Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Six Paramitas, Crossing Over to the Other Shore, The Doors of Action

The Sanskrit term "paramita" is usually translated in English as "perfection," but in Chinese Buddhist literature it is always rendered in a character that translates literally as "crossing to the other shore." The Six Paramitas are a very concrete means for us to cross over the sea of suffering to the shore of freedom from craving, anger, envy, despair, and delusion. Through cultivating and perfecting these six ways of being, we can reach the other shore very quickly—it may take only a few seconds for us to cross over the river of suffering and arrive on the shore of well-being. We may have the thought that it would take many years of practice in order to get free of the afflictions, but if we know how to cultivate and manifest these six qualities we can cross over right here and now.

The first paramita, the first door of action, is dana, giving and generosity. The second door of action is shila, the precepts, mindfulness trainings, and guidlines for ethical behavior. The third door is kshanti, all-embracing inclusiveness. The fourth door of action is virya, diligence, energy, effort, and steadfastness in the practice. The fifth is dhyana, meditation, the practice of stopping and calming and looking deeply. And the sixth is prajna, wisdom and understanding.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---

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