The Five Powers of Tibetan Buddhism

How could knowing the five powers of Tibetan Buddhism help you? Where does the tradition come from? How can you apply them in your own life? In this article, we'll tell you.
The Five Powers of Tibetan Buddhism

Last update: 02 July, 2022

Tibetan Buddhism claims that there are five pillars or powers on the way to spiritual evolution. These are absolutely essential attributes or virtues in order to maintain progress and not get stuck in the middle of the process. Furthermore, they’re spiritual qualities and the key is to develop them together.

Each one of them leads to the next and reinforces it. This means that they can’t be developed one at a time, but they all must be worked on simultaneously.

These qualities are spoken of as powers, since they don’t only represent attributes as such, but also become strengths that allow you to successfully face the vicissitudes on the path of spiritual evolution. The five powers of Tibetan Buddhism are as follows.

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly our whole life would change .”

-Buddha-

hands with the sun

1. Faith

The word faith is often associated with blind belief in a doctrine. However, in Tibetan Buddhism, it has another connotation. Faith is the confidence that you’re capable of overcoming the obstacles that come your way and that you can deal with them successfully, even if, at times, it seems this isn’t the case.

Faith is also boundless hope. Everything that happens in your personal life and in the universe itself is perfect. It leads to a higher state of evolution, even though it often appears chaotic. In fact, reality sometimes advances in a direction that you don’t understand, but deep down there’s always the logic of evolution.

2. Energy

The second of the five powers in Tibetan Buddhism is energy. It concerns the ability to overcome obstacles or defeat the enemy. It speaks of an observant and, at the same time, active position in the face of difficulties.

Energy is the opposite of inertia. It’s living energy committed to evolution and an effort directed at establishing balance. Therefore, it focuses on everything that unbalances the body or the emotions.

3. Mindfulness

The third of the five powers is mindfulness. It concerns attention directed toward your body and the mind, in the here and now. For example, being present in the current moment, instead of getting lost in what’s been or what’s to come. In fact, it allows the capture of each moment of existence as unique and unrepeatable and also as real.

Full awareness is essential if you want to live each experience authentically, without the mental filter imposed by your judgments and prejudices. In addition, it allows breaking with those mental habits that separate your experience from your conscience. It’s a necessary condition to fully live in the present which is, in reality, the only time that you actually have.

4. Concentration

Concentration is a central concept in Tibetan Buddhism. It not only refers to a cognitive function but also to a deep rapport with everything that exists. The highest concentration is reached during meditation and its function is to allow a fusion with the universe.

Concentration is fully expressed in contemplation. To contemplate isn’t to observe, but to merge with what the mind and the senses are focused on. The elaboration of a mandala or the repetition of mantras are exercises that help to achieve this power of concentration. However, the ultimate is meditation.

man meditating
Meditation is carried out in Tibetan Buddhism because it allows a fusion with the universe.

5. Wisdom

The last of the five powers is wisdom. In the West, this tends to be understood as a synonym of great knowledge in a particular field. However, in Tibetan Buddhism, it’s linked to understanding and discernment. It allows you to distinguish the illusory from the real and shed light on what seems dark.

Wisdom in Buddhism isn’t achieved by elaborating concepts or intellectual explanations. It’s achieved through the direct and intimate experience associated with contemplation. The result isn’t a conclusion, but a mental and emotional rapport with a certain reality.

As we mentioned earlier, the five powers in Tibetan Buddhism can’t be practiced or developed separately. They’re the result of constant practices that gradually evolve and lead to a higher level. At the center of everything is meditation, which is the central path to learning and enhancing these spiritual faculties.

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  • Jiménez Serrano, M. (2021). Beneficios de la meditación sobre la salud.
  • Rockwell, I. (2003). Las Cinco Familias Energéticas: Una Vía Budista Para Comprender Las Emociones (Vol. 15). Edaf.