Updated: Apr 15, 2021
The Pāramīs, or perfections are qualities the Buddha cultivated within himself in order to reach enlightenment. According to the story, the Buddha was reborn into different lifetimes, and he spent many lifetimes “perfecting” just one of each of the paramis.
This story inspires and heartens me. Bringing the paramis off the cushion and into the world isn’t always easy. I love meditating on Maitrī--loving friendliness and genuine well wishes. It makes me feel connected to everything and boundless of heart. Until I encounter someone who really pushes my buttons. Then I am really challenged. Even if I am kind on the outside, I might be having unkind thoughts on the inside. I like to imagine that each encounter is like a lifetime. If I don’t get it right in this encounter, I have the chance to do better in the next. I try to balance giving myself grace and compassion, without slacking off.
Meditating on the Pāramīs makes me feel uplifted and centered. Along with the Brahmavihārās, Boundless States, I often find the antidote to what is causing me mental suffering. If I am feeling lazy, I can contemplate Vīriya, heroic energy. If I am feeling uncomfortable, I can contemplate Upekkhā, equanimity, serenity.
In other words, antidotes to the poisons that afflict us are already in our hearts. We just have to take time to look, bring them forth, enhance them, absorb them.
Before we go further--this website doesn't handle diacritical marks well. If the formatting wonkiness is bugging you, feel free to read this Google Doc instead.
The Ten Pāramīs and the 4 Brahmavihārās
The Dasa Parami (10 Perfections)
1. Dāna: generosity, giving of oneself
2. Sīla: virtue, morality, proper conduct, because we care about ourselves and others
3. Nekkhamma: renunciation, letting go, diminishing the unwholesome
4. Paññā: transcendental wisdom, insight
5. Vīriya: energy, diligence, vigour, effort
6. Khanti: patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance
7. Sacca pāramī: truthfulness, honesty
8. Adhiṭṭhāna: determination, resolution
9. Mettā: loving-kindness, genuine well wishes
10. Upekkhā: equanimity, serenity
The Four Brahmavihārās (4 Abodes of Brahma)
aka Boundless States, aka The Immeasurables, aka The Sublime Attitudes
1. Loving kindness (maitrī/mettā)
2. Compassion (karuṇā)
3. Sympathetic Joy for others (muditā)
4. Equanimity (upekṣā/upekkhā)
The boundless states, or brahmaviharas are considered friends on the way to Nirvana. They help in dissolving the idea of a separate self.
Interestingly, these precise qualities are in one of my favorite Sutras from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Maitrī karunā muditopekṣaṇām sukha duḥkha puṇyapuṇya viṣayaṇām bhāvanātaś citta prasādanam (Sutra 1:33 )
By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.
Chanting the Ten Paramis & the Four Brahmavihārās
I am not an expert on Buddhism. I have read many books, attended dharma talks--I study as I go. I have some experience chanting in Sanskrit, which is the language of most yoga philosophy. I have no experience chanting in Pāli.
For this blog post, and for my own play in practice--I literally just did a search on YouTube to see if I could find any chanting of the Paramis. And I found some great stuff!
It looks like this is mostly in Pāli, the most common language of the buddhist texts. However I see in this chant two words, Mettā and Maitrī . Mettā is Pali and Maitrī is Sanskrit.
Chanting of the Dasa Pāramī (10 Perfections)
On this post that you are reading, I am presenting the basic format of the chant. I created a Fully Typed Up Version of the Chant, which I highly recommend using if you want to try this chant. I am also including a PDF at the end of this post, if that works better for you.
Please note: Ajahn Achalo Bhikku switches the order of Paññā and Vīriya. I do not know why. I adapted this change into my Fully Typed Up Version of the Chant.
Outline of the Chant: Original Text from Zhen Zen:
DĀNA PĀRAMĪ SAṂPANNO, DĀNA UPAPĀRAMĪ SAṂPANNO, DĀNA PARAMATTHAPĀRAMĪ SAṂPANNO, METTĀ MAITRĪ KARUNĀ MUDITĀ UPEKKHĀ PĀRAMĪ SAṂPANNO, ITIPI SO BHAGAVĀ.
Endowed with the perfection of giving, endowed with the higher perfection of giving, endowed with the ultimate perfection of giving, endowed with the perfection of loving kindness, friendliness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity, so indeed is the Blessed One.
1. Dāna pāramī : generosity, giving of oneself
2. Sīla pāramī : virtue, morality, proper conduct [because we care about ourselves and others]
3. Nekkhamma pāramī : renunciation
4. Paññā pāramī : transcendental wisdom, insight
5. Viriya (also spelled vīriya) pāramī : energy, diligence, vigour, effort
6. Khanti pāramī : patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance
7. Sacca pāramī : truthfulness, honesty
8. Adhiṭṭhāna (adhitthana) pāramī : determination, resolution
9. Mettā pāramī : loving-kindness
10. Upekkhā (also spelled upekhā) pāramī : equanimity, serenity
DASA PĀRAMĪ SAMPANNO, DASA UPAPĀRAMĪ SAMPANNO, DASA PARAMATTHAPĀRAMĪ SAMPANNO, METTĀ MAITRĪ KARUNĀ MUDITĀ UPEKKHĀ PĀRAMĪ SAMPANNO, ITIPI SO BHAGAVĀ.
Endowed with the ten perfections, endowed with the ten higher perfections, endowed with the ten ultimate perfections, endowed with the perfection of loving kindness friendliness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity, so indeed is the Blessed One.
BUDDHAṂ SARANAṂ GACCHĀMI
I go for refuge to the Buddha,
DHAMMAṂ SARANAṂ GACCHĀMI
I go for refuge to the Dhamma,
SAṆGHAṂ SARANAṂ GACCHĀMI
I go for refuge to the Saṇgha,
(Buddha, Dhamma & Saṇgha) Nature within us
To play with this chant, try the Fully Typed Up Version. I’ve found it very helpful and peaceful in my personal practice. You can also access this document via this PDF.
I’d love to hear how you enjoy the chanting! Feel free to drop me a line.
May our words, deeds and actions serve the awakening of us all.
Ten Paramis by Zhen Zen - Where I found the text to this chant
Chanting with Soundscapes 2 by Ajahn Achalo Bikkhu - This chant I prefer
Chant of the Ten Perfections by Ajahn Anan Dhamma - I like this one, too!
Pāli language, Brittanica.com
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