Nice comprehensive piece on the 10 Perfections, Nicholas.
Here's a little intro bit by the Dalai Lama:
''Although the generation of the aspirational aspects of the
bodhichitta alone is very remarkable and a virtuous action
in itself, that alone will not fulfill your aim of achieving
Buddhahood. It is important to engage in the practice of the
bodhisattva deeds. These deeds, called the six perfections,
constitute the essential and comprehensive path to
enlightenment, combining methods and wisdom. The Buddha
himself said that by the force of their wisdom bodhisattvas
abandon all the delusions, but by the force of their
compassionate method they never abandon sentient beings.
These two aspects of the path should always be undertaken in
combination, never in isolation. The entire practice of the
bodhisattva is classified under the six perfections, which
are generosity, ethics, patience, effort, concentration, and
To fulfill the wishes of others it is very important to
engage in the practice of generosity, and generosity itself
should be reinforced by the pure observance of ethics,
abstaining from inflicting harm upon others. The actual
practice itself should be completed by the practice of
patience, because you should have forbearance toward harm
inflicted upon you by others. In order to engage in such
practices, you must have strong effort. Without
concentration, your practice will not be powerful. And
without wisdom realizing the nature of phenomena, you will
not be able to guide others rightly on the path leading to
the achievement of enlightenment.''
Yes, nice book - Thurman did a good job putting that
together - here's a pithy passage from HPB (I imagine that
the references to sixteen paramitas should read 'six and
"If among you there was one who embodied in himself the idea
depicted, it would be my duty to relinquish the teacher's
chair to him. For it would be the extreme of audacity in me
to claim the possession of so many virtues. That the MASTERSdo
in proportion to their respective temperaments and stages of
Bodhisatvic development possess such Paramitas, constitutes
their right to our reverence as our Teachers. It should be
the aim of each and all of us to strive with all the
intensity of our natures to follow and imitate Them. . . .
Try to realize that progress is made step by step, and each
step gained byheroiceffort.
Withdrawal means despair or timidity. . . . Conquered
passions, like slain tigers, can no longer turn and rend
you. Be hopeful then, not despairing. Witheachmorning's
awakening try to live through the day in harmony with the
Higher Self. 'Try' is the battle-cry taught by the teacher
to each pupil. Naught else isexpectedof
who does his best does all that can be asked.There
is a moment when even a Buddha ceases to be a sinning mortal
and takes his first step toward Buddhahood. The sixteen
Paramitas (virtues) are not for priests and yogis alone, as
said, but stand for models for us all to strive after--and
neither priest nor yogi, Chela nor Mahatma, ever attained
all at once. . . . The idea that sinners and not saints are
expected to enter the Path is emphatically stated in theVoice
of the Silence."
Further, Mahāmati said: It is again said by the Blessed One
that by fulfilling the sixPāramitās Buddhahood is realized.
What are the six Pāramitās? 1 And how are they fulfilled?
The Blessed One replied: Mahāmati, there are three kinds of
Pāramitās. What are the three? They are the worldly, the
super-worldly, and the highest super-worldly. Of these,
Mahāmati, the worldly Pāramitās [are practiced thus]:
Adhering tenaciously to the notion of an ego-soul and, what
belongs to it and holding fast to dualism, those who are
desirous for this world of form, etc., will practice the
Pāramitā of charity in order to obtain the various realms of
existence. In the same way, Mahāmati, the ignorant will
practice the Pāramitās of morality, patience, energy,
Dhyana, and Prajńā. Attaining the psychic powers they will
be born in Brahma's heaven. As to the super-worldly
Pāramitās, they are practiced by the Śrāvakas and
Pratyekabuddhas whose thoughts are possessed by the notion
of Nirvana; the Pāramitās of charity, etc. are thus
performed by them, who, like the ignorant, are desirous of
enjoying Nirvana for themselves.
Again, Mahāmati as to the highest super-worldly Pāramitās,
[they are practiced] by the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas who are
the practisers of the highest form of spiritual discipline;
that is, perceiving that there is nothing in the world but
what is only seen of the Mind itself, on account of
discrimination, and understanding that duality is of the
Mind itself, they see that discrimination ceases to
function; and, that seizing and holding is non-existent;
and, free from all thoughts of attachment to individual
objects which are of the Mind itself,
and in order to benefit and give happiness to all sentient
beings, [the Bodhisattvas] practise the Pāramitā of charity(Dāna).
While dealing with an objective world there is no rising in
them of discrimination; they just practice morality and this
is the Pāramitā of morality(Shīla).
To practice patience with no thought of discrimination
rising in them and yet with full knowledge of grasped and
grasping -this is the Pāramitā of patience(Kshanti)
To exert oneself with energy from the first part of the
night to its end and in conformity with the disciplinary
measures and not to give rise to discrimination this is the
Pāramitā of energy(Virya)
Not to cherish discrimination, not to fall into the
philosopher's notion of Nirvana this is the Pāramitā ofDhyana.
