A Treatise on the Paramis

by Ācariya Dhammapāla | 1978 | 23,066 words

The work introduces itself as a treatise composed “for clansmen following the suttas who are zealously engaged in the practice of the vehicle to great enlightenment, in order to improve their skilfulness in accumulating the requisites of enlightenment.”...

Chapter VI - What Is Their Condition?

The condition of the paramis is, firstly, the great aspiration (abhinihara). This is the aspiration supported by the eight qualifications (see just below), which occurs thus: "Crossed I would cross, freed I would free, tamed I would tame, calmed I would calm, comforted I would comfort, attained to nibbana I would lead to nibbana, purified I would purify, enlightened I would enlighten!" This is the condition for all the paramis without exception.

The eight qualifications through which the aspiration succeeds are: the human state, the male sex, the cause, the sight of the Master, the going forth, the achievement of noble qualities, extreme dedication, and strong desire (Bv. IIA,v.59).

(1) The human state (manussatta): The aspiration for Buddhahood only succeeds when made by one who has attained to the human state of existence, not when made by one existing as a naga, supanna, etc. Why? Because these other states do not correspond with the state of a Buddha (who always arises in the human state).

(2) The male sex (Iingasampatti): For one who has attained to the human state, the aspiration only succeeds when made by a man, not when made by a woman, eunuch, neuter, or hermaphrodite. Why? For the aforesaid reason (i.e. because the Buddha is always of the male sex), and because there is no fulfilment of the required characteristics (in these other cases). As it is said: "This is impossible, bhikkhus, this cannot come to pass, that a woman might become a perfectly enlightened Buddha" (A.i,28).

(3) The cause (hetu): the achievement of the necessary supporting conditions. Even for a man, the aspiration only succeeds for one endowed with the necessary supporting conditions, one who has achieved the requisite causal foundation, not for anyone else.

(4) The sight of the Master (sattharadassana): the personal presence of the Master. The aspiration only succeeds when made by one aspiring in the presence of a living Buddha. When made after the Exalted One has passed into parinibbana -- before a shrine, at the foot of the Bodhi-tree, in front of an image, or in the presence of paccekabuddhas or the Buddha's disciples -- the aspiration does not succeed. Why? Because the recipient lacks the power (necessary to confirm the aspiration). The aspiration only succeeds when made in the presence of the Buddhas, for they alone possess spiritual power adequate to the loftiness of the aspiration.

(5) The going forth (pabbajja): The aspiration succeeds only when made in the presence of the Exalted Buddha by one who has gone forth (into the homeless state of a monk), either as a bhikkhu or as an ascetic who maintains the doctrine of kamma and the moral efficacy of action; it does not succeed for one living in the household state; Why? Because the household state does not correspond with that of a Buddha (who has himself gone forth). The great bodhisattvas (in their last existence) attain the supreme enlightenment only after they have gone forth into homelessness, not while they arc still householders. Therefore, at the time of making the resolution it is only one who has gone forth, endowed with the appropriate qualities and determination, who can succeed.

(6) The achievement of noble qualities (gunasampatti): the achievement of such noble qualities as the direct knowledges (abhinna), etc. For the aspiration only succeeds when made by one Who has gone forth and gained the eight meditative attainments (samapatti) and the five mundane types of direct knowledge;[1] it does not succeed for one devoid of these qualities. Why? Because one devoid of them is incapable of investigating the paramis. It is because he possesses the necessary supporting conditions and the direct knowledges that the Great Man, after he has made the aspiration, is able to investigate the paramis by himself.

(7) Extreme dedication (adhikara): extreme devotion. The aspiration only succeeds for one endowed with the aforesaid qualities who at the time has such strong devotion for the Buddhas that he is prepared to relinquish his very life for them.

(8) Strong desire (chandata): wholesome desire, the wish for accomplishment. One possessed of the aforesaid qualities must have strong desire, yearning, and longing to practise the qualities issuing in Buddhahood. Only then does his aspiration succeed, not otherwise.

