Four forces

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Four forces (Tib. དཔུང་བཞི་, Wyl. dpung bzhi) — four essential components of the paramita of diligence, which are referred to in chapter seven of the Bodhicharyavatara:

  1. the force of aspiration or devoted interest (mos pa'i dpung)
  2. the force of steadfastness, or firmness (which here means self-confidence) (brtan pa'i dpung)
  3. the force of joyfulness (dga' ba'i dpung) and
  4. the force of moderation or taking a break (dor ba'i dpung).

Applying the Four Forces

Thubten Chökyi Drakpa says:

"Just as the great kings and rulers of the world deploy their armies with their four divisions in order to defeat their enemies and accomplish their objectives, the bodhisattvas develop the strength of their diligence, complete with the four forces, as an antidote to overcome all the factors that are incompatible with diligence and accomplish the aims of sentient beings."

Patrul Rinpoche says:

1. The preparation, which is the force of aspiration, is an aspiration to practise the Dharma that comes from reflecting on the benefits of virtue and the faults of harmful actions.
2. The main part, which is the force of self-confidence, is the stable commitment, born of strength of heart, ensuring that once a virtuous act is begun, it will reach completion. This has three aspects:
(a) The first is the self-confidence of action. Take the example of the sun rising over the earth: this indicates how we should avoid falling prey to obstacles or being affected by circumstances. Take the example of the sun moving alone: this indicates how we should defeat the forces of Mara by ourselves, without relying on others, and in so doing, accomplish perfect enlightenment. Finally, as in the example of the sun shining its light on the whole world, having been blessed by the wisdom, compassion and aspirations of the bodhisattvas, we ourselves can sustain the lives of beings. In other words, we earnestly strive to bring about the welfare of living beings everywhere, throughout the whole infinity of space.
(b) The self-confidence of capacity means considering ourselves to be of superior capacity, and vowing not to be stained by any downfall, great or small.
(c) The self-confidence in the face of negative emotions means regarding negative emotions as insignificant and disregarding adversity.
3. The force of special joy means practising virtue with joyful enthusiasm, but without any expectation of a positive result, celebrating all the good things that we do.
4. The force of moderation means to clear away hindrances by resting for a while whenever we are physically tired or disheartened, in order to continue with renewed vigour shortly afterwards.

Six Forces

Sometimes six forces are mentioned, with the addition of wholehearted practice (lhur len pa) and mastery, (dbang bsgyur ba), which can also be counted separately as the two strengths (stobs gnyis). Patrul Rinpoche says:

5. The force of wholehearted practice means to overcome what is to be abandoned, devoting ourselves to the vanquishing of the disturbing emotions by employing mindfulness and vigilance.
6. The force of mastery means to train ourselves in all disciplines, remembering the advice about conscientiousness, and maintaining control over our own body, speech and mind.