13. What are the factors for accomplishing the Pāramī?
To the question, “What are the factors for accomplishing the Pāramī?” the answer is: They are:
(1) developing four kinds of bhāvanā,
In short, the means for accomplishing the Pāramī are (a) extinction of self-love, and (b) development of love for other beings.
(1) The four good means for accomplishing the Pāramī are development and accumulation of all the requisites such as Pāramī, Cāga, Cariya, not omitting any of them with the sole aim of achieving Omniscience (Sabbasambhāra-bhāvanā); with high esteem and reverence (Sakkacca-bhāvanā); without interruption throughout all existence (nirantara-bhāvanā); throughout the long duration without slacking before he become a Buddha (Cīrakāla-bhāvanā).
(2) The Bodhisatta has to abandon beforehand all his personal possessions even before alms-seekers appear at his door with the determination: “I will offer without wavering, my life as well as the wealth and property that I possess, if people come to ask for them; I will make use of only what remains after I have given.”
In this manner, he has made up his mind in advance to abandon whatever property he comes to possess, but there are four factors which hinder his giving them away (dāna vinibandha):
(a) not being accustomed in the past to the practice of giving,
Of these four hindrances,
(a) when the Bodhisatta possesses things to give away and alms-seekers have arrived and yet the Bodhisatta’s mind is not inclined to give, he realizes: “Surely, I was not accustomed to giving in the past; therefore the desire to give does not arise now in me, in spite of such favourable circumstances.” Then he reflects,
“Although the desire to give does not arise in me, I will make a gift so that I will get accustomed to giving and take delight in it. From now on, I will make generous offerings. Have I not already decided to give away all my belongings to those who seek alms?“
Having reflected thus, he gives them away freely, gladly. On making such gifts, the Bodhisatta removes the first hindrance of “not being accustomed in the past to the practice of giving.”
(b) When not having sufficient quantity of things in his possession the Bodhisatta reflects:
“Because I have not practised dāna in the past, I suffer from shortage of things. I should therefore make an offering of whatever I have, whether they are few or inferior, even if it makes my life more difficult. With such a gift, I will in future reach the height of Perfection of Generosity.”
Having reflected thus, he gives them away freely, gladly. On making such gifts, the Bodhisatta removes the second hindrance of “not having sufficient quantity of things in his possession.”
(c) When not inclined to give because of the excellent quality of things in his possession, the Bodhisatta reflects,
“O good man, have you not aspired to the noblest, the most admirable, Supreme Enlightenment? To achieve the noblest, the most admirable, Supreme Enlightenment, it is only proper that you should make the noblest, the most admirable gift.”
Having reflected thus, he gives them away freely, gladly. On making such gifts, the Bodhisatta removes the third hindrance of “things in his possession being too good to give away.”
(d) When the Bodhisatta sees the depletion of gift materials on giving them away, he reflects:
“To be subjected to destruction and loss is the nature of wealth and possessions. It is because I did not perform in the past good deeds of dāna, which never became depleted that I now experience deficiency of material gifts. I will make offering of whatever objects I come to possess, whether few or abundant. With such gifts I will in future reach the height of the Perfection of Generosity.”
Having reflected thus, he gives them away freely, gladly. On making such gifts, the Bodhisatta removes the fourth hindrance of “worrying over the depletion of things in his possession.”
Removing of hindrances to dāna in this manner by reflecting upon them in whatever way is appropriate constitutes a good means of fulfilling the Perfection of Generosity. This same method applies to other Perfections such as Sīla, etc.
(3) In addition, the Bodhisatta surrenders himself in the first instance to the Buddha saying, “I dedicate this body of mine to the Buddha (imāham attabhāvaṃ Buddhānaṃ niyyādemi).” This self-surrender made in advance to the Buddha is a good means of fulfilling all the Pāramī.
True, the Bodhisatta who has already surrendered himself to the Buddha reflects, “I have given up this very body to the Buddha; come what may,” when he encounters troubles which many endanger his body and life, and which are difficult to endure, or when he meets with painful injury which is caused by beings, and which may deprive him of his life, while striving to fulfill the Pāramī during various existences. Having reflected thus, he remains absolutely unshaken, unmoved in the face of troubles that may harm even his life, and fully determined to accumulate the merit of good deeds forming the Pāramī.