The following similes illustrate the magnitude of the desire required. If he were to hear: "He alone can attain Buddhahood who can cross a whole world-system filled with water and reach the further shore by the bare strength of his arms" -- he would not deem that difficult to do, but would be filled with desire for the task and would not shrink away. If he were to hear: "He alone can attain Buddhahood who can tread across a whole world-system filled with flameless, smokeless redhot coals, cross out, and reach the other side," etc .... If he were to hear: "He alone can attain Buddhahood who can tread across a whole world-system that has become a solid mass of sharp-pointed swordstakes, cross out, and reach the other side," etc .... If he were to hear: "He alone can attain Buddhahood who can cut through a whole world-system that has become a jungle of thorny creepers covered by a solid thicket of bamboo, cross out, and reach the other side," etc .... If he were to hear: "Buddhahood can only be attained after being tortured in hell for four incalculables and a 100,000 aeons" -- he would not deem that difficult to do, but would be filled with desire for the task and would not shrink away. Such is the magnitude of the desire required.

The aspiration, made by one endowed with these eight factors, is in denotation the act of consciousness (cittuppada) occurring together with the collection of these eight factors. Its characteristic is rightly resolving to attain the supreme enlightenment. Its function is to yearn, "Oh, may I awaken to the supreme perfect enlightenment, and bring well-being and happiness to all beings!" It is manifest as the root-cause for the requisites of enlightenment Its proximate cause is great compassion, or the achievement of the necessary supporting conditions. Since it has as its object the inconceivable plane of the Buddhas and the welfare of the whole immeasurable world of beings, it should be seen as the loftiest, most sublime and exalted distinction of merit, endowed with immeasurable potency, the root-cause of all the qualities issuing in Buddhahood. Simultaneous with its arising, the Great Man enters upon the practice of the vehicle to great enlightenment mahabodhiyanapatipatti He becomes fixed in his destiny, irreversible, and therefore properly gains the designation "bodhisattva." His mind becomes fully devoted to the supreme enlightenment in its completeness, and his capacity to fulfil the training in the requisites of enlightenment becomes established For when their aspiration succeeds, the Great Men correctly investigate all the paramis with their self-evolved knowledge which prefigures their future attainment of omniscience. Then they undertake their practice, and fulfil them in due order, as was done by the wise Sumedha when he made his great aspiration.

Like the aspiration, great compassion (mahakaruna) and skilful mans (upayakosalla) are also conditions for the paramis. Therein, "skilful means" is the wisdom which transforms giving (and the other tine virtues) into requisites of enlightenment. Through their great compassion and skilful means, the Great Men devote themselves to working uninterruptedly for the welfare of others without any concern for their own happiness and without any fear of the extremely then, nature, is such that they are able to promote the welfare and even on occasions when they are merely seen, heard of, or recollected, (since even the sight, report, or thought of them) inspires confidence. Through his wisdom the bodhisattva perfects within himself the character of a Buddha, through his compassion the ability to perform the work of a Buddha. Through wisdom he brings himself across (the stream of becoming), through compassion lie leads others across. Through wisdom he understands the suffering of others, through compassion he strives to alleviate their suffering Through wisdom he becomes disenchanted with suffering, through compassion he accepts suffering. Through wisdom he aspires for nibbana, through compassion he remains in the round of existence. Through compassion he enters samsara, through wisdom he does not delight in it. Through wisdom he destroys all attachments, but because his wisdom is accompanied by compassion he never desists from activity that benefits others. Through compassion he shakes with sympathy for all, but because his compassion is accompanied by wisdom his mind is unattached. Through wisdom he is free from "I-making" and "mine-making," through compassion he is free from lethargy and depression.

So too, through wisdom and compassion respectively, he becomes his own protector and the protector of others, a sage and a hero, one who does not torment himself and one who does not torment others, one who promotes his own welfare and the welfare of others, fearless and a giver of fearlessness, dominated by consideration for the Dhamma and by consideration for the world, grateful for favours done and forward in doing favours for others, devoid of delusion and devoid of craving, accomplished in knowledge and accomplished in conduct, possessed of the powers and possessed of the grounds of self-confidence. Thus wisdom and compassion, as the means for attaining each of the specific fruits of the paramitas, is the condition for the paramis. And the same pair is a condition for the resolution as well.

