Perspectives on the 5 Spiritual Faculties


The Five Spiritual Faculties are a vital part of my personal practice — invoked as a mantra, they are an aspirational reminder to ground and center myself in these noble attributes. When we water the seeds of Faith/Trust, Discernment/Wisdom, Mindfulness, Concentration, Diligence/Effort, these skills blossom into indelible powers that strengthen our capacity to transform our unskillfulness and protect ourselves against unskillfulness of others.


Indriya-vibhanga Sutta: Analysis of the Mental Faculties by Thanissaro Bhikku

The Way of Wisdom: The 5 Spiritual Faculties by Edward Conze

The Five Faculties by Gil Fronsdal

Spiritual Faculties by Ayya Khema

The 5 Spiritual Faculties via Wisdom Through Mindfulness

*The photo above is my rendering of an image found on the Wisdom Through Mindfulness website.

#WholyHappyHour [12/6]: Taking Refuge in the Island of the Self

Throughout this new season, our study and practice will be devoted to learning to hold space for ourselves and others in order to build trust, safety, skillful understanding and compassion in our spiritual community and in all relationships.

Dec 6th| 11 AM – 12:30 PM
at Heartdance Studio, 1806 E. Michigan Avenue

Taking Refuge in the Island of the Self is a mindfulness practice of self-study that awakens clear comprehension and nurtures self-compassion. We take refuge in breath, relying on the visceral texture and sound of it coursing through body. The breath is here: a tangible, sensate experience. It feeds and cleanses every cell and fiber. It anchors and calms the brain. Resting in the breath, we come home. We remember the self in its wholeness — its nature to change in body, thoughts, emotions, sensations, perceptions. We touch the heart and mind of love.3jewels.beislands

We do not abandon ourselves to seek outside refuges. We trust in this deeply-felt experience and return time and again, through the ebb and flow of change in external factors (relationships, finances, work, the thousand fleeting conditions we face daily), to our true home. We trust our capacity to be the source of refuge, to be an island unto ourselves. Here we calmly abide with understanding and ease.

Notes + Related Readings:



Dec 9th | 7  – 9 PM ~ Leading Dharma Talk on Healing the Past at Lansing Area Mindfulness Community – Van Hanh Temple, 3015 S. Washington Ave.

Dec 20th | 11 AM – 12:30 PM ~ #WholyHappyHour: Taking Refuge in the Island of The Self [Practice I]. 3 Jewels Yoga Sangha at Heartdance Studio.

Jan 10th | 11 AM – 12:30 PM ~ #WholyHappyHour: TBD. 3 Jewels Yoga Sangha at Heartdance Studio.

embodied practice: on the power of mindfulness

“…Meditation is not escapism; it is not meant to provide hiding-places for temporary oblivion. Realistic meditation has the purpose of training the mind to face, to understand and to conquer this very world in which we live. And this world inevitably includes numerous obstacles to the life of meditation.”

~Nyanaponika Thera
The Power of Mindfulness

embodied practice: seeing into habit energies

As far back as I can remember I have been fascinated by the marvelous transformations which take place when a very simple sort of magic is applied to things.

Even the most everyday transformation of something undesirable into something desirable has, to me,  a tremendous magic power back of it, and it is a power which I believe in using more deliberately and often than most people do.

Everyone marvels at such transformations when they come by accident, but it never seems to occur to anyone to make them happen at will.

I am shocked by the ignorance and wastefulness with which persons who should know better throw away the things they do not like. They throw away experiences, people, marriages, situations, all sorts of things because they do not like them. If you throw away a thing, it is gone. Where you had something you have nothing to work on. Whereas, almost all those things which get thrown away are capable of being worked over by a little magic into just the opposite of what they were.

So that in the place of something you detest you have something you can adore. And you have had the most thrilling kind of experience, because nothing is more thrilling than working the magic of transformation…It is not work at all. It is, simply, magic.

But most human beings never remember at all that in almost every bad situation there is the possibility of a transformation by which the undesirable may be changed into the desirable.

~Katherine Butler Hathaway, The Little Locksmith [p.12 -13]

As I prepared for sangha’s contemplation of habit energies, I encountered an article on Access To Insight, which included a portion of the quote above (see the bolded text). It beautifully and succinctly captures the tendencies we have to avoid, discard, or turn away from what we find difficult or unpleasant and to doggedly pursue what brings us pleasure or comfort. Neither is inherently wrong. In fact, it is a primal neurobiological instinct to assess threats (response: fight, flee, freeze) and opportunities (response: accept, seek out, multiply). The question is one of looking into whether our habitual response is skillful–does it generate understanding and compassion?

When we perceive an arising “threat,” we may flee from it–finding it easier to deny, ignore, suppress, push away, or discard it. Our mindfulness practice invites us to strengthen our compassion and equanimity so that we become steady enough to stay where we are in the midst of swirling change, uncertainty, and discomfort. We learn to greet the difficult/unpleasant with breath and loving awareness. To embrace the moment tenderly as a parent would a crying child–to tend to our suffering wholeheartedly. Nothing is left out. All becomes part of the practice of nurturing the heart and mind of love and skillful understanding.


Buddha’s Brain  ~ Rick Hanson