The Six Paramitas. An Exploration and Journey to the Other Shore.

Dear Friends,

Thirteen months ago, I wrote a post inviting the community of the Sangha of the Pandemic to join in an exploration of the Six Paramitas. Before continuing with this post I encourage you to take a few minutes to read that introductory post here

At the time of that writing I thought that we would be exploring and practicing with the Six Transcendences for about six months. The beauty of exploring and practicing with only the light of the moon and stars of open inquiry, while heading to no definite destination, is the freedom that the goalless trek into the darkness provides for the natural unfolding of the journey. Perhaps you have followed along for the whole route, or met us off and on at waystations, or joined part of the way through. However you have participated or contributed, it seems like now would be a good time to reflect on the initial intentions of exploring the Six Perfections.

  1. To see what is here already and to reflect on teachings about each paramita.
  2. To recollect or call up experiences of each paramita that were/are joyful and generative.
  3. To explore obstacles, that we may experience, to these qualities
  4. To bring intentionality to these qualities in our practice and in our daily life.

DanaparamitaGenerosity, Selflessness

Silaparamita – Ethical Conduct, Harmlessness

Santiparamita – Patience, Peace

Viryaparamita Diligence, Effortlessness

Dhyanaparamita – Meditation, Attending, Staying With, Malleability, Abandon

Prajnaparamita – What’s Here.

So, how’d we do? Where did you begin and where are you now? As you review the paramitas and some of the concepts associated with them, what is here? If you are interested in rereading some of the posts, you can go to the website page: “Perceptions and Reflections from the Sangha” and search (top right magnifying glass) or scroll to the bottom for the list of archives. These explorations began in May of 2023 and the posts are listed from the most recent one of the month you visit.

This journey and these posts are the result of infinite causes and conditions that have allowed me the luxury of time and leisure to practice, study, write and be in a virtual community with this sangha. These posts and the unfoldment of this particular confluence of stardust is a direct condition of the willingness of each of you to open your emails once a week, or once a month, or just once, and to open your lives, hearts and minds to the possibility of bringing about an end to all suffering throughout all times and in all directions for all beings until the last grain of sand. Your commitment to practice looking at just what’s here and sharing the prajnaparamita  as a result of that looking shakes me from my, and the whole world from its, concrete foundations of greed, clinging, hatred, aversion and delusion. Without the sangha, there would be no seat to practice on, no dharma to study, and no awareness of the truth of just here. 

So beloved sangha, it is time to hear from you. For the next four weeks, I will be taking a break from writing these posts and it is important that you apply viryaparamita and submit some original posts about “what is here” is for you. Artistic expressions, poetry, photos, and essays, whatever shines through. Submit them via email (wrgentner@gmail.com) to me and I will post them.

I wonder how gratitude is not included as one of the paramitas,  because it is in the weft and weave of the fabric of this practice. I bow with deep gratitude to you and all buddhas for being here. Tenshin Reb Anderson sums it up well for me:

From Tenshin Reb Anderson’s introduction to the final dharma talk of the 1994 fall practice period at Tassajara p149 (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GapGeUnFmgDqwM1Arg33b2QnBhroSSKO/view?usp=drivesdk:)

Sesshin Day 6 Dharma Talk

December 16, 1994

This world, as you may have heard, is called a saha world (land of endurance), a world in which it is possible to practice patience. It’s also a world in which it is possible to get angry. The reason why you can practice patience here is because there’s some difficulty. There are some other worlds where there isn’t any difficulty. When human beings hear about that, they sometimes think it’s a mistake that they came to this world. Some of them ask Buddha why we’re practicing here. Why don’t we go to those other places? You can’t practice patience in those other realms, and if you can’t practice patience, you can’t realize enlightenment. You can be blissed out for a certain period of time, but then everything ends and you’re in trouble. On this planet you can practice patience and therefore you can realize infinite wisdom and compassion.

Once, on a sunny day here at Tassajara, I hung my laundry on the line. It was a bright piece of cloth, maybe a white towel, and it reflected the sunlight. When I hung it there freshly washed, and smelled it, I thought, “This is worth it. This is worth coming for. If all I get in this lifetime is to hang these clothes on this line and see the light come off the sun, onto my cloth, into my eyes, I’m willing to put up with the rest of it.” I still am willing to put up with the rest of it, for a while. Eventually I’m going to check out. However, my vow is to come back until the whole thing, every little particle, is willing to be here and willing to come back, too. That’s my vow.

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With these words I pay homage to all buddhas, bodhisattvas, sentient beings, and the totality. May these words not confuse, bring doubt, or harm, but bring ease and warmth and an end to suffering for all beings throughout all times and in all directions.

William

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Practice

Practicing in sangha, even virtually, supports the practice of meditation differently than practicing solitarily. The members of the Sangha of the Pandemic, invite you to practice with us. No experience is required. There is no cost. Everyone is welcome. 

 We practice on ZOOM:

Mornings

  • Mondays: Calm abiding. 6:30 AM Pacific Time
  • Tuesdays: Body awareness. 6:30 AM Pacific Time 
  • Thursdays: Tonglen, 6:30 AM Pacific Time 
  • Wednesdays and Fridays: Zazen Practice 7:00 AM Pacific Time.
  • Sundays: Paramitas. 7 AM Pacific Time 

ZOOM Link:   https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89989680789 

Please feel free to reach out with questions or insights. Please also feel free to forward this post and invite others to join the sangha. If you would like to comment or offer feedback and insight you may do so in the comment section on the website or by email to wrgentner@gmail.com 

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Check-In

If you have questions about meditation practice, or would like to have a conversation about the practice or anything else, you can check in with William by making an appointment. Go to “Check In Appts.”