The four factors -- zeal, adroitness, stability, and beneficent conduct -- are likewise conditions for the paramis. Because they Serve as the basis for the arising of Buddhahood, these factors are called "grounds for Buddhahood" (buddhabhumiyo). Herein, zeal" (ussaha) means energy in striving for the requisites of enlightenment. "Adroitness" (ummanga) is wisdom in applying skilful means to the requisites of enlightenment. "Stability" (avatthana) is determination, an unshakeable determination of the will. "Beneficent conduct" (hitacariya) is the development of loving-kindness and compassion.

Another set of conditions is the six inclinations -- the inclinations towards renunciation, solitude. non-greed non-hatred non-delusion and escape. For bodhisattvas, seeing the fault in sense pleasures and in household life, incline to renunciation. Seeing the fault in company, they incline to solitude. Seeing the faults in greed, hatred, and delusion, they incline to non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion. Seeing the fault in all the realms of existence, bodhisattvas incline to escape. Therefore these six inclinations of bodhisattvas are conditions for the paramis. For the paramis do not arise without seeing the danger in greed, etc., and the superiority of non-greed, etc. The inclination to non-greed, etc., is the slanting of the mind towards relinquishing, etc., because of the superiority of non-greed, etc.

So too, for bodhisattvas striving for enlightenment, the inclination towards each of the ten paramis is a condition for the practice of each. For bodhisattvas, through their inclination towards giving, see the fault in its opposite, i.e. in stinginess, and therefore fulfil the perfection of giving. Through their inclination towards virtue, they see the fault in moral depravity, and therefore fulfil the perfection of virtue. Through their inclination towards renunciation, they see the fault in sense pleasures and in household life; through their inclination towards knowing things as they really are, they sec the faults in ignorance and perplexity; through their inclination towards energy, they see the fault in laziness; through their inclination towards patience they see the fault in impatience; through their inclination towards truthfulness, they see the fault in deceptive speech, through their inclination towards determination, they see tic fault in lack of determination; through their inclination towards loving-kindness, they see the fault in ill-will; and through their inclination towards equanimity, they see the danger in the vicissitudes of the world Thus they fulfil the perfection of renunciation and the other perfections down to equanimity. In this way, the inclination towards giving and the other nine virtues, by bringing about the achievement cry' ad the paramis, serves as their condition.

Reviewing the danger in their opposites and the benefit in their practice is another condition for the paramis; e.g. in the case of the perfection of giving, the danger in non-relinquishing and the benefitits relinquishing. This is the method of reviewing:

(1) The perfection of giving should be reflected upon thus: "Possessions such as fields, land, bullion, gold, cattle, buffaloes, slaves, children, wives, etc., bring tremendous harm to those who become attached to them. Because they stimulate desire they are wanted by many people; they can be confiscated by kings and thieves; they spark off disputes and create enemies; they are basically insubstantial; to acquire and protect them one has to harass others; when they are destroyed, many kinds of calamities, such as sorrow, etc., follow; and because of attachment to these things, the mind becomes obsessed with the stain of stinginess, and as a result one is reborn in the plane of misery. On the other hand, one act of relinquishing these things is one step to safety. Hence one should relinquish them with diligence."

Further, when a suppliant asks for something, a bodhisattva should reflect: "He is my intimate friend, for he divulges his own secret to me. He is my teacher, for he teaches me: When you go you have to abandon all. Going to the world beyond, you cannot even take your own possessions!' He is a companion helping me to remove my belongings from this world which, like a blazing house, is blazing with the fire of death. In removing this he helps me to get rid of the worry it costs me. He is my best friend, for by enabling me to perform this noble act of giving, he helps me to accomplish the most eminent and difficult of all achievements, the attainment of the plane of the Buddhas."

He should further reflect:

"He honours me with a lofty task; therefore I should acknowledge that honour faithfully."

And: "Since life is bound to end I should give even when not asked, much more when asked."

And: "Those with a lofty temperament search for someone to give to, but he has come to me on his own accord because of my merit."

And: "Bestowing a gift upon a suppliant will be beneficial to me as well as to him."

And: "Just as I would benefit myself, so should I benefit all the world."

And: "If there were no suppliants, how would I fulfil the perfection of giving?"

And: "Everything I acquire should be obtained only to give to others."

