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Paramita / Parami (Perfections)

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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  The wholesome meritorious deeds done, wishing to attain Buddha hood, Pase Buddha hood or Arahanthship; or, to attain enlightenment (the end of suffering; Nirvana) are called “Paramitha”, “Parami” or “Perfections”.

Most of the people in the world do meritorious deeds wishing just for comforts and fortunes in the human world and heavens, in their next births. They have not realized that behind those comforts and fortunes lies the shadow of suffering & sadness. Those deeds, though they are meritorious, are associated with desire and do not belong to “Paramithas” since they lengthen the ‘life-death circle’ (Samsara) and do not end the suffering and conduct one towards the enlightenment.

Some do meritorious deeds craving for fame, prestige and glory. Those deeds too are related to desire and do not even give proper worldly fortunes and comforts, let alone the enlightenment.

Some do meritorious deeds just to show others that they are above them. They give much greater alms than the others; they observe the Dhamma in excess; they build temples bigger and finer than the others; they do greater meritorious acts and show that their virtue surpass all the others’. Those deeds are associated with conceit and do not belong to “Paramithas”. Those deeds too lack the power to give proper worldly fortunes and comforts, let alone the enlightenment.

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Some, disregarding the Four Noble Truths and the seven stages of purification which lead towards liberation and the Enlightenment, wrongly believe that they can attain the Enlightenment by just giving alms or protecting their virtues. Those meritorious deeds are connected with wrong vision; thus, they do not belong to “Paramithas”.

Some do meritorious deeds wishing worldly and heavenly fortunes as well as the Enlightenment. Since they have wished for the Enlightenment too, those deeds belong to “Paramithas”. But, in view of the fact that the wish is contaminated with desire for worldly fortunes, one cannot attain the Enlightenment quickly, as expected from those deeds. Desire weakens the power to give up worldly fortunes which is essential to attain the Enlightenment.

A wish is fruitful only when the power of the meritorious deed done is adequate enough to give the result.

Gauthama Buddha, even after fulfilling the ten “Paramithas” in his many existences for innumerable period of time before being born ‘Siddhartha Gauthama’, had to suffer to the highest degree for six years before attaining the Enlightenment.
The Ten Perfections (“Dasa Paramitha”)

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1. Dana Paramitha – Giving things that belongs to oneself considering the actions and results; as a offering to the virtuous who has higher qualities than oneself, and as a help to the needy with lower qualities than oneself or to a person with similar qualities to oneself with loving kindness and compassion. When the wish from these meritorious deeds is the Enlightenment, it becomes a “Paramitha”.

2. Sila ParamithaVirtuous and proper conduct observed by oneself wishing for Buddha hood, Pase Buddha hood, Arahanthship or the Enlightenment without contaminating it with desire, conceit and wrong vision.

3. Nekkhamma (Nayishkramya) ParamithaRenunciation of desire, passion and worldly existence realizing the evil effects they have on oneself.

4. Panna ParamithaLearning Buddhist doctrine and other relevant arts & technology; associating, discussing and conferring with scholars; meditating to gain insight and develop it; teaching Dhamma for the benefit of the world and the Buddhist order; preaching Dhamma; Writing books on Dhamma and helping the suffering with the supermundane wisdom gained; lead to the Enlightenment.

5. Virya ParamithaEffort one makes with insight in giving alms, observing virtue (at least the basic five precepts), meditation and lending a hand to others, wishing either Buddhahood, Pase Buddhahood or Arahanthship.

6. Kshanthi Paramitha – Having tolerance and patience as a resource to attain Buddhahood, Pase Buddhahood or Arahanthship.

7. Sathya ParamithaTruthfulness and honesty are great virtues which lead to the Enlightenment.

8. Adishtana Paramitha – When fulfilling Paramithas to attain the enlightenment, one should have a strong resolution and a determination to complete what he had started. Though determination is not a meritorious deed, one has to have the power of determination to attain the Enlightenment. Thus, it becomes a paramitha.

9. Metta Paramitha – Having loving kindness to all beings irrespective of their relationship to one’s self, wishing for the Enlightenment. Helping others physically, speaking kind and helpful words beneficial to others, wishing all beings health, wealth and happiness belong to this category.

10.Upekkha Paramitha – The indifference shown to all beings and matter, thoughts and conditions, maintaining a neutral attitude wishing for the Enlightenment.