Making Changes

The Buddha taught that there are five qualities, or spiritual faculties, that bring balance to your life and can be of great aid in making changes that will bring about inner freedom.
  1. Faith, called saddha in Pali, involves trust, clarity, and confidence. Faith is essential in making change. If you do not believe in the possibility of a positive outcome, you never begin because doubt overwhelms you.
  2. Effort, or viriya. There are three kinds of effort:
    • the first effort comes from faith
    • effort in the form of perseverance during the hard times that inevitably come with difficult change
    • effort that arises from the momentum of the effort itself as you engage with something you believe in
  3. Mindfulness, called sati. You only know that you have sufficient faith and are making the right effort if you keep your mind focused on your experience in the moment. Being aware of what you are feeling/thinking at any given time.
  4. Concentration, called samadhi in Pali (which has a different meaning than in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra). It provides the continuous connection to your intention that is necessary for perseverance.
  5. Wisdom, or panna. It's wisdom that allows you to redirect your movement toward change when you realize that your goal was incorrect or that the way you are going about it is not working.
You can see how these qualities build on one another. Faith allows you to initiate change in your life, the actual moving towards change requires effort, and you need to concentrate on that effort to keep persevering. Then to know if all of that is happening, you need mindfulness.

Adapted from "The Dharma of Life Changes" by Phillip Moffitt, 12/05,