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Template:Bodhipakkhiyadhamma Indriya (Pali; Skt.) is a Buddhist term referring to multiple intrapsychic processes and is generally translated as "faculty" or, in specific contexts, as "spiritual faculty" or "controlling principle."[1] The term literally means "belonging to Indra," chief deity in the Rig Veda and lord of Tāvatiṃsa heaven,[2] hence connoting supremacy, dominance and control.[3]

In Buddhism, depending on the context, indriya traditionally refers to one of the following groups of faculties:

  • the "Five Spiritual Faculties"
  • five or six sensory faculties
  • 22 phenomenological faculties.

5 Spiritual Faculties Edit

In the Pali Canon's Sutta Pitaka, indriya is frequently encountered in the context of the "five spiritual faculties" (Pali: pañc' indriyāni) comprised of:

  1. faith or conviction (saddhā)
  2. energy (viriya)
  3. mindfulness (sati)
  4. concentration (samādhi)
  5. wisdom or understanding (pañña).

Together, this set of five facutlies is one of the seven sets of qualities lauded by the Buddha as conducive to Enlightenment.[4]

SN 48.10 is one of several discourses that charactizes these spiritual faculties in the following manner:

In SN 48.51, the Buddha declares that, of these five faculties, wisdom is the "chief" (agga).[7]

Balancing the spiritual faculties Edit

In the Visuddhimagga and other post-canonical Pali commentaries caution against one spiritual faculty overpowering and inhibiting the other four faculties, and thus recommend modifying the overpowering faculty with the investigation of states (see dhamma vicaya) or developing tranquility (samatha). Moreover, the commentaries especially recommend that the five spiritual faculties be developed in counterbalancing dyads:

Mindfulness
  Faith Under-
standing
 
Energy Concen-
tration
Mindfulness
The balancing of the five spiritual faculties.
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  • "For one strong in faith and weak in understanding has confidence uncritically and groundlessly. One strong in understanding and weak in faith errs on the side of cunning and is as hard to cure as one sick of a disease caused by medicine. With the balancing of the two a man has confidence only when there are grounds for it." (Vism. Ch. IV, §47, ¶1)
  • "... [I]dleness overpowers one strong in concentration and weak in energy, since concentration favours idleness. Agitation overpowers one strong in energy and weak in concentration, since energy favours agitation. But concentration coupled with energy cannot lapse into idleness, and energy coupled with concentration cannot lapse into agitation. So these two should be balanced ; for absorption comes with the balancing of the two." (Vism. Ch. IV, §47, ¶2)
  • "... One working on concentration needs strong faith, since it is with such faith and confidence that he reaches absorption." (Vism. Ch. IV, §48)
  • "... Then there is [balancing of] concentration and understanding. One working on concentration needs strong unification, since that is how he reaches absorption; and one working on insight needs strong understanding, since that is how he reaches penetration of characteristics; but with the balancing of the two he reaches absorption as well." (Vism. Ch. IV, §48)
The commentator Buddhaghosa adds:
  • "Strong mindfulness, however, is needed in all instances; for mindfulness protects the mind lapsing into agitation through faith, energy and understanding, which favour agitation, and from lapsing into idleness through concentration, which favours idleness." (Vism. Ch. IV, §49).[8]

Relation to the Five Powers Edit

In SN 48.43, the Buddha declares that the Five Spriritual Faculties are the Five Powers and vice-versa. He uses the metaphor of a stream passing by a mid-stream island; the island creates two streams, but the streams can also be seen as one and the same.[9] The Pali commentaries remark that these five qualities are "faculties" when used to control their spheres of influence, and are "powers" when unshakeable by opposing forces.[10]

5 Material or 6 Sensory Faculties Edit

In the Sutta Pitaka, six sensory faculties are referenced in a manner similar to the six sense bases. These faculties are:

  1. eye/vision faculty (cakkh-undriya)
  2. ear/hearing faculty (sot-indriya)
  3. nose/smell faculty (ghān-indriya)
  4. tongue/taste faculty (jivh-indriya)
  5. body/sensibility faculty (kāy-indriya)
  6. mind faculty (man-indriya)

The first five of these faculties are sometimes referenced as the five material faculties (e.g., pañcannaṃ indriyānaṃ avakanti).[11]

22 Phenomenological Faculties Edit

In the Abhidhamma Pitaka, the notion of indriya is expanded to the twenty-two "phenomenological faculties" or "controlling powers" (Pali: bāvīsati indriyāni)[12] which are:

