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Abilities or 'abilities', is a name for 22, partly physical, partly mental, phenomena often treated in the Suttas as well as in the Abhidhamma. They are:

6 Bases (Āyatana):

  • 1. eye: cakkhu
  • 2. ear: sota
  • 3. nose: ghāna
  • 4. tongue: jivhā
  • 5. body: kāya
  • 6. mind: mano

Sex (bhava):

  • 7. femininity: itthi
  • 8. masculinity: purisa
  • 9. vitality: jīvita

5 Feelings (vedanā)

  • 10. bodily pleasant feeling: sukha
  • 11. bodily pain: dukkha
  • 12. gladness: somanassa
  • 13. sadness: domanassa
  • 14. indifference: upekkhā

5 Spiritual abilities (s. bala)

  • 15. faith: saddhā
  • 16. energy: viriya
  • 17. mindfulness: sati
  • 18. concentration: samādhi
  • 19. wisdom: paññā

3 Supermundane abilities

  • 20. the assurance: 'I shall know what I did not yet know!': aññātañ-ñassāmīt' indriya
  • 21. the ability of highest knowledge: aññindriya
  • 22. the ability of him who knows: aññātāvindriya.


(1-5, 7-8) are physical; (9) is either physical or mental. All the rest are mental.

(14) (s. upekkhā) is here merely indifferent feeling (= adukkha-m-asukhā vedanā, i.e. 'neither pleasant nor unpleasant feeling') and not identical with that highly ethical state of equanimity (= tatramajjhattatā, i.e. 'keeping everywhere the middle', the equipoise of mind), also called upekkhā which belongs to the group of mental constructions (sankhāra-kkhandha; s. Tab II).

(20) arises at the moment of entering the Sotāpatti-Path (sotāpatti-magga), (21) on reaching the Sotāpatti-Fruition (sotāpatti-phala), (22) at attaining the Arahat-Fruition (arahatta-phala). For the three last, s. ariya-puggala.

The abilities, excepting (7) and (8), form one of the 24 conditions (paccaya 16).

In Vibh. V all these abilities are treated in the above order, whereas S.XLVIII enumerates and explains them by way of the above indicated groups, leaving only 20-22 unexplained. See Vis XVI; Path 138ff.

For the 5 spiritual abilities (15-19), s. The Way of Wisdom (WHEEL 65/66).

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