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.”...
The means by which the paramis are accomplished is the four-factored method:
- the accumulation without omission of all the requisites of merit, etc., for the sake of supreme enlightenment, by performing them without deficiency;
- performing them thoroughly with respect and high esteem;
- performing them perseveringly without interruption; and
- enduring effort over a long period without coming to a halt half-way. We will explain the length of time later.
For the sake of the supreme enlightenment, the Great Being, striving for enlightenment, should first of all surrender himself to the Buddhas thus: "I offer myself up to the Buddhas." And whenever he obtains any possession, he should first of all resolve upon it as a potential gift: "Whatever requisite of life comes my way, that I will give to those who need it, and I myself will only use what remains over from this gift."
When he has made a mental determination to completely relinquish whatever possessions come his way, whether animate or inanimate, there are four shackles to giving (which he must overcome), namely: not being accustomed to giving in the past, the inferiority of the object to be given, the excellence and beauty of the object, and worry over the loss of the object.
(1) When the bodhisattva possesses objects that can be given and suppliants are present, but his mind does not leap up at the thought of giving and he does not want to give, he should conclude: "Surely, I have not been accustomed to giving in the past; therefore a desire to give does not arise now in my mind. So that my mind will delight in giving in the future, I will give a gift. With an eye for the future let me now relinquish what I have to those in need." Thus he gives a gift -- generous, open-handed, delighting in relinquishing, one who gives when asked, delighting in giving and in sharing. In this way the Great Being destroys, shatters, and eradicates the first shackle to giving.
(2) Again, when the object to be given is inferior or defective, the Great Being reflects: "Because I was not inclined to giving in the past, at present my requisites are defective. Therefore, though it pains me, let me give whatever I have as a gift even if the object is low and inferior. In that way I will, in the future, reach the peak in the perfection of giving." Thus he gives whatever kind of gift he can -- generous, open-handed, delighting in relinquishing, one who gives when asked, delighting in giving and in sharing. In this way the Great Being destroys, shatters, and eradicates the second shackle to giving.
(3) When a reluctance to give arises due to the excellence or beauty of the object to be given, the Great Being admonishes himself: "Good man, haven't you made the aspiration for the supreme enlightenment, the loftiest and most superior of all states? Well then, for the sake of enlightenment, it is proper for you to give excellent and beautiful objects as gifts." Thus he gives what is excellent and beautiful -- generous, open-handed, delighting in relinquishing, one who gives when asked, delighting in giving and in sharing. In this way the Great Man destroys, shatters, and eradicates the third shackle to giving.
(4) When the Great Being is giving a gift, and he sees the loss of the object being given, he reflects thus: "This is the nature of material possessions, that they are subject to loss and to passing away. Moreover, it is because I did not give such gifts in the past that my possessions are now depleted. Let me then give whatever I have as a gift, whether it be limited or abundant. In that way in the future I shall reach the peak in the perfection of giving." Thus he gives whatever he has as a gift -- generous, open-handed, delighting in relinquishing, one who gives when asked, delighting in giving and in sharing. In this way the Great Being destroys, shatters, and eradicates the fourth shackle to giving.
Reflecting upon them thus in whatever way is appropriate is the means for dispelling the harmful shackles to the perfection of giving. The same method used for the perfection of giving also applies to the perfection of virtue and the other perfections.
Further, self-surrender to the Buddhas is also a means for the complete accomplishment of the paramis. For when the Great Man, straining and striving for the fulfilment of the requisites of enlightenment, encounters troubles difficult to endure, depriving him of happiness and his means of support, or when he encounters injuries imposed by beings and formations -- difficult to overcome, violent, sapping the vitality -- then, since he has surrendered himself to the Buddhas, he reflects: "I have relinquished my very self to the Buddhas. Whatever comes, let it come." For this reason he does not waver, does not quake, does not undergo the least vacillation, but remains absolutely unshaken in his determination to undertake the good.
In brief, the destruction of self-love and the development of love for others are the means for the accomplishing of the paramis. For by fully understanding all things in accordance with their nature, the Great Being who has formed the resolution to attain the supreme enlightenment remains untainted by them, and his self-love thereby becomes eliminated and exhausted.
Then, since through the repeated practice of great compassion he has come to regard all beings as his dear children, his loving-kindness, compassion, and affection for them increase. In conformity with this stage the Great Man, having expelled the defilements such as stinginess, etc., that are opposed to the requisites of enlightenment, and having dispelled greed, hatred, and delusion in regard to himself and others, further causes people to enter and reach maturity in the three vehicles by benefiting them to the utmost with the four bases of beneficence which accompany the four foundations, namely: giving, loving speech, beneficent conduct, and equality of treatment.
For the great compassion and the great wisdom of the Great Beings are adorned by giving. Their giving is adorned and accompanied by loving speech, loving speech by beneficent conduct, and beneficent conduct by equality of treatment. When the bodhisattvas are practising the requisites of enlightenment, they treat all beings without exception as equal to themselves and perfect their sense of equality by remaining the same under all circumstances, pleasant or painful. And when they become Buddhas, their ability to train people is perfected by benefiting them to the utmost with these same four bases of beneficence brought to fulfilment by the four foundations.
For the perfectly enlightened Buddhas, the base of giving is brought to fulfilment by the foundation of relinquishment, the base of loving speech by the foundation of truth, the base of beneficent conduct by the foundation of wisdom, and the base of equal treatment by the foundation of peace. For in regard to parinibbana, all the disciples and paccekabuddhas are completely equal to the Tathagatas; they are identical, without any distinction. Thus it is said: "There is no diversity among them in regard to emancipation."
He is truthful, generous, and peaceful, Endowed with wisdom and sympathy, Complete in all the requisites: What good can he not achieve? He is the great compassionate Teacher, Equanimous yet seeking the welfare of all, Free from concern on all occasions: Oh, how wonderful is the Conqueror! Dispassionate towards all things of the world, And towards all beings of equal mind, Still he abides devoted to their welfare: Oh, how wonderful is the Conqueror! Always engaged in work promoting The welfare and happiness of all beings, He never ceases on account of the trouble: Oh, how wonderful is the Conqueror!