THE METHOD OF ADJUSTING THE 5 INDRIYA EVENLY
Q : Some people say that, if the 5 indriya (mental faculties) are not
equal, the practice will not progress. Why is that so?
A : While the four satipatthana are being developed, the five
categories of dhamma which are indriya, such as saddha, viriya,
sati, samadhi, panna, (faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, wisdom),
always arise together in the mind because they are species of dhamma
belonging to the Eightfold Path. But in some moments they do not arise
silmultaneously. These five indriya can be seperated into two essential
pairs: saddha and panna form one pair, viriya and
samadhi make up the second pair. As regards sati, it has the
function to co-ordinate the indriya in these two pairs.
This can be compared with a chariot having four horses yoked together and a
coachman who has the function to supervise all four horses so that they run
evenly. If any horse goes ahead or runs too fast, he must pull the reins to
co-ordinate it with the other three horses. If any horse runs slower, the reins
will slacken. The coachman will then use the whip to make it run equal with the
others. The coachman must work very hard and he must be careful all the time to
keep the four horses running evenly all the time. When all four horses run
equally the chariot will run straight and speed up the whole team. If the
control is not good, it will make the horses as well as the chariot shake or
swing to and fro. They will not run the straight way; the chariot will slow down
and control is difficult. This waste of energy will make the chariot reach the
destination very slowly.
In the same way, if the five indriya are not balanced, sati
must work very hard by noting in order to arrange the five indriya
The inequality of saddha and panna may be known in the
following way. When the mind is calm, the manifestations of samadhi, such
as light, colour or nimitta-images may arise in the mind. But the
meditator who doesn't note with mindfulness will turn back to look at them all
the same, but he doesn't note them in order to let them go. The more he notes,
the clearer become the images; on noting they do not disappear. If this is the
case, then saddha is in excess of panna. Clinging to any object or
believing that things are real which in fact are not real, this is called SADDHA
When the meditator receives advice from the vipassanacharn that any
object which comes up in the mind must be noted immediatly, that he should not
stick to these objects and the meditator has understanding, he will simply apply
mindfulness and note the nimitta, light, colour, various pictures as
'seeing, seeing' until these objects disappear; or if they arise again, he will
be able to see the arising and vanishing of these objects. This is the balancing
of indriya to make SADDHA EQUAL TO PANNA.
Some meditators have panna in excess of saddha, from studying
and learning the Pali Abhidhamma. They have listened to learned persons or
studied by themselves. When they take up meditation practice, sometimes one or
the other objects or sabhava arise. They are given to thinking and
reflecting that, 'this is a sabhavadhamma of such and such a name'.
When they go on thinking or reflecting, the mind will become even more
restless. There are also people who think so much that they cannot sleep
anymore. This makes the nerves overtaxed and the body exhausted. Such intense
thinking about Dhamma is cintamayapanna which means panna arising
from thinking. Some people have learned a lot, therefore they think even more
extensively. Some people have mana (conceit); they think they are better,
then they become such people who do not believe anybody, not even their own
teacher, this is the cause of EXCESS OF PANNA OVER SADDHA.
The method of treatment for such practitioners is that they must note the
thinking as 'thinking, thinking'. If they have the impression to think correctly
they should note 'thinking right, thinking right' until the restless, agitated
thinking gradually wears away. In this stage the vipassanacharn must
admonish and comfort the practitioner, explaining that these sabhava or
experiences which arise are only manifestations of rupanama and they are
still phenomena merely of the basic stage.
One should not cling at all.
The teacher should give examples like this:
A man is searching for a diamond of unique water. He knows that the diamond
is on the top of a mountain. When he reaches the foot of the mountain he sees
stones of various shades of colour and light. He mistakes them for real
diamonds; dazzled and allured he collects the colourful stones at the foot of
the mountain. He will not get the real Diamond because of his own
In the same way the meditator sets his mind on the object of Nibbana but he
meets the rupanama-objects. Wrong understanding arises and he clings to
his own thinking. When the meditator receives advice that this rupanama
is impermanent, oppressive, and not self, that not even his thinking is
permanent, then he must establish mindfulness to note only this present object.
Practising by thinking is 'THINKING MEDITATION'; but practising with mindfulness
noting the present object is called VIPASSANA. When the meditator establishes
mindfulness to note the thinking as 'thinking, thinking' until that thinking
disappears, then PANNA WILL BE EQUAL WITH SADDHA.
The pair of viriya and samadhi are indriya that are
most vital in the course of practice. For if these two indriya are not
equal they will cause the practice to stagnate. If viriya (energy)
outweights samadhi the mind of the meditator will vacillate, thinking
about past and future events or restlessly thinking nonsense and unsubstantial
trivial things. Or he has desire to reap the results of practising the Dhamma;
he wishes for something to happen and is desirous to see this and that. The mind
having these sabhava is not a tranquil mind, samadhi is lacking.
This is called VIRIYA EXCEEDS SAMADHI.
