Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Who are the "Perfections" for?

Wisdom Quarterly; American Bhikkhu Bodhi (translator), "A Treatise on the Paramis from the Commentary to the Cariyapitaka," 2005 (Wikipedia "Paramis"/AccessToInsight.org)
Massive Buddha tower in Burma, Afghan-style (Sylvain Brajeul/flickr.com)
Swastika: "noble," enlightened (BreenJones)
Bhikkhu Bodhi maintains that in the earliest Buddhist texts, namely the first four sutra collections, those seeking freedom from suffering (nirvana) pursued the Noble Eightfold Path
But as time went on, a backstory was provided for development of the Buddha through many rebirths; as a result, the Ten Perfections were identified as part of the path for a bodhisattva (one striving for "supreme" enlightenment as a rediscoverer and teacher of the Dharma). Over subsequent centuries, the perfections (pāramīs or paramitas) were seen as being significant for aspirants to both supreme buddhahood and sainthood (arhatship). So Bhikkhu Bodhi summarizes:
"It should be noted that in established Theravāda tradition the pāramīs are not regarded as a discipline peculiar to candidates for Buddhahood alone but as practices which must be fulfilled by all aspirants to enlightenment and deliverance [nirvana], whether as samma-sam-buddhas, paccekabuddhas, or disciples of a buddha
"What distinguishes the supreme bodhisattva from aspirants in the other two vehicles is the degree to which the pāramīs must be cultivated and the length of time they must be pursued. But the qualities themselves are universal requisites for deliverance, which all must fulfill to at least a minimal degree to merit the fruits of the liberating path." More

No comments: