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 X - How Are They To Be Practised?

(1) The perfection of giving, firstly, is to be practised by benefiting beings in many ways-by relinquishing one's own happiness, belongings, body, and life to others, by dispelling their fear, and by instructing them in the Dhamma. Herein, giving is threefold by way of the object to be given: the giving of material things (amisaddna), the giving of fearlessness (abhayadana), and the giving of the Dhamma (dhammadana).

Among these, the object to be given can be twofold: internal and external. The external gift is tenfold: food, drink, garments, vehicles, garlands, scents, unguents, bedding, dwellings, and lamps. These gifts, again, become manifold by analyzing each into its constituents, e.g. food into hard food, soft food, etc. The external gift can also become sixfold when analyzed by way of sense object (aramanato): visible forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangibles, and non-sensory objects. The sense objects, such as visible forms, become manifold when analyzed into blue, etc. So too, the external gift is manifold by way of the divers valuables and belongings such as gems, gold, silver, pearls, coral, etc.; fields, lands, parks, etc.; slaves, cows, buffaloes, etc.

When the Great Man gives an external object, he gives whatever is needed to whomever stands in need of it; and knowing by himself that someone is in need of something, he gives it even unasked, much more when asked. He gives generously, not ungenerously. He gives sufficiently, not insufficiently, when there is something to be given.

He does not give because he expects something in return. And when there is not enough to give sufficiently to all, he distributes evenly whatever can be shared. But he does not give things that issue in affliction to others, such as weapons, poisons, and intoxicants. Nor does he give amusements whicare harmful and lead to negligence. And he does not give unsuitable food or drink to a person who is sick, even though he might ask for it, and he does not give what is suitable beyond the proper measure.

Again, when asked, he gives to householders things appropriate for householders., and to monks things appropriate for monks. He gives to his mother and father, kinsmen and relatives, friends and colleagues, children, wife, slaves, and workers, without causing pain to anyone. Having promised an excellent gift, he does not give something mean. He does not give because he desires gain, honour, or fame, or because he expects something in return, or out of expectation of some fruit other than the supreme enlightenment.

He does not give detesting the gift or those who ask. He does not give a discarded object as a gift, not even to unrestrained beggars who revile and abuse him. Invariably he gives with care, with a serene mind, full of compassion.

He does not give through belief in superstitious omens; but he gives believing in kamma and its fruit. When he gives he does not afflict those who ask by making them do homage to him, etc.; but he gives without afflicting others.

He does not give a gift with the intention of deceiving others or with the intention of injuring; he gives only with an undefiled mind.

He does not give a gift with harsh words or a frown, but with words of endearment, congenial speech, and a smile on his face. Whenever greed for a particular object becomes excessive, due to its high value and beauty, its antiquity, or personal attachment, the bodhisattva recognizes his greed, quickly dispels it, seeks out some recipients, and gives it away. And if there should be an object of limited value that can be given and a suppliant expecting it, without a second thought he bestirs himself and gives it to him, honouring him as though he were an uncelebrated sage. Asked for his own children, wife, slaves, workers, and servants, the Great Man does not give them while they are as yet unwilling to go, afflicted with grief. But when they are willing and joyful, then he gives them. But if he knows that those who ask for them are demonic beings-ogres, demons, or goblins-or men of cruel disposition, then he does not give them away. So too, he will not give his kingdom to those intent on the harm, suffering, and affliction of the world, but he would give it away to righteous men who protect the world with Dhamma.

This, firstly, is the way to practise the giving of external gifts.

The internal gift should be understood in two ways. How? Just as a man, for the sake of food and clothing, surrenders himself to another and enters into servitude and slavery, in the same way the Great Man, wishing for the supreme welfare and happiness of all beings, desiring to fulfil his own perfection of giving, with a spirituallyoriented mind, for the sake of enlightenment, surrenders himself to another and enters into servitude, placing himself at the disposal of others. Whatever limbs or organs of his might be needed by others-hands, feet, eyes, etc. -- he gives them away to those who need them, without trembling and without cowering. He is no more attached to them, and no more shrinks away (from giving them to others), than if they were external objects. Thus the Great Man relinquishes an internal object in two ways: for the enjoyment of others according to their pleasure; or, while fulfilling the wishes of those who ask, for his own self-mastery. In this matter he is completely generous, and thinks: "I will attain enlightenment through non-attachment." Thus the giving of the internal gift should be understood.

Herein, giving an internal gift, he gives only what leads to the welfare of the recipient, and nothing else. The Great Man does not knowingly give his own body, limbs, and organs to Mara or to the malevolent deities in Mara's company, thinking: "Let this not lead to their harm." And likewise, he does not give to those possessed by Mara or his deities, or to madmen. But when asked for these things by others, he gives immediately, because of the rarity of such a request and the difficulty of making such a gift.

The giving of fearlessness is the giving of protection to beings when they have become frightened on account of kings, thieves, fire, water, enemies, lions, tigers, other wild beasts, dragons, ogres, demons, goblins, etc.

