Home Previous Up Next

The Buddha

What's New?







Mahāsi Sayādaw

Ledi Sayādaw

Other Authors

Bhikkhu Pesala




Contact Us

Pāḷi Words

Map of India

Related Links


OpenType Fonts

Parent Folder Previous Page

© You may print any of these books for your own use. However, all rights are reserved. You may not use any of the site content on your own website, nor for commercial distribution. To publish the books, permission must be sought from the appropriate copyright owners. If you post an extract on a forum, post a link to the appropriate page. Please do not link directly to PDF, MP3, or ZIP files. (Updated on 19 January, 2019)

Home Next Page


The Seven Factors of Enlightenment

In the chart below, each of the seven factors which lead to enlightenment, and which become properties of an enlightened person, is analyzed according to three aspects — its most salient characteristic, its function as it affects the general mental state, and its manifestation, or visible result within the mental field. This complete description comes from the Buddhist texts known as the Abhidhamma. Following the characteristic, function and manifestation, practical ways for meditators to arouse each enlightenment factor during meditation are listed by source, either according to the Buddha or according to subsequent amplifications by commentators.

1. Mindfulness — Sati

Ways of arousing




Non-disappearance, or to keep the object in view



According to Buddha

According to Commentaries


  1. Mindfulness and clear comprehension, or broad-based mindfulness
  2. Dissociation from unmindful persons
  3. Association with mindful persons
  4. Inclination of the mind toward the development of mindfulness

2. Investigation — Dhamma Vicaya

Ways of arousing


Intuitive knowledge of the nature of dhammas, also of nibbāna


To dispel darkness



According to Buddha

According to Commentaries

Direct perception

  1. To ask questions about Dhamma and meditation practice
  2. Cleanliness of internal and external bases (the body and the immediate environment)
  3. Balancing the controlling faculties
  4. Avoiding unwise persons
  5. Associating with wise persons
  6. Reflection on profound Dhamma
  7. Commitment to cultivating investigation

3. Courageous Effort — Vīriya

Ways of arousing


Enduring patience in the face of suffering and difficulty


Supporting the mental state


A bold and courageous mind

According to Buddha

According to Commentaries

Wise attention

  1. Reflection on the fearsomeness of apāya or the states of misery one can fall into in the absence of effort
  2. Reflection on the benefits of effort
  3. Reflecting on and trying to match the nobility of previous practitioners
  4. Respect and appreciation for alms food or other supports one has received
  5. Reflection on the sevenfold heritage of a noble person (see Numerical Lists, page 277)
  6. Reflecting on the greatness of the Buddha
  7. Reflecting on the greatness of the Dhamma which links the lineage of Buddhas, monks and nuns to oneself
  8. Reflecting on the greatness of those who practice brahmacariya, or the Saṅgha
  9. Avoiding the company of lazy persons
  10. Associating with energetic persons
  11. Incline the mind toward developing energy

4. Rapture — Pīti

Ways of arousing


Happiness, delight and satisfaction


Lightness and energy of body and mind


Physical sensations of lightness

According to Buddha

According to Commentaries

Wise attention to being effortful in bringing about wholesome feelings of rapture connected with the Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha

  1. Recollection of the virtues of the Buddha
  2. Recollection of the virtues of the Dhamma
  3. Recollection of the virtues of the Saṅgha
  4. Recollection of one’s own moral purity
  5. Recollection of one’s own generosity
  6. Recollection of the virtues of devas and brahmas
  7. Reflection on the peace of cessation of the kilesas, either in nibbāna, in the jhānas, or in deep meditations one has experienced
  8. Avoid the company of rough, angry and coarse persons
  9. Cultivate friends who are warm, loving and refined
  10. Reflect on the suttas
  11. Incline the mind toward developing rapture

5. tranquillity — Passaddhi

Ways of arousing


Calmness of body and mind; end of agitation


To extract or suppress mental heat due to restlessness, dissipation or remorse


Non-agitation of body and mind

According to Buddha

According to Commentaries

Wise attention directed toward developing wholesome mental states, especially meditative states, which allow tranquillity

