Powerful faculties

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, often talked of five strengths we need to cultivate to transform and harness them into powers that drive and deepen our dharma practice. The five strengths that we are born with, but may be yet unaware of, are faith, diligence, mindfulness, concentration and insight.

The monk would say that by cultivating and honing mindfulness, the other four strengths would automatically follow and become part of our internal power. This power helps the practitioner face life challenges and sufferings through learning the art of inter-being. The five powers or faculties are called indriyas in Sanskrit.

The first thing to establish is trust in oneself, says Sister Dang Nghiem, inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh. With trust comes faith and confidence to help us face suffering in an equitable manner, without being judgemental.

If your faith and trust falter, it indicates that the other four indriyas have not been explored to their full potential. Mindfulness practice helps in this process as it focuses on the here and now, even as it eases the pain of past memories and situations, and enables us to see them in practical terms.

This aids us to focus and concentrate, so that our attention is not dispersed in too many directions, diluting our efforts. Only focused mindfulness practice that embraces all indriyas will bring about insight and wisdom. The five strengths that can transform our lives for the better, are to be found within.


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