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(skt.: paramita; tib.: par chin drug/pa rol tu chin pa) Perfection. Literal translation of Tibetan is went to the other side. These are the six virtues, or perfections, that the Bodhisattva must perfect during his development in order to reach Buddhahood. Six perfections belong to the sutra part of the Mahayana path which is called also Paramitayana, the Perfection Vehicle.
1. (skt.: dana, tib.: jin pa) Perfection of Generosity. There are three types:
- giving of material things
- giving of protection from fear
2. (skt.: shila; tib.: tsultrim) Perfection of Ethics (or Morality). There are three types:
- Restraint from harmful actions of body, speech, and mind by keeping the pratimoksha vows.
- Cultivating, protecting, and increasing virtue.
- Helping and benefiting living beings.
3. (skt.: kshanti; tib.: so pa) Perfection of Patience. There are three types:
- Taking no account of those who harm, applying patience as the antidote to anger.
- Accepting hardships and suffering and see it as a help to ripen the fruit, the outcome of those past negative actions, and in that way consuming negative karma.
- Persistent study of the dharma, the Shakyamuni Buddhas teachings. This is the patience of continuous investigation of the Shakyamuni Buddhas doctrine.
4. (skt.: virya; tib.: tsun dru) Perfection of Joyous Effort. Arya Shantideva described Perfection of Joyous Effort as: What is joyous effort? It is enthusiasm for virtue. There are three kinds:
- Enthusiastic effort as armor: The courage and energy that prepares one to withstand difficulties and continue until ones goal is achieved.
- Diligence in positive actions: Striving to create virtue through the practice of the perfections.
- Insatiable enthusiastic effort: Devoting all energy in working for others.
5. (skt.: dhyana; tib.: samten) Perfection of Meditation (or Concentration). There are two essential kinds of meditation:
- Calm abiding meditation (skr.: shamata; tib.: shi ne). Calm abiding is called the perfect absorption of mind within mind. It is to cultivate a mind that is not being disturbed by mental wandering.
- Special insight meditation (skt.: vipashyana; tib.: lhak thong). It is analytical meditation that makes it possible to gain insight into the true nature of reality. In that way it is the perfection of wisdom.
6. (skt.: prajna; tib.: she rab) Perfection of Wisdom. The Mahayana teachings on insight into emptiness. There are three types:
- hearing the teachings
- thinking about them
- meditating on them
Six perfections are called perfections for two reasons:
1. (tib.: pa rol tu chin pa) When you reach Buddhahood, they can be done perfectly.
2. (tib.: pa rol tu chin je) They will bring you to perfection - to Buddhahood.
As Arya Nagarjuna said:
These six paramitas are able to cause a person to cross over the
great sea of miserliness, over the other afflictions and beyond
defiled attachment so that one reaches to the other shore.
It is for this reason that they are referred to as paramitas.