Path of the Bodhisattva

Path of the Bodhisattva. 2 type fonts are used here
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Six Paramitas
These describe the attitude of the man most attuned to the needs and responsibilities of the human condition. The desire for these qualities is expressed as immediately fulfilled prayer, transforming whatever emotional vibration is present into joyful detachment. The practice of this final achievement is a constant stream of spontaneous compassion.
© Generosity
© Discipline
© Patience
© Diligence
© Meditation
© Prajna
1. Generosity
The three aspects of generosity are:
A. ordinary generosity; The perfection of generosity is the absence of selfishly motivated action and its replacement by the warmth of giving material goods to alleviate worldly needs. This is helping beings who are in need or in poverty. Giving things that are very valuable and dear to you. Giving a part of ones own body.
B. giving life; giving security and safety to fearful and timid beings. This is freeing those whose lives are in danger freeing them from that threat by liberating them from their situation and conditions. This includes humans and animals but it is usually much more possible for us to practice this with animals. We can give them life through loving kindness and using our resources. Freeing an animal or human from the fear of losing their life is considered one of the most precious acts of generosity and one of the most meritorious acts that one could ever engage in.
C. giving Dharma; giving the highest, most sublime gift which is the Dharma itself. This is what the Bodhisattva aims to do continuously. He may do it in many different ways: by sharing a source of inspiration, by teaching the science of mind and mediation, by exemplary action and by expressing the inner recesses of his mind. The gift of a loving vibration to whoever is in need of it, the gift of empathy and self-surrender in menacing confrontation, the gift of affectionate humour in times of self-pity, this is the Bodhisattva’s generosity. Without generosity there is only poverty, dejection and a cramped mental attitude in which progress toward total awareness is impossible. Giving Dharma means giving teachings to people. This helps them to become more aware of their states of mind, their obscurations and potential, and the path through which they can discover that potential and slowly be led towards enlightenment. Generosity of Dharma is giving teachings to eliminate the ignorance that all beings have, which is the source of all suffering experienced in the samsaric world.

2. Discipline
The perfection of morality is the rejection of whatever leads oneself and others away from a positively creative or virtuous state of mind and the cultivation of whatever leads out of a destructive or vicious state of mind. We cannot fix a rigid moral code to guide us because every situation must be approached with openness. However, the ten vices listed by the tradition give fundamental direction as to what to avoid and their antitheses indicate what to cultivate. The ten vices are
À Killing
À Stealing grouped as Body
À Sexual misconduct
À Lying
À Gossiping grouped as Speech
À Slander
À Harsh words
À Covetousness
À Bearing malice (wishing to harm others) grouped as Mind
À Erroneous views (wrong view)
Consideration for the well-being of both oneself and others is the touchstone by which any action is judged. Rejection of convention is no virtue while the outrageous, rude, and offensive is only ignorance. Blind devotion should not obscure the distinction between discourtesy and skilful means which sometimes manifests as extraordinary behaviour. No realisation or insight removes the value of the refinements of human communication or the civilities and courtesies of prosaic discourse or gives licence to trample others on the path. It is wise to remember that the idiosyncracies of religious hierarchs do not always reflect the spirit of the Dharma. Without the practice of ethics and morality there is great danger of rebirth in a lower realm requiring external assistance for extrication.
All of us who seriously wish to work on our karma need to pay attention to and work meticulously to avoid engaging in the ten negative activities of body, speech and mind. If you do this and disengage from them, you withdraw from the karma they create. This is the first aspect of shila – withdrawing from negative actions.
Engaging in Positive Actions of Body Speech and Mind - The second kind of appropriate action is to engage in the opposite of the ten negative activities to increase the possibility of accumulating positive karma through our actions of body, speech and mind. We should not see any act of body, speech or mind as too small to bring merit or inconsequential. Never even say or think that way! Rather, engage joyfully in even the smallest act of merit within your power to perform.
Benefiting Beings in All possible Ways - The third aspect is benefiting beings in all the ways that you can, through both withdrawing from negative activity and engaging in meritorious works. Everything has to spring from the meritorious intention of either: Benefiting and helping beings or; honouring, prostrating and making offerings to the 3 jewels, the objects of reverence. If the action doesn’t fit either of these catagories it cannot be an act of merit. On the path of the bodhisattva, sentient beings are recognised as being equally as precious and valuable as the 3 jewels, the object of reverence that we take refuge in. In prticular, benefiting beings by creating the possibility for them to engage with the Dharma, to study and practice a path of enlightenment, is tremendously meritorious work.

