by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words
This page describes What are the Factors for accomplishing the Paramis contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as on Miscellany. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).
To the question, “What are the factors for accomplishing the pāramīs?” the answer is: They are:
In short, the means for accomplishing the pāramīs are (a) extinction of self-love, and (b) development of love for other beings.
(1) Developing four kinds of bhāvanā:
The four good means for accomplishing the pāramīs are development and accumulation of all the requisites, such as pāramī, cāga, cariya, not omitting any of them with the sole aim of achieving Omniscience (Sabbasambhāra-bhāvanā);with high esteem and reverence (Sakkacca-bhāvanā); without interruption throughout all existence (Nirantara-bhāvanā); throughout the long duration without slacking before he becomes a Buddha (Cirakāla-bhāvanā).
(2) Reflecting upon what oppose the pāramīs and dispelling them:
The Bodhisatta has to abandon, before hand, all his personal possession, even before alms-seekers appear at his door, with the determination: “Offer I will, without wavering my life as well as the wealth and property that I possess, if people come to ask for them. I will make use of only what remains, after I have given?”
(a) not being accustomed, in the past, to the practice of giving,
(b) not having sufficient quantity of things in his possession,
(c) things in his possession being too good to give away, and (d) worrying over the depletion of things in his possession. Of these four hindrances,
(a) when the Bodhisatta possesses things to give away and alms-seekers have arrived and yet the Bodhisatta’s mind is not inclined to give, he realizes; “Surely, I was not accustomed to giving in the past; therefore the desire to give does not arise now in me in spite of such favourable circumstances.” Then he reflects:
“Although the desire to give does not arise in me, I will make a gift so that I will get accustomed to giving and take delight in it. From now on, I will make generous offerings. Have I not already decided to give all my belongings to those who seek alms?”
Having reflected thus, he gives them away freely and gladly. On making such gifts, the Bodhisatta removes the first hindrance of “not being accustomed in the past to the practice of giving.”
(b) When not having sufficient quantity of things in his possession, the Bodhisatta reflects:
“Because I have not practised dāna in the past, I suffer from shortage of things. I should therefore make offering of whatever I have, whether they are few or inferior, even if it makes my life more difficult. With such gift, I will in future reach the height of Perfection of Generosity.”
Having reflected thus, he gives away freely and gladly whatever material gift he comes by. On making such gifts, the Bodhisatta removes the second hindrance of “not having sufficient quantity of things in his possession.”
(c) When not inclined to give because of the excellent quality of things in his possession, the Bodhisatta reflects:
“O good man, have you not aspired to the noblest, the most admirable, Supreme Enlightenment? To achieve the noblest, the most admirable, Supreme Enlightenment, it is only proper that you should make the noblest, the most admirable gift.”
Having reflected thus, he makes an offering of the most excellent, delightful object freely and gladly. On making such gifts, the Bodhisatta removes the third hindrance of “things in his possession being too good to give away.”
(d) When the Bodhisatta sees the depletion of materials gift on giving them away, he reflects:
“To be subjected to destruction and loss is the nature of wealth and possessions. It is because I did not perform, in the past, good deeds of dāna, which never became depleted, that I now experience deficiency of material gifts. I will make offering of whatever objects I come to possess whether few or abundant. With such gifts, I will, in future, reach the height of the Perfection of Generosity.”
Having reflected thus, the Bodhisatta gives away whatever material gifts he comes by, freely and gladly. On making such gifts, the Bodhisatta removes the fourth hindrance of “worrying over the depletion of things in his possession.”
Removing hindrances to dāna in this manner, by reflecting upon them in whatever way is appropriate, constitutes a good means of fulfilling the Perfection of Generosity. This same method applies to other Perfections such as sīla, etc.
(3) Surrendering oneself to the Buddha:
In addition, the Bodhisatta surrenders himself, in the first instance, to the Buddha saying: “I dedicate this body of mine to the Buddha (imāham attabhāvaṃ. Buddhānaṃ niyyādemi).” This self-surrender, made in advance to the Buddha, is a good means of fulfilling all the pāramīs.
True, the Bodhisatta, who has already surrendered himself to the Buddha, reflects: “I have given up this very body to the Buddha; come what may.” when he encounters troubles, which may endanger his body and life and which are difficult to endure, or when he meets with painful injury, which is caused by beings and which may deprive him of his life, while striving to fulfil the Pāramīs in various existences. Having reflected thus, he remains absolutely unshaken, unmoved, in the face of troubles that may harm even his life and he is fully determined to accumulate the merit of good deeds forming the pāramīs.
In this way, self-surrender made in advance to the Buddha is a good means of fulfilling all the pāramīs.
Again to state briefly, the means for accomplishing the pāramīs are:
(a) extinction of self-love, and (b) development of love and compassion for other beings.
By fully understanding the true nature of all the phenomena, the Bodhisatta, who aspires after Omniscience, remains untainted with craving, conceit and wrong view regarding them. By viewing his own body as mere aggregate of natural phenomena, self-adoration and self-esteem get diminished and exhausted day by day.
By repeated development of Great Compassion, he looks upon all beings as his own children; his loving-kindness (affection) and his compassion (sympathy) for them grow and prosper more and more.
Therefore, the Bodhisatta, who has put away stinginess, etc., which are opposed to the pāramīs, after being momentarily free from greed, hatred, and delusion in regard to himself and others, helps beings with four objects of support (sangaha vatthu), namely, giving (dāna), kindly speech (piya-vācā), beneficial conduct (attha-cariya) and a sense of equality (samānattatā) which always accompany the Four Adhiṭṭhānas. He then assists them with three ‘conveyances’ of practice (sīla, samādhi, paññā) which lead to three kinds of Bodhi, causing those who have not entered the ‘conveyances’ to enter them or those who have done so to reach maturity therein.
True, the Bodhisatta’s compassion and wisdom are adorned by the act of giving, which is one of the four objects of support. (Compassion and wisdom never manifest by themselves without giving. They both manifest simultaneously, as acts of generosity are performed.) Giving is adorned by kindly speech, for the Bodhisatta never scolds or yells while performing dāna to those who come for alms and to the attendants, but speaks only loveable, kind words. Kindly speech is adorned by the object of beneficial conduct, for the Bodhisatta speaks kind words not for mere superficial pleasantness but only with sincere, good intention to serve the interest of others. (Fulfilling the requisites of Enlightenment, namely, pāramī, cāga, cariya, means practising for the welfare of beings; it is therefore beneficial conduct as one of the four objects of support). Beneficial conduct is adorned by sense of equality, for in fulfilling the requisites of Enlightenment, the Bodhisatta treats all beings as his equal under all circumstances, happy or painful.
When he becomes a Buddha, his function of taming and teaching is accomplished by benefitting all beings with these same four objects of support which have been developed to the utmost through fulfilment of the Four Adhiṭṭhānas.
For the Buddha, the act of giving is brought to completion by Cāgādhiṭṭhāna, kindly speech by Saccādhiṭṭhāna;beneficial conduct by Paññādhiṭṭhāna; and sense of equality by Upasamādhiṭṭhāna.
Concerning these four adhiṭṭhānas and four objects of support, the Commentary on the Cariya Piṭaka mentions four verses eulogizing the attributes of the Buddha:
(1) Sacco cāgi upasanto
kaṃ nāmattham na sādhaye.
The Buddha who has reached the height of accomplishment in the fourfold Saccādhiṭṭhāna, who is fully accomplished in the Cāgādhiṭṭhāna, who has extinguished the fires of defilements, who is possessed of Omniscience and who looks after beings with Great Compassion, being equipped with all the requisites of pāramīs, what is there that He cannot achieve?
The Buddha, as the Teacher of devas and humans, being a person of Great Compassion, seeks the welfare of beings till their realization of Nibbāna. He remains equanimous when faced with the vicissitudes of life. Free from craving for and attachment to everything within His body or without, how wonderful is the Buddha who conquers the five māras.
(3) Viratto sabbadhammesu
sattesu ca upekkhako
sadā sattahite yutto
aho acchariyo jino.
Though detached from all things and though keeping a balanced mind towards all beings, still He applies Himself, day and night, to the welfare of beings. How wonderful is the Buddha who conquers the five māras!
(4) Sabbadā sabbasattānaṃ
hitāya ca sukhāya ca
uyyutto akilāsū ca
aho acchariyo jino.
Always working for the welfare and happiness of all beings viz. devas, humans and Brahmās–and attending to the five duties of a Buddha, day and night without ceasing, still He does not show any sign of fatigue or weariness. How wonderful is the Buddha who conquers the five māras!
(End of the section on factors for accomplishing the Pāramīs)
Footnotes and references:
Three kinds of Bodhi, Chapter II RARE APPEARANCE OF A BUDDHA.
Five māras: The five obstacles: (i) The Deva who challenged the Buddha for position of the seat of wisdom by surrounding him with a huge army of his followers (devaputta-māra);(ii) the mental defilements (kilesa-māra); (iii) volitional activities which lead to rebirth (abhisankhāramāra); (iv) the aggregates of nama and rūpa which materialize in all the existences before attainment of Nibbāna (khandha-māra) and (v) death (maccu-māra).]