All posts by Karel Hladky

List of Five

By Karel Hladky | November 13, 2001 | Leave a comment

Newsgroups: alt.meditation
From: khladky[at]nessie (Karel Hladky)
Subject: Lists of Five [Repost]
Message-ID: < 1993Jul2.121928.22937@nessie.mcc.ac.uk >
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Date: Fri, 2 Jul 1993 12:19:28 GMT

It would seem that this post didn’t quite make it, here it goes again:

After reading the recent discussions, I dug up some old notes. Perhaps someone might find it useful.

The mind is also capable of functioning to a greater degree of inner strength and purpose, so that it is less at the mercy of its surroundings.

This mode of functioning is, in abhidhamma, also described in terms of a group of five.

  1. Directing the mind to the object (vitakka)
  2. Examining the object (vicara)
  3. Energisation (piti)
  4. Harmonising (sukha)
  5. Unifying of the mind (ekaggata)

Like many abhidhamma lists, the different factors can be understood in one way as forming stages of a process:

  1. Vitakka – the initial movement of the mind to a new object
  2. Vicara – the mind, now firm in its direction, can examine the object in more detail
  3. Piti – continued contact with the object draws together energies which were previously scattered
  4. Sukha – the energisation settles down and pervades the mind in a harmonious type of happiness
  5. Ekaggata – the mind, now in harmony, can be unified and stilled at a point of focus

The factors can also be understood in terms of the five elements. Vitakka is the way in which the mind is extended to objects (earth). Vicara is the cohesion between the mind and the object (water). Piti energises the mind, raising its ‘temperature’ (fire). Sukha is the harmonious vibration of the mind (air), while ekaggata, in limiting the mind to a particular focus, creates a new field in which it can act (space).

These intensifying factors are not described as skilful of themselves. They may be aspects of the functioning of the mind in both skilful and unskilful states. Perhaps because it is their nature to intensify experience, it is possible that they may become out of balance and misused, thus forming the basis for those aspects of malfunctioning of the mind called the five hindrances.

These can therefore be seen as the result of ‘too much’ of the five intensifying factors, which is brought out by placing the two groups side by side:

  1. Dulness and drowsiness Vitakka
  2. Wavering of the mind Vicara
  3. Dislike Piti
  4. Restlessness and anxiety Sukha
  5. Motivation based on attachment Ekaggata

Thus dullness and drowsiness are opposed by and dispelled by the application and extension of the mind in vitakka which gives it a skilful purpose. But if there is too much vitakka, the mind has a strong impulse to action without being able to do anything, causing bewilderment and fear or ‘wavering’. Wavering is thus opposed by harnessing the mind to the object. However too much vitakka and vicara force the mind to do something that it does not really want to do. Dislike of the whole process, the next hindrance, is the inevitable result.

Dislike is opposed by piti, which creates an enthusiastic interest in the object, but if there is too much energy, the mind does not know what to do with it. The energy vibrates in an unskilful way and the mind becomes restless and anxious. These states are opposed by sukha, which harmonises the energy. If the mind then finds this harmony too enjoyable, this action becomes transmuted into action based on attachment. This is characterised by anything from over-exuberance to a subtle form of excitement, which is remedied by stilling the mind at a point and focusing its energies.

The drawback of this process is that it may overreach itself, focusing the mind down too much, so that it becomes dull and drowsy once more.

So there!

Karel

**Dr. Karel Hladky*(khladky@umist.ac.uk)*Tel-44-612366573*CAPCIS Ltd.**