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Do Paramittas need to be part of Theravada Buddhist training, much like keeping the 5 precepts or the noble eightfold path? Or are they just results/rewards we get for practicing the noble eightfold path/keeping the precepts? And is there are specific order (eg.Dhana-->Seela-->Nekkhamma etc. ) or should all be concentrated on at the same time?

  • I've edited the title to better reflect the content of the question. Please roll back if the title isn't suitable. Metta – Crab Bucket Jul 11 '15 at 20:50
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The Pāramitās, are "perfections" or ideals of different wholesome aspects of character that can be worked on (perfected) over the course of many lifetimes. A Buddha has already perfected all of these virtues in previous lives according to Theravada teachings.

Just for background information there are 10 Pāramitās in the Theravada tradition:

Dāna pāramī : generosity, giving of oneself

Sīla pāramī : virtue, morality, proper conduct

Nekkhamma pāramī : renunciation

Paññā pāramī : transcendental wisdom, insight

Viriya (also spelled vīriya) pāramī : energy, diligence, vigour, effort

Khanti pāramī : patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance

Sacca pāramī : truthfulness, honesty

Adhiṭṭhāna (adhitthana) pāramī : determination, resolution

Mettā pāramī : loving-kindness

Upekkhā (also spelled upekhā) pāramī : equanimity, serenity

There are 6 Pāramitās in the Mahayana tradition:

Dāna pāramitā: generosity, giving of oneself (in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, 布施波羅蜜; in Wylie Tibetan, sbyin-pa)

Śīla pāramitā : virtue, morality, discipline, proper conduct (持戒波羅蜜; tshul-khrims)

Kṣānti (kshanti) pāramitā : patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance (忍辱波羅蜜, bzod-pa)

Vīrya pāramitā : energy, diligence, vigor, effort (精進波羅蜜, brtson-’grus)

Dhyāna pāramitā : one-pointed concentration, contemplation (禪定波羅蜜, bsam-gtan)

Prajñā pāramitā : wisdom, insight (般若波羅蜜, shes-rab)

As you can see, there is a lot of overlap with such things as the 5 Precepts (sila parami, sacca parami), the 4 Brahma Viharas (metta parami, upekkha parami), the 5 Spiritual Faculties (viriya parami, panna parami) and other Buddhist teachings.

So the perfections aren't something you work on separate from other things. They are intertwined with daily life and seeing opportunities everywhere to perfect your qualities. Stuck in a long line at the market? An opportunity to improve khanti parami. Feeling discouraged about your meditation practice? An opportunity to improve adhitthana parami and viriya parami. Realizing the tough things that arise in daily life are opportunities to perfect your qualities makes them easier to bear; even a challenge of sorts.

I remember an awesome story from a dhamma talk about the Buddha (while he was still a Bhodisatta), finding himself buried up to his neck in the ground with a band of hungry jackals coming at him. He used this opportunity to perfect some of his, as yet to be perfected, qualities. Similar story here.

So you can see there is nothing that can't be turned into an opportunity to work on Pāramitās! :)

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    Actually, everyone who wishes to be enlightened has to practice all of them. Not just a Buddha. But a Sammasambuddha has to practice them in 3 ways and a Pacceka Buddha has to practice them in 2 ways. – Sankha Kulathantille Jul 11 '15 at 11:13
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    @SankhaKulathantille I know this is a popular modern concept, but the word "parami" suggests that what is being referred to is not just the practice but the perfection of the said states, which is impossible for a non-Buddha. – yuttadhammo Jul 11 '15 at 18:05
  • ven. @yuttadhammo I agree Bhante! Perfecting is Paramatta Parami. ex: Giving out someone objects such as wives, children, assets are dana parami; give organs such as hands, feet, etc., is the Dana Upa parami; giving life is dana Paramattha parami. – Sankha Kulathantille Jul 12 '15 at 0:59
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Sila grows Samadhi, Samadhi grows Panna, Panna grows Sila.

and

Paramitas grow the eight fold path, the eight fold path grows the 5 precepts, the 5 precepts grow the Paramitas

The human body needs a holistic balance of all its components, and weakness in one can lead to weakness in another, and growing good health by fixing one health problem will generally fix other problems.

They are all interdependent. They all need to be at healthy levels for one to remain in good spiritual health.

The essence of Buddhism is inter dependence. Both inside ourselves, and outside.

If we live in a culture where generosity (dana) is frowned upon, then a little of that miserliness will stick to us, and the opposite is true - it's hard not to be infected by the abundant generosity of a culture that surrounds us.

Let's not focus on things so much like a formula, instead we begin feeling with our heart instead of using only the head. Becoming aware of the emotions that arise from practicing dana, becoming aware of the emotions that arise from selfishness, becoming aware of the state of the body during the arising of the emotions, we can see for ourselves, which is gainful, which is painful and so on.

Dharma is not a race where one suffers a lot to win, it's an enjoyable path where one let's go of the self.

As soon as one realises the art of practicing without practicing, one succeeds beautifully.

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