3. Patience
The perfection of patience is the antidote to anger and other states of mind which have aversion as their root. Anger arises when the inability to see that the frustration from which anger arises in others is identical with one’s own suffering. Anger arises when preconceived expectations are not met. Patience is the virtue which controls the arising of rage and increases the tranquillity of mind. The stimulus to anger is a benefactor which provides the opportunity to examine the nature of mind, the cause of passion and the essential baselessness of the attitude. Patience when wronged by others not getting angry or holding a grudge. The sutras and shastras mention many reasons for this. Patience is also acceptance of the results of self-sacrifice of possessions, wealth, time, reputation and even body and limb. Patience while enduring difficulties. Never give up or feel discouraged or depressed because of your challenges and difficulties on the path. Always be tremendously courageous. Endure the difficulties; work through and overcome them. There is a saying: "your courage and patience should enable you to cross a field of fire for one single word of the wisdom of Dharma.” So that is the second kind of patience – having tremendous endurance for the challenges one faces in the Dharma. Patience is the sandal which the wise man ties to his feet rather than cover the whole road with leather. At first it is not possible to pacify every disturbance and aggression but with concentrated effort patience can be achieved. Patience while receiving high Dharma Teachings. The third kind of patience is having an attitude of open mind and brave heart towards the Mahayana and Mantrayana teachings, especially to the idea of emptiness. Even when we are not able to understand the teachings, ‘patience’ means not having negative judgements and closing our mind down. Instead we maintain an open mind and brave heart. Be ready to examine the teachings further and try to understand and realize their meanings. This is what not being afraid of the deep and profound meanings of the Dharma means. There were two Shravaka monks who came to see Atisha when he was in Tibet. When Atisha gave teachings on the egolessness of self, they were very appreciative and listened to the teachings very attentively. But when Atisha gave teachings on the egolessness of dharma, the emptiness teachings, they got very edgy and irritated. The became fearful and said "Please don’t say such things” even covering their ears. Atisha commented that no matter how perfect your conduct of shila may be, not having courage and openness to the wisdom aspect of the Dharma becomes a tremendous hindrance on the path.

4. Diligence
Diligence in Action. The first kind of diligence is similar to the second and third kinds of patience – how to meet the difficulties and challenges on the path and overcome them. Here the emphasis is more on action, while patience more emphasises the aspects of emotion and the mind.
Diligence in Engaging in study and practice day and night. The second kind of diligence is to engage in the path and the practice of a bodhisattva day and night. There is a saying that we should engage in the study and practice of Dharma ‘as if our hair were on fire’ – as if we had no time to waste, because we don’t.
Diligence in striving for complete understanding and realization. The last kind of diligence is not feeling prematurely content just because you have done some practice and study, performed some meritorious work and have some understanding, realization or stability. To feel, ‘OK that is it for me, I’m content now’ is premature until you attain enlightenment. We should always strive to travel further and further along the path of the bodhisattva, to perfect all the paramitas and attain a complete understanding and realization of the bodhisattva path and the bhumis.
The perfection of perseverance (diligence) is the liberated jet of high energy which destroys obstructing forces. This energy depends upon the banishment of all kind of laziness. Mental inertia which leads to drowsiness, dreaminess and sleep, depression and dejection which paralyses and turns the mind black and heavy, addiction to power and wealth which causes a stupor of worry and narrow-minded corpulence, all downward-pulling forces are easily dissolved with the energy produced through the cultivation and creative direction of good karmic influences. It is not sufficient to be capable of high-energy bursts; one must possess the drive which persists no matter what forces are in opposition.
Persistence is required more in mind training than in body training for the subtle grooves in which mind moves are the result of an infinite number of mental actions, well ingrained and therefore requiring much effort to remold.

