*PARAMIS:* The Ten Perfections
1. *Dana*: Generosity
May I be generous and helpful
2. *Sila*: Morality
May I be well-disciplined and refined in manners.
May I be pure and clean in all my dealings.
May my thoughts, words and deeds be pure.
3. *Nekkhama*: Renunciation
May I not be selfish and self-possessive, but selfless and
May I be able to sacrifice my pleasure for the sake of others.
4. *Panna*: Wisdom
May I be wise and able to see things as they truly are.
May I see the light of truth and lead others from darkness to
May I be enlightened and be able to enlighten others.
5. *Viriya*: Energy
May I be energetic, vigorous and persevering.
May I strive diligently until I achieve my goal.
May I be fearless in facing dangers and courageously surmount
May I be able to serve others to the best of my ability.
6. *Khanti*: Patience
May I ever be patient.
May I be able to bear and forbear the wrongs of others.
May I ever be tolerant and see the good and beautiful in all.
7. *Sacca*: Truthfulness
May I ever be truthful and honest.
May I not swerve from the path of truth.
8. *Adhitthana*: Determination
May I be firm and resolute and have an iron will.
May I be soft as a flower and firm as a rock.
May I ever be high-principled.
9. *Metta*: Loving Kindness
May I ever be kind, friendly and compassionate.
May I be able to regard all as my brothers and sisters and be
one with all.
10. *Upekkha*: Equanimity
May I ever be calm, serene, unruffled and peaceful.
May I gain a balanced mind.
May I have perfect equanimity.
May I serve to be perfect.
May I be perfect to serve.
Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu.
*THE PERFECTION OF EFFORT*
Translation by Saya U Chit Tin, WKH
U San Myint Aung, B.A.
Published and Copyright by
The Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust, U.K.
Heddington,Calne,Great Britain, 1987
Dhammadana Series 5/c
Dedicated to our much revered teacher
the late Sayagyi U Ba Khin
First printed 1987 in France
DharmaNet Edition 1994
This electronic edition is offered for free distribution
via DharmaNet by arrangement with the publisher.
Electronic format: Barry Kapke
P.O. Box 4951, Berkeley CA
1. The effort made by the Bodhisatta
2. Effort as a mental concomitant
3. Effort through right exertion
4. Eleven factors which result in making effort
5. A sense of urgency as the main foundation
6. Effort no associated with wholesome volitional actions
7. The effort of the Bodhisatta Mahosadha
8. Why the Buddha allowed Devadatta to ordain
9. The importance of energy
The type of effort or energy to be developed is given in the
"Treatise" with reference to the Bodhisatta. Each day he asks himself,
"Have I accumulated any requisites of merit and of knowledge today? What
have I done for the welfare of others?" Energy is necessary at every step
along the way.
The most striking feature of the discussion here is the emphasis on
mental effort. In fact, very little is said concerning physical effort --
for it is the mind which is more important. If balanced effort can be
produced mentally, the resulting physical effort will be correct.
In the Pali canon there are stories of people who made resolutions to
strive to the utmost for Awakening. This is to be done once a certain
level of development has been reached. If the mind is disturbed by such an
effort, the person is not ready yet. This is why Sayagyi U Ba Khin, who
was capable of long hours of steady work, encouraged students of his who
had only progressed to a certain stage in controlling their minds to work
with what he called "zestful ease." By this he meant making a full effort
for the meditation period and relaxing their mental effort at other times.
This, of course, did not mean relaxing as far as the fundamentals -- such
as Sila -- were concerned.
Saya U Chit Tin
Heddington, January 19, 1986
//Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammasambuddhassa//
*THE PERFECTION OF EFFORT*
1. The effort made by the Bodhisatta
A Bodhisatta puts forth the maximum required effort, no matter what
his task is. He does not make less effort for ordinary tasks and more
effort for more difficult tasks. He is like a maned lion that makes as
much effort in hunting a rabbit as in hunting an elephant.
As a result of the even effort made in past lives, when the
Bodhisatta becomes a Buddha he always makes the same effort giving
discourses. He does not talk softer when addressing one person and louder
when addressing a larger audience. His voice is carried equally to all who
listen. If there is only one person listening to him, only that person
hears the discourse. When there are many people, no matter how far away
they are from the Buddha, each person hears him clearly. When the chief
disciple, Venerable Sariputta, gave the Samacitta Sutta, he had to first
develop the special powers (Iddhi-vidha) in order to be heard by his large
audience. It was not necessary for the Buddha to do this.
