Determination

Here’s where determination fits into the list of ten perfections:
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

Among the ten perfections, adhitthana or resolution, seems to be a “helper” more than a stand-alone quality. You can make and stick to a wholesome plan or an unwholesome plan. An burglar can be determined to steal a particular thing; a student of the Buddha might resolve to be truthful in all interactions. Determination without (at least some) wisdom is incomplete — stubbornness is not the same as aditthana. We have to make sure that what we set our hearts on is wholesome.

‘A person has four determinations.’ Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said? These are the four determinations: the determination for discernment, the determination for truth, the determination for relinquishment, the determination for calm. ‘A person has four determinations.’
from MN 140, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
[In the sutta, the context is that the Buddha is teaching a devotee (Pukkusati) how to see things as they are in his own direct experience.]

In the above sutta the Buddha specifically recommends four objects to set our determination on: discernment/wisdom, truthfulness, relinquishment (letting go), and calm. At the very least this means noticing when these qualities are present in ourselves and when they are absent. If they are present, we can try to figure out what conditions caused them to arise so we can cultivate those conditions in the future. For example, we might notice that certain people or situations bring out these wholesome qualities in us.

Conversely, we can notice when ignorance, carelessness with the truth, clinging, and agitation are present. What conditions cause these qualities to arise in us? What activities or thinking can reduce them? What can we do to avoid the causal conditions in the future? Is there a determination we can make about how to handle ourselves or to change our point of view when we feel we are headed in the wrong direction?

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