I have historically (and presently!) found it difficult to have a daily formal meditation practice on my own. And over these last two years, I’m increasingly not alone in this camp. Not because folks don’t want to practice or have stopped seeing the benefit of practice, but because sometimes closing our eyes and going inwards simply isn’t the right medicine.
Early in my practice I was introduced to the Paramis – this roadmap of how the Brahman Sumedha became the Buddha. Being reborn over many lifetimes, he explored and practiced these 10 perfections or attainments for liberation. The practices of generosity, morality, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, truthfulness, resolve, metta, and equanimity give us an understanding of not just what the Buddha said, but what he did.
The Paramis allow us to stay in relationship and connected to the world, with the building from a foundation of generosity (Dana), and Virtue or Morality (Sila). With these first two paramis, we’re moving towards undoing the stress of our ego-centric lives to bring the welfare of others into our hearts and minds. This remembering stands up against capitalism and patriarchy, and other forms of separation, and invites us to see how we can continue to open up and lean on each other.
The cultivation of generosity and morality is about bringing people to mind, developing an intent to share and protect each other. When we hold these two as a value, we begin to get curious about the entirety of another person’s life instead of this small, broken off and fragmented piece of their story. We begin to move away from pity and shame, and towards deeper connection and relationship.
3 Tips for Practice
- Explore taking your practice off the cushion, and into your everyday lives.
- Notice when there is the presence of generosity and morality, and when there is not.
- What is happening at the time? What are the causes and conditions that are present?