Path of Transformation

Workshop on the Six Paramitas, Session One


In January, 2024, Khenpo Gyaltsen offered a two-part workshop on the Six Paramitas or Six Perfections at the Guru Lhakhang in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Khenpo Gyaltsen reminds his listeners to first give rise to the profound motivation of bodhicitta. As we are Mahayana practitioners, we must know how to go about training in these six perfections. First, we talk about bodhicitta and learn how to practice mind training. In the teachings of the Great Vehicle, we translate that bodhicitta into action by practicing the perfections. We do this by training the way the great bodhisattvas also trained.

The Six Paramitas or Perfections are usually given in a particular order:

  1. The Perfection of Generosity: Giving or offering
  2. The Perfection of Discipline
  3. The Perfection of Patience
  4. The Perfection of Meditative Concentration
  5. The Perfection of Diligence
  6. The Perfection of Wisdom

In some teachings, we also discuss additional paramitas:

  1. The Perfection of Method
  2. The Perfection of Power
  3. The Perfection of Aspiration
  4. The Perfection of Transcendental Jñāna or Wisdom

Khenpo emphasizes the need to understand the difference between “the perfection” of generosity and so forth, and normal generosity. This difference is based on the level of the practitioner. If one is training on the path of accumulation before reaching the first bodhisattva stage, or bhūmi it is not yet a paramita. To be a paramita, the practice must be embraced by the mind that has realized emptiness. In union with bodhicitta, we must also have the recognition of emptiness.

A perfectly accomplished buddha is free from the three spheres of reference point and thus can truly practice generosity. At our level, we are practicing in name only, an imputed kind of generosity, for example. The result of practicing conceptual generosity as we do will bring us to the result of the paramita of generosity.

We list the paramitas in this particular order based on the logical flow of practice. We begin with generosity. Why is this? To practice the Dharma, we need the right conditions, and the freedom to practice. Generosity is the very cause that brings about the conditions that we need to practice effectively and provides the necessities of life.

The six paramitas can be divided into the accumulation of merit and wisdom. The three of generosity, discipline, patience, and meditative concentration are the accumulation of merit. The paramita of wisdom belongs to the accumulation of wisdom. And the paramita of diligence is an aid to both accumulations. Moreover, we can divide the paramitas according to the result. The result of practicing the first five paramitas is the rupakaya, the body of form. The result of practicing the paramita of wisdom is the dharmakaya.


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