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Parami (Pali), Paramita (Sanskrit): literally, perfection, or crossing over (to the other shore). The paramis are practices that can lead one to the perfection of certain virtuous or ennobling qualities. It is interesting to note that the parami of generosity comes first, before the other practices, even morality. The paramis are seen as the heart of our true nature but greed, hatred, and delusion cause them to become somewhat blurred. Here’s a wonderful interview from Mask Magazine with the Buddhist scholar monk, Thanissaro Bhikku.
Then, instead of worrying over past unwholesome thoughts, we arouse wholesome thoughts, such as generosity, patience, and loving-friendliness and use effort to strengthen the wholesome thoughts. Here is Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh‘s take on the Five Precepts in Buddhism, which expands their definition to include some wonderful nuances. Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of live, I vow to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals.
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I vow to cultivate loving kindness and learn ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants, and minerals.
Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I vow to cultivate responsibility and learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming.
If we place an emphasis on “me” entering the here and now, the here and now becomes a project, when actually the “me” is the real project. If we think of ourselves as outside the moment needing to get in, this is working our practice from the wrong view, intention, and effort. We give up the “doing” of mindfulness to fully participate in what mindfulness is attempting to do—that is, to allow a full abiding presence. MN 10 Satipatthana Sutta: Establishing Mindfulness aka The Foundations of Mindfulness, The Frames of Reference.
DN 22 Mahasatipatthana Sutta: Is approximately identical with a fuller description of the Four Noble Truths. In this uncertain political season, full of angst, anger and fear, I have wondered what to remark about the current agitated national scene in America. I’ve been on vacation the past week, the first four days spent at the Bhavana Society Buddhist monastery in the eastern mountains of West Virginia. The good monk serves up much nourishment in the closing pages of a book whose voice and vivid imagery on finding Dhamma in daily life has become a treasured resource for me.
After enough hard experience we cannot believe that living comes to any wise conclusion by itself, or that suffering will finally be outlasted by patience alone. Whether we yearn for the charming past or the intriguing future, still those white and blue depths of winter surround us – emblematic of the great dukkha that is continually regenerated out of ignorance by our actions.
The noise, speed, and brilliance of what is called society do not, it seems, satisfactorily answer our longing for certainty; at any rate, from the stimulation of our social life we have turned aside for a while, to get far away from even from ourselves so that we might look around unimpeded and contemplate whatever is noble and true. When, however, we become aware that on some occasion we have indeed intended and acted badly, violating a precept or otherwise behaving in an ignoble way, we should face up to the misdeed without evasion, recognize our mistake, and distinctly resolve not to behave in that way again. In a study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, African-Americans with heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly were 48% less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, or to die, than those who attended a health-education class. Recent research found that meditation can result in molecular changes affecting the length of telomeres, a protective covering at the end of chromosomes that gets shorter as people age. Meditation is practiced widely in India, China and other Asian countries for spiritual reasons; but secular meditation is also practiced worldwide by athletes, secretaries, students, corporate executives and truck drivers to promote better concentration and higher performance levels, and by individuals seeking improved health. It has been successfully taught to prison inmates, for example in India and New York State, to quell violent behavior and promote peaceful states of mind. A study conducted by Wake Forest Baptist University found that meditation could reduce pain intensity by 40 percent and pain unpleasantness by 57 percent. Meditation classes are also offered free of charge to the public at the office located atAnchor Medical Group, 1998 N Arrowhead Ave, San Bernardino, CA 92405.
They are practiced as a way of purifying karma and leading the practitioner on a path to enlightenment.
Some commentators suggest that the list begins with the easiest practice and becomes progressively more challenging. There’s a tremendous strength there, and it makes such a big difference how this mind, this will, this intention is being steered.
Try to develop a state of mind, where you’re in touch with that part of the mind that’s not affected by anything.
Recognizing that causes always lead to results helps us accept the consequences of past actions. First, we must understand what we are trying to accomplish and develop some skill in mindfulness both during meditation and in life. In addition we use mindfulness to guard the senses against external sensory experiences that might stimulate any unwholesome tendencies.
I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life.
I vow to practice generosity by sharing my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in real need. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I vow to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society.
It’s an interview with Matthieu Ricard, born in France in 1946, and who trained as a molecular biologist at the  Institute Pasteur before taking up robes as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in 1972. Karma is definite: An action will definitely bring its specific results unless it meets an obstacle. Karma increases: Just as a small seed gives rise to a towering tree, the seeds of both positive and negative karma increase in potency unless they are obstructed.
Karma is specific: Karmic results are experienced only by one who created the cause for that experience.
The anxiety associated with the continuation of awareness is suffering, and becoming more worried about how we practice does not move us in a wise direction.

