The Five Spiritual Faculties

The Five Spiritual Faculties which are the Five Strengths (Powers or Forces)

The Five Faculties, or Bases (indriyani), are the power plants that can help us generate this energy in ourselves.
Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, p 184

The Buddha explains that the "five spiritual faculties" (Pali: pañc' indriyāni) and Five Strengths (Sanskrit, Pali: pañca bala) are like one flow of water parted by an island.  Imagine a river running from east to west, with an island in the middle of it.  If we look at the water, the same water flowing in the east side of the island is the same water that flows on the west side of the island, but if we look from the point of view of the island there is a stream to the north and a stream to the south.  Both perspectives are true, and both give us great insight.

When theses five faculties are used to control their domain, they are they Five Spiritual Faculties.  When they are unshakeable by their opposing forces, the are the Five Strength.  Why is this distinction important?  We develop the Five Faculties.  We use the Five Powers.  These five are:

  1. Faith (saddha, Emunah) - controls doubt
  2. Energy/Effort/Persistence (viriya, Ahmahl) – controls laziness
  3. Mindfulness (sati, Hineini); - controls heedlessness
  4. Concentration (samādhi, Kavanah) - controls distraction
  5. Wisdom/Discernment (pañña, prajña, Chochma) – controls ignorance

Each power reinforces the next.  Faith builds effort, effort build mindfulness, mindfulness builds concentration, concentration builds wisdom, and wisdom builds faith.

When practiced as bases, they are like factories that produce electricity. When practiced as powers, they have the capacity to bring about all the elements of the Eightfold Path, just like electricity manifests as light or heat.
Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, p 185