As to the Pāramitā ofPrajńā:
when the discrimination of the Mind itself ceases, when
things are thoroughly examined by means of intelligence,
there is no falling into dualism, and a revulsion takes
place at the basis, while previous karma is not destroyed;
when [transcendental knowledge] is exercised for the
accomplishment of self-realization, then there is the
These, Mahāmati, are the Pāramitās and their meanings.
In the HHDL'sWay
to Freedom, generosity is defined as the giving away of
possessions, body, and your virtuous collections. Moreover,
there are three types of generosity: the giving of the
Dharma, the giving of fearlessness or protection, and the
giving of material possessions.
He gives some handy advice:
‘’When you practice giving the gift of teachings, you should
first analyze the nature of the listener to determine
whether he or she will benefit from the teaching that you
are thinking of giving. Otherwise, instead of being helpful
to that person it might end up being harmful, and your
listener may lose faith in the Dharma’’. (p.161)
The second paramita, Shila, or ethics, is related to the 10
negative actions (to be avoided, preferably):
10 negative actions
HHDL notes that:
‘’Your intention in observing pure ethics should not be
confined to protecting yourself from engaging in negative
actions but should also set an example for others, so that
they too can be protected from the harm of negative
Without adequate erudition or eloquence, and with utmost
reverence, I propose some ideas on the third paramita:
patience, tolerance, forbearance, endurance, or composure.
It literally means "able to withstand." It is said there are
three dimensions to ksanti: the ability to endure personal
hardship; patience with others; and acceptance of truth.’’
The venerable HHDL gives 3 types of patience:
1- not being upset by harms
inflicted by others; 2-voluntarily taking suffering upon
oneself; 3- enduring the sufferings involved in the practice
of the Dharma.
Anger management is very important: ‘’The very simple point
is that if individuals had control over their emotions, they
would not do you harm at all, because what they seek is
happiness. They would not work for their won downfall by
accumulating the negative karma that comes from harming
others. Because they do not have control over their
emotions, there is no point in losing your temper. (164)
‘’Indeed I should feel indebted to the person who has harmed
me, because he or she has given me the opportunity to test
my own patience.’’ (Way
to Freedom, p. 165)
The fourth paramita is virya, effort or energy. The HHDL
states that a major obstacle to effort is laziness; there
being three types:
1- indolence, the wish to postpone what you have to do.
2- inferiority, the sense of not being able to do something.
3- attachment to negative actions.
Courage and confidence are important: "You should have the
confidence to feel that you have seen the harm of the
delusions, that you will not allow yourself to remain under
the influence of delusions, that you have the ability and
capacity to work for the benefit of others." (Way
to Freedom, p. 171)
The fifth paramita, Dhyana, concentration or meditation can
be defined as ''the mental state of focusing
single-pointedly on a virtuous object.'' Moreover,
concentration is ''the practice whereby one's ordinary,
distracted, uncontrolled mind is developed to the point that
it can remain powerfully, effortlessly, and one-pointedly on
whatever object one chooses.'' (Way
to Freedom, p. 173-74)
HHDL recommends meditation practice. He also gives some
pointers on sleep such as reviewing your day before going to
sleep or reviewing the subjects of your meditation session.
In paraphrasing Tsong-kha-pa, he encourages making one's
philosophical studies the subject of analytical meditation:
''If you do not try to explore the analytic faculty of the
mind and just continuously remain absorbed in stabilizing
meditation, simply maintaining nonconceptuality, you become
less and less intelligent, and the wisdom to discriminate
between right and wrong decreases.'' (Way
to Freedom, p. 179)
Before arriving at the culminating paramita, below is a
recap courtesy of our good friend Mr. Judge (Theosophical
PARAMITAS, the seven Paramitas of perfection are: Dana,
the higher Indifference;Virya,
the capacity forMahaticperception.
The culminating perfection, Prajna, or Wisdom is according
''Compared to other faculties, like faith, mindfulness,
effort, and so forth, wisdom is said to be more important
because it is only through the force of wisdom, when
complemented by the other faculties, that one can actually
combat the force of the delusions. The other perfections,
like generosity and ethics, depend heavily upon the
realization of wisdom.'' (Way
to Freedom, p. 179)
He considers that ignorance is the major obstacle to wisdom.