The “I” state is the unnatural component, but from the sense of self’s twisted logic the moment becomes the problem and needs “my” effort to enter it. If we want to move from thinking to stillness, we have to relax and see what was there before we created the storybased assumption that we were outside anything.
Tuesday gatherings of the Meditation Circle of Charleston at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation building in Charleston, W.Va. I will not use a Buddhist blog to share my own particular points of view except to note that when it comes to nations and politics, angst seems the norm. The following is a gorgeously written call to attention to wake up out of the gloom of our moody, distracted introspections.
Among the numberless hours of dreaming and speculating, where is the true time that counts toward wisdom? We might also be living in any century, looking up with surprise from any life, any domestic moment, into that amazing emptiness of sky. While cause and effect inexorably race on we have no grounds for esteeming ourselves necessarily superior or inferior, in moral safety or religious confidence, to past generations or our own past lives. But the chapter and book is so rich I encourage those of like-minded sensibilities to buy it for the full flavor of his strolling investigations of Dhamma in daily life. We had been intending to enjoy some of that autumn beauty, but if we cannot we may as well take meaning instead – or not even meaning if we think of it as chunks of information or succinct conclusions, but perhaps the intuition of splendor that the land inspires in us.
Out here we walk through the wind that streams and lags and streams again, exploring the cold, vital, primitive land until we feel somewhat less bound to our old preoccupations, more concerned with wind, creeks, and brambly meadows. Then we should go on about our business without unduly steeping ourselves in regret, which benefits no one.
But we cannot stop here, because if we wish our deeds to become purer and more beneficial to ourselves and others we must observe more, learn more, contemplate more. Among the meditation group, there were 20 such occurrences, compared with 32 in the control group. A 2005 study on American men and women who meditated a mere 40 minutes a day showed that they had thicker cortical walls than non-meditators. Randy Zusman, a doctor at the Massachusetts General Hospital, asked patients suffering from high blood pressure to try a meditation-based relaxation program for three months. In the Theravada tradition, the ten paramis are dana (generosity), sila (morality), nekkhamma (relinquishing), panna (wisdom), viriya (effort), khanti (patience), sacca (truthfulness), adhitthana (determination), metta (lovingkindness), upekkha (equanimity). Another view is that until one sees the interconnected nature of phenomena and has a heart open to the needs of all beings, the other paramis can remain beyond reach.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said, “These deeds, called the perfections, constitute the essential and comprehensive path to enlightenment, combining method and wisdom.” Thus the paramis are important practices for one who seeks to become an awakened being and to end the cycle of samsara, or cyclic existence. And everything depends on whether it allows itself to relax and be serene, or whether it allows itself to get caught up in anxiety, grasping, and fear; it makes a difference if you do something with a relaxed, easygoing frame of mind, or if you do it in a harried and distracted way.
We use this mindfulness to prevent external defilements from entering the mind by carefully guarding the senses. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others.
I am determined not to spread news that I know not to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure.
I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. If we know that our fate is in our hands, then the quality of our actions becomes a central issue.
Without purification and the cessation of negative actions, those karmic seeds will never lose their potential. We can begin to see how our personal struggle to be mindful is misplaced when we observe the sense of self arising within our effort to maintain mindfulness. This inherent contradiction— of trying to enter something that already is—limits access to the here and now and takes away what is naturally here already.
It dawns on us that we are powerless to make freedom happen because our efforts only disconnect us from our intended goal.
Yet how are we to face bedeviling fears and enormous questions – how shall we run our country?
Some members of our Meditation Circle purchased this book after reading other excerpts on this blog. Cause and effect crash through us every moment, unseen and unheard, perhaps, but making us and remaking us according to the nature of our actions. Yet it is also one of the most beautifully written books you’ll hope to find by an American-born Buddhist, steeped in the teachings of the Buddha and capable of communicating them in vivid, accessible language culled from common experience.
A day of sunshine and stillness would have given us more pleasure, but by now we are not really sorry about it, for the gray weather smooths a fine wonder over everything, suggesting greater truths than we might have suspected in more conventional beauty. No future suffering, no moral degradation, comes to us because of harm we have not meant to happen and have not tried to bring about.  We are only responsible for what we directly intend and do. There is, when we look around us, always much good to be done, even in small, daily matters of courtesy and friendliness, and this sort of action, gladly undertaken, refreshes and elevates the mind.
The better we behave, the easier it will be for us to understand the Dhamma; the better we understand the Dhamma, the more we wil be inspired to cultivate virtue. Half of the participants meditated briefly on a daily basis and the other half listened to relaxing music for 12 minutes a day.
In the Mahayana there are six paramitas: generosity, morality, patience, effort, concentration, and wisdom.
The key point to remember is that the paramis are offered not as philosophy but as practices.
