration (lokuttara-samàdhi), which is "Purification of Morality" (sìla-visuddhi) [11].

These are the four factors that ensure the attainment of Sotàpatti-magga-nàna (Knowledge pertaining to the Path of Stream-entry), within the compass of this life.

In the Sutta passage "Buddhe aveccappasàdena samannàgato" [12], aveccappasàdo means "unshakeable faith". It is the faith (saddhà) of those who have attained Access Concentration (upacàra-samàdhi) while reflecting on the noble qualities of the Buddha. Upacàra-samàdhi here means steady and fixed attention achieved while reflecting on the noble qualities of the Buddha. When one encounters such steady and fixed attention, one must know that the control by Faith is predominant. Such a person is one who attains mastery over his mind in the matter of Faith in the noble qualities of the Buddha. The same holds true in regard to the noble qualities of the Dhamma and Sangha.

"Foundation of Supramundane Concentration" (the fourth constituent; see above) means the "Permanent Morality ending with Right Livelihood as the Eighth Precept" (àjivatthamaka-nicca-sìla) which can enable one to attain Supramundane Concentration in this very life. When that sìla is unbroken and pure, it is free from the defilements of tanhà (craving), màna (conceit), and ditthi (wrong view), and in such case one must understand that saddhà is prominent in that sìla. Inability to observe the requirements of the sìla is called "breaking" it. Although the sìla may be technically unbroken, but if it is observed amidst ordinary worldly conditions, it is said to be "impure." In accordance with the saying "the worth of a bull can be known only on the ascent from the bed of a stream to the banks," lay persons and Bhikkhus who profess to be followers of the Buddha can know whether or not the turbulence and distractions latent in their minds have disappeared, i.e. whether or not they have obtained mastery over their minds, only when they arrive at these four constituents.

Kattha viriyindiryam datthabbam?
Catùsu sammappadhànesu ettha viriyindriyam datthabbam.

(Where should one look for viriyindriya? One should look for it in the four constituents of Right Effort (sammappadhàna).

Lay persons and Bhikkhus who profess to be followers of the Buddha can know whether or not the unsettledness and turbulence of their minds in the matter of viriya have disappeared and whether or not they are thus persons who have obtained mastery over their minds, only when they come to the four constituents of sammappadhàna.

"Let my skin remain, let my sinews remain, let my bones remain, let my blood dry up, I shall not rest until the realm of Personality Belief (sakkàya-ditthi), the realm of the duccaritas, and the apàya-samsàra, that are in my personality, are destroyed in this life."

This is the singleness of determination and effort in sammappadhàna. It is the effort of the same order as the Venerable Cakkhupàla's [13]. When one encounters such determination and effort, one must recognise in it the predominating control of viriya over the mind. In the matter of viriya, the unsettledness and turbulence of the mind have disappeared in such a person, and he is one within the Buddha Sàsana who has obtained mastery over his mind.

Kattha satindriyam datthabbam?
Catùsu satipatthànesu ettha satindriyam datthabbam.

(Where should one look for satindriya?
One should look for it in the four Foundations of Mindfulness,

Lay persons and Bhikkhus who profess to be followers of the Buddha can know whether or not the unsettledness and turbulence of their minds in the matter of sati (mindfulness) have disappeared, and whether or not they are thus persons who have obtained mastery over their minds, only when they arrive at the four constituents of the satipatthàna. If the attention can be kept fixed on any part of the body, such as out-breath and in-breath, by the successful practice of mindful Body Contemplation (kàyagatàsati) for as long as is desired, then it must be recognised as the control exercised by Mindfulness (sati). The unsettledness and turbulence of the mind of such a person have disappeared. He is one who has obtained mastery over his mind.

Kattha samàdhindriyam datthabbam?
Catùsu jhànesu ettha samàdhindriyam datthabbam.

