Paramita is a Sanskrit word, which means to cross over to the other shore. It implies crossing over from the Sea of suffering to the Shore of happiness, from the Samsara of birth and death to Nirvana and from ignorance to enlightenment.

    A Bodhisattva who practices the Six Paramitas, can take across the Sea of Suffering, enter Nirvana and attain enlightenment. Since these are also the six ways that can cross the sentient beings over, therefore, they are called Six Paramitas.

    15.1   Giving

    There are three kinds of givings:

    Goods Giving

    For those poor and disabled, we have to help them with money and goods for living. If people cannot survive, are not satisfied with their basic need, they will not listen to what you say and follow what you do. Though the help is sometimes minimal, it is an immediate solution to relieve them from suffering, starving, coldness, etc. With the immeasurable mind of compassion, a Bodhisattva does not hesitate to help under these circumstances.

    Dharma Giving

    To teach him how to fish is better than to give him a fish. For those who has no skill to work, we have to teach them to work in society, earn a living without relying on the financial support from others. Our financial resources are limited. Money is not an ultimate solution to all problems.

    Fundamentally, we have to help them improving their karma that has led them to where they are now. We have to help them to understand the principle of cause and effect and other Buddha's teachings, which is a long-term solution. Buddha Dharma giving is the highest order of giving.

    Courage Giving

    It is also called fearlessness giving. For those who live in vexation, fear and despair, we have to take care of them and encourage them to overcome any difficulties encountered.

    Transference of Merits & Giving Without Mark

    Good speech and wholesome deed accumulate merits. Transferring merits is another way to practise this paramita. A Bodhisattva always transfers his/her merits to the other sentient beings.

    If one expects reward in return or craves for reputation in charity, giving or helping others:

    1. one will attain the blessings and merits according to the principle of cause and effect; but the merit is still finite and limited.
    2. one maybe vexed or even suffers from what one did because the reward could be contradicting to the expectation.

    In most cases, the joy of helping, the attendant happiness of giving, and the alleviation of suffering are the blessings obtained as a result of charity/giving/generosity.

    In case of a Bodhisattva, he/she does not attach to self and Dharma. Therefore, when he/she practises giving, he/she does not have the following marks (or notions of form):

    1. the one who gives
    2. the one whom is given
    3. the physical and mental effect due to the giving.

    A Bodhisattva has a mind to give, thus the giving comes naturally. One should not seek for a worthy purpose in his/her giving. It is his/her obligation to give help, and he/she is always ready to willingly and humbly render every possible aid. A Bodhisattva is not concerned as to whether the recipient truly thanks or appreciates his/her help because he/she does not expect any kind of reward in return. He/she practises generosity/giving to eliminate any craving that may lie in the mind In particular, he/she is trying to get rid of egoism. Moreover, a Bodhisattva makes no distinction between one being and another in giving. He/she is interested only in the good act. However, a Bodhisattva does not make offer to help, though he/she is always ready to help. Those who have affinity with him will benefit.

    For a Bodhisattva, virtues and merits of giving without mark are boundless and countless. Such virtues and merit are of the highest order.

    15.2   Taking Precepts

    There are many kinds of precepts in Buddhism, for instance, the Five Precepts, the Eight Precepts, Ten Precepts of Sramanera and Sramanerika, the Precepts of Bhiksu and Bhiksuni, etc. Precepts are not commandments, but the guidelines of behaviour. The purpose of taking precepts is not to restrict our freedom with all disciplines but to enjoy greater comfort and happiness, freedom and security in our lives. Bodhisattva's precepts alert us to what we should do or should not do.

    Every citizen has to observe the legislative laws in order to maintain the order, stability, security and freedom in the society. By following the traffic regulations, such as no speeding, stopping before red signal, etc., we can drive safely and happily on roads. A good citizen or a good driver does not feel the burden in abiding to the laws and regulations because he/she behaves and acts in such ways voluntarily and natuarally.

    There are many Buddhist sutras to describe in detail our duties towards parents and children, husband and wife, teachers and pupils, colleagues and subordinates, friends, monks, etc.

    A Bodhisattva does not breach any precepts nor commit any sin because he/she behaves and acts in his free will, as follows:

    1. He/she keeps his/her mind to be pure and unconditioned.
    2. He/she alienates all unwholesome thoughts and actions.
    3. He/she enhances all wholesome thoughts and actions.
    4. He/she make every endeavour in pursuing the supreme Buddhist Way.

    15.3   Endurance/Patience

    Endurance or patience refers to bearing insult and distress without resentment. From the passive and negative point of view, it is apparent that endurance is to tolerate the adverse situation. However, in reality, endurance is not the blind acceptance of what happens like a coward. To the contrary, a Bodhisattva has a complete and perfect understanding of the principle of cause and effect, the principle of impermanence, the principle of not-self, the Law of Dependent Origination. He/she realizes the reality of the nature, that all worldly Dharmas are conditioned and unreal, thus he/she has no attachment at all. He/she can keep his/her mind calm, without emotion and fear because he/she has the strong determination and extreme patience/endurance to deal with all matters.

