The six perfections

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The six perfections

Postby ground » Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:29 pm

The fixed number of perfections based on high status

To fully complete the greatly effective bodhisattva deeds you need an immeasurable long succession of lifetimes. Moreover, to attain quick success on the path within these lifetimes you need a life excellent in every aspect. Our present life is not excellent in every aspect but rather has only some of the aspects of full excellence; we do not make progress with it though we practice the teachings. You need a life that has four kinds of excellence: (1) resources to use [the result of the perfection of generosity], (2) a body with which you act [the result of the perfection of ethical discipline], (3) companions together with whom you act [the result of the perfection of patience], and (4) work that you are able to accomplish once undertaken [the result of the perfection of joyous perseverance]. Since in many cases these four kinds of excellence alone may themselves become conditions for afflictions, you must not fall under the control of the afflictions [the result of the perfection of meditative stabilization]. As just the four kinds of excellence are not sufficient, you must also distinguish well, in regard to what to adopt and what to cast aside, precisely what things to do and to stop doing [the result of the perfection of wisdom]. Otherwise, just as a bamboo or plantain tree dies after giving fruit, or a mule dies with pregnancy, you will be destroyed by the four excellences.

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Re: The six perfections

Postby ground » Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:58 pm

The fixed number of perfections based on fulfilling the two aims

When someone in such a life of high status learns the bodhisattva deeds, these activities are comprehensively categorized as two: those which fulfill your own aims and those which fulfill the aims of others. Therefore there is a fixed number of perfections based on fulfilling the two aims.
To fulfill the aims of others you must first help them with material goods. Since no benefit will come from generosity accompanied by harmfulness toward living beings, you need ethical discipline, which has a great purpose for others in that it is the state of desisting from harm to others and the causes of such harm. To bring this to its full development you also need patience that disregards the harm done to you, for, if you are impatient with harm and retaliate a time or two, you will not attain pure ethical discipline. When you do not retaliate because of your patience, you prevent others from accumulating a great amount of sin and bring them to virtue by inspiring them with your patience. So this practice has a great purpose for others.
You attain your own aim, the bliss of liberation, through the power of wisdom. Since you will not attain this with a distracted mind, you must set your mind in meditative equipoise by means of meditative stabilization, obtaining a mental serviceability wherein you intentionally set your attention on any object of meditation. Since a lazy person does not produce this, you need joyous perseverance day and night that never slackens, so this is the basis of the other perfections. ... In these six there is no complete fulfillment of other's aims.

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Re: The six perfections

Postby ground » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:38 pm

The fixed number of perfections based on perfecting the complete fulfillment of other's aims

You first relieve other's poverty by giving away material goods. Then you do no harm to any living being and, in addition, are patient with harm done to you. Without becoming dispirited you joyously persevere at helping those who harm you. You depend on meditative stabilization and inspire them through displaying supernormal powers and so forth. When they become suitable vessels for the teachings, you rely on wisdom and give good explanations, cut through their doubts and thereby bring them to liberation. Because you do all this, the perfections are fixed as six in number.


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Re: The six perfections

Postby Will » Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:28 pm

As fond as I am of Je Rinpoche, he did quote often from earlier Buddhist Sages. Here is one of those Sages; Nagarjuna writes on the six main paramitas. Study the Table of Contents to get an idea of how comprehensive his treatment is:

http://www.kalavinka.com/book_excerpts/ ... _Intro.pdf
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: The six perfections

Postby ground » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:55 pm

Thanks Will. Interesting. Perhaps a read in the future.

You know that the quotes are taken from the introductory chapters to the paramitas. The paramitas themselves are presented more elaborate. As to the paramita of ethics e.g. there is referrence to the medium stage teachings in volume I where actually the ten paths of action and karma are taught. The paramita of concentration and wisdom are actually the content of the third volume (of three volumes) of the LRCM.

I like the introductory chapters because they nicely highlight the different aspects of the set of the paramitas (different perspectives to look at them).