(Where should one look for samàdhindriya?
One should look for it in the four

If in the work of samatha, such as out-breath and in-breath, the successful accomplishment in the least of upacàra samàdhi bhàvanà (contemplation of access-concentration) is attained, and if thereby the nivaranas (Hindrances) such as kàmacchanda (Sensuous Desire), byàpàda (Ill-will), etc. which in the past samsàra have continuously been running riot in the mind, are removed, the attention of the mind on the objects of samatha becomes specially steady and tranquil. This must be recognised as arising out of the function of the predominant control exercised by samàdhi. The unsettledness and disturbances of the mind in the matter of samàdhi have disappeared from such an individual. He is one who has obtained mastery over big mind.

Kattha pannindriyam datthabbam?

Catùsu ariyasaccesu ettha pannindriyam datthabbam.

"(Where should one look for pannindrniya?
One should look for it in the Four Noble Truths.)"

Among persons who encounter a Buddha Sàsana, knowledge of the Four Noble Truths is of supreme value. Only when this knowledge is acquired can they obtain release from the realm of sakkàyaditthi, and that of the duccaritas, and from the apàya samsàra. Hence, in order to acquire a knowledge of the Four Noble Truths, they should attempt at least to obtain insight into the six dhàtus (or basic constituent elements) of pathavi, àpo, tejo, vàyo, àkàsa and vinnàna [14] or insight into their fleeting and unstable nature how they do not last for more than the twinkling of an eye at a time (so to say) and how they are continually being destroyed. They should attain to such insight through such methods of practice as studying, memorising, reciting, cogitating, listening, discussing, questioning, practising insight exercises, and contemplating. If a clear insight is obtained into these six elements, there is no necessity for special practice with regard to the remaining dhammas [15]. If the nature of anicca, (Impermanence) can be clearly realised, the realisation of anattà (Impersonality) follows as a matter of course [16].

The realisation of the nature of dukkha (Suffering) can be accomplished in its entirety only when one attains the stage of arahatta phala (Fruition of Holiness).

Thus, after putting forth effort for lengthy periods, when insight is obtained into the nature of the six elements both within and without oneself, as well as into the nature of their Impermanency, fixity of attention on them is achieved. This must be recognised as arising out of the predominant control exercised by pannà. The unreliability that had been a feature of one's mind throughout past infinite samsàra gradually disappears.

Here, "unreliability of one's mind" means the perception of permanency in things that are impermanent, of happiness in suffering, of pleasantness in loathsomeness, of self in non-self, of individuals in non-individuals, of beings in non-beings, of humans in non-humans, of devas, Sakka and Brahmàs in non-devas, non-Sakka, and non-Brahmàs, of women, men, bullocks, buffaloes, elephants, horses in non-women, non-men, non-bullocks, non-buffaloes, non-elephants, and non-horses. Freedom from unreliability means perceiving the true reality after having obtained mastery over the mind within the Buddha Sàsana.

If dukkha-sacca, or the Noble Truth of Suffering, be clearly perceived, it follows as a matter of course that the other three Truths can also be clearly perceived. In the perception of these four Truths, the way that Worldlings (puthujjana) perceive them is known as "theoretical knowledge" (anubodha), while the way of the Noble (ariya, i.e. Stream-winners, etc.) is known as "penetrative understanding" (pativedha). "Theoretical knowledge" is like seeing a light at night but not the fire from which it originates. Although the fire cannot be directly seen, by seeing the reflected light one can know without doubt that there is a fire. Seeing the fire directly is like pativedha, the "penetrative understanding".

Saddhindriyam bhàveti, Viriyindriyam bhàveti, Satindriyam bhàveti, Samàdhindriyam bhàveti, Pannindriyam bhàveti [17].

The meaning of this Pàli passage uttered by the Buddha, is that the five indriyas (mental faculties) should be practised and developed in order to facilitate the great work of samatha and vipassanà.

A person who has not developed these five indriyas, is like a country without a ruler or king. It is like the forests and mountains inhabited by wild tribes where no administration exists. In a rulerless country there is no law. There the people are unrestrained. Like animals, the strong prey on the weak. In the same way, the mind of a person who has not developed the five indriyas is distracted and runs riot with defilements. Just as a person possessed by evil spirits cannot bear to hear the sound of such recitations as "iti pi so" or "hetu paccayo", when persons without developed indriyas hear talks connected with the cause of contentment (paccaya santosa) or with the practice of mental development (bhàvanà-rambha), they quickly discover antagonistic criticisms. In them, the desire to exert themselves in the work of samatha and vipassanà never arises.

