The Six Paramitas

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In order to reach enlightenment and “cross over the sea of suffering to the shore of happiness and awakening”, one must first perfect certain virtues, known to Buddhists as the Six Paramitas. The Six Paramitas are cultivated both as a way of reaching enlightenment and as a method of purification, requiring sincere self-control and daily practice for empathetic, enlightened living. The first of the Paramitas is the Perfection of Generosity, helping to untie the knots of greed and desire from our hearts. A Bodhisattva puts others needs in front of their own, giving as much as one can. Material needs such as food, shelter, medicine, etc. can be offered, as well as emotional comfort and Dharma instruction, but all gifts must be given with right intention, must come from a wholesome source, have no potential to cause harm, and must be given in an appropriate manner. The Perfection of Ethics is the quality of morality and self-discipline, helping us to gain the abandonment of negative thoughts. Abstinence from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, divisive speech, harsh speech, gossip, greed, malice, and wrong views is the path to right morality and ethics. The Perfection of Patience helps us to keep our minds open and our hearts sincerely focused on the Dharma. The cultivation of this Paramita allows us to remain loving and compassionate towards others even when we are physically, emotionally, or mentally hurt by them. Of the first three Paramitas, none are easy in practice, and that is where the fourth Paramita comes in—The Perfection of Joyous Effort and Enthusiastic Perseverance. This Paramita helps us to see failure, danger, and affliction as inspiration, encouraging enthusiasm and persistence on our path to enlightenment. The Perfection of Concentration helps us to overcome distraction, taking our focus away from the surface layers of the mind and our emotions and instead allowing us to develop the mind through concentration and meditation. Only through...
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