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In order that a meditator can make progress in his insight meditation, he must have five factors.
The Second Factor is, he must be healthy both mentally and physically. If he suffers from headaches, reels dizzy or has stomach trouble, gastric or any other illness, it does not mean he is not healthy. He is considered to be healthy to the extent that he can observe any mental or physical process. The food he takes must be digestible (i.e. food which does not cause stomach disorders) because if he suffers from indigestion, he will not be able to practise very well.
The Third Factor is he must be honest and straight forward. That means he must not tell lies to his teacher or to his fellow meditators. Honesty is the best policy.
The Fourth Factor is energy (uiriya) - not ordinary energy but unwavering, strong and firm energy (padhana). A meditator must have this factor for his success in striving for emancipation. He should never let his uiriya or effort decrease, but should be perpetually improving or increasing it. When viriya or padhana is increasing, then mindfulness will become continuous, constant and uninterrupted. When mindfulness becomes continuous, constant and uninterrupted, concentration will become deep and strong. Insight will become sharp and penetrative, resulting in the clear comprehension of the mental and physical processes in their true nature.
The Fifth Factor is pannaor wisdom. Though we use the word pannait does not refer to ordinary pannaor knowledge. It refers to insight knowledge of the arising and passing away of nama and rupa (udayabbaya nana) which is the fourth stage of insight knowledge. The first stage is Namarupa pariccheda nana (knowledge of the difference between mentality and physicality). The second stage is Paccayapariggaha nana(knowledge of causality or knowledge of the Law of Cause and Effect). The third is knowledge of comprehension - Samma sana nana. Know ledge of comprehension means knowledge which penetrates and comprehends all the three characteristics of mental and physical processes, namely, anicca, dukkha and anatta. The fourth stage is Udayabbaya nana knowledge of arising and passing away of mental and physical phenomena.
So the Buddha said that panna here refers to that fourth stage of insight knowledge which penetrates into the appearance and disappearance of mentality and physicality. A meditator is expected to possess this factor. In the beginning, a meditator may not possess this insight knowledge of arising and passing away. but he must strive with padhana (strong and firm viriya or effort) to meditate on mental and physical processes to attain the fourth stage of insight knowledge, i.e. Udayabbaya nana, knowledge of arising and passing away. If a meditator possesses wisdom he is sure to make progress until he attains at least the lowest Path Knowledge - Sotapatti magga nana. That is why the Buddha said that a meditator must possess wisdom which realises the appearance and disappearance of mental and physical phenomena. So these are the five factors which a meditator must have.
When a meditator has attained Sotapatti magga nana, the first stage of enlightenment, he has uprooted both the concept of a soul or a self, personality or individuality (sakkaya ditthi) and doubt (vicikiccha) about the Triple Gem. When a meditator has attained purification of mind, his mind becomes sharp enough to penetrate into the true nature of the mind body processes. Then he distinguishes between the mental and physical processes and realises the specific characteristics of mental and physical phenomena. This is the first stage of insight. When he can realise the specific characteristics of mental and physical phenomena and can distinguish between nama and rupa, he can destroy sakkaya ditthi and atta ditthi for the time being. At this stage of insight, he has uprooted sakkaya ditthi and atta ditthi. When he is not experiencing this insight, sakkaya ditthi and atta ditthi will come back to him, although not strongly. Sakkaya ditthi is only uprooted or exterminated by attaining the first stage of enlightenment, Sotapatti magga- nana.