The practices to be done so the person engages in bodhichitta and changes life to resemble life of bodhisattvas:
The Six Paramitas
- Generosity. The general definition is an attitude of giving that is endowed with the 4 features.
- Ethics or moral conduct. Ethics is defined as an attitude of restraint endowed with the 4 features.
- Patience. Patience is generally defined as an attitude of being unperturbed endowed with the 4 features.
- Diligence or exertion. Diligence is defined as an attitude of enthusiasm endowed with the 4 features.
- Samadhi or meditation concentration. Samadhi is defined as undistracted state of attention endowed with the 4 features.
- Wisdom. Wisdom is defined generally as precise discernment of phenomena endowed with the 4 features.
The 4 features
These 4 features are enumerated furthermore as follows. Patrul Rinpoche says first that “generosity is simple generosity, but becomes perfect generosity or paramita generosity when it becomes endowed in life and perfected by the 4 features.” How does it change into perfected with 4 features? The ordinary discipline becomes perfect discipline when engaged in by a bodhisattva vow holder endowed with the 4 features. The 4 features turn an ordinary act of kindness into perfect. What are these 4?
- First Feature: Where adverse factors have disappeared. Where the opposing factors have disappeared. Here, if we take generosity as an example, the common definition is trying to give to someone else. The opposing factor of generosity is stinginess, self-cherishing. Paramita generosity is not so much giving as not having attachment. There is a difference between the two. When we are trying to be generous without letting go of self-attachment, there will always be stinginess. Our teachers always used to joke, “We will always have hands shaking. “ (laughter) Even if not literally shaking, we say, “I will give 100 dollars,” then we get closer to the destination, “I will give 50 dollars,” and then you see the person you were going to giver to, and then, “a token of 5 dollars will be sufficient.” The mind hesitates. Hesitation is always sustained where there is a self-cherishing attitude. Where self-cherishing is not there, then your whole body, your whole of life becomes of benefit to others. One becomes as Shantideva said, “Like the earth, like the sun shining without partiality, like the flowing water available to all, like the shadow of a tree that is available for all on a hot summer day.” Likewise should be a person holding bodhichitta. Making self freely available is generosity instead of being available in any way possible is paramita of generosity. Where adverse factors have disappeared. Then the 2nd Factor:
- Second Feature: Endowed with wisdom that is non-conceptual. Each of the actions of the paramitas when they are endowed together with the wisdom that is non-conceptual, or understanding of the true nature of shunyata, seeing the nature of self particularity to be empty with nothing to hold on to. Beyond the supposition of “I me mine,” there is nothing to be seen or held as the ego, or the self. When that knowledge is really in one’s own mind, where strengthened examination leads to certainty of emptiness, then non-deliberate generosity arises, Non deliberate generosity arises, non-deliberate ethics arises, non-deliberate patience arises, non-deliberate diligence arises, non-deliberate Samadhi arises, and non-deliberate wisdom arises. The 2nd feature is said to being endowed with non-conceptual wisdom. The third feature that must join the paramitas is:
- Third Feature: Completely fulfilling all wishes. The third feature is that the action of generosity, ethics, patience, diligence, Samadhi, and wisdom must have the power to fulfill the wishes of other sentient beings. The ability to fulfilling the wishes of all sentient beings must particularly have 4 qualities of skillful means, aspiration, power or strength, and awareness. Often these 4 are called the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th paramitas. When we talk about benefiting all sentient beings, if I ask you the question, how many of you think every day as a Mahayanist of benefiting all sentient beings? It’s a good plan, so we all want to do it. We plan to, but if I asked ‘how would you do it?” then the answer is skillful means, aspiration, power or strength, and awareness. The later 4 paramitas are the activity aspect of the preceding 6.