If you really look at the Buddhist tradition, the First Noble Truth is to understand the truth of suffering, which means acknowledge the problems we face, the addictions we have.
Through remaining in the present, we can let go of the past and the future—the headquarters of our fears. We also use it to prevent latent tendencies that exist as traces within the mind, such as craving, hatred, greed, jealousy and pride, from arising. I will respect the property of others, but I will prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.
I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break.

I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations.
If we throw a stone up in the air and forget about it, when it falls down on our heads, we shouldn’t complain, although we usually do.
The whole point of karma is to recognize how our actions determine our future, so that we can begin to act properly. They will continue to have the power to bring us suffering when the proper conditions arise. An authentic spiritual practice begins to reverse this perception by abiding with the natural and dismissing the artificial. We exist as a thought believed, and it is not within the power of a thought to control awareness. Mindfulness tries to have it both ways by proclaiming full participation in the moment even as it applies a fail-safe plan to pull out if the experience gets a little frightening. Thad and I have mentioned some of the core teachings of the Buddha on breath-centered meditation. We sense the vastness of the season, wherein we are always, it seems, beginning again to grapple with birth and death, beginning and hesitating and faltering for lack of knowledge or lack of faith. Empty woods all around, windy solitude, antiquity, huge oaks in the distance – these shrink us almost to nothing, yet impart something of richness and freedom. As long as we act with sincere good will according to virtuous principles we are acting correctly. The noble person, the person of outstanding character, is the result of countless actions that he or she has done, countless efforts made according to noble standards. It is a good idea to meditate with the purpose of maintaining cardiovascular and nervous system health.
The eight-week study found that people who meditated showed a 43% improvement in telomerase activity, an enzyme that regulates telomere length, compared with a 3.7% gain in the group listening to music. After meditating regularly for three months, 40 of the 60 patients showed significant drops in blood pressure levels and were able to reduce some of their medication. We recommend that patients eventually work up to about 20 minutes of meditating, twice a day. It will come as no surprise that one of the most difficult people to forgive can be yourself. Generosity supports relinquishing, which supports morality, which supports truthfulness, which supports wisdom, which supports equanimity, and so forth. Develop that part of the mind that can tell itself: okay, no matter what comes, I can handle it. If drinking coffee makes you sick, you have to cut the coffee out—and likewise when you recognize the addictions of attachment, anger, hatred. We recognize and then we let go, whether coming back to the focal point of our meditation—posture, breath, visualization—or non-conceptual space. If, in spite of these efforts, latent tendencies do arise or reach the stage of manifestation in words and deeds, we apply additional mindful efforts to overcome them.
I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and for society. Since the sense of self is the embodiment of the absence of awareness, forgetting to observe is inevitable as we try harder to be aware.
When this is realized, we stop trying to be mindful and relax into the awareness that existed before thought instead of holding to the mindfulness driven by thought. The observer or watcher is the part of our mind that likes to know what it is getting into, the contained and controlled part that maintains an escape route “just in case.” At a certain level of understanding our practice, this is all fine, but we soon tire of holding ourselves in reserve. We are not qualified to teach suttas, but we’re all qualified to absorb and discuss them as they relate to our ongoing lay meditation practice.
Why should our own generation necessarily surge higher than any other and carry us with it?
We hurry on through our trivial moment with the intention (frail as it is) of glimpsing certainty in old things, great things not made by man. Since the world is a snowstorm of contradictory conditions flying this way and that, and since other beings are constantly doing actions themselves and experiencing the results of actions, we can never be certain that misfortunes will not occur for someone.
We ought not to think that we can govern all our actions with sheer improvisation, trusting to our supposed natural goodness.
The participants meditating also showed improved mental and cognitive functioning and lower levels of depression compared with the control group. The Second Noble Truth is to find out what it is that causes these addictions and then to separate yourself from it. Through motivation, honesty, and confidence you can practice with your fears and go beyond them in a way you never thought possible. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society. The problem of how to be mindful is actually resolved not through strenuous effort but by relaxing, allowing, and observing what is already here. The observer and the observed must eventually merge into a single abiding presence if there is to be spiritual fulfillment.
Whatever the fanfare around us, still we act as individuals, well or badly, and receive the results of those actions. As long as desire and aversion burn and confusion and delusion gust across the mind we are liable to err and therefore should anchor ourselves to what is firm, to the Dhamma which the Buddha taught for our welfare.
There are many causes of suffering created by individual karma—anger, hatred, jealousy, and, above all, ignorance. Within the framework of relaxation, the sense of self has a diminishing power center, making space for awareness to be revealed. Our own past and all of history teach us the essential sameness of worldly things, show us the prevailing passions of living beings, but do not direct us to liberation from suffering. Ignorance is the most important one, the one which really creates all other negative emotions, such as anger, attachment, hatred.

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