The giving of the Dhamma is an unperverted discourse on the Dhamma given with an undefiled mind; that is, methodical instruction conducive to good in the present life, in the life to come, and to ultimate deliverance. By means of such discourses, those who have not entered the Buddha's Dispensation enter it, while those who have entered it reach maturity therein.

This is the method: In brief, he gives a talk on giving, on virtue, and on heaven, on the unsatisfactoriness and defilement in sense pleasures, and on the benefit in renouncing them.

In detail, to those whose minds are disposed towards the enlightenment of disciples, he gives a discourse establishing and purifying them (in progress towards their goal) by elaborating upon the noble qualities of whichever among the following topics is appropriate: going for refuge, restraint by virtue, guarding the doors of the sense-faculties, moderation in eating, application to wakefulness, the seven good qualities; application to serenity (samatha) by practising meditation on one of the thirty-eight objects (of serenity meditation); application to insight (vipassana) by contemplating the objects of insight-interpretation such as the material body; the progressive stages of purification, the apprehension of the course of rightness (sammattagahana), the three kinds of clear knowledge (vijja) the six direct knowledges (abhinna), the four discriminations (patisambhida), and the enlightenment of a disciple.[1]

So too, for beings whose minds are disposed towards the enlightenment of paccekabuddhas and of perfectly enlightened Buddhas, he gives a discourse establishing and purifying them in the two vehicles (leading to these two types of enlightenment) by elaborating upon the greatness of the spiritual power of those Buddhas, and by explaining the specific nature, characteristic, function, etc., of the ten paramis in their three stages. Thus the Great Man gives the gift of the Dhamma to beings.

When he gives a material gift, the Great Man gives food thinking: "May I, by this gift, enable beings to achieve long life, beauty, happiness, strength, intelligence, and the supreme fruit of unsullied bliss."He give drink wishing to allay the thirst of sensual defilements; garments to gain the adornments of shame and moral dread and the golden complexion (of a Buddha); vehicles for attaining the modes of psychic potency and the bliss of nibbana; scents for producing the sweet scent of virtue; garlands and unguents for producing the beauty of the Buddha-qualities; seats for producing the seat on the terrace of enlightenment; bedding for producing the bed of a Tathagata's rest; dwellings so he might become a refuge for beings; lamps so he might obtain the five-eyes.[2]

He gives visible forms for producing the fathom-wide aura (surrounding a Buddha); sounds for producing the Brahma-like voice (of a Buddha); tastes for endearing himself to all the world; and tangibles for acquiring a Buddha's elegance.
He gives medicines so he might later give the ageless and deathless state of nibbana. He gives slaves the gift of freedom so he might later emancipate beings from the slavery of the defilements.
He gives blameless amusements and enjoyments in order to produce delight in the true Dhamma.
He gives his own children as a gift in order that he might adopt all beings as his children by granting them a noble birth.
He gives his wives as a gift in order that he might become master over the entire world.
He gives gifts of gold, gems, pearls, coral, etc., in order to achieve the major marks of physical beauty (characteristic of a Buddha's body), and gifts of the diverse means of beautification in order to achieve the minor features of physical beauty.[3]
He gives his treasuries as a gift in order to obtain the treasury of the true Dhamma; the girt of his kingdom in order to become the king of the Dhamma; the gift of monasteries, parks, ponds, and groves in order to achieve the jhanas, etc.; the gift of his feet in order that he might approach the terrace of enlightenment with feet marked with the auspicious wheels; the gift of his hands in order that he might give to beings the rescuing hand of the true Dhamma to help them across the four floods;[4] the gift of his ears, nose, etc., in order to obtain the spiritual faculties of faith, etc.; the gift of his eyes in order to obtain the universal eye; the gift of his flesh and blood with the thought: "May my body be the means of life for all the world! May it bring welfare and happiness to all beings at all times, even on occasions of merely seeing, hearing, recollecting, or ministering to me!" And he gives the gift of his head in order to become supreme in all the world.

Giving thus, the Great Man does not give unwillingly, nor by afflicting others, nor out of fear, moral shame, or the scolding of those in need of gifts. When there is something excellent, he does not give what is mean.
He does not give extolling himself and disparaging others.
He does not give out of desire for the fruit, nor with loathing for those who ask, nor with lack of consideration.Rather, he gives thoroughly, with his own hand, at the proper time, considerately, without discrimination, filled with joy throughout the three times.[5] Having given, he does not become remorseful afterwards.
He does not become either conceited or obsequious in relation to the recipients, but behaves amiably towards them.

Bountiful and liberal, he gives things together with a bonus (saparivara). For when he gives food, thinking: "I will give this along with a bonus," he gives garments, etc., as well.

And when he gives garments, thinking: "I will give this along with a bonus,"- he gives food, etc., as well. The same method with gifts of vehicles, etc. And when he gives a gift of one of the sense objects, such as visible forms, he gives the other sense objects also as a bonus.

