The Paramitas

Dana   Sila   Ksanti   Virya   Dhyana   Prajna

When the Lord saw that the whole universe, with the world of the gods, the world of Mara, the world of Brahma, with its sramanas and brahmanas, had assembled, and also the Bodhisattvas who would one day reach the state of a Buddha, he said to the Ven. Sariputra: A Bodhisattva, a great being, who wants to fully know all dharmas in all their aspects should be diligent in the perfection of wisdom (prajna paramita).

Sariputra – How then should he be diligent in the perfection of wisdom?

The Lord – Here, Sariputra, a Bodhisattva, a great being, having stood in the perfection of wisdom by not standing in it, should perfect the perfection of giving by seeing that no giving has taken place, since gift, giver, and recipient cannot be seized. He should perfect himself in the perfection of morality by not falling into either transgression or [the pride of] non-transgression. He should perfect the perfection of patience and remain imperturbable. He should perfect the perfection of vigour and remain indefatigable in his physical and mental vigour. He should perfect the perfection of meditation and derive no enjoyment from it. He should perfect the perfection of wisdom, neither grasping for wisdom or ignorance. Maha Prajnaparamita Sutra (Conze, p. 45)

Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.

Dana Paramita: Ideal Charity

Bodhidharma

The practice of being in accord with the Dharma is this: the Way, which we [Hindus] call the Dharma, in its essence is pure, and this Dharma is the principle of emptiness in all that is manifested. In it there are no defilements and attachments, no self or not-self. Says the Sutra: “In the Dharma there are no sentient beings because it is free from the impurity of being; in the Dharma there is no self because it is free from the impurity of selfhood.” When the wise understand this truth and believe in it, their lives will be in accord with the Dharma.

As there is in the essence of the Dharma no desire to possess, the wise are ever ready to practise charity with their body, life, and property, without begrudging or regret. As they understand perfectly the emptiness of the threefold blessing (giver, gift, recipient), they have no partiality or attachment. Only because of their will to cleanse all beings of their impurities do they come among them as of them, but they are not attached to form. Thus through their own practice they benefit others and glorify the truth of enlightenment. As with the perfection of charity, so with the other five perfections. The wise practise the six perfections in order to rid themselves of confused thoughts, and yet there is no consciousness on their part that they are engaged in any meritorious deeds. This is what is meant by being in accord with the Dharma. (The Twofold Entrance)

Maha Prajnaparamita Sutra

Subhuti: How should a Bodhisattva, a great being, behave if he wants to go forth to the supreme enlightenment?

The Lord: Here the Bodhisattva who wants to know full enlightenment should behave towards beings with an even mind. Towards all beings he should produce an even mind, and he should not produce an uneven mind. He should regard all beings with an even, and not an uneven mind. Towards all beings he should produce the great friendliness and the great compassion. He should treat all beings with a friendly thought, with the thought of great compassion. He should towards all beings produce a thought which has slain pride and he should be honest towards all of them.

He should produce towards all beings a thought of benefit and not of non-benefit; he should regard them with a thought of benefit and not of non-benefit. Towards all beings he should produce a thought free from aversion, and he should regard them with a thought free from aversion. Towards all beings he should produce a thought of non-harming, and he should regard them with a thought of non-harming.

He should treat all beings as if they were his mother, father, brother, sister, son, or daughter, his friends, relatives, or kinsmen. It is thus that a Bodhisattva should behave if he wants to go forth to the supreme enlightenment. – Maha Prajnaparamita Sutra (Conze p. 385)

The Diamond Sutra

“Moreover, Subhuti, a Bodhisattva who gives of himself is not to dwell on anything, nor is he to dwell anywhere. When he gives of himself he is not to dwell on that which is seen, nor on that which is heard, smelled, tasted, felt, or thought. For, Subhuti, the Bodhisattva, the great being, is to give of himself in such a way that he does not dwell on the slightest difference between things. And why? Because the accumulation of merit of that Bodhisattva who gives of himself without dwelling anywhere is difficult to measure.”

“What do you think, Subhuti, is it easy to take the measure of space in the east?”
Subhuti said: “Indeed not, Lord.”
The Lord said: “Likewise, is it easy to take the measure of space in the south, west, north, below, above—in all of the ten directions?”
Subhuti said: “Indeed not, Lord.”
The Lord said: “In the same way it is difficult to measure the accumulation of merit of that Bodhisattva who gives of himself without dwelling on anything. That is why those who have set out in the Bodhisattva path are to give of themselves without dwelling on any knowledge of a characteristic.” (Diamond Sutra)

Comment of Dhyana Master Hsuan Hua (1974)

To have no dwelling is to have no attachment. No attachment is liberation. Therefore, not dwelling, one is liberated, independent, and not blocked or obstructed by anything. Moreover, a Bodhisattva should not dwell anywhere when he practices giving. In other words he should not be attached when he gives. If he is able to free himself from attachment, he has understood that the essence of the threefold blessing (cakka), composed of one who gives, one who receives, and that which is given, is empty. If your act of giving carries with it the thought, “I practice giving and have done many meritorious and virtuous deeds,” or if you are aware of the recipient, or of the goods given, then you have not abandoned the characteristic of giving. You should give and be as if you had not given.

