The 25 beautiful mental factors (sobhanaa cetasika) from the Abhidhamma (which is not sutta but is derived from the Buddha's teachings):
The beautiful mental factors. There are twenty-five beautiful factors.
Nineteen are common to all beautiful thoughts, six are variable. The
latter are the three "abstinence factors," two "illimitables," and the
The common beautiful factors (sobhanaa saadhaaranaa) are as follows:
Confidence (saddhaa), also called faith, which for a Buddhist means
trust in the Three Jewels — the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, and in the
principles of the Buddha's teachings.
Mindfulness (sati): this is alertness, which makes us aware of what is
happening to us, from moment to moment, through the five physical
senses and the mind. Mindfulness is essential to insight meditation,
when it must be conjoined with a clear comprehension of the
suitability, purpose, and conformity with reality of any action. Then
it is called right mindfulness (sammaa sati). Usually the average
person acts without any form of mindfulness; his acts are prompted by
force of habit. Right mindfulness has two functions: one is to
increase the power of recollection and the other is to evaluate what
is wholesome and what is unwholesome. Right mindfulness is a spiritual
faculty that maintains a proper balance of the other faculties —
faith, energy, concentration and wisdom.
Shame of evil (hiri) and
fear of evil (ottappa) are the opposites
of the second and third unwholesome mental factors, already discussed.
Non-attachment (alobha) restrains attachment and fosters generosity.
Good-will (adosa) is synonymous with loving kindness (mettaa). It
keeps a person free from resentment and anger.
Equanimity (tatramajjhattaa, upekkhaa) is balance of mind, a quality
of neutrality free from attachment and repulsion.
The other twelve common beautiful factors fall into six pairs, one member affecting the "body" of mental factors (kaaya), the other
affecting consciousness as a whole (citta). The six are as follows,
the terms themselves indicating their nature:
- composure (passaddhi) of the mental factors
composure (passaddhi) of consciousness
buoyancy (lakhutaa) of the mental factors
buoyancy (lakhutaa) of consciousness
pliancy (mudutaa) of the mental factors
pliancy (mudutaa) of consciousness
efficiency (kammaññataa) of the mental factors
efficiency (kammaññataa) of consciousness
proficiency (paguññataa) of the mental factors
proficiency (paguññataa) of consciousness
rectitude (ujukataa) of the mental factors
- rectitude (ujukataa) of consciousness
The abstinence factors (virati) restrain a person from committing evil
acts. These are three in number:
Right speech (sammaa vacaa) is abstinence from lying, slandering,
abusive language, and idle talk.
Right action (sammaa kammantaa) is abstinence from killing, taking
what is not given, and wrong conduct with regard to sense pleasures.
Right livelihood (sammaa aajiiva) is abstinence from any livelihood
that brings harm to other living beings.
The illimitable factors (appamaññaa) are compassion and sympathetic
joy; they are called illimitable because they are boundless and extend
to all living beings.
Compassion (karu.naa) has the nature of being moved by the suffering
of others. The sadness we might experience over the suffering or loss
of a loved one is not true compassion. Such sadness is sentimental, a
manifestation of grief. Real compassion arises when the mind, detached
from self-referential concerns, is stirred by the suffering of others,
feeling the suffering as its own.
Sympathetic joy (muditaa) has the nature of rejoicing in other's
happiness. Usually people rejoice at the success of someone who is
near and dear to them, but it is rare for them to rejoice when success
and prosperity are enjoyed by someone unknown, not to speak of an
adversary. Muditaa embraces all beings and cannot coexist with the
unwholesome mental factor of jealousy.
Compassion and sympathetic joy, together with goodwill and equanimity,
form the Four Sublime Abodes (brahma vihaara). Goodwill and equanimity
were mentioned under the common beautiful factors.
The wisdom factor (paññaa) enables one to see things as they truly
are, that is, in the light of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and