And: "When will beggars feel free to take my belongings on their own accord, without asking?"

And: "How can I be dear and agreeable to beggars, and how can they be dear and agreeable to me? How can I give and, after giving, be elated, exultant, tilled with rapture and joy? And how can beggars be so on my account? How can my inclination to giving be lofty? How can I give to beggars even without being asked, knowing their heart's desire?"

And: "Since there are goods, and beggars have come, not to give them something would be a great deception on my part."

And: "How can I relinquish my own life and limbs to those who ask for them?"

He should arouse a desire to give things away without concern by reflecting:

"Good returns to the one who gives without his concern, just as the boomerang[2] returns to the one who threw it without his concern." If a dear person asks for something, he should arouse joy by reflecting: "One who is dear is asking me for something."

If an indifferent person asks for something, he should arouse joy by reflecting:

"Surely, if I give him something he will become my friend, since giving to those who ask wins their affection."

And if a hostile person asks for something, he should be especially happy, thinking:

"My foe is asking me for something; though he is hostile towards me, by means of this gift he will surely become my dear friend."

Thus he should give to neutral and hostile people in the same way -he gives to dear people, having first aroused lovingkindness and compassion.

If, due to their cumulative force, states of greed should arise for things which can be given away, the bodhisattva-aspirant should reflect:

"Well now, good man, when you made the aspiration for full enlightenment, did you not surrender this body as well as the merit gained in relinquishing it for the sake of helping all beings? Attachment to external objects is like the bathing of an elephant; therefore you should not be attached to anything. Suppose there is a great medicine-tree, and someone in need of its roots takes away its roots; someone in need of its shoots, bark, trunk, limbs, heartwood, branches, foliage, flowers, or fruits takes away its shoots, bark, trunk, etc.

The tree would not be assailed by such thoughts as: 'They are taking away my belongings.' In the same way, when I have undertaken to exert myself for the welfare of all the world, I should not arouse even the subtlest wrong thought over this wretched, ungrateful, impure body, which I have entrusted to the service of others. And besides, what distinction can be made between the internal material elements (of the body) and the external material elements (of the world)? They are both subject to inevitable breaking-up, dispersal, and dissolution.

This is only confused prattle, the adherence to this body as `This is mine, this am I, this is my self.' I should have no more concern over my own hands, feet, eyes, and flesh than over external things. Instead I should arouse the thought to surrender them to others: `Let those who need them take them away."'

As he reflects in this way, resolved upon full enlightenment without concern for his body or life, his bodily, vocal, and mental actions will easily become fully purified. When his bodily, vocal, and mental actions, along with his livelihood, become purified, he abides in the practice of the true way, and through his skilful means in regard to gain and loss, he is able to benefit all beings to an even greater extent by relinquishing material gifts and by giving the gift of fearlessness and the gift of the true Dhamma.

This is the method of reflecting on the perfection of giving.

(2) The perfection of virtue should be reflected upon as follows:

"Even the waters of the Ganges cannot wash away the stain of hatred, yet the water of virtue is able to do so. Even yellow sandalwood cannot cool the fever of lust, yet virtue is able to remove it. Virtue is the unique adornment of the good, surpassing the adornments cherished by ordinary people, such as necklaces, diadems, and earrings.

It is a sweet-scented fragrance superior to incense as it pervades all directions and is always in place; a supreme magical spell which wins the homage of deities and of powerful khattiyas, etc., a staircase ascending to the world of the gods, to the heaven of the Four Great Kings,[3] etc., a means for achieving the jhanas and the direct knowledges; a highway leading to the great city of nibbana; the foundation for the enlightenment of disciples, paccekabuddhas, and perfectly enlightened Buddhas. And as a means for the fulfilment of all one's wishes and desires, it surpasses the tree of plenty and the wish-fulfilling gem."

Virtue should be reflected upon as the basis for rapture and joy as granting immunity from fear of self-reproach, the reproach others, temporal punishment, and an evil destination after death; praised by the wise; as the root-cause for freedom from remorse; the basis for security; and as surpassing the achievements of big birth, wealth, sovereignty, long life, beauty, status, kinsmen, as friends. For great rapture and joy arise in the virtuous man when t reflects on his own accomplishment in virtue:

"I have done what wholesome, I have done what is good, I have built myself a shelf from fear."