In addition to practising the perfection of effort in lives before
the one in which he reaches Buddhahood, a Bodhisatta practises the arduous
exercises (Dukkara-cariya) for at least seven days after making the
renunciation. He does not take food for some time during these exercises,
and is very nearly reduced to skin, tendons and bones. Later, on the eve
of attaining the great Awakening, he sits on a grass mat under the Bodhi
tree and makes the determination not to get up until he has attained the
Knowledge of Omniscience (Sabbannuta-nana), even if only skin and tendons
and bones remain after his blood and flesh dry up. Through this effort he
is able to realize through the Knowledge of Insight (Vipassana-nana)
Dependent Origination and the three salient features of impermanence
(Anicca), unsatisfactoriness (Dukkha), and lack of self (Anicca),
unsatisfactoriness (Dukkha), and lack of self (Anatta) in all material and
mental phenomena. And thus he attains Buddhahood.
2. Effort as a mental concomitant.
Like wisdom (Panna), effort is a mental concomitant; but whereas
wisdom is always associated with wholesome mental states, effort is
associated with both wholesome and unwholesome mental states. Effort which
is good and which should be cultivated as a perfection is known as Right
Effort (Samma-vayama). Striving which is bad is known as Wrong Effort
3. Effort through right exertion.
Right effort (Sammavayama) is also known as right exertion (Samma-
ppadhana). There are four kinds of effort through right exertion: 1) the
effort to avoid unwholesome states (Samvara-padhana), 2) the effort to
overcome existing unwholesome states (Pahana-padhana), 3) the effort to
develop wholesome states (Bhavana-padhana), and 4) the effort to maintain
existing wholesome state (Anurakkhana-padhana).
4. Eleven factors which result in making effort.
In the Mahasatipatthana Sutta commentary, eleven factors are given
which result in making effort:
1) Reviewing the fearfulness of the lower realms of misery (Apaya-
bhaya-paccavekkhanata). Effort will be made by a person who
reminds himself of the following: "If I am idle, I may be reborn
in the lower realms of misery. In the hells, I would not be able
to develop the perfection of effort as I would be too distracted
by the pain resulting from the tortures there. Or if I am reborn
in the animal world I may be the prey of human beings. Or if I am
reborn in the ghost realm (Peta-loka) I will be tormented by
hunger for a whole world cycle. Or if I am reborn in the demon
world (Asura-loka) with a huge body of bones and skin, I will
suffer from heat or cold winds. This life is my only opportunity
for developing effort."
2) Perceiving the advantage (in effort) (Anisamsa-dassavita). Effort
will be made by a person who thinks to himself, "A person who is
idle will never attain the supramundane stages of the Paths and
Fruition States. Only those who are industrious can attain them.
Making effort can result in attaining the supramundane stages
which are so rarely realized by those who aspire to them.
3) Reviewing how to strive on the way (Gamena-vithi-
paccavekkhanata). Effort will be made by a person who thinks to
himself, "All Buddhas, Pacceka Buddhas and disciples of Buddhas
make their way along the path to release through effort. The
right path cannot be trod by those who are idle. Only the
industrious can walk along this path."
4) Honouring alms food (Pindapatapacayanata). This factor is
specifically for bhikkhus. Effort will be made by a bhikkhu to
use food offered by laymen respectfully, thinking, "Be mindful!
These people do not give you food because you are a member of
their family or because they make their living by giving alms.
They give food because great merit is acquired in giving to the
Sangha. The Buddha does not allow us to eat in a lazy or careless
fashion. He permitted the eating of alms food only to those
practising the Teachings in order to be liberated from future
births. Only those who make an effort and who cultivate the
Teachings are worthy of eating food given to the Sangha."
5) Reviewing the nobility of the inheritance (Dayajja-mahatta-
paccavekkhanata). Effort will be made by those who think to
themselves, "Disciples of the Buddha inherit the seven types of
property of those who are moral: faith (Saddha), virtue (Sila),
learning (Suta), liberality (Caga), wisdom (Panna), conscience
(Hiri) and moral dread (Ottappa). Just as children who are
disowned by their parents cannot inherit from them, those who are
idle cannot receive this legacy from the Buddha. Only those who
are industrious can receive it."
6) Reviewing the nobility of the Teacher (Satthu-mahatta-
paccavekkhanata). Effort will be made by a person who thinks to
himself, "My Teacher, the Buddha, is so noble the ten-thousand-
world universe shook when he was conceived as a Bodhisatta for
his last life, when he renounced the world, when he attained
Buddhahood, when he delivered the first discourse, when he
defeated the heretics by performing the Twin Marvel, when he
descended from the Tavatimsa deva world after teaching the
Abhidhamma, when he renounced the life principle (Ayu-sankhara),
and when he passed into final release (Maha-pari-nibbana). If I
wish to be a deserving son (or daughter) of such a noble man's
Teaching, I cannot be idle and careless in the way I live."