This entire accomplishment in giving he dedicates to the welfare and happiness of the whole world, and to his own unshakeable emancipation through supreme enlightenment. He dedicates it to the attainment of inexhaustible desire (for the good), inexhaustible concentration, ingenuity, knowledge, and emancipation. In practising the perfection of giving the Great Being should apply the perception of impermanence to life and possessions. He should consider them as shared in common with many, and should constantly and continuously arouse great compassion towards beings. Just as, when a house is blazing, the owner removes all his property of essential value and himself as well without leaving anything important behind, so does the Great Man invariably give, without discrimination and without concern.

This is the method of practising the perfection of giving.

(2) Now comes the method of practising the perfection of virtue. Since the Great Man desires to adorn beings with the adornment of the virtue of the omniscient, at the beginning he must first purify his own virtue. Herein, virtue is purified in four modes: (1) by the purification of one's inclinations (ajjhasayavisuddhi); (2) by the undertaking of precepts (samadana); (3) by non-transgression (avitikkamana); and (4) by making amends for transgressions (patipakatikarana). For someone who is dominated by personal ideals is naturally disgusted with evil through the purity of his own inclinations and purifies his conduct by arousing his inward sense of shame. Someone else, who is dominated by a consideration for the world, afraid of evil, purifies his conduct by receiving precepts from another person and by arousing his sense of moral dread. Both establish themselves in virtue through non-transgression. But if, due to forgetfulness, they sometimes break a precept, then through their sense of shame and moral dread, respectively, they quickly make amends for it by the proper means of rehabilitation.

Virtue is twofold as avoidance (varitta) and performance (caritta). Herein, this is the method by which virtue as avoidance should be practised. A bodhisattva should have such a heart of sympathy for all beings that he does not feel any resentment towards anyone, even in a dream. Because he is dedicated to helping others, he would no more misappropriate the belongings of others than he would take hold of a poisonous watersnake. If he is a monk, he should live remote from unchastity, abstaining from the seven bonds of sexuality (A.iv,54-56), not to speak of adultery. If he is a householder, he should never arouse even an evil thought of lust for the wives of others. When he speaks, his statements should be truthful, beneficial, and endearing, and his talk measured, timely, and concerned with the Dhamma. His mind should always be devoid of covetousness, ill-will, and perverted views. He should possess the knowledge of the ownership of kamma and have settled faith and affection for recluses and brahmins who are faring and practising rightly.

Because he abstains from unwholesome states and from the unwholesome courses of kamma leading to the four planes of misery and the suffering of the round, and because he is established in the wholesome courses of kamma leading to heaven and liberation, through the purity of his end and the purity of his means the Great Man's wishes for the welfare and happiness of beings succeed immediately, exactly in the way they are formed, and his paramis reach fulfilment, for such is his nature. Since he desists from injuring others, he gives the gift of fearlessness to all beings. He perfects the meditation on loving-kindness without trouble, and enjoys the eleven benefits of loving-kindness (A.v,342).He is healthy and robust, attains longevity, abundant happiness, and distinguished characteristics, and eradicates the mental impression of hatred.[6] I So too, because he desists from taking what is not given, his possessions cannot be confiscated by thieves, etc. He is unsuspicious to others, dear and agreeable, trustworthy, unattached to prosperity and success, inclined to relinquishing, and he eradicates the mental impression of greed.

By desisting from unchastity he becomes unexcitable, peaceful in body and mind, dear and agreeable, unsuspicious to beings. A good report circulates concerning him. He is without lust or attachment to women, is devoted to renunciation, achieves distinguished I; characteristics and eradicates the mental impression of greed.

By desisting from false speech his word comes to be authoritative for others. He is regarded as reliable and trustworthy, one whose statements are always accepted. He is dear and agreeable to deities. His mouth gives off a sweet fragrance and his bodily and vocal conduct are protected. He achieves distinguished characteristics and eradicates the mental impression of defilements.

By desisting from slander he obtains a retinue and a following that cannot be divided by the attacks of others. He possesses unbreakable faith in the true Dhamma. He is a firm friend, as exceedingly dear to beings as though they were acquainted with him in the last existence. And he is devoted to non-defilement.

By desisting from harsh speech he becomes dear and agreeable to beings, pleasant in character, sweet in speech, held in esteem. And he develops a voice endowed with eight factors.[7]

By desisting from idle chatter he becomes dear and agreeable to beings, revered, held in esteem. His statements are accepted and his talk measured. He acquires great influence and power, and becomes skilful in answering the questions of others with the ingenuity that creates opportunities (to benefit others). And when he reaches the plane of Buddhahood, he becomes capable of answering the numerous questions of beings, speaking numerous languages all with a single reply. with a single reply.

Through his freedom from covetousness he gains what he wishes and obtains whatever excellent possessions he needs. He is honoured by powerful khattiyas. He can never be vanquished by his adversaries, is never defective in his faculties, and becomes the peerless individual.

Through his freedom from ill-will he gains a pleasant appearance. He is esteemed by others, and because he delights in the welfare of beings, he automatically inspires their confidence. He becomes lofty in character, abides in loving-kindness, and acquires great influence and power.

Through his freedom from wrong view he gains good companions. Even if he is threatened with a sharp sword, he will not perform an evil deed. Because he holds to the ownership of kamma, he does not believe in superstitious omens. His faith in the true Dhamma is established and firmly rooted. He has faith in the enlightenment of the Tathagatas, and no more delights in the diversity of outside creeds than a royal swan delights in a dung heap. He is skilful in fully understanding the three characteristics (of impermanence, suffering, and non-self), and in the end gains the unobstructed knowledge of omniscience. Until he attains final enlightenment he becomes the foremost in whatever order of beings (he happens to be reborn in) and acquires the most excellent achievements.

Thus, esteeming virtue as the foundation for all achievements as the soil for the origination of all the Buddha-qualities, the beginning, footing, head, and chief of all the qualities issuing in Buddhahood -- and recognizing gain, honour, and fame as a foe in the guise of a friend, a bodhisattva should diligently and thoroughly perfect his virtue as a hen guards its eggs: through the power of mindfulness and clear comprehension in the control of bodily and vocal action, in the taming of the sense-faculties, in purification of livelihood, and in the use of the requisites.

This, firstly, is the method of practising virtue as avoidance.

The practice of virtue as performance should be understood as follows: Herein, at the appropriate time, a bodhisattva practises salutation, rising up, respectful greetings, and courteous conduct towards good friends worthy of reverence. At the appropriate time he renders them service, and he waits upon them when they are sick. When he receives well-spoken advice he expresses his appreciation. He praises the noble qualities of the virtuous and patiently endures the abuse of antagonists. He remembers help rendered to him by others, rejoices in their merits, dedicates his own merits to the supreme enlightenment, and always abides diligently in the practice of wholesome states. When he commits a transgression he acknowledges it as such and confesses it to his co-religionists. Afterwards he perfectly fulfils the right practice.

He is adroit and nimble in fulfilling his duties towards beings when these are conducive to their good. He serves as their companion. When beings are afflicted with the suffering of disease, etc., he prepares the appropriate remedy. He dispels the sorrow of those afflicted by the loss of wealth, etc.- Of a helpful disposition, he restrains with Dhamma those who need to be restrained, rehabilitates them from unwholesome ways, and establishes them in wholesome courses of conduct. He inspires with Dhamma those in need of inspiration. And when he hears about the loftiest, most difficult, inconceivably powerful deeds of the great bodhisattvas of the past, issuing in the ultimate welfare and happiness of beings, by means of which they reached perfect maturity in the requisites of enlightenment, he does not become agitated and alarmed, but reflects: "Those Great Beings were only human beings. But by developing themselves through the orderly fulfilment of the training they attained the loftiest spiritual power and the highest perfection in the requisites of enlightenment. I, too, should practise the same training in virtue, etc. In that way I, too, will gradually fulfil the training and in the end attain the same state." Then, with unflagging energy preceded by this faith, he perfectly fulfils the training in virtue, etc.

Again, he conceals his virtues and reveals his faults. He is few in his wishes, content, fond of solitude, aloof, capable of enduring suffering, and free from anxiety. He is not restless, puffed up, fickle, scurrilous or scattered m speech. but calm in his faculties and mind. Avoiding such wrong means of livelihood as scheming, etc., he is endowed with proper conduct and a suitable resort (for alms). He sees danger in the slightest faults, and having undertaken the rules of training, trains himself in them, energetic and resolute, without regard for body or life. He does not tolerate even the slightest concern for his body or life but abandons and dispels it; how much more then excessive concern. He abandons and dispels all the corruptions such as anger, malice, etc., which are the cause for moral depravity. He does not become complacent over some minor achievement of distinction and does not shrink away, but strives for successively higher achievements. In this way the achievements he gains do not partake of diminution or stagnation.

The Great Man serves as a guide for the blind, explaining to them the right path. To the deaf he gives signals with gestures of his hands, and in that way benefits them with good. So too for the dumb. To cripples he gives a chair, or a vehicle, or some other means of conveyance. He strives that the faithless may gain faith, that the lazy may generate zeal, that those of confused mindfulness may develop mindfulness, that those with wandering minds may become accomplished in concentration, and that the dull-witted may acquire wisdom. He strives to dispel sensual desire, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness-and-worry, and perplexity in those obsessed by these hindrances, and to dispel wrong thoughts of sensuality, illwill, and aggression in those subjugated by these thoughts. Out of gratitude to those who have helped him, he benefits and honours them with a similar or greater benefit in return, congenial in speech and endearing in his words.

He is a companion in misfortune. Understanding the nature and character of beings, he associates with whatever beings need his presence, in whatever way they need it; and he practises together with whatever beings need to practise with him, in whatever way of practice is necessary for them. But he proceeds only by rehabilitating them from the unwholesome and establishing them in the wholesome, not in other ways. For in order to protect the minds of others, bodhisattvas behave only in ways which increase the wholesome. So too, because his inclination is to benefit others, he should never harm them, abuse them, humiliate them, arouse remorse in them, or incite them to act in ways which should be avoided. Nor should he place himself in a higher position than those who are of inferior conduct. He should be neither altogether inaccessible to others, nor too easily accessible, and he should not associate with others at the wrong time.

