37 Factors of Enlightenment

Revised January 20, 2016; May 13, 2019; March 11, 2020

1. The 37 factors of Enlightenment (Bōdhipakkhiya Dhamma) are the combined number of individual factors in:

  • Four Factors of Mindfulness (Cattārō Satipaṭṭhāna); see, “Mahā Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta“,
  • Four Supreme Efforts (Cattārō Sammāppadhāna),
  • Four Bases of Mental Power (Cattārō Iddhipāda),
  • Five Faculties (Panca Indriya),
  • Five Powers (Panca Bala),
  • Seven Factors of Enlightenment (Satta Bojjhaṅga), and
  • Factors of the Noble  Eightfold Path (Ariya Attangika Magga).

2. These factors are really mental factors (cetasika) and citta that incorporate them. They are labeled with different names under each category in the table below to highlight its application.

  • For example, the paññā cetasika is labelled as vimansa in Four Bases of Mental Power, as dhammavicaya in Satta Bojjhaṅga, and as Sammā Diṭṭhi in the Noble Eightfold Path.
  • Under each category, I have listed the term used for that cetasika in that category. For example, in the Noble Eightfold Path, Sammā Vāyāma is the viriya cetasika.
  • Thus even though there are 37 factors of Enlightenment, there are only 14 cetasika that will be cultivated while cultivating all seven above categories.
  • It is clear that those 7 categories are all inter-related, and thus all 37 factors may be cultivated by focusing only on Cattārō Satipaṭṭhāna, Satta Bojjhaṅga, or the Noble Eightfold Path.

3. It is also important to realize that cetasika are related to one’s character (gati): “Cetasika – Connection to Gati

4. The Four Supreme Efforts (Cattārō Sammāppadhāna) are the efforts to purify the mind: (i) remove defilements (akusala) that have arisen, (ii) prevent new defilements (akusala) from arising, (iii) enhance wholesome states (kusala) that have arisen, (iv) initiate new  wholesome states (kusala).

5. All 37 factors of enlightenment fulfilled at the Arahant stage.

Parameter InvolvedFour Supreme EffortsIddhipadaFive FacultiesFive PowersFour Factors of Mindfulness7 Factors of Enlightenment Path Factors
Panna (wisdom)vimansapannapannadhammavicayasamma ditthi
Vitakka (initial application)samma sankappa
Samma vacasamma vaca
Samma kammanata samma kammanata
Samma ajivasamma ajiva
Viriyafour efforts (see #4 above)viriyaviriyaviriyaviriyasamma vayama
Sati (mindfulness)satisatikaya,vedana,
satisamma sati
Samadhi (one-pointedness)samadhisamadhisamadhisamma samadhi
Saddha (faith)saddhasaddha
Chanda (desire)chanda
Piti (joy)piti
Passaddhi (tranquility)passaddhi
Upekkha (equinimity)upekkha
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