When presented with “The Pāramitā Challenge” I accepted and here we are. In addition to the Pāramitās or Perfections, so far, the challenge also includes precepts and the 52 Stages of the Bodhisattva Path and Bodhisattva vows.
So far, instructions are to journal contemplations resulting from observed intentions, opportunities, and actions to be generous, moral and ethical while arousing faith in the Triple Gem then seeing where/when confident and where/when in doubt.
For whatever reasons the first month I received was for October 2021, so I started recording right away and kept recording after receiving August and September. Therefore, while these first three months are condensed into one long recording, and still in chronological order for the listener, going forward recordings plan to be one month at a time until ending, thus spending a proper full month on each. While mostly very listenable, quality is sometimes less than ideal due to recording environment. I also edited out most of the silences between speaking to save on listening time.
I’ve not taken Bodhisattva vows, and so with little instruction in Mahāyāna Buddhism, apart from maybe a smidgen of the zen stuff, there’s the benefit of beginner’s mind is a nice way to put it. I shoot from the hip with a lot in this recording and will often use a Theravada lens and a lot of inquiry as I ponder out loud. It may come off at times as criticism and sometimes it may actually be, but these are mostly solo efforts at summonings what is really meant by the material.
The Pāramīs in Theravāda Buddhism:
- Dāna pāramī: generosity, giving of oneself
- Sīla pāramī: virtue, morality, ethics, proper conduct
- Nekkhamma pāramī: renunciation
- Paññā pāramī: wisdom, discernment
- Viriya pāramī: energy, diligence, vigour, effort
- Khanti pāramī: patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance
- Sacca pāramī: truthfulness, honesty
- Adhiṭṭhāna pāramī : determination, resolution
- Mettā pāramī: goodwill, friendliness, loving-kindness
- Upekkhā pāramī: equanimity, serenity
The Pāramitās in Mahāyāna Buddhism:
- Dāna pāramitā (दान पारमिता): generosity, giving of oneself (in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, 布施波羅蜜; in Tibetan, སྦྱིན་པ sbyin-pa)
- Śīla pāramitā (शील पारमिता): virtue, morality, ethics, discipline, proper conduct (持戒波羅蜜; ཚུལ་ཁྲིམས tshul-khrims)
- Kṣānti pāramitā (क्षांति पारमिता): patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance (忍辱波羅蜜; བཟོད་པ bzod-pa)
- Vīrya pāramitā (वीर्य पारमिता): energy, diligence, vigor, effort (精進波羅蜜; བརྩོན་འགྲུས brtson-’grus)
- Dhyāna pāramitā (ध्यान पारमिता): one-pointed(ness) concentration, contemplation (禪定波羅蜜, བསམ་གཏན bsam-gtan)
- Prajñā pāramitā (प्रज्ञा पारमिता): wisdom, insight (般若波羅蜜; ཤེས་རབ shes-rab)
- Upāya pāramitā (उपाय पारमिता): skillful means (方便波羅蜜）
- Praṇidhāna pāramitā (प्राणिधान पारमिता): vow, resolution, aspiration, determination (願波羅蜜）
- Bala pāramitā (बल पारमिता): spiritual power (力波羅蜜）
- Jñāna pāramitā (ज्ञान पारमिता): knowledge (智波羅蜜）
Some meta insights on this challenge, especially after these first three months:
I can’t remember a time I’ve been involved in a commitment based on prompting. In this instance committing to something where the commitment involves another providing the work, and then forgetting I hadn’t received anything for two months until the third month’s challenge arrived and then backtracking. This seems to illuminate one of the natures of dukhha which is incompleteness.
While these types of things for me are about intending to arrive at truth I may seem at times to walk a fine line of using truth as an ultimate arbiter and appearing righteous. For example, why is truth not in the Mahāyāna version of the Pāramitās because without truth how is it known what is, or isn’t valid, or worthwhile?
Finally, I find that addressing the polarities and opposites of some of these topics help elucidate some often underserved angles of view and contribute clarity.
Notes include omissions from the recordings, extra sources mentioned and additional resources:
Week 4 — Left out questions: Is enlightenment dependent on emptiness? What’s the relationship and connection?
Week 1 — Original notes:
Self-containment. What would be unpure self-restraint, and where would this happen and not happen and how? What are morals, why should we have them and which morals should we adhere to? Why? Where does faith come in with moral discipline? How do morals benefit from discipline? Is it possible, now or in the future, to be moral without disciple? How and why? How to prevent not speaking up and not self-censoring to reduce suffering? What about learning morals from immorality? How?
At relative level I sometimes self-contain because — even without saying anything or interacting — I can bring up stuff in folks they don’t want to see and deal with in themselves, or don’t have the tools and means to do so. Easier to self-contain now with the CV.
Recently found myself cursing at significant volume not realizing until I could hear passersby outside awkwardly wishing each other well. Begs to question, when is it good to repress and when not?
Week 2 — (Accidentally recorded using low quality computer mic)
Week 2 —
‘Be that person who reaches in for nourished support, while reaching out to those who have forgotten their hearts as the source of eternal sustenance.’Matt Kahn
Misc — Additional sexual misconduct section from “Seeing and Knowing” by Pa Auk Sayadaw [pdf]