  1. Sensible and nutritious food
  2. Suitable weather
  3. Comfortable, but not luxurious posture
  4. Maintaining a balanced effort in practice
  5. Avoiding bad-tempered, rough or cruel people
  6. Inclining the mind toward the development of tranquillity

6. Concentration — Samādhi

Ways of arousing




To collect the mind


Peace and stillness

According to Buddha

According to Commentaries

Continuous wise attention aimed at the development of concentration

  1. Purity of internal and external bases (cleanliness of body and immediate environment)
  2. Balance of the controlling faculties
  3. Skill in the concentration object (applicable to jhāna practice)
  4. Uplifting the mind when it is depressed
  5. Calming the mind when it is excited
  6. Bringing happiness to the mind when it is withered by pain
  7. Continuous, balanced awareness
  8. Avoiding unconcentrated people
  9. Associating with concentrated people
  10. Reflecting on the peace of the jhānic absorptions
  11. Inclining the mind toward the development of concentration

7. Equanimity — Upekkhā

Ways of arousing


The balancing of opposed mental states


To fill in where there is a lack and to reduce excess


A state of ease and balance

According to Buddha

According to Commentaries

 mental states

Wise attention; that is, continuous mindfulness based on the intention to develop equanimity

  1. An equanimous attitude toward all living beings, not to be too attached to anyone
  2. A balanced attitude toward nonliving objects, such as property
  3. Avoiding people who are deeply possessive or otherwise lack equanimity
  4. Association with those who are not too strongly attached to beings or possessions, and who otherwise demonstrate equanimity
  5. Inclining the mind toward developing equanimity

Hindrances and Antidotes

Aspects of the concentrated mind have the capacity to remedy problematic mental states. Here are the factors of the first jhāna, or state of concentration, paired with the hindrance each overcomes:

Jhāna factor


vitakka, aiming

vicāra, rubbing

pīti, delight

sukha, happiness

ekaggatā, one-pointedness

thīna middha, sloth and torpor

vicikicchā, skeptical doubt

vyāpāda, aversion

uddhaccakukkuca, restelessness

kāmacchanda, sense desire

The Progress of Insight

As yogis practice vipassanā meditation under the instruction of a qualified teacher, they become able to perceive different truths about reality not accessible to ordinary consciousness. These meditative insights tend to occur in a specific order regardless of personality type or level of intelligence, successively deepening along with the concentration and purity of mind that result from proper meditation practice. This list is provided with a strong cautionary note: if you are practising meditation, don’t think about progress! It is quite impossible for even the most experienced meditator to evaluate his or her own practice; and only after extensive personal experience and training can a teacher begin to recognize the specific, subtle signs of this progression in the verbal reports of another meditator.

Insight into Mind and Matter

Awareness of a distinction between the observing mind or consciousness and matter, the objects of consciousness.

Seeing that one hundred per cent of one’s experience is composed of mind and matter, this insight temporarily removes the wrong view that a self exists independent of matter and mind. As long as mindfulness is sustained, doubt in the Dhamma remains in abeyance.

Insight into Cause and Effect

Direct apprehension of the causal relationship between mind and matter. For example, subsequent to a mental intention, a series of physical sensations arise and one has a sudden intuition of the causal relationship. Or, a painful sensation gives rise to a wish to move the body.

Seeing that there is only mind and matter, and that these are the elements that cause each other to come into existence, this insight removes the wrong view that an external force is responsible for our experiences. Seeing that there is only a continuous chain of causes and effects, this insight removes the false idea that events occur in a haphazard, uncaused manner.

Insights into Impermanence, Unsatisfactoriness and Absence of Self

Aniccānupassanā-ñāṇa: Seeing of impermanence in the perpetual and inescapable vanishing of objects of consciousness. Removes the wrong view of permanence, and lessens pride and conceit.

Dukkhānupassanā-ñāṇa: Observing the breakup of objects, especially painful sensations, one understands the unsatisfactoriness, the oppressiveness of impermanence. Realization that there is no refuge within objects and that impermanence is frightful and undesirable. Removes the false view that enduring satisfaction can be attained with the realm of impermanence.