- 7th paramita of Skillful Means. Skillfulness is the simple quality of flexibility adaptability that arises when the mind is free of generous, free of self-cherishing. Where there is discipline, non-enforced patience, joyful diligence or exertion and a mind that is mindful, and a mind that cultivates what needs to be adapted. ….when the mind is cultivated in such a way, the result is your mind easily adapts to the needs of others. When you have the flexibility of your conduct, the flexibility of your own conduct adapts in accordance of others. That is skillful means, which is the third quality after compassion and wisdom. Making your life available to others. The bodhichitta is making your mind and whole life available to needs of others. This is constantly be strengthened by:
- 8th paramita of Aspiration. Constant aspiration of reminding of the taming and training and mind being inseparable of nature, so there is this action of reciting a lot. When you recite, they act as various means to recall to the mind its own qualities. There is no recitation in the Buddhist tradition that isn’t aimed to the single aim that it must have the power of recalling to the practitioner the qualities of mind. Being able to recite is said to be the power of the 8th paramita of aspiration. Most of us, if mind isn’t able to completely accomplish overcoming of self-cherishing, they are always in danger of being be weighed down by self. Supplication, prayers, and aspirations are composed by a mind that has defeating the agenda of the self. In their words, we know we can overcome self. Aspiration is the way to recall the mind to its own nature, which becomes the basis of fulfilling wishes of others.
- 9th paramita of power/strength. The 9th paramita requires power/strength in 3 qualities: 1) power to distance self from defilements, 2) power to truly steer the course of karma, 3) power to truly free self from self-absorption, to distance self from defilements. If you have that, you have power and strength of Buddhas and bodhisattvas.When we say “how to benefit sentient beings?,” the answer should be to bring about benefit of sentient beings distancing from defilements. Freeing yourself from anger, ignorance, desire, and arrogance jealousy is a way to benefit sentient beings. Also, you benefit other beings by being in the driver’s seat of karma. As a Buddhist, you know Karma is powerful, but changeable. 1) It is impermanent, and it is 2) changeable. If it wasn’t changeable, one could never inspire to beings about enlightenment or happiness for all sentient beings. Happiness couldn’t happen.Each day you are in path of practice, you are must be aware that you are doing nothing but steering the course of karma and not going to edge of the precipice of defilement. When someone like me is driving a car, I am in a ditch in 5 minutes. (Laughter) You all can simply drive. I am always amazed how you can all drive year after year without having accidents or driving into a ditch. I have great admiration with you for not having an accident, most of you. (Laughter). “Compared to driving, steering the course of your karma is much easier. Actually, the traffic is not that bad (Laughter) because what is coming is based on who is looking at it.” Therefore, use that analogy to think that Being on path of dharma, or, being mindful isn’t that difficult a thing, because if you look at all the other things that you do.Look at the other things you do. In a classic analogy, think of the wonderful power a being has that has a spoonful of food, and is about to bring it up to the mouth, then the lamp goes dark, but you don’t’ miss your mouth. You don’t put spoon into eyes or nose. Still get spoon to mouth. That is familiarity. These are all the things we do without concentrating. There is no manual that says, “Pick up the spoon, and don’t put the spoon too high up. There are 2 classifications, the upper and lower lip.” (Laughter). These are simple things that a mind is about to do. Maintaining mindfulness maintains distance from defilements, taking into awareness your own nature. (These) are far easier things to learn because they are your own nature. Power arises when one is able to reduce and eventually destroy self-absorption. Where self and agendas of self are decreased, that is how to truly benefit all sentient beings.
- 10th paramita of awareness. And then In the 10th paramita of awareness, where there is a continuum or unbroken awareness of one’s own nature strengthened like the rays of the sun that illuminate and immediately are able to destroy all darkness. Likewise, where the mind of meditator retains awareness its fundamental nature, it automatically, spontaneously destroys the grip of defilements. Then there is no need to abandon defilements of ignorance, anger, and desire, where the awareness is so strong it destroys defilements.
These are characteristics or qualities of these 4 further paramitas that need to be cultivated.
4. Fourth Feature: bring all beings to the maturity of the 3 levels. Patrul Rinpoche says “bring all beings to the maturity of the 3 levels.” Simply, this is the ability of the paramitas to bring about the full maturation of all sentient beings. These are the 4 features that must combine with the paramitas.