He associates with beings whom it is proper to associate with at the appropriate time and place. He does not criticize those who are dear to others in front of them, nor praise those who are resented by them. He is not intimate with those who are not trustworthy. He does not refuse a proper invitation, or engage in persuasion, or accept excessively. He encourages those endowed with faith with a discourse on the benefits of faith; and he encourages as well those endowed with virtue, learning, generosity, and wisdom with a discourse on the benefits of those qualities. If the bodhisattva has attained to the direct knowledges, he may inspire a sense of spiritual urgency (samvega) in the negligent by showing them the fate of those in hell, etc., as is fit. Thereby he establishes the faithless (immoral, ignorant, stingy, and dull-witted) in faith (virtue, learning, generosity, and wisdom). He makes them enter the Buddha's Dispensation and brings to maturity those already endowed with these qualities. In this way, through his virtuous conduct, the Great Man's immeasurable flood of merit and goodness ascends to ever increasing heights.

The detailed explanation of virtue is given in diverse ways in the Visuddhimagga (Chapter I), in the passage beginning: "Virtue is the states beginning with volition present in one who abstains from the destruction of life, etc., or in one who fulfils the practice of the duties." All that should he brought in here. Only there is this distinction: in that work the discussion of virtue has come down for beings who seek the enlightenment of disciples; but here, because the discussion is intended for great bodhisattvas, it should be explained making compassion and skilful means the forerunners. Just as the Great Man does not dedicate the merits from his practice of virtue to his own release from affliction in the unfortunate destinations, or to his own achievement of kingship in the fortunate destinations, or to becoming a world-ruling monarch, a god, Sakka, Mara, or Brahma, so too he does not dedicate it to his own attainment of the threefold knowledge, the six direct knowledges, the four discriminations, the enlightenment of a disciple, or the enlightenment of a paccekabuddha. But rather he dedicates it only for the purpose of becoming an omniscient Buddha in order to enable all beings to acquire the incomparable adornment of virtue.

This is the method of practising the perfection of virtue.

(3) The perfection of renunciation is the wholesome act of consciousness which occurs renouncing sense pleasures and existence, preceded by the perception of their unsatisfactoriness and accompanied by compassion and skilful means. The bodhisattva should practise the perfection of renunciation by first recognizing the unsatisfactoriness in sense pleasures, etc., according to the following method: "For one dwelling in a home there is no opportunity to enjoy the happiness of renunciation, etc., because the home life is the dwelling place of all the defilements, because a wife and children impose restrictions (on one's freedom), and because the diverse crafts and occupations such as agriculture and trade lead to numerous entanglements. And sense pleasures, like a drop of honey smeared over the blade of a sword, give limited satisfaction and entail abundant harm.

They are fleeting like a show perceived in a flash of lightning; enjoyable only through a perversion of perception like the adornments of a madman; a means of vengeance like at camouflaged pit of excrement; unsatisfying like a thin drink or the, water moistening the fingers; afflictive like food which is inwardly rotten; a cause for calamity like a baited hook; the cause. oaf suffering in the three times like a burning fire; a basis for bondage like monkey's glue; a camouflage for destruction like a murderer's cloak a place of danger like a dwelling in an enemy village; food for the Mara of the defilements like the supporter of one's foes; subject to suffering through change like the enjoyment of a festival; inwardly burning like the fire in the hollow of a tree; fraught with danger like a ball of honey suspended from the bulrushes in an old pit intensifying thirst like a drink of salt water; resorted to by the vulgar like liquor and wine; and giving little satisfaction like a chain of bones."

Having recognized the unsatisfactoriness in sense pleasures accordance with this method, he should then, by comtemplate the benefits in renunciation, with a mind slanting, sloping, and inclining towards the happiness of renunciation, solitude, and peace.

Since renunciation is rooted in the going forth (i.e. into the homeless life of a monk), the going forth should be undertaken. If the Great Being is living at a time when no Buddha has arisen in the world, he should go forth under ascetics or wanderers who maintain the doctrine of kamma and the moral efficacy of action. But when the perfectly enlightened Buddhas appear in the world, he should go forth only in their Dispensation.

Having gone forth, he should establish himself in virtue, as described above, and in order to cleanse his virtue, should undertake the ascetic practices. For Great Men who undertake the ascetic practices and maintain them properly become few in their wishes and content.

The stains of their defilements get washed oft in the waters of such noble qualities as effacement, solitude, aloofness from society, the arousal of energy, and ease of maintenance, and all their conduct becomes purified through their blameless rules, observances, and noble qualities.Established in three of the ancient traditions of the ariyans,[8] they are able to achieve the fourth of the ariyan traditions, i.e. delight in meditation, entering and abiding in jhana, both access and absorption, through whichever among the forty subjects of meditation are appropriate. Thus they completely fulfil the perfection of renunciation.

At this point it would be proper to explain in detail the thirteen ascetic practices and the forty meditation subjects for the development of concentration -- i.e. the ten kasina-devices, the ten impurities, the ten recollections, the tour Brahmaviharas, the four immaterial states, the one perception, and the one analysis. But since all these are explained in complete detail in the Visuddhimagga, it should be understood in the way stated there. Only there is this distinction: in that work the subject is explained for beings who seek the enlightenment of disciples. But here, because it is intended for great bodhisattvas, it should be explained making compassion and skilful means the forerunners.

