Greetings in the light, the month of August was ushered in by a powerful full…
The last few weeks of August I heard the lament many times “Wow this summer went fast”, “September is almost here & summer is over”, ”Labor Day is around the corner – vacation time is over”. I suppose I heard this because I was staying at the beach with friends and family reminding me of childhood summers when two and a half months were vacation time spent at the family beach house.
A week or so after school closed my dad piled us in the car & drove out to the end of Long Island where he dropped us for the summer.
We exchanged our stiff uniforms and oxford shoes for flip flops and shorts and played endlessly in the sand, walking the beaches collecting shells, daydreaming and splashing in the waves. I remember looking out over the water watching the sea birds and feeling worries and limitations of daily life falling away. A feeling of peace and freedom was there without consciously knowing what I was freeing myself from.
Now when I am at the shore looking over the ocean, into the great expanse, I feel that same peace with a deeper awareness of connection – more fully present in the moment. On my walks I found myself thinking of the 6 paramitas or 6 perfections. The Sanskrit word paramita means “to cross over to the other shore”, in this case it means going beyond our own notion of the self.
Paramita may also be translated as perfection, perfect realization, or reaching beyond limitation. Through the practice of these six paramitas, we cross over the sea of suffering (samsara) to the shore of happiness and awakening (nirvana); we cross over from ignorance and delusion to enlightenment.
As a kid my desire to get to the ‘other shore’ was based on a belief that finding harmony or escape from the uncomfortable feelings or difficult situations in life was something external. I had not yet discovered that the struggle was within and that If I was going to transcend challenging feelings or experiences I had to go within rather than battle something outside of myself.
The six paramitas are considered ‘transcendental actions’, meaning in a sense that actions or attitudes are performed in a non-egocentric manner. ‘Transcendental’ does not refer to some external reality, but rather to the way in which we conduct our lives and perceive the world—either in a self-centered or a non-egocentric way. The six paramitas are concerned with the effort to step out of the egocentric mentality.
The Six Paramitas or Six Perfections of generosity, ethical discipline, patience, enthusiastic effort, concentration, and wisdom are practiced by those who have the supreme intention of attaining enlightenment for the sake of others. These six are perfections because they give rise to complete enlightenment. Practice of them also ensures the attainment of an excellent body and mind in the future and even more favorable conditions for effective practice than those we enjoy at present.
You can learn more about the Six Paramitas by joining us starting on September 10th for a 10-week study of these perfect tools designed to bring us to a more peaceful living in a more peaceful world. More information about the class and registration is here. And remember, you can join us live every Sunday morning or receive the recordings if your schedule does not allow you to join live.