The 6 Paramitas of Buddhism

A bodhisattva practices 6 perfections (paramitas): Giving, Morality, Patience, Energy, Meditation, & Wisdom. Bodhisattva refers to a human being committed to the attainment of enlightenment for the sake of others in Mahayana Buddhism.

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.

The following list of six paramitas are guides to practice in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition:

1)      The Perfection of Generosity (Dana Paramita) – The essence of this paramita is unconditional love, a boundless openness of heart and mind, a selfless generosity and giving which is completely free from attachment and expectation.

2)      The Perfection of Ethics (Sila Paramita) – This paramita is the enlightened quality of virtuous and ethical behaviour, morality, self-discipline, impeccability, personal integrity, honour, and harmlessness.

3)      The Perfection of Patience (Kshanti Paramita) – This paramita is the enlightened quality of patience, tolerance, forbearance, and acceptance.

4)      The Perfection of Joyous Effort / Enthusiastic Perseverance (Virya Paramita) – This paramita is the enlightened quality of energy,  vigour, vitality, endurance, diligence, enthusiasm, continuous and persistent effort.

5)      The Perfection of Concentration (Dhyana Paramita) – This paramita is the enlightened quality of concentration, meditation, contemplation, samadhi, mindfulness, mental stability.

6)      The Perfection of Wisdom (Prajna Paramita) – This paramita is the enlightened quality of transcendental wisdom, insight, and the perfection of understanding

Source: Helena Kwok Blog

Zen master Dogen said, “To know yourself or study yourself is to forget yourself, and if you forget yourself then you become enlightened by all things.”



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