This is the method of practising the perfection of renunciation.

(4) Just as light cannot co-exist with darkness, wisdom cannot co-exist with delusion. Therefore a bodhisattva wishing to accomplish the perfection of wisdom should avoid the causes of delusion. These are the causes of delusion: discontent, languor, drowsiness, lethargy, delight in company, attachment to sleep, irresoluteness, lack of enthusiasm for knowledge, false over-estimation of oneself, non-interrogation, not maintaining one's body properly, lack of mental concentration, association with dull-witted people, not ministering to those possessed of wisdom, self-contempt, false discrimination, adherence to perverted views, athleticism, lack of a sense of spiritual urgency, and the five hindrances; or, in brief, any states which, when indulged in, prevent the unarisen wisdom from arising and cause the arisen wisdom to diminish. Avoiding these causes of confusion, one should apply effort to learning as well as to the jhanas, etc.

This is an analysis of the sphere of learning: the five aggregates, the twelve sense bases, the eighteen elements, the four truths, the twenty-two faculties, the twelve factors of dependent origination, the foundations of mindfulness, etc., the various classifications of phenomena such as the wholesome, etc., as well as any blameless secular fields of knowledge which may be suitable for promoting the welfare and happiness of beings, particularly grammar.

Thus, with wisdom, mindfulness, and energy preceded by skilful means, a bodhisattva should first thoroughly immerse himself in this entire sphere of learning -- through study, listening, memorization, learning, and interrogation; then he should establish others in learning. In this way the wisdom born of learning (sutamayi panna) can be developed. So too, out of his wish for the welfare of others, the bodhisattva should develop the wisdom of ingenuity in creating opportunities to fulfil his various duties to his fellow beings and the skilful means in understanding their happiness and misery.

Then he should develop wisdom born of reflection (cintamayi panna) by first reflecting upon the specific nature of the phenomena such as the aggregates, and then arousing reflective acquiescence in them.Next, he should perfect the preliminary portion of the wisdom born of meditation (pubbabhagabhavanapanna) by developing the mundane kinds of full understanding through the discernment of the specific and general characteristics of the aggregates, etc.[9]

To do so, he should fully understand all internal and external phenomena without exception as follows:

"This is mere mentality-materiality (namarupamatta), which arises and ceases according to conditions. There is here no agent or actor. It is impermanent in the sense of not being after having been; suffering in the sense of oppression by rise and fall; and non-self in the sense of being unsusceptible to the exercise of mastery."

Comprehending them in this way, he abandons attachment to them, and helps others to do so as well. Entirely out of compassion, he continues to help his fellow beings enter and reach maturity in the three vehicles, assists them to achieve mastery over the jhanas, deliverances, concentrations, attainments, and mundane direct knowledges, and does not desist until he reaches the very peak of wisdom and all the Buddha-qualities come within his grasp.

The wisdom born of meditation may be divided into two groups.The first comprises the mundane direct knowledges, together with their accessories; namely, the knowledge of the modes of psychic power, the knowledge of the divine ear-element, the knowledge of penetrating other minds, the knowledge of recollecting past lives, the knowledge of the divine eye, the knowledge of kammic retribution, and the knowledge of the future.[10]

The second comprises the five purification -- purification of view, purification by overcoming doubt, purification by knowledge and vision of what is and what is not the path, purification by knowledge and vision of the way, and purification by knowledge and vision.

The first four of these are mundane, the last is supramundane. After acquiring through study and interrogation a knowledge of the phenomena such as the aggregates, etc., constituting the soil of wisdom, he should establish himself in the two purifications constituting its roots, purification of virtue and purification of mind, and then accomplish the five purifications just mentioned which constitute the trunk of wisdom.Since the method for accomplishing these, along with the analysis of their objective sphere, is explained in complete detail in the Visuddhimagga, it should be understood in the way given there.[11] Only in that work the explanation of wisdom has come down for beings seeking the enlightenment of disciples.

But here, because it is intended for the great bodhisattvas, it should be explained making compassion and skilful means the forerunners.One further distinction must also be made: here insight (vipassana) should be developed only as far as purification by knowledge and vision of the way, without attaining purification by knowledge and vision.[12]

(Front this point on the remaining paramis are treated piecemeal and synoptically rather than in systematic detail like the first four.)

A Great Being who has formed his aspiration for supreme enlightenment should, for the sake of fulfilling his paramis, always be devoted to what is proper and intent upon service. Thus he should be zealous in providing for the welfare of beings, and from time to time, day by day, should reflect: "Have I accumulated any requisites of merit and of knowledge today? What have I done for the welfare of others?" In order to help all beings he should surrender some possession of his with a mind unconcerned with body or life. Whatever action he does, bodily or vocal, all should be done with a mind slanting towards full enlightenment; all should be dedicated to enlightenment. He should turn his mind away from sense pleasures, whether superior or inferior, and should apply skilful means to the fulfilment of his various duties.