He adds that :''For a serious practitioner, both learning
and contemplation are very important. The progress you make
in your practice should match the increase in your knowledge
of the Dharma. Having obtained this precious human life
endowed with a complex brain, we must make use of its
special qualities and apply the unique power to discriminate
between right and wrong. This is done by increasing our
understanding. The more you increase your knowledge, the
better your understanding will be.'' (p. 180)
He concludes that: ''Although it is initially very difficult
for us to plunge into the practice of the six perfections,
it is important at first to develop admiration for them and
increase our understanding of them. This will eventually
lead us to the true practice, enabling us to find freedom
from the difficulties of the cycle of existence and enjoy
the bliss of perfect enlightenment.'' (p. 181)
“Though such a person with any of the faults as above
declared should fill the world with his charities, and make
his name known throughout every nation, he would make no
advancement in the practical occult sciences, but be
continually slipping backward. The ‘six and ten
transcendental virtues.’ the Pâramitâs, are not for
full-grown yogis and priests alone, but for all those who
would enter the ‘Path.’” HPB, CW XII 598
Here are the six paramitas according to the Sakya school, to
Ornament of Liberation:
A. giving wealth,
B. giving fearlessness, and
C. giving Dharma.
The practice of giving wealth will stabilize others’ bodies,
giving fearlessness will stabilize others’ lives, and giving
Dharma stabilizes others’ minds. Furthermore, the first two
generosity practices establish others’ happiness in this
life. Giving Dharma establishes their happiness hereafter.
A. moral ethics of restraint,
B. morality of accumulating virtuous Dharma, and
C. morality of benefitting sentient beings.
The first means to restrain your mind in a proper place; the
second one means to mature the Dharma qualities of your
mind; and the third one means to fully mature sentient
• the patience of feeling ease toward someone harmful,
• the patience of accepting suffering, and
• patience in understanding the nature of Dharma.
The first one is practicing patience by investigating the
nature of the one who creates harm. The second one is
practicing patience by investigating the nature of
suffering. The third one is practicing patience by
investigating the unmistakable nature of all phenomena. Put
another way, the first two are practiced in the conventional
state, and the third one is practiced according to the
ultimate state. (Chapter 14.3)
A. perseverance of armor,
B. perseverance of application, and
C. insatiable perseverance.
The first is the excellent motivation, the second one is
excellent applied effort, and the third one is the
perfection of these two. (Chapter 15.3)
Actual meditative concentrationhas
A. meditative concentration of abiding in bliss at the
B. meditative concentration of accumulating good qualities,
C. meditative concentration of benefitting sentient beings.
The first one is the method to make a proper vessel of one’s
own mind. The second one is establishing all of the Buddha’s
qualities on the basis of the proper vessel. The third one
is benefitting sentient beings. (Chapter 16.3)
The commentary to theOrnament
of Mahayana Sutralists
A. wisdom awareness of the mundane,
B. wisdom awareness of the lesser supramundane, and
C. wisdom awareness of the greater supramundane.
A. Wisdom Awareness of the Mundane.
The study of medicine and healing, the study of reasoning,
the study of linguistics, and the study of the arts—the
wisdom awareness which arises in dependence on these four is
called wisdom awareness of the mundane.
The two types of supramundane wisdom awareness are called
inner awarenesses which arise in dependence on the holy
B. Wisdom Awareness of the Lesser Supramundane.
The first, the lesser supramundane wisdom awareness, is the
wisdom awareness that arises from the hearing, reflection,
and meditation of the Hearers and Solitary Realisers. It is
the realization that the afflicted aggregates of personality
are impure, of the nature of suffering, impermanent, and
C. Wisdom Awareness of the Greater Supramundane.
Second, the greater supramundane wisdom awareness is the
wisdom awareness that arises from the hearing, reflection,
and meditation of the followers of the Mahayana. It is the
realization that all phenomena are, by nature, emptiness,
unborn, without a foundation and without roots. The700
Stanza Perfection of Wisdomsays:
The realization that all phenomena are unborn— that is the
perfection of wisdom awareness.
Nice - Nagarjuna and Dharmamitra are always interesting-
"Genuine concentration and meditation,conscious
and cautious, upon one's lower self in the light of the inner divine
man and the Paramitas, is an excellent thing."(hpb CW 12, 603)
"Which wilt thou choose, O thou of dauntless heart? TheSamtan
of "eye Doctrine," four-fold Dhyâna, or thread thy way throughPâramitâs
six in number, noble gates of virtue leading to Bodhi and to Prajñâ,
seventh step of Wisdom?
The rugged Path of four-fold Dhyâna winds on uphill. Thrice great is he
who climbs the lofty top.
The Pâramitâ heights are crossed by a still steeper path. Thou hast to
fight thy way through portals seven, seven strongholds held by cruel
crafty Powers — passions incarnate."
"Before thou canst approach the last, O weaver of thy freedom, thou hast
to master these Pâramitâs of perfection — the virtues transcendental six
and ten in number — along the weary Path."
the six transcendental virtues; for the priests there areten.