In this way, self-surrender made in advance to the Buddha is a good means of fulfilling all the Pāramī.
(a) extinction of self-love, and (b) development of love and compassion for other beings.
By fully understanding the true nature of all the phenomena, the Bodhisatta who aspires after Omniscience remains untainted with craving, conceit, and wrong view regarding them. By viewing his own body as mere aggregate of natural phenomena, self-adoration, self-esteem gets diminished, gets exhausted day by day.
By repeated development of Great Compassion, he looks upon all beings as his own children; his loving-kindness (affection) and his compassion (sympathy) for them grow and prosper more and more.
Therefore the Bodhisatta who has put away stinginess, etc., which are opposed to the Pāramī after being momentarily free from greed, hatred, delusion in regard to himself and others, helps beings with four objects of support (saṅgaha vatthu), namely, giving (dāna), kindly speech (piyavācā), beneficial conduct (atthacariya), and a sense of equality (samānattata), which always accompany the four Adhiṭṭhānas; he then assists them with three ‘conveyances’ of practice (sīla, samādhi, paññā), which lead to three kinds of Bodhi¹ causing those who have not entered the ‘conveyances’ to enter them or those who have done so to reach maturity therein.
¹ Three kinds of Bodhi, see p.6, Vol 1, Part 1
True, the Bodhisatta’s compassion and wisdom are adorned by the act of giving, one of the four objects of support. (Compassion and wisdom never manifest by themselves without giving; they both manifest simultaneously as acts of generosity are performed). Giving is adorned by kindly speech, for the Bodhisatta never scolds or yells while performing dāna to those who come for alms and to the attendants, but speaks only lovable, kind words. Kindly speech is adorned by the object of beneficial conduct, for the Bodhisatta speaks kind words not for mere superficial pleasantness, but only with sincere, good intention to serve the interest of others. (Fulfilling the Requisites of Enlightenment, namely, Pāramī, Cāga, Cariya, means practising for the welfare of beings; it is therefore beneficial conduct as one of the four objects of support). Beneficial conduct is adorned by sense of equality, for in fulfilling the Requisites of Enlightenment, the Bodhisatta treats all beings as his equal under all circumstances, happy or painful.
When he becomes a Buddha, his function of taming and teaching is accomplished by benefitting all beings with these same four objects of support which have been developed to the utmost through fulfilment of the four Adhiṭṭhānas.
For the Buddha, the act of giving is brought to completion by Cāgādhiṭṭhāna, kindly speech by Saccādhiṭṭhāna, beneficial conduct by Paññādhiṭṭhāna, and sense of equality by Upasamādhiṭṭhāna.
Concerning these four Adhiṭṭhānas and four objects of support the Commentary on the Cariyā Piṭaka mentions four verses eulogizing the attributes of the Buddha:
The Buddha who has reached the height of accomplishment in the fourfold Saccādhiṭṭhānas, who is fully accomplished in the Cāgādhiṭṭhānas, who has extinguished the fires of defilements, who is possessed of Omniscience, and who looks after beings with Great Compassion, being equipped with all the requisites of Pāramī, what is there that he cannot achieve?
The Buddha, as the Teacher of men and devas, being a person of Great Compassion, seeks the welfare of beings till their realization of nibbāna. He remains equanimous when faced with the vicissitudes of life. Free from craving for and attachment to everything within his body or without, how wonderful is the Buddha who conquers the five māras!¹
Though detached from all things and though keeping a balanced mind towards all beings, still he applies himself day and night to the welfare of beings. How wonderful is the Buddha who conquers the five māras!
Always working for the welfare and happiness of all beings — men, devas, brahmas — and attending to the five duties of a Buddha day and night without ceasing, still he does not show any sign of fatigue or weariness. How wonderful is the Buddha who conquers the five māras!
(End of the section on factors for accomplishing the Pāramī).
¹ Five māras: The five obstacles: (i) The deva who challenged the Buddha for position on the seat of wisdom, surrounding him with a huge army of his followers (Devaputta Māra); the mental defilements (kilesa māra); (iii) volitional activities which lead to rebirth (abhisaṅkhāra māra); (iv) the aggregates of nāma and rūpa which materialize in all the existences before attainment of nibbāna (khandha māra) and (v) death (maccu māra).