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Re: The six perfections

Postby Will » Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:43 am

TMingyur wrote:Thanks Will. Interesting. Perhaps a read in the future.

You know that the quotes are taken from the introductory chapters to the paramitas. The paramitas themselves are presented more elaborate. As to the paramita of ethics e.g. there is referrence to the medium stage teachings in volume I where actually the ten paths of action and karma are taught. The paramita of concentration and wisdom are actually the content of the third volume (of three volumes) of the LRCM.

I like the introductory chapters because they nicely highlight the different aspects of the set of the paramitas (different perspectives to look at them).

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Another translation by Lamotte from the Sanskrit and Bhikshuni Chodron from the French of the same portion of Nagarjuna's text: http://www.gampoabbey.org/translations2 ... -Vol-2.pdf
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: The six perfections

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Sat Nov 20, 2010 2:27 am

Thanks a lot TMingyur :namaste:
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Re: The six perfections

Postby ground » Sat Nov 20, 2010 11:58 am

Thank you for sharing, Will!

N. Drolma, let's thank Lama Tsongkhapa and those beings who kindly made his text available through much work like translation, discussion and publishing :)

That is how one depends on the kindness of others.

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Re: The six perfections

Postby ground » Sat Nov 20, 2010 12:43 pm

The fixed number of perfections based on their subsuming the entire Mahayana

You are indifferent to resources because you are not attached to those you have and do not pursue those you lack. Since you then have the ability to safeguard precepts, you adopt and respect ethical discipline. You are patient with the suffering that comes from living beings and inanimate things and you are enthusiastic about whatever virtue you set out to cultivate, so you do not get dispirited by either of these. You cultivate a non-discursive yoga of meditative serenity and a non-discursive yoga of insight. These six comprise all the Mahayana practices through which you advance by the six perfections, for you accomplish these practices in stages by means of the six perfections and you do not need any more than these six perfections.


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Re: The six perfections

Postby ground » Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:14 am

The fixed number of perfections in terms of the completeness of paths and methods

The path - i.e. method - for not being attached to the resources that are your possesions is generosity, because you become free from attachment to your things by becoming habituated to giving them away. The method for restraining yourself from distraction of trying to possess what you do not possess is ethical discipline, for when you maintain a monks vows, you do not have all the distractions of making a living. The method for not abandoning living beings is patience, because you do not despair at the suffering caused by the harm others inflict. The method to increase virtues is joyous perseverance, because you increase them when you joyously persevere at what you undertake. The method for clearing away obscurations are the final two perfections, because meditative stabilization clears away the afflictions and wisdom clears away the cognitive obscurations. Thus the perfections are fixed as six in number.
...
The following explanation produces strong conviction about the six perfections. In order to avoid being dominated by the distractions of sensual objects, you need generosity that is free from attachment. To prevent sensory experiences that have not occurred, you need ethical discipline that restrains distraction by things that are pointless [deeds that are wrong by prohibition] or counterproductive [deeds that are wrong by nature]. Given that there are a great number of living beings whose behaviour is bad and who are constantly in danger of meeting, you need powerful conditioning to patience as a remedy for giving up on their welfare. In order to increase virtue in terms of the great number of actions and its practice over long periods of time, you need joyous perseverance that has the intense and long-term enthusiasm that comes from reflecting on the benefits of virtuous actions, etc. In order to suppress afflictions you need meditative stabilization, and to destroy their seeds and the cognitive obscurations you need wisdom.


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Re: The six perfections

Postby ground » Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:46 pm

The fixed number of perfections based on the three trainings

The nature of the training in ethical discipline [the first of the three trainings] is the practice of ethical discipline. The precondition of the training in ethical discipline is generosity, because once you have generosity that is indifferent to resources, you can properly adopt an ethical discipline. The aid to the training in ethical discipline is patience, because the patience of not retaliating when scolded, etc. safeguards your properly adopted ethical discipline. Meditative stabilization is the training of mind [the second training, the training of meditative concentration], and wisdom is the training in wisdom [the third training]. As for joyous perseverance, it is included in all three trainings. So the perfections are fixed at six in number.


