The Paramis as Practice in Daily Life
By cultivating the Paramis also called the 10 Perfections or Qualities of the Heart, we are able to use our meditation practice to align our daily activities to our highest aspirations. Paramita comes from the Pali word meaning “perfection.”
In the Theravada tradition of Buddhism there are 10 Paramis: Generosity, Morality, Renunciation, Wisdom, Energy, Patience, Truthfulness, Determination, Loving-kindness and Equanimity.
In our focus on and contemplation of the Paramis over the next 6 weeks, we will not simply think of them in a cognitive way, but experience them intuitively and practically as we cultivate and work with them in our daily lives of work, play and relationships. We can see how they are basic aspects of insight practice and not separate from it. Just as mindfulness supports our practice, the cultivation of these highest qualities of mind also supports our meditation practice. As we work with the paramis each week, in our time together we invite you to spend the weeks looking at your life in relationship to them.
We will begin our exploration together with an examination of Generosity, truly a foundational aspect of our practice. Bhikkhu Bodhi has the following to say about this important quality.
“The practice of giving is universally recognized as one of the most basic human virtues, a quality that testifies to the depth of one’s humanity and one’s capacity for self-transcendence. In the teaching of the Buddha, too, the practice of giving claims a place of special eminence, one which singles it out as being in a sense the foundation and seed of spiritual development. In the Pali suttas we read time and again that “talk on giving” (danakatha) was invariably the first topic to be discussed by the Buddha in his “graduated exposition” of the Dhamma. Whenever the Buddha delivered a discourse to an audience of people who had not yet come to regard him as their teacher, he would start by emphasizing the value of giving. Only after his audience had come to appreciate this virtue would he introduce other aspects of his teaching, such as morality, the law of kamma, and the benefits in renunciation, and only after all these principles had made their impact on the minds of his listeners would he expound to them that unique discovery of the Awakened Ones, the Four Noble Truths.”
Reflecting on Generosity
The following questions and reflections are offered as ways to continue your exploration of Generosity.
1. Think of times when you were the recipient of someone’s generosity. Notice as you recall the situations and people involved, what comes up now. Reflect on your attitudes, beliefs and feelings toward being the recipient of someone’s generosity and how you might be a generous recipient?
2. In what ways have your attitudes toward generosity been conditioned by how generosity was viewed and practiced in the family and culture in which you grew up? Explore together how this conditioning may have influenced you.
3. What beliefs might block your motivation to be generous and what beliefs block your acting on your impulses to be generous? Can you notice the validity and usefulness of these beliefs? In what ways might you overcome the limitations these beliefs place on you?
4. Reflect on what ways it benefits you to be generous to someone else. As you reflect on this, discuss with your group.
5. As you contemplate your own qualities of generosity, can you also notice times when expectations from others or of some wanted outcome might get in the way?
6. How do you view generosity when it comes to time spent both in relationship to yourself and others and conversely in time others spend with you?
During this week work with the intention to be aware of how the quality of generosity influences daily interactions both with you and with others.
To deepen your understanding, enjoyment and exploration of Generosity we recommend the following recorded dharma talks and short readings.
Talk by Silvia Boorstein given at The Spirit Rock Meditation Center and accessed through the Dharma Seed library, possibly the best source for great dharma talks. Enjoy. http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/174/talk/15331/
If you like Sylvia’s talk on generosity try one of these other excellent teachers as they teach about generosity.
If you would like to read about the classic Buddhist concept of Dana (generosity) Bhikkhu Bodhi has compiled some short pieces for you to explore on the Access to Insight website which is a great site for classic Buddhism.
Source- Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville