In our local group we are working with Dön Dün Chu, the 70 points (from Abhisamayalankara) by Jetsün Chökyi Gyaltsan . In I.7 (putting on the armor) the 6 paramitas are mentioned. It is said that they interlock in a cross product, meaning there are actually 36 resulting traits to consider in your practise.

  1. generosity, giving of oneself (sbyin-pa)
  2. virtue, morality, discipline, proper conduct (tshul-khrims)
  3. patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance (bzod-pa)
  4. energy, diligence, vigor, effort (brtson-’grus)
  5. one-pointed concentration, contemplation (bsam-gtan)
  6. wisdom, insight (shes-rab)

Now, I have my problems understanding two things: where is the difference between n*m and m*n? And what is n*n (reflexive)? I could not find any sources on that and my teacher had no time to answer this in detail.

The reflexive relations only make sense to me as in "generosity in general" for example but I heard there is more to it. Maybe I need starting help as in how to connect each point with the others.

2 Answers 2


where is the difference between n*m and m*n?

I don't know about this Buddhist doctrine, but relations like these are distinguished/distinct in the I ching for example -- e.g. heaven over mountain versus mountain over heaven.

The hexagrams include the reflexive too, e.g. heaven over heaven and mountain over mountain.

Perhaps (this is just my guess) the difference is that one is the basis for the other -- e.g. "because of virtue, you are generous" versus "because of generosity, you are virtuous" (or if not "because of" then "based on" or "conditioned by", or something like that).


At first glance, this looks like an algebraic expression for practicing the paramitas. If n * m and m * n were distinct, then there would be 72 resulting traits. If there are only 36, that implies that these equations are the same and interchangeable.

As for n * n, I can't say for certain, but if you look at it like a formula, n * n = n^2. If you "square" your own application of a quality, you are doubling its power and reinforcing it's imprint onto your own habits and routines. If you think you've gone deep enough, then you have to go deeper.

  • 1
    I think you misunderstood the question, what the OP meant by "the difference between n*m and m*n". How many ways are there of combining 6 things, how many possible pairs are there? The answer is 36: i.e. "any of 6" multiplied by "any of 6". However that answer (36 pairs) assumes that sequence is significant, e.g. that "A+B" and "B+A" are two different pairs, and it assumes that a self-pair like "A+A" or "B+B" is a valid pair -- and that's what the question is asking, i.e. "my teacher said 36" however "how is A+B different from B+A?" and "what's the meaning of a reflexive pair (a self-pair)"?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 20:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .