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Zazen and the Six Paramitas of Bodhisattva's Way

From Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Zazen and the Six Paramitas of Bodhisattva's Way

It might be said that zazen is the background of the six paramitas and the six paramitas are the manifestation of zazen, from the point of view of the zazen practitioner.

What is paramita?

Paramita is a Sanskrit word literally meaning, "Carrying to the other shore".

This means the six paramitas are expedient means, the way which leads the practitioner to enlightenment

The six paramitas are the practices of a Bodhisattva, a candidate of Buddhahood in Mahayana Buddhism which includes Zen Buddhism, they are as follows:

Practicing donation giving

There are two types of giving in this practice: (1) Giving what you have in material such as money, personal property, real estate, your time and labor to help people who are in need. (2) Giving the Buddha’s Dharmas.

This is considered the best thing to give, if you can.

The real spirit of giving, whatever you give, material or Dharma, must be in the action of giving in which there is no giver, no receiver, and no given things.

This is the real Buddhist giving practice.

Observing precepts

There are ten grave precepts for Buddhist lay people (male and female) and Buddhist monks and nuns to practice what the Buddha and Buddhist masters teach.

The ten grave precepts

    No killing
    No stealing
    No misuse of sex
    No lying
    No dealing in drugs
    No speaking of faults of others
    No praising of yourself while abusing others
    No sparing of Dharma assets
    No indulgence in anger
    No slandering of the Three Treasures: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

There are many more complicated precepts for the monks and nuns at higher level to observe, but they are out of the scope of this manual and not listed here.

The root of these ten grave precepts is in zazen and not from outside of you.

This means if your mind 'sits' in zazen, there won’t be any problems in observing these precepts.

In the contrary, if your mind is not in zazen, even if you try and try to keep them, it won’t work well for you.

This does not mean these precepts are useless or your efforts are in vain.

As long as we are still in training ourselves, zazen and the ten grave precepts are the way in which we can keep our practice continuously in good shape.

(See also the Eightfold Path in the "principles" section

Practicing Patience

To be patient is to endure whatever happens to you at any time or place and to treat and solve it wisely.

Again, you can do this with your mind that 'sits.'

Making Efforts

That is continuing to study and analyze the Dharma with wisdom, maintaining our efforts without flagging.

Practicing Dhyana

Dhyana, a Sanskrit term, means to practice contemplation or concentrating your mind in a sitting posture to realize one’s own nature.

There is another Sanskrit term Samadhi which indicates a state of mind in zazen in which your mind stops its wandering and saves its own energy, no longer wasting it as it did before.

The more doing zazen the stronger it is and it keeps yourself from many kinds of fear you might have had before.

This is why there are the words "Fearless Mind Seal" in Buddhist teachings.

There are many, many different methods to do this and some of them have illustrated for you.

Practicing Prajna

This practice aims to realize your wisdom which is already inside yourself.

Use it instead of your reason, which by discursive thoughts have caused many problems and trouble for you and others many times in your life.

Prajna, another Sanskrit term, is often translated into English as "perfect wisdom".

However, this translation is not exactly what the word prajna means.

In Buddhism, precepts, samadhi, and prajna are a tripod of practicing Buddha-Dharmas.

The three of them are the three faces of Buddhist practice.

They are in one and cannot be separated. None of them can be lacked in practice. If one of them is lacking in your practice then your practice will become handicapped.

They are also called the 'Three Disciplines'.

All what has just been said here can be summarized in the Verse of the Seven Buddhas of the past:

    "Do not do any thing bad,
    Do everything good,
    Keep your mind clear and pure.
    This is what the Buddhas taught." 1

1 translated from Chinese