Monthly Archives: June 2018

Morning Talk: The Six Paramitas

Please join us tomorrow for our Summer Morning Talk at 10:00 a.m. at 2525 West Pikes Peak Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80904. We will be discussing the Six Paramitas. When the Buddha was asked by the Venerable Subhuti how we are to become enlightened, he said, “Subhuti, it is by the Truth of emptiness and egolessness that enlightened disciples advance along the Path, restrain their thoughts, and attain Buddhahood. If they diligently observe the Paramitas, and fully enter into a realization of the profound Prajna Paramita, they will attain the supreme spiritual wisdom they seek.”

The Bodhisattva training begins by generating the Six Paramitas. The paramitas,  generosity, ethics, forbearance, joyous effort, meditation and wisdom,  are a practice of focus, of discipline and calm; a way of centering ourselves so we can recognize and confront delusion. They give us a way that we can live in the world with equanimity.

Each of the six paramitas is an enlightened quality of the heart, an innate seed of perfect realization within us…the very essence of our true nature. But, since they’ve become obscured by delusion, selfishness, and other habitual patterns of behavior, we have to uncover them, develop them, and bring them back into expression in our lives. The six paramitas are a daily practice for wise, compassionate, and enlightened living.

The Third Noble Truth

Sylvia Boorstien wrote, that the wisdom of the Third Noble Truth “allows us to accept that things are the way they are as a result of everything else in the world being the way it ever was and now is – this is the truth of interdependence – conditionality – nothing in this moment can be other than the way it is. Knowing, positively, that the struggle to create a different current reality is to no avail helps keep the attention present even when experience is painful. And then, the same wisdom that keeps the attention alert and present in painful circumstances includes the awareness – because it is our own experience at that moment – that human beings feel about things, that we yearn or grieve even when we understand that things can’t be different.  Life is a “no way out” situation.  Moving through it means accommodating, often surrendering, and – somehow or other – managing how we feel and developing skill at doing so.”

Summer Morning Talk

On Sunday July 1, 2018, we will have our Summer Morning Talk and Potluck. We will begin at 10:00 a.m. with meditation followed by a dharma talk about the Six Paramitas and will close with meditation and a meal.

The six paramitas, in the Mahayana tradition, constitute the core practice of the Bodhisattva path. A Bodhisattva  is one who is dedicated to serving the highest welfare of all living beings with the awakened heart/mind of unconditional love and wisdom; one who is motivated by compassion and seeks enlightenment not only for him or herself but for everyone.

Paramita is a Sanskrit word meaning “crossing over to the other shore,” or “liberating action.”  It’s also translated as perfection, perfect realization, or reaching beyond limitation. Through the practice of the six paramitas, we cross over the sea of suffering (samsara) to the shore of understanding and awakening (Nirvana).  The Six Paramitas are a way to integrate everything in our lives as part of our path of awakening. They’re a practice of focus, of discipline and calm; a way of centering ourselves so we can recognize and confront delusion. They give us a way that we can live in the world with equanimity.

The Dalai Lama says in his book The Compassionate Life, which is about Shantideva’s The Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life, “…the delusions within our minds, such as hatred, anger, attachment, and jealousy, are our true enemies.  As Shantideva states…these enemies do not have physical bodies with legs and arms, nor do they hold weapons in their hands; instead, they reside in our minds and afflict us from within.  They control us from within and bind us to them as their slaves.  Normally, however, we do not realize these delusions as our enemies, and so we never confront or challenge them.  Since we do not challenge them, they reside unthreatened within our mind and continue to inflict harm on us at will.”

Buddha Day

Last weekend we celebrated “Buddha Day,” called Vesak around the world, the time of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. This is a community-wide event with speakers and meditation, food and fellowship with many from the 18 Colorado Springs sanghas in attendance. It was held in the community room at Pikes Peak Hospice and Palliative Care. It was a beautiful day!

I gave a talk about the Dedication of Merit from the discourse, “The Way to a Fortunate Birth.” In this talk, the Buddha identified three bases of merit. He said “If one would train oneself for merit which lasts long and yields happiness, he should cultivate giving, right conduct, and meditation.  Having cultivated these things which are three sources of happiness, the wise man arises in a happy world that is free from harm.”

First, we cultivate cultivate dāna pāramitā or generosity. This isn’t just giving to the poor, although that’s part of it. Dana is the essence of unconditional love…giving without attachment… with an open heart and open mind… with an attitude of altruism and wisdom. Giving money, or other tangible assets, what we typically think of as “generosity.” Pema Chodron says that, “dana is also fearlessness: What we think of as “generosity of spirit,” giving of oneself. The opposite of fearlessness being “poverty”.

Then, Buddha said, the second basis of merit is the sīla pāramitā or virtue.  Our overall ethical behavior. There are several levels of sila, but laypeople like you and I generally undertake to live by the five precepts that are part of the Refuge Ceremony.  We undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living beings; from taking that which is not offered. We refrain from sexual misconduct; from incorrect speech; and the use of intoxicants.

The third aspect of dedication of merit is meditation, specifically metta or loving-kindness. Metta has two root meanings. One is the word for “gentle,” like a gentle rain that falls on the earth.  The other is “friendship.” The Buddha described a good friend as someone who is steadfast in our times of happiness and in our times of adversity and sorrow.  He said that “a friend will not forsake us when we are in trouble nor rejoice in our misfortune.”

Metta practice starts with befriending ourselves; to learn how to be our own friend, because unless we have a measure of this unconditional love and acceptance for ourselves, it’s difficult to extend it to others. Sharon Salzberg said, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”

What an amazing thing to be told! We could never find anyone who is more deserving of our love and affection than we are ourselves.  How few of us embrace ourselves in this way, or have ever been told that we could – here in the western world this teaching is almost heresy! With metta practice, we uncover the possibility of truly loving and respecting ourselves. Gradually, as we practice loving-kindness meditation, it becomes an actual experience; the feeling of loving-kindness is born within our hearts; within our beings. So we begin with ourselves and then expand our lovingkindness to include our loved ones, the neutral people, our benefactors, the difficult ones, and all beings everywhere, seen and unseen.