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Requisites of Enlightenment

Venerable Ledi Sayadaw



Catusaccadhamme sutthu bujjhatì'ti sambodhi; sambodhiyà ango sambojjhango.

The word-explanation as above, means: because sambodhi fully awakens to the Four Truths, therefore it is called "Awakenment" (or Enlightenment). Sambodhi signifies here the Knowledge of the Supramundane Path (lokuttara-magga-nàna). A constituent of such Path Knowledge is called a Factor of Enlightenment.

Birds are first delivered from their mothers’ wombs in the form of eggs. By breaking through the eggs, they are then delivered for a second time. Finally, when they become fully fledged with feathers and wings, they are delivered from their nests and can fly wherever they please. Similarly in the case of meditators, they are first delivered from the distractions of mind which have accompanied them throughout the beginningless Samsàra, through successfully setting up mindful Body Contemplation or by accomplishing the work of Tranquillity meditation. Secondly, when they attain Insight (vipassanà) into Body, Mind, Aggregates (rùpa, nàma, khandhà) etc., they are free from coarse forms of ignorance. Finally, when the seven Factors of Enlightenment (bojjhanga) develop and mature, they become fully fledged by attaining the Knowledge of the Supramundane Path (lokuttara-magga-nàna) called sambodhi, and thus they are delivered from the state of Worldlings (puthujjana), attaining the state of Noble Ones (ariya) -- of the Supramundane (lokuttara) or Nibbàna.

There are seven Bojjhangas, viz. the Factors of Enlightenment:

1. Mindfulness (sati-sambojjhanga),
2. Investigation of Dhamma (dhammavicaya-samboj- jhanga),
3. Energy (viriya-sambojjhanga),
4. Joy (pìti-sambojjhanga),
5. Tranquillity (passaddhi-sambojjhanga),
6. Concentration (samàdhi-sambojjhanga),
7. Equanimity

The mental factor "mindfulness" (sati-cetasika), called diversely satipatthàna, satindriya, sati-bala, sammà-sati magganga, this is Sati-sambojjhanga, the Enlighten-ment-factor "Mindfulness".

The mental factor "wisdom" (pannà-cetasika), diversely called vimamsiddhipàda, pannindriya, pannà-bala, sammà-ditthi magganga, all are dhammavicaya-sambojjhanga, the Enlightenment-factor "Investigation of Dhamma". -- Alternatively, the five Purifications pertaining to Wisdom, the Knowledge of the three Contemplations, the ten Insight knowledges [1], are also called dhammavicaya-sambojjhanga. Just as cotton seeds are milled, carded, etc., so as to produce cotton wool, the process of repeatedly viewing the five Aggregates (khandha) in the light of Vipassanà-nàna (Insight knowledge) is called Dhamma-vicaya-sambojjhanga, the Enlightenment-factor "Dhamma-investigation".

The mental factor "energy" (viriya-cetasika), called diversely sammappadhàna, viriyiddhipàda, viriyindriya, viriya-bala, and sammà-vàyàma magganga, these are Viriya-sambojjhanga, the Enlightenment-factor "Energy".

The joy and happiness that appears when the process of (truly) seeing and knowing increases by the practice of Satipatthàna, e.g., mindful Body Contemplation, is called Pìti-sambojjhanga, the Enlightenment-factor "Joy".

The process of becoming calm and tranquil in both body and mind when the mental distractions, reflections and thoughts abate, is called Passaddhi-sambojjhanga, the Enlighterunent-factor "Tranquillity". It is the mental factor (cetasika) of Tranquillity of Body and of Mind (kàya-passaddhi, citta-passadhi).

The factors pertaining to "Concentration", called samàdhindriya, samàdhi-bala, and sammà-samàdhi mag-ganga, are samàdhi-sambojjhanga, the Enlightenment-factor "Concentration". Alternatively, Preliminary, Access and Full Concentration, or the eight Jhànas, associated with the work of Tranquillity (samatha) and Purification of Mind (citta-visuddhi) and Voidness Concentration (sunnatà-samàdhi) etc., associated with the Purifications pertaining to Wisdom, are also called samàdhi-sambojjhanga. The Concentration that accompanies Insight knowledge (vipassanà nàna), or the knowledge of the Paths and Fruitions is called Voidness Concentration (sunnatà-samàdhi), Conditionless Concentration (animitta-samàdhi) and Desireless Concentration (appanihita-samàdhi).

