BBnB 163 (7.6) The Practice of the Six Perfections & a New Chat Log, 162 (7.5)
BBnB 163 (7.6)
for November 7, 2008
The Practice of the Six Perfections
From a text by the Late Ven. Geshe Rabten
The Chat Log for last week's Discussion,
'Building Meditative Power'
is now Posted in the Files Section of BBnB
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Namo Buddhaya Namo Dharmaya Namo Sanghaya
BBnB Friday Night Buddhist Discussion
Our Topic Tonight is
The Practice of the Six Perfections
When: November 7, 2008
at 10:00 pm Eastern Time.
Where: The Buddhism Basics and Beyond Discussion Room <--Click this Room Link
(This is a Clickable Link to Our Chat Room.)
Click--> Index File to over 500 Buddhist Topics at BBnB <--Click
Click--> BBnB Homepage, Website and Discussion Board <--Click
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Hi Folks,I'd like to post a note of encouragement for some of our web members. Those of you who are less familar with meditation and have not had the opportunity to experience our Chat room meetings still have abundant resources available on our BBnB Website.
The Email for tonight is actually the first part of the meditation text we studied last week. We read the meditation last week and for this week, I'm sending out the Introduction to the Six Perfections.
Over the next few weeks, we will have some discussion of the Six Perfections based on this text as well as some material that serves as a brief biography of Shantideva and a general introduction to the Bodhicharyavatara. Shantideva's famous text is one of the Best-Loved Scriptures in all of Tibetan Buddhism and is a guide to the Practice of the Six Perfections. The Practices given are the actual means, along with the direct experience of Wisdom-Emptiness, that we use to attain the actual fruit of becoming a budding Bodhisattva.
The Text below is written by a Great Lama, the Late Ven. Geshe Rabten. Many of you may recognize his name as being one of the Authors of 'Advice from a Spiritual Friend,' a Mind Training Text based on the LoJong Teachings of Tibetan Buddhism.
Also, we will be using the Three Wisdoms approach (Study, Contemplation and Meditation) as we study the text. Duing that time of study, we will indeed spend time in Meditation and work on techniques to move quickly through the 10 stages.
There is an ocean of material on Meditation as well as Emptiness, Bodhicitta, The Two Truths, Mind and many other topics. You can find these easily by looking in two places.
è First: There is an periodicly-updated Index File in the Files Section. The link to the Files Section is available on almost every page of BBnB. Yahoo requires a free and easy registration to those who use the Files Section. Registration is Easy, Free and Non-invasive.
è Second: Yahoo's Advanced Search Feature is a sophisticated guide to finding what you need. It searches by Author, Date, Subject and Text (remember to use "quotation marks for exact quotes" and any grouping of words to search for them in any context). The Advanced Search is available on almost every page of BBnB.
è One hint for the Search is to use my name (GhanaBhuti or Ghana) as the entry in the author section. This is because the study materials are always posted by me. This will give you access to both the articles written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Ven. Pema Chodron, the Late Ven. Geshe Rabten Rinpoche as well as the articles I've written.
è An example is to use Advanced Search for articles on Meditation. For this, use my name (GhanaBhuti) as author and put the word Meditation in the Subject Box. Click on 'Search' and - to this point - you'll get 58 entries which are displayed 10 to a page with access only a click away.
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In 3 3/4 years, BBnB has developed into a good resource for questions about Buddhism. It is also set up in a manner that makes it a prime location for learning Buddhism from the Ground up. Feel Free to use BBnB as a First Reference for Buddhist Topics. Of course, we don't have all topics, but we do serve as good starting place to learn about Bodhicitta, Refuge, the Four Immeasurables, The Six Perfections, the Two Truths, Renunciation and the Correct View of Emptiness.
Finally, feel free to contact me at RimeBuddha@....