7) Reviewing the nobility of one's race (Jati-mahatta-
paccavekkhanata). Effort will be made by the bhikkhu who thinks
to himself, "Be mindful! You are a member of a noble race
descended from the first king, Mahasammata. You are the brother
of Rahula, the Buddha's son, the grandson of King Suddhodana and
queen Mahamaya who are the descendants of King okkaka, one of the
successors of Mahasammata. Members of such a noble race should
not live carelessly but should live cultivating the Buddha's
8) Reviewing the nobility of comrades in the life of purity (Sa-
brahmacari-mahatta-paccavekkhanata). Effort will be made by the
bhikkhu who thinks to himself, "I am a fellow disciple of people
like the chief disciples Venerable Sariputta and Venerable Maha-
moggalana who attained the Paths and Fruition States. I should
follow the example of such noble disciples."
9) Avoiding people who are indolent (Kusita-puggala-parivajjanata).
Effort can be made if one avoids those who are idle, who, like a
python that has eaten its fill, delight in lying down and
10) Associating with people who are energetic (Araddha-viriya-
puggala-sevanata). Effort can be made if one associates with and
seeks advice from those who are diligent, of resolute will
(Pahitatta). Being of resolute will means being determined not to
stop making an effort when doing worthwhile work until it is
finished, even at the cost of losing one's life. Those who do
not have a resolute will will hesitate before beginning,
thinking, "Will I suceed or not?" And they will shrink back from
making an effort. And if they begin to work, they will be
pessimistic if the goal is not easily or immediately achieved,
and stop making an effort.
11) Begin intent on it (i.e., effort) (Tad-adhi-muttata). Effort will
grow if it is cultivated in the four postures -- lying down,
sitting, standing and walking.
5. A sense of urgency as the main foundation of effort.
Three types of sense of urgency (Samvega), the main foundation of
effort, can be distinguished:
1) A sense of urgency through mental terror (Cittutrasa-samvega). This
means a sense of urgency due to fear of the dangers of elephants,
tigers, weapons, etc. The main mental concomitant associated with it
is hatred (Dosa). "When hatred is weak, fear arises; when hatred is
strong, harshness arises."
2) A sense of urgency through shrinking back from doing wrong (Ottappa-
samvega). This is one of the moral mental concomitants associated
with lofty consciousness (Sobhana-cetasika).
3) A sense of urgency through knowledge (Nana-samvega). This is the
sense of urgency that comes through reflecting on cause and effect
-- seeing, for example, the suffering entailed in future lives. It
is also described in Buddhist texts as the arising of wisdom
accompanied by shrinking from doing wrong.
A fourth type of sense of urgency also exists, a sense of urgency
with regards to conditioned phenomena (Dhamma-samvega). But as this is a
sense of urgency that arises in Arahats, it is not realized by those
working on the perfections.
A sense of urgency through knowledge is the main foundation for
effort for those still working for Enlightenment. It is through reflecting
on the dangers inherent in future lives that one becomes anxious to work
for liberation. Without such knowledge, one will not practise the Dhamma.
This applies also to the affairs of our daily lives for such mundane
considerations as wishing to avoid being poverty stricken in future lives.
The knowledge that we must work now in order to avoid that will motivate
us to make an effort. Those who do not possess such knowledge will not
make the effort, nor will those who are afraid to make an effort when it
is difficult to do so.
A sense of urgency through knowledge is the basis for making effort
in the case of Bodhisattas as they fulfil the perfection of effort. A
sense of urgency through mental terror does not always lead to making
effort of the sort found in the perfection of effort. Terror, rather, can
lead to doing unwholesome acts. For example, a person who is poor and who
does not have thorough method in his thoughts (Yoniso-manasikara) will
steal in order to have more property. A person who cannot pay proper
attention will do unwholesome acts out of fear of potential dangers. But a
person who thinks constructively will strive to be free of guilt in all
his actions. The key element in having a sense of urgency through mental
terror is having thorough method in one's thoughts, being able to think
6. Effort not associated with wholesome volitional actions.
The perfection of effort does not include efforts involving
unwholesome volitional actions. It would seem that effort through right
exertion would mean that the perfection of effort would only include
wholesome volitional actions. But any effort should be included as long as
unwholesome volitional actions are not involved.