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Re: The six perfections

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:53 pm

TMingyur wrote:Thank you for sharing, Will!

N. Drolma, let's thank Lama Tsongkhapa and those beings who kindly made his text available through much work like translation, discussion and publishing :)

That is how one depends on the kindness of others.

Kind regards


Indeed! But thanks for replicating it here, it's precious :thumbsup:
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Re: The six perfections

Postby ground » Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:59 am

The fixed number of perfections based on their being remedies that eliminate the class of phenomena that are incompatible with virtue

Furthermore, there are two causes of not initially transcending or rising above cyclic existence - attachment to resources and attachment to a home. The remedies for these are generosity and ethical discipline.
You may rise above these attachments once, but still turn back without reaching the end. There are two causes of this - suffering from the wrongdoing of living beings and becoming dispirited at the length of time you have to pursue virtue. The remedies for these are patience and joyous perseverance, respectively. Once you understand how to sustain a disregard for all suffering and harm, as well as enthusiasm which views even an eternity as though it were one day, you must practice them in various ways. If you do this, you will produce the patience and joyous perseverance that are capable of functioning as remedies to what causes you turn back. Thus, they are extremely crucial. Never mind the matter of the bodhisattva deeds, even with regard to present-day cultivation of virtue, there are many who start out but few who do not turn back after a while because (1) their forebearance of the slightest hardship is tiny, and (2) their enthusiasm for the path they cultivate is tepid. This is the result of their not putting into practice the personal instructions associated with patience and joyous perseverance.
There are two causes for letting your virtue go to waste even if you do not turn back after a while - distraction, wherein your attention does not stabilize on a virtuous object of meditation and faulty wisdom. The remedies for these are meditative stabilization and wisdom, respectively. Meditative stabilization is a remedy because it is said that even virtuous practices such as repetition of mantra and daily recitations are senseless if your attention wanders elsewhere. Wisdom is a remedy because if you fail to develop the wisdom that fully delineates the topics in the collections of Buddhist knowledge, you will be mistaken about what to adopt and what to cast aside, even the obvious, and will then conduct yourself wrongly. This fixes the number of perfections at six in terms of their being remedies that eliminate the class of phenomena that are incompatible with virtue.


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Re: The six perfections

Postby ground » Fri Nov 26, 2010 12:59 pm

The number of perfections is fixed at six based on the fact that they are the foundation for achieving every quality of a buddha. This is because the first four perfections are preconditions for meditative stabilization, so through these four you accomplish meditative stabilization - the perfection of non-distraction. Furthermore, when you cultivate insight based on this, you will know reality.
Fixing the number of perfections at six in terms of their being concordant with helping living beings to mature is similar in meaning to the third one [perfecting the complete fulfillment of others' aims] mentioned earlier.
I have explained the noble Asanga's assertions as presented by the master Haribhadra [in his Long Explanation of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in Eight Thousand Lines (Abhisamayalamkaraloka)]. It is extremely crucial to gain conviction about the six perfections.


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Re: The six perfections

Postby ground » Sat Dec 25, 2010 6:36 pm

The order of arising

When you have generosity that is desinterested in and unattached to resources, you take up ethical discipline. When you have an ethical discipline which restrains you from wrongdoing, you become patient with those who harm you. When you have the patience wherein you do not become dispirited with hardships, the conditions for rejecting virtue are few, so you are able to persevere joyously. Once you joyously persevere day and night, you will produce the meditative concentration that facilitates the application of your attention to virtuous objects of meditation. When your mind is in meditative equipoise, you will know reality exactly.


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Re: The six perfections

Postby ground » Mon Dec 27, 2010 7:52 am

The perfection of generosity

What generosity is

... it is the virtue of a generous attitude, and the physical and verbal actions which are motivated by this.
... you perfect generosity after you destroy your stingy clinging to all that you own - your body, your resources, and roots of virtue - and you completely condition your mind to giving them away to living beings from the depth of your heart and, not only that, but also to giving to others the effects of this giving as well.


