The Six Perfections

I came across a reference to "the six perfections" in a daily-quote book that is open on a small table downstairs. I read the short summary and thought, wow this is really good stuff. Its something beside the avoidance of wrong actions, its help with the right actions. Like the bumper sticker that says "Wage Peace." I see this as "Wage Joy." So I googled around and found some more info from a writing by the dalai lama.

The Six Perfections by The Dalai Lama

  1. Generosity

The first among the six perfections is generosity. Generosity is of three types: giving material aid, giving dharma, and protecting from fear. "Giving dharma" refers to the giving of teachings to other sentient beings out of the pure motivation to benefit them. The phrase does not only refer to high lamas giving teachings seated on high thrones. You should not have the notion that dharma teachings should be preceded by impressive rituals such as the blowing of conch shells and the like. Rather, any instruction given out of compassion and a kind heart by anyone is considered generosity of the dharma.


  1. Morality

Next is the practice of morality. Lay people should engage in the practice of morality by abstaining from the ten negative actions — if possible, all ten. But if this is not possible, then at least taking the life of others, telling lies, and indulging in sexual misconduct should be avoided; these are very detrimental, not only for the individual but also for the peace and calmness of a community. Divisive talk is very destructive; it causes a lot of conflict and misunderstanding within a community, and between different communities and different people. Therefore, it is a great obstacle to peace and happiness of mind. The same is true of telling lies. Senseless gossip, although not so destructive from one point of view, is seen from another to be very harmful, as it wastes so much of your precious time. You should also avoid harsh speech and covetousness, as well as harmful intent and holding perverted views. "Perverted views" refers to incorrect views that deny the existence of life after death and the law of causality.


  1. Patience

There are different types of patience: the patience of being indifferent to the harm inflicted by others, the patience of voluntarily accepting hardship, and the patience developed through reasoned conviction in the dharma. Practitioners of dharma should have these types of patience — they should be able to endure hardship — but adopting such patience does not mean that they should not take precautions for their health.


  1. Joyous Effort

If one has the faculty of joyous effort, one will be able to accomplish the task that one has originally set out to do. Therefore, this faculty is very important for a spiritual practitioner. Generally speaking, there are three types of joyous effort: (1) armor-like joyous effort; (2) joyous effort in gathering virtues; and (3) joyous effort in working for others. The main obstacles to the development of these efforts are the different levels of laziness — primarily the laziness of procrastination, and the lazinesses stemming from indolence and from a sense of inferiority.


  1. Concentration

Since the practices of concentration and wisdom are treated in separate chapters, only a brief explanation of these is given here.

Generally speaking, concentration refers to a faculty of single-pointedness of the mind that serves as a powerful basis for any given meditation. It is of two types, based on differing functions: mundane and super-mundane concentrations.

  1. Wisdom

Wisdom refers to an analytic faculty of the mind that allows a probing into the deeper nature of things. Broadly speaking, it is of two kinds: the wisdom examining the ultimate nature of phenomena, and the wisdom examining the conventional or relative nature of phenomena.