Chapter 12: The Perfection of Generosity
Generosity practice is a special method to cut attachment to anything for one’s own benefit.
This practice is especially designed to show how to open one’s heart and mind, and to learn how to share all the necessary things, such as skills and wisdom, with others, particularly with those who are destitute and unprotected.
Somebody made a great effort to create all the things we enjoy, both material and spiritual.
For example, if you read the life story of Milarepa, you can see how he sacrificed his life and endured great hardships in order to attain Buddhahood in one lifetime and make all these great teachings available for future generations.
We should realize this nature and take care of things well by using them in the best way and sharing them with all other sentient beings. This is our very important responsibility.
The mind of generosity is also a special method for cutting narrowness, jealousy and pride, actualizing harmony and freeing ourselves from stinginess and clinging.
When one has openness and the mind of bodhicitta, there is no need to own anything to give to others because one is already giving oneself to all sentient beings.
When the mind is free of stinginess, it is already practicing generosity. (Other practices of generosity are detailed in the text. Understand them well and apply them in practice.)
Chapter 13: The Perfection of Moral Ethics
Moral ethics is one of the most important trainings for all practitioners.
It is the technique for disciplining oneself physically, verbally, and mentally to avoid the inveterate propensities of samsara and to channel one’s focus on enlightenment. This creates a greater opportunity to realize the Mahamudra.
Because Mahamudra is the result of the complete perfection of purification, the purer your discipline, the greater your mental clarity. That clarity and suchness of the mind are the meaning of Mahamudra.
Further, when clarity and harmony are in the mind, there is pure morality.
Like a growing child, the mind must first be protected from harm and dangerous circumstances.
After that, one becomes educated, and after building all the necessary academic credentials, one can be useful and of service to the society.
Similarly, while in the untrained and fragile mental state, be cautious to protect the mind from non-virtuous thought and action.
Protect the mind with the fences of different vows.
Then after receiving many teachings of the Hearer and bodhisattva vehicles, train the mind well, strengthening it in wisdom and compassion.
Finally, on this support, manifest the actual benefitting of sentient beings to free them from suffering and establish them in the state of enlightenment.
For all levels of practitioners, mindfulness and awareness of moral ethics are crucial.
When one has kept the moral ethics of the discipline well one becomes a great example which inspires other people to follow the path toward enlightenment.
As a matter of fact, whether one is a good practitioner or not depends on how well one keeps the different levels of vows. Vows of the Vinaya, bodhisattva, and secret mantra all have the same essential points: to avoid the cause of samsara, to attain enlightenment by training one’s own mind, and to benefit sentient beings.
Chapter 14: The Perfection of Patience
Patience is a special practice which is a general antidote for all the afflicting emotions, but especially for aversion, anger, and hatred.
Patience refers to one who is free from fears, based on wisdom and compassion.
Patience does not mean wasting time and energy, but rather is a special method to counter and overcome the obstacles to peace and harmony in the relative as well as the absolute state.
In contrast, the afflicting emotions, particularly anger and hatred, destroy all the peace, clarity, and harmony of the inner universe, the world of the mind. The destruction and violence in the outer world manifest from that.
No matter how much the physical world is developed through technology and material interests, life can become miserable without the inner world’s peace and clarity.
Although we necessarily spend much of our time and energy developing outer faculties and organizations, enduring pressure and deadlines from the high speed of our modern lifestyle, it is also rational and practical to develop the inner wealth of wisdom and compassion.
The wealth of peace, compassion, and harmony cannot be given to you by others; you yourself have to exert effort to bring the training into the mind.
No one wants to be ugly and destructive, but as soon as anger and hatred arise in the mind, all the ugliness manifests and you become destructive. Everyone around grows fearful, so you are isolated.
In contrast, when mind is kept in the state of loving-kindness and compassion there is space for peace and clarity and all other people will respect and rely on you. This makes you a good human being and makes it worthwhile to have a precious human life.
So, whether in the conventional life or spiritual, strive on a day-to-day basis to bring joy and happiness.
For spiritual progress toward enlightenment, the practice of patience is one of the most important trainings because it eliminates delusion and hatred.
Chapter 15: The Perfection of Perseverance
Perseverance is like a special “hand” with which to collect the wealth of virtues, wisdom, and compassion. It is a particular antidote to laziness.
Laziness will not bring any benefits in samsara or nirvana; it only wastes your time and energy on delusions and dreaming.
This attachment to the enjoyment of the pleasures of this life is like a dream. Not only that, it occasionally brings pain and creates predicaments.
Laziness acts out of weakness, sapping the mental strength so that it cannot even overcome obstacles to the happiness of this life, let alone enlightenment.
