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A bodhisattva practices 6 perfections (paramitas); giving, morality, patience, energy, meditation, & wisdom. Of these the greatest is giving, and the most valuable thing to give is the gift of the dharma.
The Sanskrit word paramita means to cross over to the other shore. Paramita may also be translated as perfection, perfect realization, or reaching beyond limitation. Through the practice of these six paramitas, we cross over the sea of suffering (samsara) to the shore of happiness and awakening (Nirvana); we cross over from ignorance and delusion to enlightenment. Each of the six paramitas is an enlightened quality of the heart, a glorious virtue or attribute—the innate seed of perfect realization within us. The paramitas are the very essence of our true nature. However, since these enlightened qualities of the heart have become obscured by delusion, selfishness, and other karmic tendencies, we must develop these potential qualities and bring them into expression. In this way, the six paramitas are an inner cultivation, a daily practice for wise, compassionate, loving, and enlightened living. The paramitas are the six kinds of virtuous practice required for skillfully serving the welfare of others and for the attainment of enlightenment. We must understand that bringing these virtuous qualities of our true nature into expression requires discipline, practice, and sincere cultivation. This is the path of the Bodhisattva—one who is dedicated to serving the highest welfare of all living beings with the awakened heart of unconditional love, skillful wisdom, and all-embracing compassion.
1) The Perfection of Generosity (Dana Paramita)
2) The Perfection of Ethics (Sila Paramita)
3) The Perfection of Patience (Kshanti Paramita)
4) The Perfection of Joyous Effort / Enthusiastic Perseverance (Virya Paramita)
5) The Perfection of Concentration (Dhyana Paramita)
6) The Perfection of Wisdom (Prajna Paramita)
Click the link below to read on about the six perfections in greater detail:
Among these free downloadable PDFs is this text on the Paramitas by Nagarjuna bodhisattva: http://ifile.it/t3aqukl
However when we attach the predicate "perfection" or "paramita" this refers to these qualities as they are cultivated exclusively on the Bodhisattva path. (in fact once we enter the bhumis, an additional 4 qualities come to perfection -
truthfulness, resolute perseverance, loving kindness, and equanimity)
What distinguishes these paramitas from the ordinary generosity etc is that the same 6 qualities are practiced together with 1.(conventional) bodhicitta 2.an awareness of shunyatta 3. dedication of all the virtue generated by them to the welfare of all living beings
Evidently they don't become true perfections until those three factors arise spontaneously in the mind, but meantime we can practice!
by His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa. _/\_
When Paramitas are developping and "me is not home" and "others not outside"; it will not be like giving one of my expensive Nike shoes; as the happy one will not run far, and I neither.
When bodhisattvas engage
in the perfections, six noble factors characterize their practices. The first
of the six is noble reliance on bodhichitta—they engage in those practices
motivated by bodhichitta.
The second is noble entity. For this, one who
has taken the bodhisattva vows makes three prostrations to the buddhas
and bodhisattvas each morning and prays:
All buddhas and bodhisattvas in the
ten directions, please pay attention to me.
I, the bodhisattva named [add your name here],
having given my body and wealth together
with my roots of virtue to all sentient beings,
will strive to use today’s situation to benefit beings,
enjoying food, clothes, home,
bed, and so forth only to benefit sentient beings.
As a bodhisattva training in the path, you offer everything including your
positive karma to all sentient beings. Here you also specifically dedicate
certain things for today, deciding to focus on offering a particular object,
service, ethical training, or practice for the benefit of others as part of
your training on the path. In this way you revitalize your bodhisattva
The third is noble purpose, remembering that your purpose in doing
positive actions such as giving or being patient is to gain enlightenment
so as to give temporary and ultimate happiness to all sentient beings.
Fourth is noble skillful means, which means to engage in the perfections
with an understanding of the lack of true existence—of emptiness.
Fifth is noble dedication, dedicating the merits you create from your practices
to gaining enlightenment for the benefit of others.
Sixth is noble purity, purifying self-cherishing by means of bodhichitta and purifying
self-grasping by means of the wisdom understanding emptiness in all
your practices, thereby keeping your practices free of afflictive emotions
From The Easy Path: Illuminating the First Panchen Lama’s Secret Instructions
commentary by Gyumed Khensur Lobsang Jampa, pp 202-03.
