Five Wisdom Energies,
Seven Deadly Sins, Seven Heavenly Virtues
Polar examples associated with the five wisdom
energies are reminiscent of the heavenly virtues and deadly sins of the
Catholic tradition. However, the purpose of the wisdom energies is to
understand the underlying energies behind either virtuous or
action as a path to enlightenment. So for example, desire is the common
underlying energy behind both noble aspirations and cravings of the
While the traditional heavenly virtues and deadly
sins all arise from the actions of wisdom energies, it is not
case that a virtue and its opposite sin are a product of the same
energies. Let's first look at the sins, as they seem to be more widely
The deadly sins Lust,
greed, and gluttony
involve indulgence of desire.
Pride and greed involve
the misapprehension of one's own riches (physical and
otherwise). Envy begins
with jealousy of other's
riches but invites actions
designed to "bring others low" as Dante put it. Wrath
typically the outward manifestation of confusion
resulting from ill-informed judgments of others. Lastly, sloth is
the failure to engage with one's environment.
The term "seven heavenly virtues" commonly refers to the
seven contrary virtues of Prudentius.
and temperance involve
a discriminating awareness concerning desire.
Charity, that is
to say, generosity, relates to
there is a need to avoid idiot generosity, which relates
to discriminating awareness in one's desire
be charitable. Diligence
not merely the antidote to sloth but is essential to right action at
an individual level. Kindness
to right action
a social level. Patience
is not only an antidote to
wrath but is
essential to achieving clarity.
Finally, humility grows
from an appreciation of one's place in the universe.
The five wisdom energies,which are also known as the five Buddha
families, date back to the very beginning of Tibetan Buddhism. Their
traditional Tibetan names are
English names used here are similar to those used by Irini
Rockwell in her article,
the five Buddha families. A great deal has been written about
the five wisdom energies, and much of it is readily available on the