Thursday, 12 November 2015

Blavatsky and the Six Perfections (Paramitas) - Part I

 In part three of Blavatsky's Voice of the Silence, "The Seven Portals", we are given a very distinctive take on the traditional Six Paramitas of Buddhism:

1. DANA, the key of charity and love immortal.

 2. SHILA, the key of Harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action. 

3. KSHANTI, patience sweet, that nought can ruffle.

4. VIRYA, the dauntless energy that fights its way to the supernal TRUTH, out of the mire of lies terrestrial.

5. DHYANA, whose golden gate once opened leads the Narjol* toward the realm of Sat eternal and its ceaseless contemplation.  [*A saint, an adept.]

6. PRAJNA, the key to which makes of a man a god, creating him a Bodhisattva, son of the Dhyanis. 

Plus: VIRAGA, indifference to pleasure and to pain, illusion conquered, truth alone perceived.
Moreover, she mentions the Paramitas elsewehere, on occasion:

 "Try to realize that progress is made step by step, and each step gained by heroic effort. Withdrawal means despair or timidity. . . . Conquered passions, like slain tigers, can no longer turn and rend you. Be hopeful then, not despairing. With each morning's awakening try to live through the day in harmony with the Higher Self. 'Try' is the battle-cry taught by the teacher to each pupil. Naught else is expected of you. One who does his best does all that can be asked. There is a moment when even a Buddha ceases to be a sinning mortal and takes his first step toward Buddhahood. The six and ten Paramitas (virtues) are not for priests and yogis alone, as said, but stand for models for us all to strive after--and neither priest nor yogi, Chela nor Mahatma, ever attained all at once. . . . The idea that sinners and not saints are expected to enter the Path is emphatically stated in the Voice of the Silence."

Here's a good basic introduction to the Paramitas, courtesy of His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman:

''Although the generation of the aspirational aspects of the bodhichitta alone is very remarkable and a virtuous action in itself, that alone will not fulfill your aim of achieving Buddhahood. It is important to engage in the practice of the bodhisattva deeds. These deeds, called the six perfections, constitute the essential and comprehensive path to enlightenment, combining methods and wisdom. The Buddha himself said that by the force of their wisdom bodhisattvas abandon all the delusions, but by the force of their compassionate method they never abandon sentient beings. These two aspects of the path should always be undertaken in combination, never in isolation. The entire practice of the bodhisattva is classified under the six perfections, which are generosity, ethics, patience, effort, concentration, and wisdom.

To fulfill the wishes of others it is very important to engage in the practice of generosity, and generosity itself should be reinforced by the pure observance of ethics, abstaining from inflicting harm upon others. The actual practice itself should be completed by the practice of patience, because you should have forbearance toward harm inflicted upon you by others. In order to engage in such practices, you must have strong effort. Without concentration, your practice will not be powerful. And without wisdom realizing the nature of phenomena, you will not be able to guide others rightly on the path leading to the achievement of enlightenment.''

(The Way to Freedom Harper Sanfrancisco, 1994)