The gift of the teachings

The gift of the teachings is teaching the sublime teachings without making mistakes, teaching the arts and the like (worldly occupations which are blameless and proper to learn), and involving others in upholding the fundamental precepts.


The gift of fearlessness

The gift of fearlessness is protecting living beings from fear of humans such as kings and robbers, from fear of non-human beings such as lions, tigers, and crocodiles, and from fear of the elements such as water and fire.


Material gifts
...


Recipients of giving

1. friends and relatives who help you
2. enemies who harm you
3. ordinary people who neither harm nor help you
4. those with good qualitites such as ethical discipline
5. those with flaws such as faulty ethical discipline
6. those inferior to you
7. those equal to you
8. those superior to you
9. the rich and happy
10. the miserable and destitute

...



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Re: The six perfections

Postby ground » Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:30 pm

The perfection of generosity (continued)

The Joyous (Pramudita)

...
The generative cause of the sons (& daughters) of the conquerors are the thought of compassion, non-dualistic knowledge and the thought of awakening.
...
Before all else I praise compassion;
...
The first [stage in generation of the thought of awakening] is dominated by compassion directed toward the liberation of all living beings, and fixed in happiness that grows from the vow of universal good. Because he (she) has obtained [the thought of awakening], from this moment on he (she) is designated by the title bodhisattva.

He (she) is born into the family of the tathagatas and rids himself (herself) completely of the three bonds (attachment to philosophical views; attachment to conventional standards of morality, custom and ritual practices; doubt or confusion about the possibility of attaining awakening), the bodhisattva fosters sublime joy, and is capable of shaking a hundred world systems.

Mounting from stage to stage he (she) will make his (her) ascent, [but even] at this time he (she) will have eradicated the paths leading to rebirth in bad migrations. For him (her) [any possibility of] life as a common man (woman) is now absolutely exhausted, and he (she) is assigned the same status as a saint of the eighth rank (stream enterer).
...
During this time generosity predominates in [the bodhisattva] as the initial cause of awakening; and because this generosity insures devotion even in giving one's own flesh, so it furnishes and inferential sign of [qualities] that can not become manifest [at this stage]
...
Those who carry in their hearts the resolution to act for the benefit of all living beings obtain, through [the practice of] generosity, immediate happiness.
...
Even the happiness that comes from entering into the peace [of nirvana] is unlike that happiness experienced by a son (daughter) of the conquerors when he (she) thinks about hearing the word give. What can be said of [the joy that arises] from abandoning all [inner and outer possessions]?
...
That act of generosity which is empty of giver, giving, and recipient is called supramundane perfection; and that which is attached to [concepts of] these three is taught as mundane perfection.
In this way the joy abiding in the heart of the son (daughter) of the conquerors infuses its pure receptacle with beautifully radiant light, and like the precious liquid cristal of the moon, it conquers and dispels the blackest darkness.

Candrakirti, Madhyamakavatara (CW Huntington, jr)


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Re: The six perfections

Postby White Lotus » Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:47 pm

one does indeed appreciate the kindness of others... and their wisdom.

white lotus.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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Re: The six perfections

Postby ground » Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:48 am

The perfection of ethical discipline

... ethical discipline does indeed have three divisions [the ethical discipline of restraint, the ethical discipline of gathering virtue, and the ethical discipline of acting for the welfare of living beings] ...