The method for balancing these indriya is that one should make
samadhi increase. The method for uplifting samadhi must be
practised correctly, intensifying samadhi in the walking posture by
walking very slowly. Out of the 6 stages in the walking meditation the 4th, 5th
and 6th steps are applied in order to increase samadhi. Walk very slowly
and let sati follow up carefully each and every phase of the steps, from
'lifting the heel' to 'placing the foot'. Momentary concentration which arises
at every moment will gain continuous and increasing power. It will make the mind
tranquil and remain firmly fixed to that object. Although walking ordinarily is
the posture to increase viriya, still one can so walk as to make
The intensification of samadhi in the sitting posture:
Samadhi being absent in the sitting posture may have a number of specific
causes, for instance: The meditator tends to think and reflect restlessly; the
meditator cannot note the present object which is not distinct enough to be
identified; there is dukkhavedana, such as pain in the knees, the legs,
the waist, the shoulders, or the back; he feels tens which makes the mind
vacillate. Kilesa-nivarana disturb him a lot. To intensify samadhi
one should first of all fix the mind resolutely on the main object (Rising -
Falling) so that it is noted well. During 30 minutes one should fix mindfulness
on noting continuously with attentiveness. Be at ease and don't force yourself
too much. When thinking arises it must be noted right away, regarding it as an
obstacle for samadhi that keeps the mind from getting calm. When the mind
gets calm the objects will be distinct which makes noting easy. The
contemplation will then be in the present. When the mind gets calm and steady in
the practice, the pain in the body will also be reduced. When samadhi
grows stronger the mind is tranquil and SAMADHI IS EVEN WITH VIRIYA.
When samadhi is stronger than viriya, it will make this calm
mind change. The mind can easily drop into the bhavanga state; the mind
will become inert and floating. When sati loses power the mind becomes
forgetful and will not be able to note the present. Sometimes when the mind is
inactive it cannot receive the objects; the mind will little by little change
from indolence to be drowsy and dazed and can then easily drop into
bhavanga (fully asleep). Sometimes the mind will be half asleep even at
the time of walking. When practising one may sometimes stagger, or stumble, or
topple over backwards, etc. Such things are called SAMADHI EXCEEDS VIRIYA.
In order to balance the indriya one must increase viriya by
doing more walking than sitting. For instance when usually sitting 30 minutes
and walking 30 minutes one should now extend walking to 40 or 50 minutes. Some
people may walk one hour and sit 30 minutes. For the walking one should use the
earlier steps, such as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd steps; the walking should be done a bit
faster than usual. To activate the body so that the mind is more alert, some
meditators who walk the 4th, 5th, 6th steps should come back to walk earlier
steps first. The more they walk the first step the better.
In regard to the sitting practice they must apply the method as required.
For example: The mind is inactive and drifting, then note 'Rising - Falling -
sitting - touching' ...or add more touching-spots, from the right buttock go to
the left, or add the right ankle and note three spots; and then include the left
ankle too; it will depend on the speed of Rising - Falling. You should be noting
continuously these objects in turn. This kind of noting will make the mind alert
and agile. Viriya in the sitting posture will increase until VIRIYA IS
EQUAL TO SAMADHI. Drowsiness and sloth will gradually be relieved and finally
As regards SATI: The more there is the better! For sati is a quality that
brings along the group of kusaladhamma (wholesome mental forces). It is
the quality of control which equalizes the indriya in both pairs by
noting rupanama right in the present. If sati is developed until
it arises together with the mind at each and every moment without fail then the
quality of sati will be indriya which possesses this
characteristic on a large scale. It will realize the arising and vanishing of
any object clearly.
When saddha for instance exceeds panna and the mind starts to
grasp at nimitta and various pictures, sati will make a note of
these objects at the very first instance as 'seeing, seeing' and the objects
arising from samadhi, such as nimitta or images will imediately
vanish; they appear again, are noted and vanish again. This is how saddha
and panna are made even.
Or, when there is reflecting about the Dhamma, considering and evaluating
when sabhava or strange phenomena have arisen, then the mind gets
involved and clings to such thinking which in turn causes undue agitation about
Dhamma; this is called panna exceeds saddha. Sati must work
hard until SATI ARISES AS FAST AS THE THINKING. Then thinking will cease;
panna and saddha are equal, relying on sati as the one who
supervises ever so closely.
It is the same thing with viriya and samadhi. When
viriya outweights samadhi and reflecting or being agitated gets
too much, sati will have to note to make that thinking disappear. It will
slow down viriya to balance with samadhi.
Or, samadhi is too much, drowsiness and dejection arise; sati
must work hard at noting to catch the very moment drowsiness arises, then
drowsiness will fall away. This will bring samadhi in proportion to
viriya and in return promote further progress of the practice.
In balancing the 5 indriya the meditator must apply the ingenious
method and keep observing the result of the practice and check whether the
redressed outcome is correct or compatible with oneself or not. Since the minds
of people are not the same the individual dispositions are accordingly
different. The accumulations of goodness and badness are also not the same.
Therfore, one should live up to the motto:
ONESELF IS ONE'S OWN REFUGE!
However, everybody must develop sati to make it gradually more
powerful. ANY INCREASE WILL BE THAT MUCH MORE PROFIT FOR SUCH A PERSON. When
saddha, viriya, samadhi, panna work impeding each other or they have too
little or too much power, then inequality arises. The application of sati
which is already well-developed has the ability to control the balance of the
indriya in both pairs. Those indriya that used to hamper one
another will unite; those being disproportionate will come back to a balance
until the 5 indriya combine into one. This will make for expert
contemplation of the present; and that is the cause of arising for panna
to realize the five rupanamakhandha according to reality as impermanent,
oppressive, and not self (anicca, dukkha, anatta).
Rupa and nama arise and vanish naturally. The
rupanama-objects display the truth all the time. There is nothing at all
that one ought to grasp and cling to. One gains determination to practise
without discouragement, bound for the Dhamma which ends Dukkha; this means: