Practicing the Pāramitās represents a major element of the Mahayana Buddhist path. These six “transcendental perfections” (Tib. parol tu chinpa druk) enable practitioners to accumulate both merit and wisdom. In the first of a series of short video teachings, Tulku Migmar Tsering introduces us to these important practices. Tulku-la explains that all of the 84,000 sections of the Buddha’s teaching can be condensed into these six practices.
Additionally, the practice of the perfections represents the bodhicitta of application. First, we engender the wish to benefit all sentient beings and bring them to the state of awakening. And then, through practicing the pāramitās we engage in activities or behavior that bring real benefit.
Practicing the Pāramitās: Knowing the Six Activities
- Concentration or Meditation
Practicing the Pāramitās: Benefiting Self and Others
As we apply the six perfections, we begin to transform the six negative emotions. In turn, that transformation brings us more joy and happiness. Thus, by practicing the pāramitās we benefit ourselves by putting others ahead of ourselves. Contrary to what we might expect, as we turn our attention more fully toward others, we improve our own situation. We can observe a reduction in our emotional reactions. Moreover, we can observe how our calmer minds then can settle more easily into concentration or meditation. And through all of this, we begin to experience real wisdom.
At the same time, this wisdom allows us to benefit others more skillfully. We can see more clearly what people need, and thus are able to help them in meaningful ways. Our growing patience allows us to give others help without suffering from burnout or expecting praise or thanks. We bring all the tools of the perfections together, building on each other until we can actually bring others toward complete enlightenment. We begin slowly, by taking small steps, but with a vast outlook.
This is the first part in a series on the Six Pāramitās, read the next part here.