He should work energetically for the welfare of beings, be capable of enduring everything whether desirable or undesirable, and should speak without deception.[13] He should suffuse all beings with universal loving-kindness and compassion. Whatever causes suffering for beings, all that he should be ready to take upon himself; and he should rejoice in the merits of all beings. He should frequently reflect upon the greatness of the Buddhas and the greatness of their spiritual power. Whatever action he does by body or speech, all should be preceded with a mind slanting towards full enlightenment.

In this way, the Great Being, the bodhisattva, devoted to what is proper, endowed with strength, firm in striving, day by day accumulates immeasurable requisites of merit and of knowledge through the practice of the paramis.

Further, having relinquished his own body and life for the use and protection of beings, the bodhisattva should seek out and apply the antidotes to the various kinds of suffering to which beings are exposed -- hunger, thirst, cold, heat, wind, sun, etc. And whatever happiness he himself gains by alleviating these kinds of suffering, and the happiness he gains when his own bodily and mental afflictions subside in delightful parks, gardens, mansions, pools, and forest abodes, and the happiness of the blissful jhanic attainments he hears are experienced by the Buddhas, their enlightened disciples, paccekabuddhas, and great bodhisattvas, established in the practice of renunciation -- all that he seeks to procure universally for all beings.

This, firstly, is the method for a bodhisattva not yet established on the plane of concentration. One established on the plane of concentration bestows upon beings the rapture, tranquillity, happiness, concentration, and true knowledge produced in the achievements of distinction as they are experienced by himself. He procures them and dedicates them to all.

Such a bodhisattva should contemplate the whole world of sentient beings immersed in the great suffering of samsara and in the sufferings of the defilements and kamma formations at its base. He should see the beings in hell experiencing violent, racking, agonizing pains uninterruptedly over long periods, produced as they are cut up, dismembered, split, pulverized, and roasted in scorching fires; the great suffering of the animals due to their mutual hostility, as they afflict, harass, and kill one another, or fall into captivity at the hands of others; and the suffering of the various classes of ghosts, going about with their bodies aflame, consumed and withered by hunger, thirst, wind, and sun, weeping and wailing as their food turns into vomit and spittle.

He should contemplate as well the suffering experienced by human beings, which is often indistinguishable from the suffering in the plane of misery: the misery and ruin they encounter in their search (for the means of sustenance and enjoyment); the various punishments they may meet, such as the cutting off of their hands, etc.; ugliness, deformity, and poverty; affliction by hunger and thirst; being vanquished by the more powerful, pressed into the service of others, and made dependent upon others; and when they pass away, falling over into the hells, the realm of ghosts, and the animal kingdom.

He should see the gods of the sense-sphere being consumed by the fevers of lust as they enjoy their sense objects with scattered minds; living with their fever (of passions) unextinguished like a mass of fire stoked up with blasts of wind and fed with a stock of dry wood; without peace, dejected, and dependent on others.

And he should see the gods of the fine-material and immaterial spheres, after so long a life-span, in the end succumb to the law of impermanence, plunging from their heights back down into the round of birth, ageing, and death, like birds swooping swiftly down from the heights of the sky or like arrows shot by a strong archer descending in the distance.

And having seen all this, he should arouse a sense of spiritual urgency and suffuse all beings universally with lovingkindness and compassion. Accumulating the requisites of enlightenment in this way by body, speech, and mind without interruption, he should fulfil the perfection of energy, arousing zeal while working thoroughly and perseveringly and acting without cowering, in order that all the paramis may reach fulfilment.

While striving for the state of Buddhahood -- the store and repositor of inconceivable, immeasurable, vast, lofty, stainless, incomparable, undefiled qualities -- he should encourage the arising of energy; for such energy is endowed with inconceivable spiritual power, which common people cannot even hear about, much less practise.

It is entirely through the spiritual power of energy that the practice of all the requisites of enlightenment succeeds the threefold arising of the great aspiration, the four grounds for Buddhahood, the four bases of beneficence, the single flavour of compassion, the reflective acquiescence which is the specific condition for the realization of the Buddha-qualities, being untainted amidst all things, the perception of all beings as his own dear children, not being fatigued by all the sufferings of samsara, the relinquishing of everything that may be given away, delight in so giving, the determination upon the higher virtue, etc., unshakeableness therein, rapture and exultation in wholesome actions, the inclination towards seclusion, application to the jhanas, being insatiable in blameless states, teaching the Dhamma to others as he has learned it out of the wish for their welfare, firm initiative in setting beings upon the true path, sagacity and heroism, being imperturbable in face of the abusive speech and wrongs of others, the determination upon truth, mastery over the meditative attainments, the attainment of power through the direct knowledges, the comprehension of the three characteristics, the accumulation of the requisites for the supramundane path by practising meditation in the foundations of mindfulness, etc., and the descent on tothe nine supramundane states.[14]

Thus from the time of forming the aspiration until the great enlightenment, a bodhisattva should perfect his energy thoroughly and uninterruptedly, without surrendering, so that it might issue in higher and higher states of distinction. And when this energy succeeds, all the requisites of enlightenment -- patience, truthfulness, determination, etc., as well as giving, virtue, etc. -- will succeed; for all these occur in dependence on energy.