Namaste and Shanti,
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The Six Perfections
The Graduated Path to Liberation
Geshe Rabten Rinpoche
è the first that the mind will not turn to Dharma;
To become a buddha, a bodhisattva has to practise six perfections:
the perfection of giving (dana paramita) (((aka Perfection of Generosity)))
the perfection of morality (shila-paramita)
the perfection of patience (kshanti-paramita)
the perfection of energy (virya-paramita) (((aka Perfection of Joyous Effort)))
the perfection of meditation (dhyana-paramita)
the perfection of wisdom (prajna-paramita)
Perfection of Giving
This perfection is divided into four categories: the giving of property, Dharma, refuge, and active love (maitri).
The giving of property. For most of us, basic material needs such as food and clothing are the types of property easiest to give. High bodhisattvas, however, are capable of giving their eyes, flesh, and even their lives. The object we give is not the actual givingit is only the means for giving. The real activity of giving is the strong decision to give freely, without avarice. In this way, even if we possess nothing, we can practise giving, because giving depends on our state of mind, not on the object being given. Milarepa had only a small cloth to wear and lived on nettles, but he still practised the ultimate perfection of giving. In the beginning when we try to start this practice, we may find that even the giving of money or material things is difficult, but when we have completed the perfection of giving, the giving of anything, even our own flesh, will be easy. To practise the perfection we need a very strong desire to help others and a very strong will. But if our motive for giving property is to gain fame, for instance, this is not the practice of giving at all.
The giving of Dharma. The giving of Dharma means that one gives, with pure mind, the true teaching to other beings. This type of giving is more beneficial than the giving of property. Possession of property helps for only a limited time, while Dharma is lasting and more deeply helpful. A person with property may still be suffering, but Dharma can not only remove this suffering, it gives the person a new wisdom eye as well. Included in the bodhisattvas' work to attain buddhahood is the aim to give Dharma as fully as possible to all beings.
The giving of refuge. To give refuge means that we work to save and protect the lives of all living beings. For instance, if we put water creatures stuck in the mud back into water, we are practising this kind of giving. The person who truly wants to put an end to war and killing is practising the refuge aspect of this perfection. If the life of any being is in danger, we have to help in any way we can. The practice of giving refuge results in very good fruit immediately and deeply.
The giving of active love. The practice of active love is the wish to give real happiness to all beings. By just having this wish, we cannot directly help beings straight away, but if it is cultivated it will eventually have great results. The immediate fruit of this practice is that no spirits can harm the practitioner.
All these kinds of giving help in two waysthey help other beings and they help ourselves. If we practise giving solely for our own benefit, it is not true giving.
Perfection of Morality
The perfection of morality has three aspects:
The first aspect is the protection of our body, speech and mind from performing unskillful deeds. We have the tendency to act unskillfully, and this tendency needs to be controlled. We protect ourselves from acting this way when we stop using our body, speech and mind in harmful ways. We can think of our body, speech and mind as three naughty children, and of ourselves as their parent trying to keep them occupied in a room. Immediately outside the door of the room is a dangerous precipice, which represents the harmful things to which the children are attracted. Whenever they try to run out of the room, we have to pull them back inside to safety. If we let our body, speech and mind go as they will, we shall experience much suffering in the future. This protection of body, speech and mind is the first aspect of morality.
The second aspect is to protect others in the same way as we protect ourselves. For instance, when someone is about to kill an animal and we demonstrate that it is wrong to do so, we are protecting that person from committing harmful actions.
When we perform any skillful deed, this automatically protects us from performing any unskillful ones. This substitution of skilful action in the place of unskilful is the third aspect of the perfection of morality.
Perfection of Patience
There are three types of patience:
1. Patience when we are harmed by others. When we are harmed bodily or mentally by others we should not react by getting angry or harming them in return.
2. Patience when we are suffering. When we suffer, we point to someone or something outside ourselves as the cause. The immediate reason for our suffering may be something outside, but the deep, or underlying, cause is our own karma, which is of our own doing. The fruit or our actions must come back to us. If a person stabs us with a knife, this injury had to happen to us. We cannot point to anyone outside ourselves as the cause. If, because of our religion, we have to leave our country and endure great suffering, this circumstance has been produced by ourselves. We should think that the seed of suffering has already been sown, therefore it must grow. This way of thinking reduces the power of suffering over us. We have to start practising patience with very small sufferings; later we shall be able to be patient with very large ones. As a result of having practised the perfection of patience, a bodhisattva can withstand any suffering whatsoever for the sake of beings.
In Tibetan history there is a story that shows clearly how beneficial the practice of this type of patience can be. Some years after king Langdarma had eradicated the first spreading of Buddhism in Tibet, a king of western Tibet, Lha Lama Yeshe Ö decided to reestablish and propagate the pure Dharma in the land. For this purpose he went in search of a sufficient amount of gold with which to invite the very best Indian pandits to Tibet. While on his search he was imprisoned by the king of Garlog, who demanded as ransom Lha Lama Yeshe Ö's weight in gold. But when Yeshe Ö's nephew came with the gold, the old king refused to leave the prison, saying that his life was almost over and that instead the nephew should bring a pandit from India. The nephew then was able to invite Atisha from Nalanda, and Atisha re-established the pure Buddha Dharma in Tibet.
Not only did this king willingly forsake his own freedom for the sake of others, but he also did not try to retaliate against the person who had captured him. To harm someone who is harming us does not make sense from a religious point of view. When we seek revenge against others who appear to be hurting us, it does not relieve our own pain, but only gives rise to new suffering for us by creating more karma. If, because we have caused pain to others, they turn around and beat us with a stick, the immediate cause of the pain is the stick, but the person wielding the stick is reacting against our own action, which itself was caused by our being in the grip of an overpowering mental defilement. So logically, our anger should be directed against our own mental defilements. Anger with other beings is very stupid and serves only to create more suffering for us. A country, being attacked by another, fighting back, returning the aggression, is like a hungry person taking poison.
If all people were to practise patience it would bring real peace into the world, but those with no experience of Dharma find it very hard to believe in the efficacy of the practice of patience. If someone who is struck returns the blow, that person sets up a chain reaction with no end, but if one party shows patience, as a result others will do so also. We find this notion in the Christian tradition, when Jesus urged us to turn the left cheek to those who strike us on the right. In the Tibetan tradition, Lama Tsong Khapa composed two verses in which he prayed,
. When I remember, see or hear living beings
. speaking harshly or hitting me
. may I meditate on patience,
. and, avoiding anger, speak instead of their good qualities.
. By developing, in the stream of my being, the pure wish,
. which is based on bodhicitta,
. holding other beings dearer than myself,
. may I quickly bestow supreme buddhahood on them!
The harm given us by the body, speech or mind of others is like a sword, arrow or spear. The practice of patience is the good armor of protection against this; possessing it, we cannot be injured. If we do not practise patience, trying instead merely to avoid conflict and say nice things and be friendly to everyone, we shall be unable to behave like this to all the countless beings, but with patience we shall be constantly protected from harm. If we walk along a very rocky path, it is impossible to remove all the stones from the way, but strong shoes protect us from all possible injuries.
The patience of keeping concentration.
3. The third kind of patience is that of keeping concentration on meditation, or anything else concerned with Dharma, without allowing distracting influences to harm the practice.
Perfection of Energy
This means energy for Dharma. There are three kinds:
1. The first is the energy of the mind that stops the desire for unprofitable things. If we have a strong desire for ordinary things disconnected from Dharma, it disrupts our Dharma practice. Although we have to do everyday things, if our fondness for them is greater than our fondness for Dharma, our attention is taken away from our main work. A person may concentrate and work very hard, but if the goal of all that effort is a worldly one, then, according to Dharma, that person is lazy. People who really want to practise Dharma are in a hurry even when eating or excreting, so as not to waste time. Energy for worldly things is weakness; energy for Dharma is real strength. This aspect of the perfection of energy speeds us quickly towards the final goal. Having energy for Dharma practice, the real purpose of life, prevents our being distracted by worldly goals. It protects us from all kinds of bad things.