    A Bodhisattva practises patience to such an extent that he/she is not irritated even he/she is seriously hurt physically and mentally by others. A Bodhisattva, instead of seeing the ugliness in others, tries to see the good and beautiful aspect in all of them. He/she is so patient that he/she makes every attempt to cross the people over (to save them), and never gives up.

    There are Five Endurances of Bodhisattva:

    1. Endurance in subdueness   -   such endurane is due to the passion of a Bodhisattva who has put the illusory view (of our world) in control but has not yet cut off from it.
    2. Endurance in belief   -   firm belief, which is equivalent to the first, second and third states of Bodhisattva.
    3. Endurance in smooth conditions   -   patient progress towards the end of all morality, which is equivalent to the fourth, fifth and sixth state of Bodhisattva.
    4. Endurance of no-birth   -   dwelling calmly in the law of no-birth and no-extinction, which is equivalent to the seventh, eighth and ninth states of Bodhisattva.
    5. Endurance of still extinction   -   the patience that leads to complete Nirvana, which is equivalent to the tenth state of Bodhisattva.

    15.4   Vigor

    Vigor refers to mental strengt rather than physical strength. It is defined as the persistent effort to work for the benefits of others, in thinkings and actions. Firmly establishing oneself in this paramita, a Bodhisattva develops self-reliance and makes it one the most prominent characteristics.

    Without giving up the vows, a Bodhisattva works for others ceaselessly and untiringly, expecting no reward in return. He/she is always ready to serve others to the best of his/her ability.

    A Bodhisattva regards failure as the step to success, danger as the trigger for courage, and affliction as the key to wisdom. He/she looks straight ahead towards the goal. A Bodhisattva never stops and retreats until the goal is reached.

    A Bodhisattva never consider a wholesome matter too insignificant that he/she will not do it, nor an evil matter too small that he/she will do it.

    A Bodhisattva is careful about the finest details of even the trivial matters in the daily life. A Bodhisattva s always aware of wholesomeness. This is the vigorous way of cultivation. A Bodhisattva has to be perfect and full of blessings and virtues.

    15.5   Meditation/Samadhi

    Samadhi means meditation, contemplation, concentration, etc. Meditation is the psychological approach to mental cultivation, training and purification, so that our mind is illuminated to break up the ignorance all the time. No one can attain wisdom/enlightenment without developing the mind through meditation.

    Buddhist meditation has no other purpose than to bring the mind into the state of awakened consciousness, by clearing it from all obstacles that have been created by habits or tradition. Meditation is a process of cultivation. The mind is purified, thus free from false thinking and attachment. Finally, the Enlightenment in the understanding of self-nature and the reality of nature is attained.

    Through meditation, a Bodhisattva can attain different mental states (i.e. Samadhi). It is said that some can even attain inconceivable psychic power, which is sometimes used to rescue the other sentient beings from danger, or provide them with the faith in Buddhism.

    15.6   Wisdom/Prajna

    Prajna means wisdom, the highest form of wisdom that living beings can attain. It is an apex of Buddhism. Generally speaking, there are three kinds of Prajna representing different levels of wisdom:

    1. Literary Prajna   -   it arises from studying sutras in written form.

    2. Contemplative Prajna   -   it arises from contemplation, which is the only way to understand true meaning of the texts in the sutras.

    3. Real mark Prajna   -   it arises from the fully developed and completely penetrated contemplative Prajna. Real mark Prajna is a complete and perfect understanding of the reality of nature, which is also the final goal to be achieved by all Buddhists.

    There are some other kinds of Prajna, such as Expedient Prajna (to enlighten others), Companion Prajna (to behave and practise).

    A Bodhisattva does not disparage worldly wisdom, including literary prajna. He/she acquires the knowledge by learning and logical thinking, for the sake of serving and helping others. He/she tries his/her best to lead others from darkness to light.

    A Bodhisattva, on the other hand, acquires the superior kind of wisdom and knowledge by meditation and contemplation, so that he/she realizes the instinctive truths, i.e. the reality of nature. It is a kind of wisdom beyond words and leads to the purification and to the final deliverance.

    Prajna is an important paramita practised by Bodhisattva, in order to eradicate all distorted and false thinkings. As a result, enlightenment is attained, and ultimately, Nirvana (the final and perfect stillness) reached.

    However, according to the Heart Sutra, there is no wisdom nor attainment at all because the 'emptiness' nature of self and Dharma. The ultimate enlightenment is the complete and perfect wisdom to be attained by Bodhisattvas, who start off with attachment to self and Dharma. This is a profound, yet subtle concept of enlightenment in Buddhism.