Conviction
Saddhā Sutta  (SN 48:50)

This sutta can be read in two ways. The first way is to see it as portraying the five faculties as a set of qualities that develops in a spiral fashion. Based on conviction, one develops the remaining faculties. Then, through discernment, one’s conviction turns into a faculty as well, thus providing the basis for the other faculties to be even further strengthened.

The second way is to see it as describing the practice of the conviction-follower mentioned in MN 70.

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying among the Aṅgas. Now the Aṅgas have a town called Āpaṇṇa, and there the Blessed One addressed Ven. Sāriputta, “Sāriputta, a disciple of the noble ones who is thoroughly inspired by the Tathāgata, who has gone solely to the Tathāgata [for refuge]: Would he have any doubt or uncertainty concerning the Tathāgata or the Tathāgata’s message?”

“Lord, a disciple of the noble ones who is thoroughly inspired by the Tathāgata, who has gone solely to the Tathāgata [for refuge] would have no doubt or uncertainty concerning the Tathāgata or the Tathāgata’s message. Of a disciple of the noble ones who has conviction, it can indeed be expected that he will keep his persistence aroused for abandoning unskillful mental qualities and taking on skillful mental qualities, that he will be steadfast, solid in his effort, not shirking his duties with regard to skillful mental qualities. Whatever persistence he has is his faculty of persistence.

“Lord, of a disciple of the noble ones who has conviction, whose persistence is aroused, it can indeed be expected that he will be mindful, endowed with excellent proficiency in mindfulness, remembering & able to call to mind even things that were done & said long ago. Whatever mindfulness he has is his faculty of mindfulness.

“Lord, of a disciple of the noble ones who has conviction, whose persistence is aroused, and whose mindfulness is established, it can indeed be expected that—making it his object to let go—he will gain concentration, he will gain singleness of mind.1 Whatever concentration he has is his faculty of concentration.

“Lord, of a disciple of the noble ones who has conviction, whose persistence is aroused, whose mindfulness is established, and whose mind is rightly concentrated, it can indeed be expected that he will discern: ‘From an inconceivable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. The total fading & cessation of ignorance, of this mass of darkness, is this peaceful state, this exquisite state: the calming of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; unbinding.’ Whatever discernment he has is his faculty of discernment.

“And so, lord, this convinced disciple of the noble ones, thus striving again & again, recollecting again & again, concentrating his mind again & again, discerning again & again, becomes thoroughly convinced: ‘Those phenomena that once I had only heard about, I here & now dwell touching with my body and, breaking through with discernment, I see.’ Whatever conviction he has is his faculty of conviction.”

“Excellent, Sāriputta. Excellent. A disciple of the noble ones who is thoroughly inspired by the Tathāgata, who has gone solely to the Tathāgata [for refuge] would have no doubt or uncertainty concerning the Tathāgata or the Tathāgata’s message. Of a disciple of the noble ones who has conviction, it can indeed be expected that he will keep his persistence aroused for abandoning unskillful mental qualities and taking on skillful mental qualities, that he will be steadfast, solid in his effort, not shirking his duties with regard to skillful mental qualities. Whatever persistence he has is his faculty of persistence.

“Sāriputta, of a disciple of the noble ones who has conviction, whose persistence is aroused, it can indeed be expected that he will be mindful, endowed with excellent proficiency in mindfulness, remembering & able to call to mind even things that were done & said long ago. Whatever mindfulness he has is his faculty of mindfulness.

“Sāriputta, of a disciple of the noble ones who has conviction, whose persistence is aroused, and whose mindfulness is established, it can indeed be expected that—making it his object to let go—he will gain concentration, he will gain singleness of mind. Whatever concentration he has is his faculty of concentration.

“Sāriputta, of a disciple of the noble ones who has conviction, whose persistence is aroused, whose mindfulness is established, and whose mind is rightly concentrated, it can indeed be expected that he will discern: ‘From an inconceivable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. The total fading & cessation of ignorance, of this mass of darkness, is this peaceful state, this exquisite state: the calming of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; unbinding.’ Whatever discernment he has is his faculty of discernment.

“And so, Sāriputta, this convinced disciple of the noble ones, thus striving again & again, recollecting again & again, concentrating his mind again & again, discerning again & again, becomes thoroughly convinced: ‘Those phenomena that once I had only heard about, I here & now dwell touching with my body and, breaking through with discernment, I see.’ Whatever conviction he has is his faculty of conviction.”

Note

1. Cittassa ekaggatā. On the meaning of this term, see AN 5:151, note 1