Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

II. Powers

11 (1) Not Heard Before
“Bhikkhus, I claim to have attained the consummation and perfection of direct knowledge regarding things not heard before.
    “There are these five Tathāgata’s powers that the Tathāgata has, possessing which he claims the place of the chief bull, roars his lion’s roar in the assemblies, and sets in motion the brahma wheel. What five? The power of faith, the power of moral shame, the power of moral dread, the power of energy, and the power of wisdom. These are the five Tathāgata’s powers that the Tathāgata has, possessing which he claims the place of the chief bull, roars his lion’s roar in the assemblies, and sets in motion the brahma wheel.” [10]

12 (2) Peak (1)
“Bhikkhus, there are these five trainee’s powers. What five? The power of faith, the power of moral shame, the power of moral dread, the power of energy, and the power of wisdom. These are the five trainee’s powers. Among these five trainee’s powers, the power of wisdom is foremost, the one that holds all the others in place, the one that unifies them. Just as the peak is the chief part of a peaked-roof house, the part that holds all the others in place, that unifies them, so among these five trainee powers, the power of wisdom is foremost, the one that holds all the others in place, the one that unifies them.
    “Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves thus: (1) ‘We will possess the power of faith, a trainee’s power; (2) the power of moral shame, a trainee’s power; (3) the power of moral dread, a trainee’s power; (4) the power of energy, a trainee’s power; (5) the power of wisdom, a trainee’s power.’ Thus, bhikkhus, should you train yourselves.”

13 (3) In Brief
“Bhikkhus, there are these five powers. What five? The power of faith, the power of energy, the power of mindfulness, the power of concentration, and the power of wisdom. These are the five powers.”

14 (4) In Detail
“Bhikkhus, there are these five powers. What five? The power of faith, the power of energy, the power of mindfulness, the power of concentration, and the power of wisdom.
    (1) “And what, bhikkhus, is the power of faith? Here, a noble disciple is endowed with faith. He places faith in the enlightenment of the Tathāgata thus: ‘The Blessed One is an arahant, perfectly enlightened… [as in 5:2] … the Enlightened One, the Blessed One.’ [11] This is called the power of faith.
    (2) “And what is the power of energy? Here, a noble disciple has aroused energy for abandoning unwholesome qualities and acquiring wholesome qualities; he is strong, firm in exertion, not casting off the duty of cultivating wholesome qualities. This is called the power of energy.
    (3) “And what is the power of mindfulness? Here, the noble disciple is mindful, possessing supreme mindfulness and alertness, one who remembers and recollects what was done and said long ago. This is called the power of mindfulness.
    (4) “And what is the power of concentration? Here, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the first jhāna, which consists of rapture and pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by thought and examination. With the subsiding of thought and examination, he enters and dwells in the second jhāna, which has internal placidity and unification of mind and consists of rapture and pleasure born of concentration, without thought and examination. With the fading away as well of rapture, he dwells equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, he experiences pleasure with the body; he enters and dwells in the third jhāna of which the noble ones declare: ‘He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.’ With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and dejection, he enters and dwells in the fourth jhāna, neither painful nor pleasant, which has purification of mindfulness by equanimity. This is called the power of concentration.
    (5) “And what is the power of wisdom? Here, a noble disciple is wise; he possesses the wisdom that discerns arising and passing away, which is noble and penetrative and leads to the complete destruction of suffering. This is called the power of wisdom.
    “These, bhikkhus, are the five powers.”

15 (5) To Be Seen 
“Bhikkhus, there are these five powers. What five? The power of faith, the power of energy, the power of mindfulness, the power of concentration, [12] and the power of wisdom.
    (1) “And where, bhikkhus, is the power of faith to be seen? The power of faith is to be seen in the four factors of stream-entry. (2) And where is the power of energy to be seen? The power of energy is to be seen in the four right strivings. (3) And where is the power of mindfulness to be seen? The power of mindfulness is to be seen in the four establishments of mindfulness. (4) And where is the power of concentration to be seen? The power of concentration is to be seen in the four jhānas. (5) And where is the power of wisdom to be seen? The power of wisdom is to be seen in the four noble truths.
    “These, bhikkhus, are the five powers.”

16 (6) Peak (2)
“Bhikkhus, there are these five powers. What five? The power of faith, the power of energy, the power of mindfulness, the power of concentration, and the power of wisdom. These are the five powers. Among these five powers, the power of wisdom is foremost, the one that holds all in place, the one that unifies them. Just as the peak is the chief part of a peaked-roof house, the part that that holds all in place, that unifies them, so among these five powers, the power of wisdom is foremost, the one that holds all in place, the one that unifies them.”

17 (7) Welfare (1)
“Bhikkhus, possessing five qualities, a bhikkhu is practicing for his own welfare but not for the welfare of others. What five? (1) Here, a bhikkhu is himself accomplished in virtuous behavior but does not encourage others to become accomplished in virtuous behavior; (2) he is himself accomplished in concentration but does not encourage others to become accomplished in concentration; (3) he is himself accomplished in wisdom but does not encourage others to become accomplished in wisdom; (4) he is himself accomplished in liberation but does not encourage others to become accomplished in liberation; (5) he is himself accomplished in the knowledge and vision of liberation but does not encourage others to become accomplished in the knowledge and vision of liberation. [13] Possessing these five qualities, a bhikkhu is practicing for his own welfare but not for the welfare of others.”

18 (8) Welfare (2)
“Bhikkhus, possessing five qualities, a bhikkhu is practicing for the welfare of others but not for his own welfare. What five? (1) Here, a bhikkhu is not accomplished in virtuous behavior himself but he encourages others to become accomplished in virtuous behavior; (2) he is not accomplished in concentration himself but he encourages others to become accomplished in concentration; (3) he is not accomplished in wisdom himself but he encourages others to become accomplished in wisdom; (4) he is not accomplished in liberation himself but he encourages others to become accomplished in liberation; (5) he is not accomplished in the knowledge and vision of liberation himself but he encourages others to become accomplished in the knowledge and vision of liberation. Possessing these five qualities, a bhikkhu is practicing for the welfare of others but not for his own welfare.”

19 (9) Welfare (3)
“Bhikkhus, possessing five qualities, a bhikkhu is practicing neither for his own welfare nor for the welfare of others. What five? (1) Here, a bhikkhu is not accomplished in virtuous behavior himself and does not encourage others to become accomplished in virtuous behavior; (2) he is not accomplished in concentration himself and does not encourage others to become accomplished in concentration; (3) he is not accomplished in wisdom himself and does not encourage others to become accomplished in wisdom; (4) he is not accomplished in liberation himself and does not encourage others to become accomplished in liberation; (5) he is not accomplished in the knowledge and vision of liberation himself and does not encourage others to become accomplished in the knowledge and vision of liberation. [14] Possessing these five qualities, a bhikkhu is practicing neither for his own welfare nor for the welfare of others.”

20 (10) Welfare (4)
“Bhikkhus, possessing five qualities, a bhikkhu is practicing both for his own welfare and for the welfare of others. What five? (1) Here, a bhikkhu is himself accomplished in virtuous behavior and encourages others to become accomplished in virtuous behavior; (2) he is himself accomplished in concentration and encourages others to become accomplished in concentration; (3) he is himself accomplished in wisdom and encourages others to become accomplished in wisdom; (4) he is himself accomplished in liberation and encourages others to become accomplished in liberation; (5) he is himself accomplished in the knowledge and vision of liberation and encourages others to become accomplished in the knowledge and vision of liberation. Possessing these five qualities, a bhikkhu is practicing both for his own welfare and for the welfare of others.”

How to cite this document:

© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2012)

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