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Buddhism

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Pāramitā or Pāramī (Sanskrit or Pāli, the former usually using the former and the latter the latter): "Perfection" or "Transcendent". In Buddhism, the Paramitas refer to the perfection or culmination of certain practices. These practices are cultivated by Bodhisattvas for crossing from sensuous life (Samsara) to Enlightenment (Nirvana). In the Mahayana tradition, bodhisattva is understood specifically as referring to those following the path to full Buddhahood only, and the perfections as a standard formulation of their practice. In the Theravada tradition, the perfections are required to attain even ordinary arahantship, and so are to be practised by everyone. However, Mahayana urges everyone to follow the path to full Buddhahood, so the end result is the same.

In Theravada Buddhism, the Ten Perfections (Paramis) are; (original terms in Pali)

  1. Dāna parami : generosity, giving of oneself
  2. Sīla parami : virtue, morality, proper conduct
  3. Nekkhamma parami : renunciation
  4. Paññā parami : transcendental wisdom, insight
  5. Viriya (also spelt vīriya) parami : energy, diligence, vigour, effort
  6. Khanti parami : patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance
  7. Sacca parami : truthfulness, honesty
  8. Adhiṭṭāna (adhitthana) parami : determination, resolution
  9. Mettā parami : loving-kindness
  10. Upekkhā (also spelt upekhā) parami : equanimity, serenity

Two of the above virtues, Metta and Upekkha, also comprise two of the Four Immeasurables (Brahmavihara), which should be explored & cultivated by Buddhists without limit.

In Mahayana Buddhism, the Lotus Sutra (Saddharmapundarika), lists the Six Perfections as (original terms in Sanskrit):

  1. Dāna paramita: generosity, giving of oneself (in Chinese, 布施波羅蜜)
  2. Śīla paramita : virtue, morality, proper conduct (持戒波羅蜜)
  3. Kṣānti (kshanti) paramita : patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance (忍辱波羅蜜)
  4. Vīrya paramita : energy, diligence, vigour, effort (精進波羅蜜)
  5. Dhyāna paramita : one-pointed concentration, contemplation (禪定波羅蜜)
  6. Prajñā paramita : wisdom, insight (智慧波羅蜜)

This list is also mentioned by the Theravada commentator Dhammapala, who says it is equivalent to the above list of ten.[1]

The later Ten Stages (Dasabhumika) Sutra lists another four;

7. Upāya paramita: skillful means
8. Praṇidhāna (pranidhana) paramita: vow, resolution, aspiration, determination
9. Bala paramita: spiritual power
10. Jñāna paramita: knowledge

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