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March 13, 2015

The 6 Perfections: Virtue.

peace

Author’s note: I’m writing a series on the Six Perfections. The Six Perfections (or Paramitas) are often considered the most fundamental teaching of the path of the Bodhisattva. They are said to be vehicles to take us from shore of sorrow to the shore of peace and joy.

We are on the shore of suffering, anger and depression and we want to cross over to the shore of well-being. Practicing the Six Perfections is said to help us unleash the joy within.

Virtue represents ethical behavior, morality, self-discipline, integrity and nonviolence. This is because we are actualizing our oneness and interconnectedness through our actions. Through our love and compassion we try not to harm others. We are devoted to being virtuous in our thoughts, speech and actions. This practice of ethical conduct is an important aspect of our path and one that people sometimes forget.

We abstain from killing, stealing, lying, divisive speech, harsh speech, gossip and greed. These are the things that harm ourselves and others. These are also, I think, things we know intuitively. I didn’t have to be taught not to kill people because morality and empathy are natural. 

It’s important to remember that the foundation of Buddhist morality isn’t some other power—the perfection of morality isn’t obedience to a list of rules. The perfection of virtue is manifesting a natural expression of wisdom and compassion.

Our true selves have wisdom and compassion as their core.

We do this so that we can enjoy greater freedom, happiness and security in our lives. It is through our virtue that we no longer create suffering for ourselves and others. Unethical behavior is often the cause of a lot of suffering and unhappiness.

Practicing the perfection of virtue, we are free of negativity, we cause no harm to others by our actions, our speech is kind and compassionate and our thoughts are free of anger. We may not be able to save everyone, but the least we can do in life is save everyone from ourselves. 

When our commitment is strong in the perfection of virtue we naturally become more positive and can have an easier time getting through life.

We must all try to overcome selfishness with virtue.

~

Relephant Read:

The 6 Perfections: Generosity.

~

Author: Daniel Scharpenburg

Editor: Emma Ruffin

Photo: Flickr

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Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg lives in Kansas City. He’s been practicing Buddhism for nearly 20 years. He teaches at the Open Heart Project Sangha and is a Zen Teacher (Fashi) in the Dharma Winds Zen Order. His main focus is on mindfulness practices rooted in the earliest Zen teachings and compassion practices rooted in the Bodhisattva Tradition. He has taken Bodhisattva Vows and Brahmajala Precepts and he is affiliated with the Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun.
Find out more about Daniel on his blog and connect with him on Facebook