Anattānupassanā-ñāṇa: Then, seeing the uncontrollability within the impermanence and painfulness of objects. Removes the illusion that oneself, or any other agency, can prevent or direct the passing away of objects; and clears away the false notion that an inherent essence is present in oneself, mind, or matter.

These three intuitions correspond to the first vipassanā jhāna, and are accompanied by reflective thinking about the universality of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and absence of self. One reflects that there was no time, nor will there ever be a time, when objects have not been characterized by these three marks of conditionality.

Sammasana-ñāṇa, verified knowledge by comprehension: The three marks of impermanence, suffering and absence of self, seen clearly together. One feels a conviction that the Dhamma is true as one has heard it.

This insight, together with the previous group, is the full development of the first vipassanā jhāna, and the dawning of vipassanā right view, which sees every object and experience under the triple aspects of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and absence of self.

Insight into Arising and Passing Away

The mind clearly sees the momentary arising and passing away of objects; that is, the very rapid beginning and ending of each mental and physical phenomenon.

This insight corresponds to the second vipassanā jhana, characterized by the weakening of conceptual thought and the arising of extremely strong rapture and comfort. Because some aspects of mindfulness are as yet undeveloped in this stage, there also is grasping onto these pleasant experiences (the “defilements of insight.”) Yogis feel strong faith and a desire to preach the Dhamma, and may believe themselves to be enlightened.

Insight into Path and Not-Path

As yogis are encouraged to note the faith and rapture they experience, grasping onto these experiences begins to diminish. Yogis gain the conviction that simple noting is the true path of practice rather than the generation of blissful states. From this point they proceed onward with confidence.

In this insight, the third vipassanā jhāna begins to predominate. Its predominant factor is happiness or comfort, and the equanimity that underlies all the vipassanā jhānas begins to be strongly apparent. Yogis may be able to sit for long periods without suffering from painful sensations.

Insight into Dissolution

The mind loses contact with the beginnings and middles of each object, and focuses instead on endings. Thus, awareness perceives nothing but dissolution everywhere it comes to rest. Conceptual images of the body become indistinct.

As insight into Dissolution matures, a neutral feeling begins to predominate in body and mind, neither comfortable nor uncomfortable. The yogi’s mind can rest, coolly observing the dissolution of phenomena. This insight is the onset of the fourth vipassanā jhāna. The factor of happiness and comfort disappears and equanimity begins to predominate. Conceptual thought no longer sprouts up within each moment of insight or direct awareness.

Insight into Fear

Seeing the fearsomeness of all phenomena.

Insight into Disgust

Seeing the disgusting nature of all phenomena as they decay and fall apart

Insight into the Wish For Liberation

The arising of a profound impulse to continue the practice, driving onward to reach the cessation of all unsatisfying experiences.

Insight into Equanimity Regarding All Objects

Balance is reestablished as mindfulness becomes extremely agile, picking up objects quickly before the mind can be perturbed by pleasantness or unpleasantness. There is a sense of coolness and steadiness in the absence of reactions.

During this insight, practitioners experience a peaceful mental state similar to the mind of an arahant, or perfectly purified enlightened being. It is from this state of extreme balance that the mind may be able to penetrate into the peace of nibbāna.

Insight into Nibbāna, the Happiness of Peace

Mental and physical phenomena come to a stop. Path and Fruition Consciousness; Nibbāna; Reviewing Consciousness.

This is the experience commonly known as enlightenment, and it is irreversibly transforming. According to the Buddha there are four levels of enlightenment. Each of them is reached after culmination of the series of insights described above.

On the first level, called sotāpanna or stream entry, path consciousness uproots the defilements of wrong view of self, doubt, and adherence to wrong practices. Moreover, the kilesas strong enough to cause rebirth in hell or as an animal are uprooted, and the remaining kilesas are weakened. It is said that a sotāpanna has only seven more existences remaining in saṃsāra, meaning that only seven more times can he or she be reborn in a different realm from the one in which he or she expired; and, since the gates to the lower realms have been closed by the first path consciousness, all of these rebirths will take place in the human realm or higher.

Fruition consciousness is compared to water being poured on the ashes of a campfire. It cools the place from which the defilements have been uprooted.

