The Seven Factors of Enlightenment

According to the [Theravada] Buddhist tradition, the seven factors of enlightenment are:

  • Mindfulness (sati): the quality of mind that know things as they are, and notices that physical objects are physical objects and that mental objects are mental objects, knows their qualities and aspects and is the basis of investigation.
  • Energy (viriya): a factor that supports mindfulness and investigation, that being the quality of bright-mindedness and vigorous attention to reality
  • Joy or rapture (piti): the physical and mental qualities that aries from strong practice, usually referring to the bliss of specific meditation stages or states, but also generically referring to raptures in general, which is a catch all term for unusual experiences in meditation. When referring to joy or bliss, this quality can help increase our engagement with the practice, our enjoyment of practice and our enthusiasm for the other factors of enlightenment.
  • Relaxation or tranquillity (passaddhi) of both body and mind: that quality of mind that is calm, balance, cool, like the skillful counterbalance to energy and rapture, and is a support to clear investigation and insight
  • Concentration (samadhi): refers in the context of insight practice to momentary concentration, meaning that quality of mind that can repeatedly be mindful of and investigate moment after moment, sensation after sensation, in a way that continues for longer and longer sequences of moments and more of the sense field as our concentration grows more complete and wider and more inclusive.

This list is a very good one to use to balance and further one's meditation practice, as many errors come from ignoring a factor, placing too much emphasis on only one factor, or having some other imbalance relating to the factors. When they mature, practice is open, clear, sustainable, flexible, inclusive, balanced, precise, and able to roll with whatever changes arise in the sense field, noticing what arises moment after clear moment in a way that includes not only the objects of practice, but all the sensations outside those objects also and finally includes the sensations that make up the sense of Subject and the meditator themselves.

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