The practice of patience and the rest should be understood in accordance with the same method.

Thus through giving, relinquishing his own happiness and belongings to others, he practises the benefiting of others in many ways; through virtue, the protection of their lives, property, and wives, the non-breach of his word, endearing and beneficial speech, non-injury, etc.; through renunciation, many kinds of beneficial conduct such as giving the gift of the Dhamma in return for their material gifts; through wisdom, skilful means in providing for their welfare; through energy, the arousing of zeal in his work without slacking off; through patience, the enduring of the wrongs of others; through truthfulness, not breaking his pledge, to help others without deception; through determination, remaining unshakeable in rendering them help even when encountering difficulties; through loving-kindness, concern for their welfare and happiness; and through equanimity, remaining imperturbable whether others render help or inflict harm.

This is the practice which the great bodhisattva, compassionate for all beings, undertakes for the sake of incalculable beings, by means of which he accumulates immeasurable requisites of merit and knowledge not shared by worldlings. Their condition has been stated. They should be accomplished thoroughly.

Footnotes and references:


The seven stages of purification are mentioned in the Rathavinita Sutta (M.24), and explained in detail in the Visuddhimagga., The "course of rightness" is the supramundane path leading to nibbana; upon entering this course one becomes irreversibly bound for enlightenment and final deliverance. The three kinds of clear knowledge are the recollection of past lives, knowledge of the passing away and rebirth of beings, and knowledge of the destruction of the cankers. The five mundane direct knowledges are at p.51; the sixth is the knowledge of the destruction of the cankers. The four discriminations are the discrimination of meaning, of phenomena, of etymology, and of ingenuity (attha, dhamma, nirutti, patibhana).


The five eyes are the fleshly eye (mamsacakkhu), the organ of physical sight, which for a Buddha is still many times more powerful than the eyes of an ordinary man; the divine eye (dibbacakkhu), by which he sees beings pass away and re-arise in accordance with their kamma throughout all the planes of existence; the wisdom eye (pannacakkhu), by which he sees all phenomena in their specific and general characteristics and the modes of conditionality to which they are subject; the Buddha-eye (buddhacakkhu), by which he sees the propensities and dispositions of beings, as well as the maturity of their faculties; and the universal eye (samantacakkhu), his knowledge of omniscience. 


The thirty-two major and. eighty minor characteristics of a Great Man's body. 


The four floods of sensual desire, desire for existence, wrong views, and ignorance. 


The "three times" are before presenting the gift, while giving it, and after giving it. 


On the subject of the vasana or "mental impressions" the commentary to the Udana says: "The vasana are particular dispositions to actions existing as a mere potential force built up through the defilements that have been brought into play through the course of beginningless time. Found in the mental continua even of those who are devoid of defilements (i.e. . of arahats), they function as springs for conduct similar to' the conduct followed while the defilements were yet unabandoned. In the case of the Exalted Buddhas, who through the fulfilment of their original aspiration abandon the defilements along with the obstruction of the knowable, no vasana remain in their mental continuities. But in the case of disciple-arahats and paccekabuddhas, who abandon the defilements without removing the obstruction of the knowable, the vasana remain." The classical example of this is the case of the Venerable Pilindavaccha who, though an arahat, continued to address other bhikkhus by the word vasala, a derogatory term used by brahmins to refer to those of low caste. This bhikkhu, however, did not use the word due to conceit or contempt for others, both of which defilements he had utterly destroyed, but merely through the habitual force of past usage, since he had been a brahmin through many previous lives. See Ud.HI,6 and its commentary.


The eight qualities of the Buddha's voice: it is frank, clear, melodious, pleasant, full, carrying, deep and resonant, and does not travel beyond his audience. 


The four ariyan traditions (ariyavamsa) are contentment with any kind of robe, almsfood, and dwelling, and delight in meditation. 


For the mundane kinds of full understanding (parinna) see Vism.XX,3-5. The specific characteristics are the defining marks of each particular type of phenomena, the general characteristics their common marks of impermanence, suffering, and non-self. The preliminary portion of the wisdom born of meditation is comprised under the mundane kinds of full understanding. According to the Theravada account, a bodhisattva cannot attain the supramundane wisdom until the eve of his enlightenment, for he must wait until his paramis have reached the level of completeness required for Buddhahood before entering the path to final deliverance.


The knowledge of kammic retribution (also called knowledge of the passing away and re-arising of beings) and the knowledge of the future are two accessories of the divine eye; thus, though seven items are listed, only five direct knowledges are involved. The sixth is the knowledge of the destruction of the cankers, the attainment of arahatship.


For the five abhinna, see Vism.XII-XIII; for the sphere of wisdom, XIV-XVII; for the five purifications of wisdom, XVIII-XXII. 


Purification by knowledge and vision is the supramundane wisdom of the four noble paths. Because this purification issues in the realization of nibbana, the bodhisattva-aspirant must stop short of this attainment so that his realization of nibbana will coincide with his perfect enlightenment. 


An allusion to the paramis of energy, patience, and truthfulness. 


The four paths, the four fruits, and nibbana.

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