2. The second kind of energy protects us against tiredness. For instance, a meditator who suffers from such tiredness that even the mere sight of the meditation place brings on sleep, overcomes this weakness by this kind of energy. One way to stop this fault is to consider the fruit of meditation or Dharma practice; if we bear this in mind, bodily tiredness does not make us lose our energy. People at work do not suffer very much from tiredness because they are thinking of the money they will get. If we consider the great fruit of practising Dharma wt will work hard at it. High lamas living in the mountains with very little food and sleep are not tired and complaining; rather they are very happy, because they see that the fruit of their work is near. These lamas have many different ways of practising Dharma: some are always teaching; others live alone in the mountains and accept perhaps one or two pupils.
3. The third kind of energy is the confidence that we are not too small, weak or stupid to obtain the fruit of Dharma practice. Weakness of this kind stands in the way of achievement of the object. It can be overcome by thinking that the highest buddhas and bodhisattvas also once had only delusion, lived in samsara, and were worse than ourselves. By practising Dharma, they reached the highest stages of perfection; we can do the same. No one has perfect virtue from the beginning; when children first go to school they cannot even read or write, but later they learn to do not only that but many other things as well, and some become great scholars. The Buddha said that even insects living in excrement can become buddhas. If we bear all this in mind, we shall find no reason why we cannot practise Dharma.
The three kinds of energy overcome three weaknesses:
è the second is the fatigue we experience when we practise;
è the third is the doubt we have in our own ability to achieve the aims of Dharma.
The person who wants to get to the top of a mountain has first to turn to the path, second, to keep going and not give in to laziness, and third, not to falter and think, "This is possible for strong people, but not for me.
The scriptures teach that all virtue follows from energy. With energy, someone who is not intelligent can get the Dharma fruit. A person who is intelligent but lazy will not get the fruit, and the intelligence is useless and wasted. With both intelligence and energy, there will be the greatest success. There is a simile in the scriptures that if the dry grass on a mountain catches fire and the wind fans it, the whole mountainside will catch fire, but if there is no wind the fire will go out straight away. Intelligence is like the fire and energy like the wind. If a person has intelligence and no energy, nothing will be accomplished. Thus the perfection of energy is essential for achieving the goal.
The Perfections of Concentration and Wisdom (((Note: Calm Abiding, Shamatha (Skt.) and zhi nay (Tib.) are all synonyms for concentration meditation. - gb)))
Concentration must be on an object. It is very important in both Dharma practice and ordinary life. The Tibetan word for concentration meditation is zhi.nay; nay means to "dwell" or "stay," and zhi means "in peace." In a practical sense, then, zhi.nay means to live peacefully without busy-ness, and is often translated as "calm abiding." If we do not examine it carefully, our mind seems quite peaceful; but if we really look inside, it is not peaceful at all. Our mind is not able to stay on the same object for a second. It flutters around like a banner in the wind; as soon as we concentrate on one thing, another comes to disturb it. Even if we are living on a high mountain or in a quiet room or cave, our mind is always moving. If we go up to the top of a high building in a busy city we can look down and see how much turmoil there is, but when we are moving around within the crowd, we are only aware of a little of the bustle.
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Note: The Meditation section of Ven Rabten's text can be found at BBnB Post
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All Original Material Copyright,
© 2008 GhanaBhuti, GhanaBhuti@...
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We Dedicate any Merit this Group and
These Discussions Accumulate to the
Benefit of all Beings and thus to Highest Enlightenment
||Idam Guru Ratna Mandalakam Niryata Yami ||
|| I send forth this Jeweled Mandala to you, Precious Gurus ||
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