The lazy attachment for samsaric life becomes so busy with the activities of the eight worldly concerns, but this is like chasing beautiful and colorful rainbows.
By its power, this precious human life with all its excellent opportunities is wasted. If utilized properly, it could have been used to accomplish the ultimate—Buddhahood.
This life is only like a dream or magic show. In the end, you cannot carry anything with you, so therefore it is important to increase your power of intelligence and wisdom and use this precious human life in the best way.
If we don’t receive the precious Dharma teachings, our lives will not be much different from those of animals. Some animals work very hard to collect wealth and make a comfortable place to live, but they don’t have the special wisdom mind that can know about samsara and nirvana, so their suffering is endless.
We who have precious human life need to wake up from the sleep of delusion, wear the armour of commitment to purify all our mental conflict, and actualize the primordial self-awareness.
With this commitment, we need to joyfully apply our minds in the Dharma practice of the Noble Eightfold Path in every moment until we are free of samsara.
Perseverance is not just to have nominally completed a three-year retreat, or a six-year or nine-year retreat, but rather it is to enhance all the good qualities of wisdom and compassion through consistent mindfulness of purifying all the non-virtuous thoughts and actions.
Chapter 16: The Perfection of Meditative Concentration
Meditative concentration is precisely explained in this chapter by detailing both analytical and stabilizing meditations.
Analytical meditation refers to a method of training the mind through investigation of the world and one’s own life.
All phenomena function within the constitution of their causes and conditions. Understanding this dispels the confusion of seeing everything as substantial and permanent, so then attachment is released.
Attachment is one of the most substantial causes of endless wandering in samsara. By the power of attachment, one clings to objects as being real. From that cause, hatred and fear arise and the mind cannot be stabilized.
Therefore, before making efforts to stabilize the mind, investigate whether phenomena are temporary and have only a momentary nature. You will find that there is no essence at all in samsara; no matter how much effort you produce, it is like chasing a mirage.
Based on this rational investigation, stabilize the mind on the base of the ten virtues.
Without a stable mind, it will not be possible to have clarity or mental acuity. Stability is like scattered rivers being channeled under a bridge; it builds strength and power.
On the other hand, a scattered mind cannot reach any good qualities even if one meditates for hundreds of years.
Therefore, it is important to read the life stories of great masters to see how they renounced samsaric activities and fully dedicated their lives in solitary places, and to see what excellent qualities they achieved, and how they demonstrated the right path and benefitted countless beings.
There being no excuse, we should dedicate our lives and energy to channel and organize our minds according to the different levels of meditative states. Through that, one will be freed from all confusion and can open the doors of freedom.
Chapter 17: The Perfection of Wisdom Awareness
Wisdom awareness is a special quality of the mind which penetrates the unfabricated nature of all phenomena.
Without the practice of this wisdom awareness, one cannot be freed from samsara nor attain Buddhahood no matter how hard one works at the other five paramitas.
The other five may bring great benefit and comfort in life, but one cannot gain special insight without wisdom awareness. It is wisdom awareness that cuts all delusions.
Yet, without the support of the other five perfections, wisdom alone is not sufficient to attain enlightenment.
The first five perfections are collectively called “method” and wisdom awareness is called “wisdom.” Their practices are equally necessary in order to gather the two great accumulations.
Like an airplane, the two wings of method and wisdom can cross the ocean of samsara and land on the other shore, enlightenment.
As the Heart Sutra mentions, “Form is emptiness; emptiness itself is form. Form is not other than emptiness; emptiness itself is not other than form.” Great mental strength is needed to penetrate the meaning of this.
One does not negate reality through investigation, but rather one gains special wisdom about how everything is composed of interdependent causes and effects. Their essential nature is unfabricated, all-pervading emptiness.
At the same time, phenomena manifest unceasingly out of this emptiness. The apparent existence of phenomena and the all-pervading emptiness are not two different entities, but rather they are inseparable.
When one realizes this through experience with meditation practice, there is a great openness. The mind is free of boundaries so that the excellent qualities of great compassion and wisdom awareness can manifest.
Everything becomes obvious and nothing is hidden. There is no need to speculate or investigate. The details of the investigations to be undertaken in meditation practice are clearly described in this chapter.
This wisdom awareness transcends all the differences of culture, belief, and religion. It allows one to experience the universal, unfabricated nature. So, if you want to be free of all boundaries and confusion, then without choice this path must be followed.
Source: Gampopa, Dharma Lord. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation: The Wish-fulfilling Gem of the Noble Teachings. Translated by Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche. Edited by Ani K. Trinlay Chodron. Boulder, Colorado: Snow Lion, 1998.