Unit 3: Dasa Pāramī (The Ten Perfections)
The Ten Perfections
Excerpt from S.N. Goenka's Discourse
pāramī — There are ten good qualities. When you fulfill these qualities, you will reach the final goal easily. ... A pāramī is a quality which helps you to cross the ocean of misery and reach the other shore which is free from all misery ... .
nekkhamma pāramī — the pāramī of renunciation. Why does one become a monk or a nun? There is nothing we can call “mine, mine, mine.” The final stage of egolessness takes (one) to the final goal. ... All these pāramīs take you to the stage where the entire ego gets dissolved.
sīla pāramī — (keeping) the five precepts.
viriya pāramī — effort, the viriya to purify your mind, the viriya to live a good life.
paññā pāramī — wisdom. Staying at home, reading scriptures, or going to listen to some dhamma discourses somewhere, you get wisdom: suta-mayā-paññā, cintā-mayā-paññā. But this is not a pāramī. The pāramī is bhāvanā-mayā-paññā: living wisdom; you have to live the life of wisdom ... experiencing the truth of the realities inside, ... experiencing the law of nature inside. You are experiencing how to live in line with the law of nature. This becomes your pāramī, the pāramī of paññā.
khanti pāramī — tolerance
sacca —the pāramī of truth. Truth at the vocal level is a good pāramī. But at a deeper, subtler level, every step on the path must be with the truth, the truth that you experience. ... Your own experience from moment to moment, moment to moment, this will take you to the final goal of ultimate truth. So, sacca: truth, truth, truth.
adhiṭṭhāna pāramī — strong determination. So for many lives, you have to develop this pāramī, this pāramī of adhiṭṭhāna, adhiṭṭhāna, adhiṭṭhāna so that when your time comes, you sit with this strong determination and come out successful. This is very important, very important.
mettā pāramī — love for all beings, compassion for all beings. (When) there is no trace of negativity, you are learning the real mettā which goes to your credit as a pāramī.
upekkhā pāramī — with all (your) experiences, upekkhā: equanimity. ... With whatever experience you have — pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral: equanimity. The sensations are experienced by the deepest level of the mind, and you are training this deepest level of the mind to remain equanimous — upekkhā. ... This becomes your pāramī.
dāna pāramī — donation. All the money that comes generates ego in you. This is why saintly people, enlightened people advised that whatever you earn, you keep understanding that you are not earning only for yourself. Of course, you are earning for your own maintenance and the maintenance of all those who depend on you. But you are also earning for others. ... Then the ego becomes less, less, less. ... If you expect something in return, the dāna that you give becomes very impure. So the charity that comes from a mind of purity — wanting to help others, wanting to see others come out of their misery — this goes to your credit as a pāramī. Otherwise, when the ego gets built up, it is not a pāramī.
The Ten Perfections
- adhiṭṭhāna - determination
- upekkhā - equanimity
- khanti - forbearance
- dasa - ten
- dāna - giving of charitable gifts
- nekkhamma - renunciation
- paññā - wisdom
- pāramī - perfection, completeness, highest state
- mettā - loving kindness
- sacca - truth
- sīla - moral conduct
- viriya - effort, energy
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