Reviewing consciousness reviews path and fruition consciousness, nibbāna as an object of consciousness, and also surveys the path ahead. One realizes that one’s work of purification has, in a sense, just begun, for there are still kilesas remaining to torment one.

Further Levels of Enlightenment

Sakadāgāmitā, anāgāmitā, arahatta. Progressions of Insight leading to the respective three Path and Fruition Consciousnesses:

A sotāpanna is only partially enlightened. Three levels of purification remain to be striven for — three successively deeper immersions in the peace of nibbāna, resulting in three successively deeper levels of happiness and contentment. The happiness of a pure mind is the true birthright of every human being. Every yogi should aspire to arahantship, perfect peace, the eradication of all inner torment.

Numerical Lists

Two kinds of ignorance — Not seeing what is true, that is, universal impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and absence of inherent essence or self; and seeing what is not true, namely that objects and experiences possess permanence, happiness and inherent self-essence.

Two kinds of Kilesas — Those connected with objects, which arise in conjunction with desirable, unpleasant or neutral objects and in the absence of mindfulness; and those connected with the continuity of existence, which remain dormant and are uprooted by the respective path consciousness.

Two kinds of rare and precious people in this world — Benefactors; grateful persons who remember the good that has been done for them and repay it when possible.

Two kinds of ultimate realities (paramattha dhammas) — conditioned ultimate realities, saṅkhata paramattha dhammas; unconditioned ultimate reality, asaṅkhata paramattha dhamma, nibbāna.

Two main weaknesses of beings — Lack of security, lack of true possessions.

Three battalions of māra’s ninth army — Material gain in the form of donations from followers, the reverence of devotees, and fame or renown.

Three characteristics of all phenomena — anicca, impermanence; dukkha, suffering; anatta, absence of enduring self essence.

Three great accomplishments of Buddhas — By virtue of cause, by virtue of result, by virtue of service.

Three kilesas uprooted by the first path consciousness — Wrong view of self, doubt, and adherence to wrong practices.

Three kinds of kilesas — Transgressive, obsessive, and latent or dormant.

Three kinds of ultimate realities — Mind, matter, and nibbāna.

Three kinds of psychic powers — Superhuman physical feats, mind reading, and the power of instruction.

Three kinds of seclusion — kāya viveka, seclusion of the body through renunciation; citta viveka, seclusion of the mind through concentration; upadhi viveka, seclusion due to the weakening of the kilesas.

Three levels of effort — Launching, persistent, liberating. Sometimes a fourth, fulfilling.

Three perpetuating Dhammas — Conceit, wrong view and craving

Three-phase description used in meditation interview — Occurrence of the object, your noting of the object, what happened to the object.

Three types of property — Movable, immovable, knowledge.

Threefold teaching (or training) — sīla, samādhi, paññā: morality, concentration, wisdom.

Triple gem — Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha.

Four foundations of mindfulness — Mindfulness of body, feeling, mind, objects of mind.

Four kinds of happiness pertaining to the first four vipassanā jhānas — First jhāna, the happiness of seclusion; second jhāna, the happiness of concentration, which leads to rapture and comfort; third jhāna, the happiness of equanimity; fourth jhāna, the purity of mindfulness due to equanimity.

Four postures — Lying, sitting, standing, walking.

Four powers motivating a successful meditation practice — Willingness, vigor, strength of mind, wisdom or knowledge.

Four stages of nibbānic attainment — sotāpatti, stream-entry; sakadāgāmī, once-returner; anāgāmī, non-returner; arahatta, perfection.

Five benefits of walking meditation — Stamina for long journeys, stamina for meditation practice, good health, assistance in digestion, durable concentration.

Five controlling faculties — Faith, energy or effort, mindfulness, concentration, wisdom.

Five factors of the eightfold path predominantly developed during a moment of mindfulness — Right effort, mindfulness, concentration, right aim, right view.

Five hindrances — kāmacchanda, sense desire; vyāpāda, aversion; thīna middha, sloth and torpor; uddhaccakukkucca, restlessness and worry; vicikicchā, skeptical doubt.

