Since Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche will be teaching on the Six Perfections starting May 17, 2009 in Washington, D.C., I thought it would be good to introduce the subject with a quote from Geshe Lhundup Sopa’s excellent book Steps on the Path to Enlightenment: Volume 3: The Way of the Bodhisattva Wisdom: 2008 p. 193.
The six perfections are: the perfections of generosity, ethical discipline, patience, perseverance, meditation, stabilization and wisdom. The first three perfections focus on meritorious action; one controls the senses and keeps one’s actions pure. Generosity is giving others whatever will help them, whether it is one’s wealth or even one’s body. The perfection of ethical discipline is to completely avoid harming others directly or indirectly. The third perfection, patience is the ability to bear others’ negative actions. Only with patience, can one maintain a virtuous mind and pure conduct when others try to harm one out of greed, hatred, and ignorance. The fourth perfection is perseverance. Perseverance is a special joy when one practices virtue. Even if it is inconvenient or difficult, one happily perseveres because one sees the value and purpose of the practice of virtue and the negative consequences of not practicing this way. The fifth perfection deals with controlling the mind; meditative stabilization is the ability to concentrate on whatever one wishes with complete control for as long as one desires. The mind is stable; it does not succumb to distraction or become dull. One remains alert and one’s concentration is clear and vivid. This is important because most of our problems stem from the fact that the mind is wild; every moment it goes off in all directions in an uncontrolled manner. Until we achieve mental stabilization, the mind is weak. We try to do something but immediately get distracted; the mind flies away like a little feather carried off by the wind. The perfection of meditative stabilization has a physical aspect too; because the mind is within the body, when we train the mind we also train the body. Eventually, the mind and body harmoniously support each other. One feels a special sensation of pleasure brought about by completely training the mind. We must have this concentrated mental instrument to practice many high spiritual techniques on the path, particularly, the sixth perfection: the perfection of wisdom.