When work on the subject of meditation (kamma-tthàna) is not yet methodical or systematic, much effort has to be exercised both bodily and mental. But when the work becomes methodical and systematic, one is freed from such effort. This freedom is called tatramajjhattatà cetasika, the mental factor of equipoise. And this is upekkhà-sambojjhanga, the Enlightenment-factor of Equanimity.

When a meditator becomes endowed with these seven characteristics of sambodhi equally, he enjoys the happiness and joy of a monk (samana) in the Buddha Sàsana -- a happiness and joy unequalled and unparallelled by any worldly pleasure.Thus it is said in the Dhammapada:

"The Bhikkhu who has retired to a lonely abode and has calmed his mind, experiences joy transcending that of men, as he clearly perceives Dhamma.

"Whenever he reflects on the rise and fall of the Aggregates, he experiences joy and happiness. To "those who know", that (reflection) is the Deathless." (Verses 373, 374.)

There are texts and stories wherein it is related that ailments and major diseases have been cured by the mere listening to the recitation of these seven Factors of Enlightenment (See Bojjhanga Samyutta). But these ailments and diseases can be cured only when the listeners are fully aware of the meaning of these factors; and great and clear Saddhà (Faith) arises in them.

When these seven Factors of Enlightenment are acquired in a balanced manner, the meditator can rest assured that there will be no deficiency in his Mindfulness directed to the Body (kàyagatà sati); no deficiency in his perception of Impermanence and Not-self (anicca and anattà-sannà), nor in his mental and bodily energy (viriya). Because his mind is set at rest in regard to these three factors (sati, dhammavicaya, viriya), he experiences joy (pìti) in the knowledge that he can now perceive the light of Nibbàna which had never appeared to him in the beginningless past Samsàra, not even in his dreams. Because of that joy and ease (sukha) of mind, his application to the Kammatthàna objects (samàdhi) becomes calm and steady (passaddhi), and equanimity (upekkhà) arises, which is free from the anxieties and efforts for mindfulness (sati), perception of anicca and anattà (dhammavicaya) and the necessity to rouse energy (viriya).

All the above statements are made with reference to the stage at which the Factors of Enlightenment are in unison with one another and their respective functions are well performed. But even at the stage of ordinary practice, from the moment "Mindfulness directed to the Body" is set up qualities such as mindfulness are known as Bojjhangas (Factors of Enlightenment). The Enlightened One has said (in the Bojjhanga Samyutta):

Satisambojjangam bhàveti, vivekanissitam, viràganissitam, nirodhanissitam, vossaggaparinàmim; dhammavicayasambojjhangam...upekkhà-sambojjhangam bhàveti, vivekanissitam viràganissitam nirodha-nissitam vossaggaparinàmim.

"He develops the Enlightemnent-factors "Mindfulness" .... "Equanimity", dependent (based) on detachment, dependent on absence of lust, dependent on cessation, culminating in relinquishment."

This means that, in the ordinary course (referred to by the words "He develops ..." ), the process of setting up Mindful Body Contemplation amounts to the setting up of the seven Factors of Enlightenment. The distinctive and higher cultivation of them is indicated by the words "dependent on detachment ..." [2]

The meaning of the Pàli passage quoted above, is: One should practice the Enlightenment-factor "Mindful-ness" (etc.), which is dependent on absence of all kinds of activities and anxieties, absence of lust and greed, of the suffering attendant upon the round of rebirths and on the relinquishment of the four substrata of existence (upadhi) [3].


[1] See footnotes 1, 2 and 3, page 91.

[2] Explained in the Commentary to the Bojjhanga Vibhanga.

[3] The 4 Substrata (upadhi) are: 1) Sense-pleasures (Kàmàpadhi), 2) mental defilements (Kilesùpadhi), 3) Kamma (Kammùpadhi), and 4) the 5 Aggregates (Khandhùpadhi).


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Vietnamese translation

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

[Trở về trang Thư Mục]
updated: 11-05-2002