The virtuous man does not blame himself, and otherwise wise men do not blame him, and he does not encounter the danger of temporal punishment or an evil destination after death. To the contrary, the wise praise the noble character of the virtuous man and the virtuous man is not subject to the remorse which arises in the immoral man when he thinks:

"I have committed evil, wicket sinful deeds."

And virtue is the supreme basis for security, since is the foundation for diligence, a blessing, and a means for achieving great benefits, such as preventing the loss of wealth, etc.

Accomplishment in virtue surpasses birth in a good family, since a virtuous man of low birth deserves to be worshipped even by great, powerful khattiyas. Virtue surpasses material wealth, for cannot be confiscated by thieves, follows one to the world beyond produces great fruit, and acts as the foundation for such qualities as serenity, etc. Because it enables one to achieve supreme sovereign) over one's own mind, virtue surpasses the sovereignty of khattiyas, etc. And because of their virtue, beings attain sovereignty in the respective orders. Virtue is superior even to life, for it is said that single day in the life of the virtuous is better than a hundred yea of life devoid of virtue (Dhp.110); and there being life, the disavowal of the training (in the holy life) is called (spiritual) death. Virtue surpasses the achievement of beauty, for it makes one beat tiful even to one's enemies, and it cannot be vanquished by the adversities of ageing and sickness. As the foundation for distinguished states of happiness, virtue surpasses such distinguished dwellings as palaces, mansions, etc., and such distinguished social positions as that of a king, prince, or general. Because it promotes one's highest welfare and follows one to the world beyond, virtue surpasses kinsmen and friends, even those who are close and affectionate. Again, in accomplishing the difficult task of self-protection, virtue is superior to troops of elephants, horses, chariots, and infantry, as well as to such devices as mantras, spells, and blessings, for it depends on oneself, does not depend on others, and has a great sphere of influence.

Hence it is said:

"Dhamma protects the one who lives by Dhamma" (Thag.303).

When one reflects in this way upon the numerous noble qualities of virtue, one's unfulfilled achievement of virtue will become fulfilled, and one's unpurified virtue will become purified.

If, due to their cumulative force, states antithetical to virtue such as aversion should arise from time to time, the aspirant should reflect:

"Did you not make the resolution to win full enlightenment? One defective in virtue cannot even succeed in mundane affairs, much less in supramundane matters. You should reach the peak of virtue, for virtue is the foundation for supreme enlightenment, the foremost of all achievements. You should always be well behaved, safeguarding your virtue perfectly, more carefully than a hen safeguarding its eggs. Further, by teaching the Dhamma you should help beings to enter and reach maturity in the three vehicles (see pp. 1-2). But the word of a morally dubious man is no more reliable than the remedy of a doctor who does not consider what is suitable for his patients. How can I be trustworthy, so that I can help beings to enter and reach maturity in the three vehicles? I must be pure in character and in virtue. How can I acquire the distinguished attainments such as the jhanas, etc., so that I will be capable of helping others and of fulfilling the prefection of wisdom, etc.? The distinguished attainments such as the jhanas, etc., are not possible without purification of virtue. Therefore virtue should be made perfectly pure."

(3) The perfection of renunciation should be reflected upon by first discerning the dangers in household life, according to the text "household life is constricting, a path for the dust of passions," etc. (D.i,63); in sense pleasures, according to the text, "sense pleasures are like a chain of bones," etc. (M.i,364); and in sensual desire, according to the text "suppose a man borrowed a loan and undertook work," etc. (D.i,71). Then, in the opposite way, one should reflect upon the benefits in going forth, according to the text "going forth is like open space," etc. (D.i,63). This is a brief statement. For details one should consult such suttas as "The Great Mass of Suffering" (M.i,83-90) or "The Simile of the Venomous Snakes" (S.iv,172-75).

