Interdependent perfections

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

By chance, I was given a short book called “The Natural Character of Awakening”, talks by Maha Jan Siricando (1856-1932), recently translated by Venerable Hasapanno. Here is a relevant excerpt:

Viriya, Khanti, Sacca, Adhitthana
These four natural characteristics are interdependent conditions, all supporting and relying on each other. Wherever heroic effort is present, patience, integrity and resolve will have to be there. When they are all present, they become the foundations of empowerment.

There is the proto-typical story of the day the Buddha was about to realize the unsurpassed knowledge of perfect awakening, on the evening of the full moon of Visakha. He sat down in the meditation posture on a pile of grass, at the base of the bodhi tree, turning to face into the eastern direction. He then made this mental resolve: “Until I have realized the Deathless, I will not get up from this seat at all. Should my flesh, blood, bones and sinews dry up and crumble to dust, so be it.”

He then stayed in that same posture all night, and when it was coming to dawn in the last watch of the night, he DID realize the unsurpassed knowledge of perfect awakening. He had succeeded in purifying the aggregates of his disposition.

The determined resolve that “if I haven’t realized the Deathless, I will not get up from this seat at all” was his resolve. Actually sitting there until he was enlightened was his integrity. The endurance that wouldn’t succumb to tiredness and exhaustion was his patience. And his courage in not becoming disheartened until he was able to succeed in his aim was his heroic effort…

I quote this story because it is the highest definition of determination or tenacity. This is not to imply that wishing can make anything so; this moment came about after lifetimes of determined effort to uproot greed, hatred and delusion in the Buddha’s own heart.

We need to understand fully whatever it is we set our hearts upon, what we set as our goals, before attempting this deep determination. We must choose something possible, if difficult, and something that in our heart of hearts we believe is important.

Here’s an opportunity to reflect on what, at this moment of our lives, it is most important to work on in ourselves. Is it patience? Truthfulness? Generosity? Letting go? I leave the question with you.

3 Comments

Filed under Perfections

3 responses to “Interdependent perfections

  1. Thank you for posting this. It helped me clarify what I really need to work on. Letting go would be where I need to focus. In the past few years my mother and father have passed away and I had a breakup with a man I loved. In all of those situation they were much more difficult because I tried to hang on to what I wished was still there. I still do it some but not nearly as bad. In the next few years I see big changes coming too. My youngest son will be leaving home… I might find a new place to live. Things are always changing and learning to let go of the past and embrace “what is” would be good for me.

    • Thanks, Sabra. Would be interested to hear HOW you work on letting go. Could be useful for others. For me, the start is recognizing when I’m NOT letting go, and seeing just what’s going on there…

      • That is a hard question and I agree with what you said about recognizing when you aren’t letting go. I have done that with the relationship issue that ended. With that I find myself thinking about the sweet parts of the relationship and then I notice I am not letting go and sometimes that alone is enough. Sometimes it isn’t and I have to think about the relationship itself and remind myself of some of the less pleasant parts of it. I have read about buddhists contemplating corpses and other unpleasant things and so I try to look at it like that.
        My mother had cancer for a very long time and didn’t tell anyone and she suffered alone for a long time. That bothered me a lot and I focused on that. I thought I should have been included and I could have helped… or I would have at least understood what was going on and in some situations I would have handled them differently. Guilt and regret are really bad things. After some time (sort of a long time) I realized my mom had the right to deal with that how she wanted, we are all doing the best we can… and maybe most importantly I realized its not all about me.
        I was in serious trouble… with crippling depression and as I have realized these things that has eased and now studying Buddhist teachings and meditating seems to be helping the process.

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