On the sixth day of Christmas, my True Self gave to me;
(5 Indriyana; 4 Noble Truths; 3 Dharma Seals; 2 Satyas; and a Buddha by the Bodhi Tree)
The 6 Paramitas
It is often said there are two shores; one is full of torment, anger easily unleashed, anxiety hiding in every bit of bramble, fear in even the shadow of your own body; the other is stable, peaceful, and smiling- genuinely- is the natural way the face sits. How does one get from the shore of suffering to the shore of peace? Not by putting one’s faith in teleportation, but by putting the effort in to pass from one shore to the other, to build a raft and use it well. Paramitas can be translated as perfection, and if we use the 6 Paramitas in order to cross over into peace, we are practicing perfection. Perfection it seems, is a gift we can offer ourselves daily. Not an abstract ladder with no stiles making it impossible to climb up.
Giving (dana paramita)
Precepts (shila paramita)
Inclusiveness (kshanti paramita)
Diligence (virya paramita)
Meditation (dhyana paramita)
Wisdom (prajña paramita)
I envisage each paramita as a muscle, at first the paramita muscles are weak, feeble, easy to tire, and this makes it difficult to cross over to the other shore. But the more these paramita muscles are exercised, the stronger they become, and at best crossing over to the other shore is as good as effortless.
Recently, in the morning before I leave the house I set the intention to excercise the paramitas whenever possible. I begin with a 20 minute meditation, my dhyana paramita is exercised; I practice mindful steps on my way through town- with each step my virya paramita grows stronger; I remind myself to make ethical and conscientious choices when choices are to made, my shila paramita is moves and warms up; I listen with stillness of mind when someone needs to speak, giving people my total and authentic presence my dana paramita lifts up; when someone snaps at me, firing arrows of anger or suspicion or the like, my kshanti paramita muscle is more able every time to hold these arrows in such a way they are as fresh as flowers; and with all this support, all these muscles working the prajña paramita muscle inevitably strengthens, able to support further the other paramitas, like a Mother muscle, and it’s secretions help lubricate the way to Buddhahood. In fact, prajña paramita when realised and actualised, is non-discriminative wisdom, it may not be a case anymore of crossing over, but may be experienced more like the sea itself has parted.
We can never do enough of these, but that is not defeatism, because the paramitas are not something to beat, but something to cultivate, to use, to exercise.
It’s not always plain-sailing on crossing over from the shore of suffering to the shore of peace, but it does get easier the more we do it.
I’ll see you on the other shore,