Paramis: The Ten Perfections – Reflections excerpted from Ajahn Sucitto
A reflection on practice by Other Teachers & Folks We Value
The Ten Paramis are the ten perfections of the heart to cultivate in one’s practice of the Dhamma. Ajahn Sucitto tells us, “These parami form a set of themes that are used in the Theravada tradition to this day. They provide a template for the mind’s energies & activities that isn’t an extra to all the other things we might have to do, but encompasses our talking & working, our relationships & interactions with others, our times of private introspection, our decision-making & the forming of our life directions. We practise morality, patience & all or any of the rest while we are engaged at work, or minding the children, or stuck in a traffic jam… The parami take spiritual practice into areas of our lives where we get confused, are subject to social pressure & are often strongly influenced by stress or stress- forming assumptions. Providing alternative ways to orient the mind in the stream of daily events, the ‘perfections’ can derail obstructive inner activities, & leave the mind clear for meditation. Cultivating parami means you get to steer your life out of the floods.”
The Ten Perfections (Parami)
Generosity/Sharing (dana) Recognizing the joy of sharing, & acknowledging that we all come into this world subject to pain, sorrow, sickness & death, I aspire to offer what I can in terms of resources, hospitality, healing & wise advice.
Morality/Integrity (sila) Recognizing the trust that develops from conscientiousness & fellow-feeling, I aspire to cultivate actions of body, speech & mind that turn away from hostility & harshness, & that cut off greed & manipulative behaviour.
Renunciation/Values-based Simplicity (nekkhamma) Recognizing the ease that arises with modesty & contentment, I aspire to relinquish needless acquisition & an imbalanced use of material resources.
Clarity/Wisdom (pañña) Recognizing the skill of clarity, I aspire to handle my perspectives with awareness & careful reflection, & thereby arrive at an unbiased understanding.
Energy (viriya) Recognizing my capacity for vigour, or for distraction & laziness, I aspire to use my energy for my long-term benefit & for the welfare of others.
Patience/Tolerance (khanti) Recognizing the value of tolerance & perseverance, I aspire to let go of getting my own way, cutting corners & being narrow-minded.
Truthfulness (sacca) Recognizing the wise relationships that can be established through my own veracity & through the honesty of others, I aspire to free my mind from biased perspectives & devious behaviour.
Resolution (adhitthana) Recognizing the potency of a firm heart, I aspire to hold intentions that are enriching, & to ward off vacillation on one hand & forceful goalseeking on the other.
Goodwill (metta) Recognizing the happiness of a warm heart, I aspire to cultivate empathy & compassion. Resisting mind-states based on fault-finding of myself or others, I will encourage goodwill rather than foster ideals of perfection.
Equanimity/Stability of Heart (upekkha) Recognizing the peace of even-minded acceptance, I aspire to let sickness & health, blame & praise, failure & accomplishment flow through my awareness without getting distracted by them.
Buddhist monk Ajahn Sucitto, currently based at Cittaviveka Monastery in Chithurst, West Sussex, has been part of a number of Theravada monasteries in Britain. The passages above on the Paramis are excerpted from his books “Parami, Ways to Cross Life’s Floods” and “Buddha-Nature, Human Nature.” Both are available on-line in PDF form at no charge.
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