Paramita

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Paramita (Skt. pāramitā; Tib. ཕ་རོལ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པ་, parol tu chinpa, Wyl. pha rol tu phyin pa) is usually translated as 'transcendental perfection'. The Tibetan word can be understood to literally mean 'gone to the far side'.[1] By practising them we can overcome our destructive emotions, transcend the notion of samsara and see the true nature of things.

All the many aspects of the bodhisattva path can be summarized in two aspects: the motivation (generating the attitude of bodhichitta) and the application (the practice of the paramitas). Generally it is said that there are six paramitas, and sometimes ten paramitas. For any of those six or ten to count as “paramitas” they have to be performed with the realization that subject, object and activity, are devoid of true existence.

Notes

  1. This is likely based on a nirukti-style interpretation of the Sanskrit word (i.e. an explanation of a word’s meaning that relies on phonetic similarities). A number of scholars (such as Edgerton in his Buddhist Hybrid Dictionary, and perhaps Vasubandhu in his commentary on Madhyāntavibhāga v.4) hold that pāramitā, equivalent to the Pāli pārami, is a noun derived from parama (supreme), and hence it caries the sense of 'supremacy' or 'mastery'.

Alternative Translations

  • Perfection