Seven elements for enlightenment

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Seven elements for enlightenment (Skt. saptabodhyaṅga; Tib. བྱང་ཆུབ་ཀྱི་ཡན་ལག་བདུན་, changchup kyi yenlak dün, Wyl. byang chub kyi yan lag bdun), belonging to the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment, are practised on the path of seeing. They are:

  1. mindfulness (Skt. smṛti; Tib. དྲན་པ་, Wyl. dran pa)
  2. discernment of phenomena (Skt. dharmapravicaya; Tib. ཆོས་རབ་ཏུ་རྣམ་པར་འབྱེད་པ་, Wyl. chos rab tu rnam par 'byed pa)
  3. diligence (Skt. vīrya; ; Tib. བརྩོན་འགྲུས་, Wyl. brtson ‘grus)
  4. joy (Skt. prīti; Tib. དགའ་བ་, Wyl. dga' ba)
  5. pliancy (Skt. praśrabdhi; Tib. ཤིན་ཏུ་སྦྱངས་པ་, Wyl. shin tu sbyangs pa)
  6. samadhi (Skt. samādhi; Tib. ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན་, Wyl. ting nge 'dzin)
  7. equanimity (Skt. upekṣā; Tib. བཏང་སྙོམས་, Wyl. btang snyoms)

The Sutra of the Ten Bhumis says:

"One trains in the enlightenment factor of mindfulness, remaining in isolation, etc. Similarly for the enlightenment factor of discerning phenomena, the enlightenment factor of diligence, the enlightenment factor of joy, the enlightenment factor of pliancy, the enlightenment factor of samadhi and the enlightenment factor of equanimity, one remains in isolation, etc. as before."

Khenpo Namdrol explains:

"Mindfulness is the branch of the remaining, since it prevents one from forgetting the other factors, and thereby ensures that they remain. The discernment of phenomena, or wisdom, is the essential branch, because the essence of the ‘awakening’ of the path of seeing is wisdom. Diligence is the branch of renunciation, because through diligence the dharmas of ordinary beings are abandoned or renounced on the path of seeing. Joy is the branch of benefitting. Pliancy, samadhi and equanimity are the branches of freedom from negative emotions. Pliancy is the main branch of freedom from negative emotions. Samadhi is the branch that supports the absence of negative emotions. Equanimity is the branch of the nature of freedom from negative emotions."

Alternative Translations

  • Seven factors of awakening
  • Seven branches of enlightenment (Dharma Publishing)

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