The Ten Paramis - developed with Vipassana
From Day Nine Discourse of Ten-Day Vipassana Course
Paramis are qualities that you must perfect to reach the final goal with practice of Vipassana meditation. The goal is the stage of total purity of mind, in order to serve all beings. These ten paramis are qualities that gradually eradicates all impurities in the mind and dissolve the ego, thereby bringing you closer to your final Dhamma goal. In a Vipassana course, you have the opportunity to develop all ten qualities needed for liberation, or to the much greater extent needed for full enlightenment.
1) Nekkhamma —renunciation. A monk or a nun renounces the householder’s life and lives without personal possessions, even having to live on alms food. This helps to dissolve the ego. How can a lay person develop this quality of renunciation? In a Vipassana course like this, you have the opportunity to do so, since here you live on the charity of others. Accepting without complaint whatever is offered as food, accommodation, and other facilities, even if it is not to your comfort or liking, you develop strength of mind and reduce the ego. Gradually this humility and reducing of the ego develops the important parami of renunciation. Whatever facilities are given to you here, you gratefully make best use of it by working hard to purify you mind - not only for your own good, but also for the good of the unknown person who donated so that you may gain all benefits from Vipassana.
2) Sila—morality. This parami is the foundation of Dhamma, of Vipassana practice. It is developed by following the five precepts for a wholesome life (avoid killing, stealing, wrong speech - such as speaking lies, back-biting - sexual misconduct and taking of any intoxicant). You maintain sila both during a course and in daily life. But there are many obstacles which make it difficult to practice sila in day to day life. However, here in a Vipassana meditation course, there is no opportunity to break the precepts, because of the heavy programme and discipline. Only in speaking is there any likelihood of deviating from strict observance of morality. For this reason you take a vow of silence for the first nine days of the course. In this way, at least within the period of the course, you keep sila perfectly.
3) Viriya—effort. In daily life you make efforts, for example to earn one’s livelihood. During a Vipassana course, however, the effort is to purify the mind by remaining aware and equanimous to the arising, passing bodily sensations. This is right effort, which leads to liberation.
4) Pañña—wisdom. One gains knowledge or some wisdom from reading books, listening to others, or intellectual understanding. The real Parami of wisdom is understanding of the actual truth, the wisdom developed within oneself by direct experience - by practicing Vipassana. By self-observation, you realize the truth of impermanence, suffering, and no 'I'. By this direct experience of reality, from moment to moment, you come out of suffering.
5) Khanti—tolerance. At a Vipassana course like this, working and living together in a group, you may be disturbed and irritated by actions of another person. But then you become aware that you are here to come out of the habit pattern of generating negativity. You also realize realize that the person causing a disturbance may be ignorant of what he is doing, or a sick person. The irritation goes away, and one feels only love and compassion for that person. You have started developing the quality of tolerance.
6) Sacca —truth. By practising sila, you undertake to maintain truthfulness at the vocal level. However, sacca must also be practised in a deeper sense. Every step on the path must be a step with truth, from gross, apparent truth, to subtler truths, to ultimate truth. There is no room for imagination. Always remain with the reality that you actually experience at the present moment - at the level of impermanence of bodily sensations.
7) Adhitthana—strong determination. Before you start a Vipassana course, you make a determination to remain for the entire period of the course - facing all difficulties that arise during the process of removing impurities in the mind. You resolve to follow the precepts, the rule of silence, all the discipline of the course. After Vipassana is taught on Day Four of the course, you make a strong determination to meditate for the entire hour during each group sitting without opening eyes, hands or legs. At a later stage on the path, this Parami will be very important. When coming close to the final goal, you must be ready to sit without break until reaching liberation. For this purpose it is necessary to develop strong determination.
8) Metta Parami —pure, selfless love . In the past you tried to generate goodwill for others, but this was only at the surface level of the mind. At the deeper level the old habit pattern of negativity continued. When the entire mind is purified, then from the depths of the mind, you wish for the happiness of others. This is real love without a trace of ego, impurity such as lust and expectations of something in return. Practicing metta helps oneself and others.
9) Upekkha—equanimity. You learn to keep the balance of the mind not only when experiencing gross, unpleasant sensations or blind areas in the body, but also to subtle, pleasant, sensations. In every situation you understand that the experience of this moment is impermanent, bound to pass away. With this understanding you remain detached, equanimous to sensations.
10) Dana—donation. For a householder, this is the first essential step of Dhamma. A lay person has the responsibility of earning money by right livelihood, for the support of oneself and of any dependents. But if you generate attachment to the money you earn, you inflate your ego - thereby increasing your suffering. For this reason, a portion of what is earned must be given for the good of others. By doing this, ego will not develop, with the understanding that what is earned is for one’s own benefit and benefit of dependents, as well as for benefit of others unknown. The volition arises to help others in whatever way possible. And the realization increases that there can be no greater help to others than to help them learn the way out of suffering.
In a Vipassana course you have a wonderful opportunity to develop this Parami. Whatever one receives here is donated by another person; there are no charges for room and board, and certainly none for the teaching. In turn, a grateful student give a donation for the benefit of someone else. The amount given will vary according to individual means. It is the purity of volition with which dana is given that matters most, not the amount given. Whether little or more makes no difference - it is the volition of the mind when giving donation that is most important. That is why donation is accepted only after the process of purification of the mind during a Vipassana course. "Just as I benefited, may more and more people benefit likewise - in fact, gain much more benefits". The pure volition of dana is very valuable in developing this dana parami. Without expecting anything in return, one gives so that others may experience the benefits of Dhamma and may come out of their suffering.
In a Vipassana course, you have the opportunity to develop all ten paramis. When all these good qualities are perfected you will reach the final goal.
Keep practicing Vipassana to develop them little by little. Keep progressing on the path of Dhamma, not only for your own benefit and liberation, but also for the benefit and liberation of many.
May all suffering beings find pure Dhamma, and be liberated.
May all beings be happy!