  • six sensory faculties
  1. eye/vision faculty (cakkh-undriya)
  2. ear/hearing faculty (sot-indriya)
  3. nose/smell faculty (ghān-indriya)
  4. tongue/taste faculty (jivh-indriya)
  5. body/sensibility faculty (kāy-indriya)
  6. mind faculty (man-indriya)
  • three physical faculties
  1. femininity (itth-indriya)
  2. masculinity (puris-indriya)
  3. life or vitality (jīvit-indriya)
  • five feeling faculties[13]
  1. physical pleasure (sukh-indriya)
  2. physical pain (dukkh-indriya)
  3. mental joy (somanasa-indriya)
  4. mental grief (domanass-indriya)
  5. indifference (upekh-indriya)
  • five spiritual faculties
  1. faith (saddh-indriya)
  2. energy (viriy-indriya)
  3. mindfulness (sat-indriya)
  4. concentration (samādhi-indriya)
  5. wisdom (paññ-indriya)
  • three final-knowledge faculties
  1. thinking "I shall know the unknown" (anaññāta-ñassāmīt-indriya)
  2. gnosis (aññ-indriya)
  3. one who knows (aññātā-vindriya)

According to the post-canonical Visuddhimagga, the 22 faculties along with such constructs as the aggregates, sense bases, Four Noble Truths and Dependent Origination are the "soil" of wisdom (paññā).[14]

Other faculty groupings Edit

At times in the Pali Canon, different discourses or Abhidhammic passages will refer to different subsets of the 22 phenomenological faculties. Thus, for instance, in the Abhidhamma there are references to the "eightfold form-faculty" (aṭṭhavidhaṃ indriya-rūpaṃ) which includes the first five sensory faculties (eye, ear, nose, tongue and body faculties) plus the three physical faculties (femininity, masculinity and vitality).[15]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. Bodhi (2000) translates indriya as "spiritual faculty" and, at times (particularly when referring to Abhidhammic sources), "faculty." Buddhaghosa & Ñāṇamoli (1999) consistently translate indriya simply as "faculty" both in the context of the five spiritual faculties (e.g., pp. 128-9) and the 22 phenomenological faculties (Ch. XVI). Conze (1993) mentions and uses translations of "faculty," "controlling faculty" and "spiritual faculty," and refers to the five indriya as "cardinal virtues." Thanissaro (1998) uses "faculty." Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 122-123, entry for "Indriya," (retrieved 2007-05-27) defines it as: "Indriya is one of the most comprehensive & important categories of Buddhist psychological philosophy & ethics, meaning 'controlling principle, directive force, élan, dynamis'...: (a) with reference to sense-perceptibility 'faculty, function'...."
  2. Indra is known as Sakka in the Pali Canon.
  3. Bodhi (2000), p. 1509; Conze (1993), n. 1; Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 122, entry "indriya"; and, Thanissaro (1998), Part II, sec. E, "The Five Faculties."
  4. While the Pali commentaries consistently use the term bodhipakkhiyā dhammā ("states conducive to enlightenment") to refer to seven sets of enlightement qualities (i.e., the four frames of reference, four right exertions, four bases of power, five faculties, five powers, seven bojjhanga, and Noble Eightfold Path) (see, e.g., Bodhi, 2000, p. 1937, n. 235), a search of the Sinhala SLTP tipitaka (using La Trobe University's search engine at http://www.chaf.lib.latrobe.edu.au/dcd/pali.htm) finds the Pali phrase bodhipakkhiyā dhammā occurring only once in the early suttas: in the Sālā Sutta (SN 48.51) where the term references solely these five spiritual faculties of faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom (Bodhi, 2000, p. 1695).
  5. Alternatively, SN 48.8 and AN V.15 identify "faith" as referring to the four-fold faith of the stream-enterer which Conze (1993), n. 28, and Nyanaponika & Bodhi (1999), p. 297, n. 9, identify as faith in the Triple Gem and "perfect morality."
  6. Bodhi (2000), pp. 1671-73; and, Thanissaro (1997).
  7. Bodhi (2000), p. 1695.
  8. Direct quotes from the Visuddhimagga are from Buddhaghosa & Ñāṇamoli (1999), pp. 128-9. Also mentioned in Bodhi (2000), p. 1511; and, Conze (1993), Part II, sec. 5, "The Balance of the Faculties."
  9. Bodhi (2000), pp. 1688-89.
  10. Bodhi (2000), p. 1511.
  11. Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), pp. 122-23.
  12. Bodhi (2000), pp. 1508-1509, refers to these 22 faculties as "phenomenological faculties"; while Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 122-3, entry on "indriya" refers to these 22 faculties as "controlling powers."
  13. The five feeling faculties are essentially an expanded scale of the three vedana, where pleasant and unpleasant feelings/sensations are divided between physical and mental experiences (see, e.g., Bodhi, 2000, p. 1510).
  14. Buddhaghosa & Ñāṇamoli (1999), pp. 442-443.
  15. See, for instance, Dhs. 709-717, 971-973 (Rhys Davids, 2003, pp. 215-217, 247); and, Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), pp. 122-123.

SourcesEdit


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