5. Meditation (Samadhi in Sanskript; Samten in Tibetan)
The perfection of meditation keeps the mind alert and poised, constantly attending to the state of mind. It is the key to developing both the four previously mentioned perfections which comprise the mode of the Bodhisattva’s action and the following perfection of discriminating awareness which is the Bodhisattva’s understanding. Meditation is the means by which the ultimate power of understanding and the relative power of mind-control are attained. Meditation practice includes the development of composure (shamatha Sanskript;. Shyine Tibetan) and insight (vipashyana) the basis of further progress. These practices involve a withdrawal of mind from its functions and its emotional entanglements and conceptualisations. Thus it is brought to union with the irreducible basis of all name and form. Inseparable from the Emptiness which permeates all things, there arises a feeling of co-naturality, an intuition of oneness with other people from which flows a stream of generous, moral, patient and persevering activity. The feeling tone of this experience is joy. The preparatory purification exercises, the stages of composure and insight, and the stages of vision as the mind becomes increasingly alert are presented in the body of this manual as they are described in the Sutras and Madhyamika texts.
An aspect of samten is that it has a critical intelligence with which we can differentiate experience. What this means is that our meditative state of mind is free of grasping to any of the three kinds of meditative experience: joy, clarity and non-thought. These three experiences are all part of mind and all empty. Mind is empty by nature, but there can be a subtle clinging to a concept of emptiness. So the last aspect is the ‘samadhi of the tathagatas’ the enlightened ones. This samadhi is free of all grasping onto the three experiences and onto emptiness itself. This samten is more that of Dzogchen. When we practice, we should try progressively to arrive at this point.

6. Prajna
Prajna has three aspects:
A. Hearing: The wisdom of hearing is when you first hear something and it makes sense in your mind. That sense is prajna
B. Contemplation; The wisdom of contemplation is when you contemplate what you have heard or read and you gain a deeper understanding.
C. Meditative experience; Meditative prajna is the wisdom that comes from meditation. That requires us to first enter into a very clear practice of shamatha (mental calm) meditation. Then the wisdom of contemplation will end in vipashyana (clear insight) meditation.
You have a genuine realization that is free of concepts and fabrications and this is not a glimpse of the truth through the conceptual mind projecting meaning, but a direct experience of the actual truth. Here the experience and the teaching become absolutely one, rather than the teachings and the meaning of the teachings being separate from your mind. You could call it ‘yogic direct perception’, the absolute direct perception that is wisdom. This is the wisdom that comes from meditation.
Only through wisdom do the other paramita practices become truly ‘paramita’ practices. Paramita means ‘that which has transcended the ordinary act’. The realization of emptiness transcends the dualistic act and dualistic emotions of being generous. This transcendental act creates much greater merit for attaining enlightenment than an ordinary positive act, because it is based on a much more awakened state of mind rather than on ignorance. For an act of generosity, discipline, patience, diligence or meditation to become truly a paramita, it has to be imbued with the wisdom paramita.
What is the difference between ordinary generosity and the paramita of generosity? The word ‘paramita’ describes the realization that :
À The nature of the object of ones generosity
À Yourself who is engaging in the practice of generosity and
À Whatever it is that you are giving
are not solid and real but shunyata (‘emptiness’). In appearance there are three things, but in reality there is only shunyata. So there is no dualistic notion , no clinging, or grasping to it. Without that view it would just be ordinary generosity. This is Discriminating awareness and occurs when flights of fancy, intellectual conceptualisation and all thought dissolve into an awareness of the skilful means employed in the other five perfections. This understanding cannot be separated from the object of perception which is seen in detail in its luminous reality. The screen of preconceptions and irrelevant associations is torn down by concentration accompanied by a critical dialectic. All theories about the universe are destroyed by the Madhyamika dialectic which reduces to absurdity each successive machination of the intellect as it is driven from one untenable position to another. Finally it is forced to let go allowing the innate understanding of every perception to attune the enlightened mind to the harmony of the total situation.
Prajna paramita, the final wisdom leads all the rest of the paramitas into enlightenment, just as a person who is able to see can lead many others who are blind to their destination. Through it they become part of the path of enlightenment. Otherwise generosity, discipline, patience, diligence and meditation all remain ordinary, relative-level, meritorious work, neither prajna nor paramita. Each paramita actually contains all six paramitas within it so the paramitas have 36 aspects in all. The paramitas are an antidote for emotional and cognitive obscuration. All of them are practices on the first four Mahayana paths of accumulation, engagement, seeing and meditation. When a bodhisattva arrives at the path of ‘no more learning’ then he or she has attained enlightenment.