The ethical discipline of restraint

The Bodhisattva-Bhumi says the ethical discipline of restraint is the seven types of vows for individual liberation. Thus given that there are those who have taken vows of individual liberation and are also keeping the bodhisattva vows, the ethical discipline of restraint is either the actual vows of individual liberation for the group of either laypersons or renunciates, or it is a practice of restraint and abstention that would be associated with those actual vows. Also, given that there are those who have taken the bodhisattva vows who are unsuited to be recipients of the vows of individual liberation, the ethical discipline of restraint is the practice of restraint and abstention that gives up any deed that is wrong by nature or any deed that is wrong by prohibition that would be associated with the vows of individual liberation.
...
Also, within the three devisions of ethical discipline, the ethical discipline of restraint - the actual rules of the individual liberation vows or the practices of engaging in what is to be adopted and rejecting what is to be cast aside that would be associated with these vows - is initially very important even for bodhisattvas, so train in this.
...
If you think that the vows of individual liberation are for sravakas, and if you cast aside their prescriptive and proscriptive rules and say "There are other precepts, bodhisattva precepts, to train in," then you have not grasped the key point of the bodhisattva training in ethical discipline, for it is often said that the ethical discipline of restraint is the basis and source of the next two types of ethical discipline.


The ethical discipline of gathering virtue

The ethical discipline of gathering virtue means that you focus on virtues such as the six perfections and then develop the virtues that you have not developed in your mind, do not spoil the ones that you have already developed, and increase both of these ever further.


The ethical discipline of acting for the welfare of living beings

The ethical discipline of acting for the welfare of living beings means that you focus on the welfare of eleven sorts of living beings*, and then accomplish their aims in this and future lives in a suitable manner and without wrongdoing.

*
[The eleven sorts of living beings are 1. those who need help, 2. those who are confused as to the proper method, 3. those who have given help, 4. those afflicted by fear, 5. those afflicted with sorrow, 6. those poor in goods, 7. those who want a dwelling, 8. those you want mental harmony, 9. those who proceed correctly, 10. those who proceed wrongly, 11. those who need to be disciplined by supranormal powers]


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Re: The six perfections

Postby ground » Sun Jan 09, 2011 6:24 am

The perfection of ethical discipline (continued)

The Immaculate (Vimala)

The Bodhisattva posses the qualities of most prefect morality and therefore, even when dreaming, he (she) renounces any defilement which would violate his (her) moral behaviour. From purification of physical, verbal, and mental acts he (she) consolidates the ten paths of pure conduct.
With his (her) entry into [the second stage] this tenfold path of virtue is brought to extreme purity. Like the autumn moon he (she) is always pure, and through following these [then paths] he (she) is made beautiful with the radiant light of peace.
If, however, he (she) were to view [any aspect of] this pure morality as instrinsically existent, then it would no longer be "pure" morality. Therefore he (she) remains totally aloof from the influence of dualistic ideas concerning any of the three supports.
For a person whose morality is deficient, the goods resulting from charity may appear even in a bad migration; but when the bulk of them has been spent along with any other which the produced, there will be no more such goods in the future.
When [a person] lives with independence and under agreeable circumstances and still neglects to take firm hold of himself (herself), then he (she) will tumble into the abyss and be delivered over to the power of others; and once this has happened, who will lift him (her) up?
Because of this, the Conqueror gave instructions in moral conduct just after teaching about generosity. [All] good qualities thrive in the soil of morality, and the enjoyments of its fruits never ceases.
For common men (women), for [sravakas] born from the words [of a buddha], for the individual [awakening] of pratyekabuddhas, and for the sons (& daughters) of the conquerors, the essential cause of temporary happiness as well as incomparable bliss is none other than morality.
Just as in the case of the ocean with respect to a corpse, or as it is with prosperity in the face of misfortune - so a mighty one governed by the force of morality is unwilling to live with any transgression.
When there is any [belief in an] objective support associated with these three - he (she) who abstains, the act of abstention, and the object of that act - then such morality is called a mundane perfection; but that which is empty of attachment to the three of them is referred to as a supramundane perfection.
Issuing forth from that moon which is the son (daughter) of the conquerors, this immaculate [stage] is not worldly, and yet it is the glory of the world. Stainless and pure as light from the autumn moon, it dispels the burning heat that torments the heart of every living being.


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