Chapter 16. Equation of Enlightenment


Enlightenment is the ultimate goal of Buddhism.  With enlightenment, one can eliminate mental impurity or defilement and become Holy; thereafter, one is eligible to enter the Nirvana which is the state of pure and permanent bliss.  To attain enlightenment, it requires any or many of the 37 factors contributing to enlightenment (Bodhipakkhiyadhamma) that one should observe or apply.

The Buddhist teaching on the 37 factors leading to enlightenment is grouped into seven sub-topics which can be listed as follows:

A.  The Four Mindfulness

(A1)  Mindfulness of bodily movement and on-going

(A2)  Mindfulness of mental feeling

(A3)  Mindfulness of mental condition and on-going

(A4)  Mindfulness of mental qualities

B.  The Four Right Attempt

(B1)  Attempting to prevent the unexisting unwholesomeness from existing

(B2)  Attempting to eliminate the existing unwholesomeness

(B3)  Attempting to cherish the unexisting wholesomeness to exist

(B4)  Attempting to cherish the existing wholesomeness to prosper

C.  The Four Attributes to Success

(C1)  Willingness

(C2)  Perseverance

(C3)  Attention

(C4)  Pondering on Cause & Effect

D.  The Five Mental Domination

(D1)  Mental domination of faith

(D2)  Mental domination of perseverance

(D3)  Mental domination of mindfulness

(D4)  Mental domination of concentration & calmness

(D5)  Mental domination of wisdom

E.  The Five Power

(E1)  Power of faith

(E2)  Power of perseverance

(E3)  Power of mindfulness

(E4)  Power of mental concentration & calmness

(E5)  Power of wisdom

F.  The Seven Mental Faculties

(F1)  Mindfulness

(F2)  Insight investigation

(F3)  Perseverance

(F4)  Delightfulness

(F5)  Tranquility

(F6)  Concentration

(F7)  Equanimity

G.  The Noble Eightfold Path

(G1)  Right understanding (view)

(G2)  Right intention

(G3)  Right speech

(G4)  Right action

(G5)  Right livelihood

(G6)  Right [balanced] effort

(G7)  Right mindfulness

(G8)  Right mental unification

Thus, any or many of the above 37 factors contribute to one’s enlightenment either in the state of path (magga), where mental impurity or defilement is respectively eradicated, or fruition (phala), where one’s mind remains in the state of liberation as a result of respective eradication of defilement.  The path and fruition can be listed from lowest to highest, as follows:

(1)  The path of Sotapanna Sainthood
        with roughly 25% eradication of mental impurity

(2)  The fruition of Sotapanna Sainthood
        with roughly 25% liberation

(3)  The path of Sagadagami Sainthood
        with roughly additional 25% eradication of mental impurity

(4)  The fruition of Sagadagami Sainthood
        with roughly additional 25% liberation

(5)  The path of Anagami Sainthood
        with roughly additional 25% eradication of mental impurity

(6)  The fruition of Anagami Sainthood
        with roughly additional 25% liberation

(7)  The path of Arahat Sainthood
        with roughly additional 25% eradication of mental impurity

(8)  The fruition of Arahat Sainthood
        with roughly additional 25% liberation

We can regard the aforesaid 37 factors as the ‘working tools’ to achieve the Path (magga) and Fruition (phala) of enlightenment whereas the level of Sainthood depends on one’s perfected merit or perfection, gained from the accumulation & cultivation of merit, which is the ‘energy’ that enables the ‘working tools’ to, more or less, eradicate mental impurity or defilement.

According to the Lord Buddha, the virtue perfection from accumulation & cultivation of merit is accounted as the ‘time frame,’  not the volume of merit energy.  This is because, it takes (i) time (ii) quantity or volume of merit energy and (iii) quality or virtue cultivation, altogether, to achieve virtue perfection or perfected merit.  This can be compared to the baking of bread which requires proper heat and time for different volume of flour mass in order to be well-baked.  The requires ‘time frames’ are as follows:

Achievement                                                           Required Time Frame

(1) Perseverance Oriented Buddha         80 eons and 100,000 sub-eons

(2)  Faith Oriented Buddha                        40 eons and 100,000 sub-eons

(3)  Wisdom Oriented Buddha                  20 eons and 100,000 sub-eons

(4)  Silent Buddha                                          2 eons and 100,000 sub-eons

(5)  Right-Sided Senior Disciple Saint      1 eon and 100,000 sub-eons

(6)  Left-Sided Senior Disciple Saint         1 eon and 100,000 sub-eons

(7)  Specialized Disciple Saint                     > or = 100,000 sub-eons

(8)  Common Arahat Saint                            100,000 sub-eons

(9)  Anagami Saint                                       < 100,000 sub-eons

(10) Sagadagami Saint                                < 100,000 sub-eons

(11) Sotapanna Saint                                   < 100,000 sub-eons


1 eon = 1 asangaiya

1 sub-eon = 1 kappa

Therefore, we can derive Dhammonomic equations to show the correlation between various factors contributing to enlightenment as follows:

The 37 Factors Lead to Enlightenment (F) =

(A and/or B and/or C and/or D and/or E and/or F and/or G)

Perfected Merit within Time Frame (T) =

(Accumulated & Cultivated Merit) x Period of Time

Unification of the Meditative Noble Eightfold Path (U) =

Meditative x [Right (View + Intention + Speech + Action + Livelihood + Effort + Mindfulness + Mental Unification)]

Path & Fruition of Enlightenment (E) =

(F x T x U)

By Pittaya Wong

11 – 14 August 2018


Sources of our study:

(1) The Voice of Dhamma from Suan Kaew Vol. 1 & 2  by Acariya Master Nun Wanjai Chookorn

(2)  Samatha-Vipassana Meditation by Assoc. Prof. Venerable Master Phra Thepyanmongkol (Sermchai)