An example is to be found in the Maha-Janaka Jataka (no539). In this
life, the Bodhisatta, Prince Maha-Janaka, swam for seven days when the
ship he was on sank. His motive in swimming was not to develop wholesome
volitional acts of generosity, virtue or mental development. Nor was he
motivated by developing unwholesome volitional acts through greed, hatred
or ignorance. The effort made by Prince Maha-Janaka is free of immorality
and is part of developing the perfection of effort. The crew of the boat
was in despair, wept and lamented and invoked their gods, but the
Bodhisatta did none of this. Unafraid, he did his best to save himself. As
he explained to the devi who eventually rescued him, "Knowing my duty in
the world, to strive, o goddess, while I can,/Here in mid-ocean far from
land I do my utmost like a man./...He who thinks there is nought to win
and will not battle while he may, -- / Be his the blame whate'er the
loss, -- taws his faint heart that lost the day./... So I will ever do my
best to fight through ocean to the shore;/ While strength holds out I
still will strive, nor yield till I can strive no more." Thus we can see
that as his motive was noble, so too his effort was noble.
Bodhisatta always perform what they have to do bravely and without
shrinking back. Even when he was born as a bull the Bodhisatta was brave.
In the Kanha Jataka (no29), the Bodhisatta as the bull Kanha pulled five
hundred carts across a ford. Even as an animal the Bodhisatta developed
the perfection of effort. And the effort so developed remained acquired
when he was born as a human. As Prince Kusa, for example, he went through
many hardships in order to regain his wife, the Princess Pabhavati (Jataka
7. The effort of the Bodhisatta Mahosadha.
The life of Mahosadha is given as one of the lives in which the
Bodhisatta perfected wisdom. But this is also a life during which he
developed effort. It is through making continual effort that he was able
to gain wisdom. He also made efforts motivated by the desire to provide
for the well-being of others. These efforts, even though they were not
made to develop generosity, virtue or mental development, should be
considered as part of the perfection of effort.
Some of Mahosadha's actions caused suffering to others. For example,
when his country was besieged by King Culani-Brahmadatta's army, Mahosadha
humiliated that king's adviser, the Brahman Kevatta. His motive, however,
was not to make the enemy suffer but rather to protect the people of his
own country. It is like the example of freeing a frog that is about to be
eaten by a snake. If one does so in order to make the snake go hungry and
thereby cause it suffering, then one acts out of a bad volition. But if
one frees the frog in order to protect it, then the motive is good. In
scaring away the army of the enemy, Mahosadha prevented them from
destroying his own country, Mithila. And he defeated the enemy in a
manner that did not do great harm to them. So we can see that Mahosadha
acted in the best interest of both countries.
8. Why the Buddha allowed Devadatta to ordain.
In "The Questions of King Milinda", the king asks Venerable Nagasena
why the Buddha allowed Devadatta to become a bhikkhu if the Buddha knew in
advance that Devadatta would create a schism, an act that would result in
the worst sort of suffering for an entire world cycle. Venerable Nagasena
replies that the Buddha knew that if Davadatta remained a layman he would
be destined through his unwholesome volitional actions to unlimited
suffering in future lives. But if he ordained as a bhikkhu, he would
perform enough wholesome volitional actions to put a limit on that
suffering, and would eventually attain release through becoming a Pacceka
Buddha. Thus we can see that actions may have good results, but that does
not mean there will be no suffering.
9. The importance of energy.
Energy plays an important role in connection with other elements
leading to concentration, mundane purity and supramundane purity. Its role
in leading to supramundane purity is outside the domain of the
perfections, however. When one is working for concentration, energy is one
of the four mental states of predominance (Adhipati). When it is strong,
it can lead on the other three. As a faculty (Indriya) it is one of the
twenty-two material and mental faculties and can govern the other
faculties accompanying it. In terms of the perfections, this only applies
to mundane moral consciousness. It is also one of the five controlling
faculties that are part of the thirty-seven Requisites of Enlightenment
(Bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma). As one controlling faculty or as part of the
other Requisites of Enlightenment contributes to developing mundane
purity. It is also involved in the following Requisites of Enlightenment:
the four Right Efforts (Samma-ppadhana), one of the five Mental Powers
(Bala), one of the four Bases of Success (Iddhi-pada), one of the seven
Factors of Enlightenment (Sambojjhanga), and in the Eightfold Noble Path
as Right Exertion (Samma-vayama).
Thus we can see the importance of effort as one of the perfections,
leading to mundane purity and preparing the way for eventually attaining
supramundane purity, Nibbana.
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Published by the Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust, United Kingdom
Address as above, registered charity no. 280134
TITLE OF WORK: The Perfection of Effort
AUTHOR: Saya U Chit Tin, trans.
AUTHOR'S ADDRESS: n/a
PUBLISHER'S ADDRESS: International Meditation Centre, Splatts House,
Heddington, Calne, Wiltshire SN11 OPE, England
COPYRIGHT HOLDER: The Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust, U.K.
DATE OF PUBLICATION: 1987
DATE OF DHARMANET DISTRIBUTION: 1994
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