Five jhānic factors — vitakka, aiming; vicāra, rubbing; pīti, rapture or delight; sukha, happiness; samādhi, concentration.

Five kinds of doubt leading to the thorny mind — Doubt of Buddha, of the Dhamma, of the Sangha, of oneself, and of others.

Five mental fetters — To be chained to sense objects; over-attachment to one’s own body; over-attachment to the bodies of others; over-attachment to food; wishing for rebirth in a realm of subtle material pleasure.

Five precepts — Not to kill, not to take what is not given, to abstain from sexual misconduct, not to lie, not to take intoxicants.

Five protections for meditation (anuggahitas) — sīlānuggahita, morality; sūtanuggahita, understanding gained from discourses and texts; sākacchānuggahita, a teacher’s guidance; samathānuggahita, concentration; vipassanānuggahita, forceful and continuous insight practice.

Five types of rapture — Lesser, momentary, overwhelming, uplifting or exhilarating, pervasive.

Six kinds of right view — kammassakatā samma-diṭṭhi, right view of kamma as one’s only true property; jhāna sammā diṭṭhi, knowledge arising in conjunction with each of the eight stages of absorption; vipassanā sammā diṭṭhi, right view of the universality of impermanence, suffering and absence of self; noble path right view which uproots kilesas forever; noble fruition right view which cools the embers left behind by the extinguished defilements; reviewing consciousness right view, which reviews path and fruition consciousness, nibbāna as an object of consciousness, the defilements uprooted and the remaining defilements.

Six sense doors — Eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind.

Seven factors of enlightenment — Mindfulness, investigation, energy, rapture or joy, tranquillity, concentration, equanimity.

Seven results of mindfulness meditation practice — Purification of the mind, overcoming of sorrow, lamentation, physical pain and mental displeasure, and finally reaching the right path and the realisation of nibbāna.

Sevenfold property of noble ones — Faith; morality; hīri or moral shame; ottappa or moral dread; learning or expertise in the theory and practice of meditation; cāga or liberality with respect to relinquishing kilesas as well as generosity in giving; and wisdom.

Seven types of suitability which support meditation practice — Suitability of place, of resort, of speech, of person (teacher and community), food, of weather, of posture.

Seven antidotes to drowsiness — Change one’s attitude and make meditation more dynamic; reflect on inspiring passages of Dhamma; recite passages aloud; physical stimulation such as rubbing the ears; washing one’s face and/or eyes; looking at a light; brisk walking meditation.

Eight precepts — Includes the Five Precepts, with the third converted to refraining from breaking celibacy, plus: refraining from taking food after noon, refraining from entertainments and adorning or perfuming one’s body, and refraining from sleeping on a high or luxurious bed.

Noble eightfold path — Right view or understanding, right thought or aim, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

Nine causes for growth of the controlling faculties — Attention directed toward impermanence; rare and respect for meditation; continuity of awareness; supportive environment; remembering and recreating beneficial circumstances; cultivation of enlightenment factors; intense effort; patience and perseverance; determination to reach liberation.

Ten armies of māra — Sensual pleasures; discontent; hunger and thirst; craving; sloth and torpor; fear; doubt; conceit and ingratitude; gain, renown, honor and whatever fame is falsely received; self-exaltation and disparaging others.

Ten kinds of crooked behavior

Three kinds of crooked bodily behavior: 1) Based on lack of loving-kindness and compassion, namely killing, harming and oppressing others. 2) Based on greed, namely stealing or deceitful acquisition of others’ property. 3) Based on lust, namely sexual misconduct.

Four kinds of crooked verbal behavior: 1) Lying. 2) Speech that causes disharmony. 3) Speech that is hurtful, coarse, crude or obscene. 4) Frivolous chatter.

Three kinds of mental crookedness: 1) Thoughts of harming or cruelty toward self or others. 2) Covetous thoughts. 3) The wrong view of kamma, namely that one’s actions have no consequences.

Ten precepts — Includes the Eight Precepts, above, with the eighth on entertainments and adornments split, becoming eight and nine, plus: refraining from handling money.

Two hundred and twenty-seven rules for monks — The ten precepts, plus supplementary rules.