Training in the Six Paramitas
Recorded at Lyndon State College, VT, July 1999.
In this retreat on the training of a bodhisattva, Pema Chodron focuses on how to practice “action bodhicitta,” the six paramitas of transcendental generosity. The word paramita means “going to the other shore,” beyond conventional, limited, selfish behavior. One could develop an open heart and approach to life which benefits oneself and others in the midst of groundlessness and uncertainty. The foundational practice of mindfulness-awareness meditation, taught by Acharya Richard John, is the basis for uncovering loving-kindness to oneself, which, in turn, is the basis for the practice of the paramitas.
Talk 1: Bodhisattva Training and the Six Paramitas
In this overview of the bodhisattva path, Pema Chodron starts with the importance of courage, which is required to meet the pain of life with empathy and loving-kindness. (1:41)
Talk 2: Bodhicitta and the Four Qualities of Meditation
Warmth, love, and compassion are spoken of as “relative bodhicitta,” while “absolute bodhicitta” refers to “the open dimension of our being” that is able to abide with groundlessness and uncertainty. Pema also discusses the paramita of meditation and the four qualities of meditation. (1:31)
Talk 3: Transcendent Knowledge
Prajnaparamita, the sixth paramita, brings the seemingly ordinary ethical guidelines of the first 5 paramitas into the realm of groundlessness. (1:41)
Talk 4: The Three-Fold Purities of Generosity and Discipline
Pema Chodron introduces the notion of the threefold purity, which is a way of mixing the sixth paramita of prajna with the other paramitas. The paramita of discipline works with our inflexibility and non-adaptability, and includes the practices of not causing harm, undertaking positive actions, and benefiting others. (1:44)
Talk 5: The Paramitas of Patience and Joyful Exertion
The paramita of patience is not so much an endurance contest as going right into the energy of impatience, restlessness, and aggression. Joyful exertion includes the notion of steadfastness, as in the practice of meditation – staying open in seemingly hopeless situations. (1:51)
Bonus CD: Meditation Instruction with Acharya Richard John
Acharya John presents the 3 prajnas of hearing, contemplating, and meditation, providing a context for meditation practice. (1:11)