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  • paramī = pāramitā

'perfection'

Ten qualities leading to Buddha-hood:

  • (1) perfection in giving (or liberality; dāna-pāramī)
  • (2) morality (sīla-p.)
  • (3) renunciation (nekkhamma-p.)
  • (4) wisdom (pa˝˝ā-p.)
  • (5) energy (viriya-p.)
  • (6) patience (or forbearance; khanti p.)
  • (7) truthfulness (sacca-p.)
  • (8) resolution (adhitthāna-p.)
  • (9) loving-kindness (mettā-p.)
  • (10) equanimity (upekkhā-p.)

These qualities were developed and brought to maturity by the Bodhisatta in his past existences, and his way of practising them is illustrated in many of the Birth Stories (Jātaka), of which, however, only the verses are regarded as canonical. Apart from the latter, the 10 pāramī are mentioned in only two other canonical works which are probably apocryphal, the Buddhavamsa (in the Story of Sumedha) and the Cariyapitaka. A long and methodical exposition of the pāramī is given in the concluding Miscellaneous Section (pakinnakakathā) of the Com. to Cariyapitaka

In Vis.M. IX it is said that through developing the 4 sublime states (loving-kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, equanimity; s. brahma-vihāra), one may reach these 10 perfections, namely:

"As the Great Beings (mahā-satta; a synonym often found in the Mahāyana scriptures for Bodhisatta, i.e. 'Enlightenment Being or Being destined for Buddha-hood) are concerned about the welfare of living beings, not tolerating the suffering of beings, wishing long duration to the higher states of happiness of beings, and being impartial and just to all beings, therefore:

  1. they give alms (dāna) to all beings so that they may be happy, without Investigating whether they are worthy or not.
  2. By avoiding to do them any harm, they observe morality (sīla).
  3. In order to bring morality to perfection, they train themselves in renunciation (nekkhamma).
  4. In order to understand clearly what is beneficial and injurious to beings, they purify their wisdom (pa˝˝ā).
  5. For the sake of the welfare and happiness of others they constantly exert their energy (viriya).
  6. Though having become heroes through utmost energy, they are nevertheless full of forbearance (khanti) toward s the manifold failings of beings.
  7. Once they have promised to give or do something, they do not break their promise ('truthfulness'; sacca).
  8. With unshakable resolution (adhitthāna) they work for the weal and welfare of beings.
  9. With unshakable kindness (mettā) they are helpful to all.
  10. By reason of their equanimity (upekkhā) they do not expect anything in return" (Vis.M. IX.24).

In the Mahāyana scriptures, where the pāramī occupy a much more prominent place, a partly differing list of six is given:

  • liberality,
  • morality,
  • patience,
  • energy,
  • meditation
  • wisdom.

Literature:

  • Ten Jataka Stories (illustrating the 10 pāramī), by I. B. Horner (London 1957, Luzac & Co.);
  • Buddhavamsa & Cariyapitaka. tr. by I. B. Horner (Minor Anthologies III, Sacred Books of the Buddhists. PTS).
  • Narada Thera, The Buddha & His Teachings, Ch. 41; Parami (BPS)
  • The treatise on the perfections from the Com. to Cariyapitaka has been translated in The Discourse on the All-Embracing Net of Views (Brahmajala Sutta, with Com.). tr. by Bhikkhu Bodhi (BPS) .

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