Yeshua

Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you freely. (Matthew 6: 1-3 NKJV)

Sila Paramita: Ideal Conduct

Maha Prajnaparamita Sutra 

The Bodhisattva should become one who abstains from taking life, and also others he should induce to abstain from taking life; he should speak in praise of the abstention from taking life, and he should praise also those other people who abstain from taking life—one acquiescent. It is thus that a Bodhisattva should stand if he wants to go forth to the supreme enlightenment. And what is said of the abstention from taking life applies also to the taking of what is not given, to sexual misconduct, to lying speech, harsh speech, malicious speech, senseless prattling, covetousness, ill will and wrong views. (Conze, p. 386)

Kshanti Paramita: Ideal Patience (Kṣānti)

  1. patience towards beings (sattvakṣanti)
  2. patience towards events (dharmakṣanti)

Awakening of Faith Sutra (Goddard, 1932)

If disciples meet with the ills of life they should not shun them. If they suffer painful experiences, they should not feel afflicted or treated unjustly, but should always rejoice in remembering and contemplating the deep significance of the Dharma.

Jacob, brother and foremost disciple of Yeshua:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2, New King James)

The Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra

EQUIPPING ONESELF WITH THE PERFECTION OF PATIENCE
Furthermore, a Bodhisattva stands firm in the perfection of patience. He instigates, exhorts, introduces beings to patience, in the following way: Upon taking the vow of enlightenment he puts on the armour thus: “If all beings were to hit me with sticks, clods, fists, or swords, not even one single thought of rage should arise in me; and also should I introduce all beings to such patience!”

Just as if a clever magician or magician’s apprentice were to conjure up a great crowd of people: if they all hit him with sticks, clods, fists, or swords, nevertheless, he would bear towards them not even a single thought of anger; and if he were to introduce these magically created beings to such patience, no being at all would have been introduced to it, however many he had introduced to it. The same is true of the Bodhisattva. And why? For such is the true nature of things that in fact they are illusory. (Conze, 1975, p. 139)

Bodhidharma

The sage has patience with things and does not have patience with himself and with him there is no grasping and rejecting, disliking or liking. The stupid one has patience with himself and does not have patience with things, and with him there is grasping and rejecting, disliking and liking. If you can empty your mind, be unhurried and free and completely forget the world, this is having patience with things and going along with the times, which is easy. Opposing, resisting and changing things is difficult. If something wills to come, let it come and do not resist it; if it wills to depart, let it go and do not chase after it. Whatever you have done is past and not to be regretted. That which you have not yet done (or that which has not yet happened) is to be let go of and not to be thought of. This is to be a practitioner of the Way. Having patience, one leaves the world to its own devices, and gain and loss do not arise from the self. If you have patience and do not oppose, if you let go and do not resist, where and when will you not roam in the remote? (Bodhidharma’s Method for Quieting the Mind)

Meister Eckhart

Sickness or poverty, hunger or thirst—whatever God sends you or does not send you, what He grants you or withholds, that is best for you. Even should you lack spiritual fervour and inwardness—whatever you have or lack, be minded to honour God in all things, and then whatever He sends you will be the best. Be assured, if it were not God’s will it would not be. You have neither sickness nor anything else unless God wills it. And so, knowing it is God’s will, you should rejoice in it and be so content that pain would be no pain to you.  (Sermon Forty)

Yeshua

You have heard that it has been said: An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth;
But I say unto you, resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue you at the law and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also.
And whosoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two.
Give to him that asks you, and from him that would borrow of you turn not away. (Matthew 5: 38)

Dhyana Paramita: Ideal Meditation

The Lord Buddha said:

Not by means of visible form,
Not by audible sound,
Is Buddha to be perceived;
Only in the solitude and purity of Dhyana
Is one to realise the blessedness of Buddha.

Bodhidharma

Even though the mind has entered delusion, do not push delusion away. Instead, when something arises from the mind, rely on the Teaching to gaze at the place from which it arises. If the mind discriminates, rely on the Teaching to gaze at the place of the discrimination. Whether greed, anger or ignorance arise, rely on the Teaching to gaze at the place from which they arise. To see that there is no place from which these can arise is to cultivate the Way. If there is anything arising from the mind, then investigate it, and relying on the Teaching, clean house! (Bodhidharma’s Method for Quieting the Mind)

Analayo

When practicing with the satipatthana, it is important to remember that our task is just to contemplate these things. In mindfulness practice we observe; attachment and aversion will go away if we bring them up into awareness. We observe our judgments of good and bad, right and wrong and let go of them. Judgment only leads to suffering. The objective is to observe with equanimity and detachment. (The Four Foundations of Mindfulness)

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Analayo (2004). Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization. Cambridge, UK: Windhorse Publications.

The Buddhist Text Translation Society (1974). The Diamond Sutra: A General Explanation of the Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra. San Francisco: Sino-American Buddhist Association, Inc. (Diamond-Sutra-BTTS)

Conze, Edward. (1975). Buddhist Wisdom Books : Containing the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra. 2nd Ed. London : George Allen & Unwin. First Ed. 1957. (Diamond-Sutra-Conze)

Conze, Edward (1975). The Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom. University of California Press. (download)

Goddard, Dwight (1932). A Buddhist Bible (First Edition). (http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/bb/index.htm)

Suzuki, D. T. (1949). Essays in Zen Buddhism (First Series). New York: Grove Press.

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