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10 Perfections (pāramī) to Cultivate on the Path

The doctrinal list known as the 10 Perfections, or pāramī, has only a small place in the earliest layer of the Buddhist teachings, but by the time the Pāli Canon was being fully assembled and the Mahāyāna revolution was well-underway, the list became one of the central frameworks for describing the qualities that aspiring Buddhas, or “Bodhisattvas” should cultivate. The Jataka Tales are folk stories that use the idea that our Buddha, Gotama, was reincarnated many times before this (final) birth, and in these endless lifetimes of cultivation developed these 10 qualities. Many of the Jataka Tales are framed around one or two of the Perfections, and became popular morality tales. The Theravāda tradition uses a list of 10 pāramī (the term in Pāli), while the Mahāyāna traditions use a list of 6 pāramitā (Sanskrit).

The 10 Perfections (pāramī)

1. Generosity (dāna) (9.1.16)

2. Ethics (sīla)

[See talks on the 5 Precepts.]

3. Renunciation (nekkamma), in 2 parts (9.15 & 9.29.16)

4. Wisdom (pañña)

[See the Eightfold Path and 3 Characteristics talks.]

5. Effort (viriya)

[See talk on Right Effort in the Eightfold Path.]

6. Forbearance (khanti) (10.27.16)

7. Truth (sacca) (11.29.16)

8. Resolve (adiṭṭhāna) (1.3.17)

9. Loving kindness (mettā) (9.8.16)

[See also a series on the 4 brahmavihāra and the Mettā Sutta]

10. Equanimity (upekkhā) (1.10.17)

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