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Six Perfections

Mike Mather

We All Suffer

We all have suffering, and mostly we have a suffering called delusion. Furthermore, we see life, ourselves and all external things in error.

The Six Perfections, also known as the Six Paramitas, are fundamental virtues or qualities that are important for spiritual development in Buddhism. Why bother? What is the reason some people choose to devote themselves to Buddhist practise?

Buddha tries to help us see things as they truly are and relieve our suffering through teachings and suggested practises. Atop of the list of lists is the Six Perfections.

These virtues are considered essential for the attainment of enlightenment and for developing compassion and wisdom.

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Photo by Go to soheyl dehghani on Unsplash

The Six Perfections

The Six Perfections are:

  1. Generosity (Dana): This refers to the act of giving, sharing, or offering without expecting anything in return. It is an essential practice in Buddhism and is believed to purify the mind and create positive karma.
  2. Ethics (Sila): This refers to the practice of ethical conduct or morality, which includes refraining from harming others, speaking truthfully, and avoiding actions that lead to negative consequences. It is the foundation for a peaceful and harmonious society. I sometimes refer to this as moral discipline.
  3. Patience (Kshanti): This refers to the ability to remain calm and composed in the face of adversity or difficulties. It involves cultivating a sense of forbearance, tolerance, and acceptance.
  4. Perseverance (Virya): This refers to the quality of persistence and determination in the pursuit of spiritual goals. It involves developing a strong will and the ability to overcome obstacles and challenges. I call it simply, Effort.
  5. Concentration (Dhyana): This refers to the practice of meditation and mindfulness, which involves focusing the mind and achieving a state of calm and clarity. It is essential for developing insight and wisdom.
  6. Wisdom (Prajna): This refers to the understanding of the true nature of reality and the interdependent nature of all things. It involves developing insight into the nature of suffering and the causes of suffering, and understanding the path to liberation.
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Spiritual Development

The Six Perfections are a set of virtues or qualities that are essential for spiritual development in Buddhism. These virtues help individuals cultivate compassion, wisdom, and a deep understanding of the true nature of reality. By practising these virtues, individuals can achieve inner peace, happiness, and enlightenment.

How to use these in your life

Try out this list of personal queries to check yourself through the day-

  • Am I giving or being selfish?
  • Does this behaviour align with my values?
  • Can I smile, accept and go slowly?
  • Can I persevere with kindness and the Buddha’s help?
  • Am I being aware and mindful?
  • Who am I?

So, on one hand we can attain immediate relief from our suffering by practising these virtues and getting some peace in our mind, Buddha says that happiness is just a peaceful mind.

And ultimately, we can attain enlightenment, which is the ultimate goal. With enlightenment, we are released from samsara, the continuous cycle of contaminated rebirth.

About the Author Mike Mather

Mike was born in 1963 which technically makes him one of the youngest of the Baby Boomers. An Australian with Indigenous and European heritage, he has been an avid and required student of Buddhism and alcoholism since 2008.

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