On the other hand, a person who develops the five indriyas resembles a country ruled by a just and lawful king. It resembles the towns and hamlets of the majjhima desa (midcountry) where governmental administration exists. Such a person is not disturbed by the variegated theories of various persons. He is confirmed in the sole way of the Buddha's teachings. When such a person hears talk connected with the cause of contentment, or the practice of mental development, his mind is clear and cool. He is confirmed in the desire to exert himself in the work of samatha and vipassanà.

In this way, the arising of the two kinds of desires in this world is not the work of beings or individuals, but depends on the existence or otherwise of development of the five indriyas. If there is no development of the indriyas, one kind of desire arises. If there is development of the indriyas, that desire disappears and a new kind of desire invariably appears. The more the development of the indriyas proceeds, the more does this new desire increase and gather strength. When all the five indriyas are set up, the desire for the Paths and the Fruits will immediately appear. Thus must beings develop the five indriyas in order to raise them from their Ordinary level (pakati-saddhà, etc.) to the great heights of their Developed (or meditative) plane (bhàvanà-saddhà, etc.).


[1] On the Five Faculties, see "The Way of Wisdom", by Edward Conze (The Wheel No. 65/66).

[2] In the following, called, for short, "Developed Faith", similarly, "Developed Energy".

[3] 'Surrogate' meditation. -- The original text of the translation has here "imitation" bhàvanà, which sounds more deprecatory than the Author may have intended in this context. What is probably meant is a kind of very rudimentary meditation or contemplation that is not much more than a devotional or pensive mood maintained for some time, which, being of a discursive nature, does not reach, by itself, any marked degree of concentration. Being, in this context, one of the three "items of merit-making" (punna-kiriya-vatthu), it is nevertheless a beneficial practice that may well lead to concentration and meditation proper. - Editor.

[4] The aspect of saddhà that is especially active here, is Confidence, i.e., confidence in the method (and the Dhamma in general) and self-confidence. - Editor

[5] The five Higher Spiritual Knowledges (abhinnà) are:

1. Iddhividha, Super-normal Powers,
2. Dibba-sota, Celestial Ear (clair-audience),
3. Parassa ceto-pariyanàna, Knowledge of the minds of others,
4. Pubbe Nivàsànussati, Recollection of Former Lives.
5. Dibba-cakkhu, Celestial Eye (clairvoyance).

[6] These are the last five of the seven Purifications: see list on p. 21.

[7] These are the Contemplations on Impermanence, Suffering and Not-self.

[8] These are: Comprehension knowledge (sammasana-nàna), and the nine Insight-knowledges dealt with in Chapter XXI of "The Path of Purification".

[9] These nineteen are enumerated in "The Path of Purification", Chapter XXII, 20, 21.

[10] Sotàpannassa angàni; see Indriya Samyutta, Sutta 8, Datthabbasutta.

[11] In the Suttas, this fourth constituent of Stream-entry is usually formulated as "unbroken morality".

[12] For instance, in Majjhima-Nikàya No. 9, The Discourse on Right Understanding.

[13] See Dhammapada Com. Story to verse 1.

[14] (1) Element of Extension, (2) Element of Liquidity or Cohesion (3) Element of Kinetic Energy (Fire), (4) Element of Motion or Support (Wind), (5) Element of Space, (6) Element of Consciousness. -- On the meditation on the first four, see Ledi Sayadaw, Magga Dipani, in the section "How to establish the Wisdom Group".

[15] Such classifications as Aggregates (khandha) or Sense-bases (àyatana).

[16] See Udàna, Meghiya Vagga, Sutta 1: "In him who perceives impermanence the perception of Not-self manifests itself. And he who perceives Not-self obtains the elimination of the conceit "I am" and reaches Nibbàna in this very life."

[17] Samyutta Nikàya, Mahà Vagga, Indriya Samy., Vagga 6, Sutta 8.


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Vietnamese translation

Sincere thanks to Mr. Sunanda Pham Kim Khanh for supplying this electronic copy
(Binh Anson, 05-2002)

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updated: 11-05-2002