(4) For the perfection of wisdom, the noble qualities of wisdom should be considered, as follows: "Without wisdom, the virtues such as giving do not become purified and cannot perform their respective functions. Just as, without life, the bodily organism loses its luster and cannot perform its proper activities, and as without consciousness the sense faculties cannot exercise their functions in their respective spheres, just so, without wisdom the faculties such as faith, etc., cannot perform their functions. Wisdom is the chief cause for the practice of the other parami. For when their wisdomeyes open up, the great bodhisattvas give even their own limbs and organs without extolling themselves and disparaging others. Like medicine-trees they give devoid of discrimination, filled with joy throughout the three times. By means of wisdom, the act of relinquishing, exercised with skilful means and practised for the welfare of others, attains the status of a parami; but giving for one's own benefit is like an investment. Again, without wisdom virtue cannot be severed from the defilements of craving, etc., and therefore cannot even reach purification, much less serve as the foundation for the qualities of an omniscient Buddha. Only the man of wisdom clearly recognizes the dangers in household life, in the strands of sense pleasure, and in samsara, and sees the benefits in going forth, in attaining the jhanas, and in realizing nibbana; and he alone goes forth into homelessness, develops the jhanic attainments, and, directed towards nibbana, establishes others therein.

"Energy devoid of wisdom does not accomplish the purpose desired since it is wrongly aroused, and it is better not to arouse energy at all than to arouse it in the wrong way. But when energy is conjoined with wisdom, there is nothing it cannot accomplish if equipped with the proper means. Again, only the man of wisdom can patiently tolerate the wrongs of others, not the dull-witted man. In the man lacking wisdom, the wrongs of others only provoke impatience; but for the wise, they call his patience into play and make it grow even stronger. The wise man, having understood as they really are three noble truths,[4] their causes and opposites, never speaks deceptively to others. So too, having fortified himself with the power of wisdom, the wise man in his fortitude forms an unshakeable determination to undertake all the paramis. Only the man of wisdom is skilful in providing for the welfare of all beings, without discriminating between dear people, neutrals, and enemies. And only by means of wisdom can he remain indifferent to the vicissitudes of the world, such as gain and loss, without being affected by them."

In this way one should reflect upon the noble qualities of wisdom, recognizing it to be the cause for the purification of all the paramis.

Furthermore, without wisdom there is no achievement of vision, and without the achievement of vision there can be no accomplishment in virtue. One lacking virtue and vision cannot achieve concentration, and without concentration one cannot even secure one's own welfare, much less the lofty goal of providing for the welfare of others. Therefore a bodhisattva, practising for the welfare of others, should admonish himself:

"Have you made a thorough effort to purify your wisdom?"

For it is by the spiritual power of wisdom that the Great Beings, established in the four foundations, benefit the world with the four bases of beneficence, help beings enter the path to emancipation, and bring their faculties to maturity.[5] Through the power of wisdom, again, they are devoted to the investigation of the aggregates, sense bases, etc., fully comprehend the processes of origination and cessation in accordance with actuality, develop the qualities of giving, etc., to the stages of distinction and penetration, and perfect the training of bodhisattvas. Thus the perfection of wisdom should be reinforced by determining the noble qualities of wisdom with their numerous modes and constituents.

(5) The perfection of energy should be reflected upon thus: "Without energy a man cannot even achieve success in worldly works directed to visible ends. But there is nothing the energetic, indefatigable man cannot achieve. One lacking energy cannot undertake to rescue all beings from the great flood of samsara; even if his energy is only moderate he will give up in the middle. But one bristling with energy can achieve perfection in all he undertakes."

The noble qualities of energy should be further reviewed as follows: "One intent on rescuing himself alone from the mire of samsara cannot fulfil his ideal if he relaxes his energy; how much less one who aspires to rescue the entire world."

And: "Through the power of energy such wrong thoughts as the following are kept away: `It is quite right for you to escape from the suffering of samsara by yourself alone; for so long as you are a foolish worldling the host of defilements is as difficult to restrain as a herd of mad elephants, the kamma caused by them is like a murderer with drawn sword, the evil destinations based on these actions stand constantly before you with open doors, and evil friends are always around to enjoin you in those actions and admonish you to practise them."'

And: "If even full enlightenment can be achieved by one's own energy, what can be difficult?"