The mantra Om Mani Pädme Hum is easy to say yet quite powerful,
because it contains the essence of the entire teaching. When you say
the first syllable Om it is blessed to help you achieve perfection in the
practice of generosity, Ma helps perfect the practice of pure ethics,
and Ni helps achieve perfection in the practice of tolerance and
patience. Päd, the fourth syllable, helps to achieve perfection of perseverance,
Me helps achieve perfection in the practice of concentration,
and the final sixth syllable Hum helps achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom.
So in this way recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom.
The path of these six perfections is the path walked by all the Buddhas of the three times.
What could then be more meaningful than to say the mantra and accomplish the six perfections?"
Since fulfilling the collections of merit and wisdom takes a long time, we need to ensure that we have
precious human lives in our future rebirths so we will be able to continue practicing the path.
Generosity ensures we have the material resources needed to practice.
Ethical conduct is the principal cause of attaining good rebirth.
Fortitude results in being attractive and having good companions who encourage our Dharma practice.
Joyous effort enables us to complete virtuous projects in future lives.
Meditative stability leads to a stable, peaceful mind that can meditate without distraction.
The wisdom correctly understanding karma and its effects enables us to know what to practice and what to abandon on the path
and thus to discern teachers imparting the correct path from charlatans.
Engaging in each perfection and experiencing its results in future lives is important.
Lacking even one will limit our opportunity to progress on the bodhisattva path in future lives.
Excerpt From: Bhiksu Tenzin Gyatso. Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions; 244-45
Question: What benefits does dāna bestow that lead the bodhisattva abiding in the prajñāpāramitā to completely perfect it?
1. Twenty-Seven Salutary Aspects of Dāna
Dāna brings all manner of benefits:
Dāna serves as a treasure trove which constantly follows along with a person.
Dāna destroys suffering and bestows bliss on people.
Dāna is a good guide showing the way to the heavens.
Dāna is a house of goodness for it draws in good people.
Dāna is a source of peace and security. When one reaches the end of one’s life, one’s mind remains free of fear.
Dāna itself is itself marked by kindness, for it is able to bring about the rescue of everyone.
Dāna engenders happiness and is able to rout the insurgents of suffering.
Dāna is a great general able to defeat its enemy, miserliness.
Dāna is a marvelous fruit loved by both gods and men.
Dāna is a path of purity traveled by both worthies and āryas.
Dāna is the gateway to the accumulation of goodness and meritorious qualities.
Dāna is a condition for the accomplishment of works and the gathering of a multitude.
Dāna is the seed of the cherished fruits of good actions.
Dāna is the mark of the good person endowed with blessings generating karma.
Dāna destroys poverty and cuts one off from the three wretched destinies.
Dāna is able to preserve and protect the fruit of karmic blessings and bliss.
Dāna is the primary condition for the realization of nirvāṇa.
It is the essential dharma for entry into the multitude of good people.
It is the vast repository of good repute and laudatory commendation.
It provides the quality of freedom from difficulties in the midst of any multitude.
It is the den in which the mind remains free of regret.
It is the origin of good dharmas and of one’s cultivation of the Path.
It is the dense forest of every manner of delightful bliss.
It is the field of blessings for the reaping of wealth, nobility, and peaceful security.
It is the bridge across to the realization of the Path and to entry into nirvāṇa. It is traversed by the Aryas, the great masters, and those possessed of wisdom.
It is that which everyone else, including those of minor virtue and lesser intelligence, should strive to emulate.
Among all virtues diligence is supreme,
For their attainment follows from it.
With diligence one gains perfect ease at once.
It accomplishes all that transcends the world, as well as the world. [XVII.66]
Diligence delivers what is wished for within existence.
With diligence purification is attained.
Through diligence one transcends the transient collection, gains liberation.
Diligence brings buddhahood, supreme enlightenment. [XVII.67]
Excerpt From: The Dharmachakra Translation Committee. Ornament of the Great Vehicle Sutras.
Why is it supreme? Because, based on diligence, all the accumulations of virtue will subsequently be attained. Without diligence, no positive or virtuous qualities at all would be accomplished because the extent of the accumulation of virtue depends upon the extent of one’s diligence. One may think: “Since concentration and insight are the factors that actually destroy the afflictions, would they not be supreme?” Indeed, they are the supreme factors, but without mustering diligence, neither of them would arise. Thus, the cause of all virtuous qualities is diligence, and from this point of view, it is supreme.
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