(6) The perfection of patience should be considered next: "Patience is the unimpeded weapon of the good in the development of noble qualities, for it dispels anger, the opposite of all such qualities, without residue. It is the adornment of those capable of vanquishing the foe; the strength of recluses and brahmins; a stream of water extinguishing the fire of anger; the basis for acquiring a good reputation; a mantra for quelling the poisonous speech of evil people; the supreme source of constancy in those established in restraint. Patience is an ocean on account of its depth; a shore bounding the great ocean of hatred; a panel closing off the door to the plane of misery; a staircase ascending to the worlds of the gods and Brahmas; the ground for the habitation of all noble qualities; the supreme purification of body, speech and mind."

Patience should be further fortified by reflection:

"Those who lack patience are afflicted in this world and apply themselves to actions which will lead to their affliction in the life to come."

And: "Although this suffering arises through the wrong deeds of others, this body of mine is the field for that suffering, and the action which is its seed was sown by me alone."

And: "This suffering will release me from the debt of that kamma."

And: "If there were no wrong-doers, how could I accomplish the perfection of patience?"

And: "Although he is a wrong-doer now, in the past he was my benefactor."

And: "A wrong-doer is also a benefactor, for he is the basis for developing patience."

And: "All beings are like my own children. Who becomes angry over the misdeeds of his own children?"

And: "He wrongs me because of some residue of anger in myself; this residue I should remove."

And: "I am just as much the cause as he for the wrong on account of which this suffering has arisen."

And: "All those phenomena by which wrong was done, and those to whom it was done-all those, at this very moment, have ceased. With whom, then, should you now be angry, and by whom should anger be aroused? When all phenomena are nonself, who can do wrong to whom?"

If, due to its cumulative force, anger caused by the wrongs of others should continue to overpower the mind, one should reflect:

"Patience is the contributive cause for rendering help to others in return for their wrong."

And: "This wrong, by causing me suffering, is a condition for faith, since suffering is said to be the decisive support for faith, and it is also a condition for the perception of discontent with all the world."

And: "This is the nature of the sensefaculties-to encounter desirable and undesirable objects. How then is it possible not to encounter undesirable objects?"

And: "Under the control of anger, a person becomes mad and distraught, so why retaliate?"

And: "All these beings are watched over by the Buddha as if they were his own dear children. Therefore I should not be qualities, I should not be angry with him. And when he does not have any noble qualities, then I should regard him with compassion."

And: "Because of anger my fame and noble qualities diminish, and to the pleasure of my enemies I become ugly, sleep in discomfort, etc."

And: "Anger is the only real enemy, for it is the agent of all harm and the destroyer of all good."

And: "When one has patience one has no enemies."

And: "Because of his wrong, the wrong-doer will meet suffering in the future, but so long as I remain patient I will not."

And: "Enemies are the consequence of my angry thought. When I vanquish anger by patience, my toe, who is the by-product of my anger, will also be vanquished."

And: "I should not relinquish the noble quality of patience because of a little anger. Anger is the antithesis and obstruction to all noble qualities, so if I become angry, how can my virtue, etc., reach fulfilment? And when those qualities are absent, how can I devote myself to helping other beings and attain the ultimate goal in accordance with my vows."

And: "When there is patience, the mind becomes concentrated, free from external distraction. With the mind concentrated, all formations appear to reelection as impermanent and suffering, all phenomena as non-self, nibbana as unconditioned, deathless, peaceful, and sublime, and the Buddha-qualities as endowed with inconceivable and immeasurable potency. Then, established in acquiescence in conformity,[6] the groundlessness of all 'I-making' and 'mine-making' becomes evident to reflection thus; 'Mere phenomena alone exist, devoid of self or of anything pertaining to a self. They arise and pass away in accordance with their conditions. They do not come from anywhere, they do not go anywhere, they are not established anywhere. There is no agency in anything whatsoever.' In this way a bodhisattva becomes fixed in destiny, bound for enlightenment, irreversible."

This is the method of reflecting upon the perfection of patience.

(7) The perfection of truthfulness should be reviewed thus:

"Without truthfulness, virtue, etc., is impossible, and there can be no practice in accordance with one's vows. All evil states converge upon the transgression of truth. One who is not devoted to truth is unreliable and his word cannot be accepted in the future. On the other hand, one devoted to truth secures the foundation of all noble qualities. With truthfulness as the foundation, he is capable of purifying and fulfilling all the requisites of enlightenment. Not deceived about the true nature of phenomena, he performs the functions of all the requisites of enlightenment and completes the practice of the bodhisattva path."

(8) The perfection of determination should be reviewed thus:

"Without firmly undertaking the practice of giving (and the other paramis), maintaining an unshakeable determination in the encounter with their opposites, and practising them with constancy and vigour, the bases of enlightenment-i.e. the requisites such as giving, etc. -- do not arise."

(9) The noble qualities of loving-kindness should be reflected upon as follows:

"One resolved only upon his own welfare cannot achieve success in this world or a happy rebirth in the life to come without some concern for the welfare of others; how then can one wishing to establish all beings in the attainment of nibbana succeed without loving-kindness'? And if you wish to ultimately lead all beings to the supramundane achievement of nibbana, you should begin by wishing for their mundane success here and now.".

And: "I cannot provide for the welfare and happiness of others merely by wishing for it. Let me put forth effort to accomplish it."

And: "Now I support them by promoting their welfare and happiness; afterwards they will be my companions in sharing the Dhamma."

And: "Without these beings, I could not acquire the requisites of enlightenment. Since they are the cause for the manifestation and perfecting of all the Buddha-qualities, these beings are for me a supreme field of merit, the incomparable basis for planting wholesome roots, the ultimate object of reverence."

Thus one should arouse an especially strong inclination towards promoting the welfare of all beings. And why should loving-kindness be developed towards all beings? Because it is the foundation for compassion. For when one delights in providing for the welfare and happiness of other beings with an unbounded heart, the desire to remove their affliction and suffering becomes powerful and firmly rooted. And compassion is the first of all the qualities issuing in Buddhahood -- their footing, foundation, root, head and chief.

(10) The perfection of equanimity should be considered thus:

"When there is no equanimity, the offensive actions performed by beings cause oscillation in the mind. And when the mind oscillates, it is impossible to practise the requisites of enlightenment."

And: "Even though the mind has been softened with the moisture of loving-kindness, without equanimity one cannot purify the requisites of enlightenment and cannot dedicate one's requisites of merit along with their results to furthering the welfare of beings."

Moreover, the undertaking, determination, fulfilment, and completion of all the requisites of enlightenment succeed through the power of equanimity. For without equanimity, the aspirant cannot relinquish something without making false discriminations over gifts and recipients. Without equanimity, he cannot purify his virtue without always thinking about the obstacles to his life and to his vital needs. Equanimity perfects the power of renunciation, for by its means he overcomes discontent and delight. It perfects the functions of all the requisites (by enabling wisdom) to examine them according to their origin.

When energy is aroused to excess because it has not been examined with equanimity, it cannot perform its proper function of striving. Forbearance and reflective acquiescence (the modes of patience) are possible only in one possessed of equanimity. Because of this quality, he does not speak deceptively about beings or formations. By looking upon the vicissitudes of worldly events with an equal mind, his determination to fulfil the practices he has undertaken becomes completely unshakeable. And because he is unconcerned over the wrongs done by others, he perfects the abiding in loving-kindness. Thus equanimity is indispensable to the practice of all the other paramis.

Such is the reflection on the perfection of equanimity.

Thus reviewing the danger in their opposites and the benefits in their practice is a condition for the paramis.

Footnotes and references:


The eight meditative attainments are the four jhanas and the four immaterial attainments. The five mundane direct knowledges are discussed briefly below, in the section on the practice of the perfection of wisdom. See p.51. 


Kittaka. None of the meanings in the standard dictionaries are relevant to the context. 


The first and lowest of the six sense-sphere heavens of Buddhist cosmology. 


Excluding the third noble truth, the cessation of suffering, which the bodhisattva will only realize directly upon his attainment of Buddhahood. 


For the four foundations, see below, pp.59-61; for the four bases, pp.64-65. 


Anulomiyani khantiyam thito. "Acquiescence in conformity" indicates the stage in the development of insight where the meditator can accept the basic truths of his contemplation without yet having fully apprehended them by mature wisdom. See n.6. 

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