ο ψαλμός των δέκα παραμίτα

Παρασκευή, 16 Ιουλίου 2010 20:11
απο τον Ναπολέων Ξιφαρά

“Go on”, he said, “Write it down now that it’s still fresh”
“Are you serious?” I answered. “Sounds strange to keep track of myself”
“Write it down so that you can get back to it a few years later” he insisted.

I didn’t follow the advice at that moment. But his voice stayed in my mind and kept coming up again and again, so finally I decided to follow this impulse. So there it is, the first log of my thoughts that had been expressed in a moment of flow.
It is difficult to explain the meaning that the words of a particular chant have for the person that practices it. This meaning also takes a whole different context as you keep on practicing the chant through a big period of time. In the beginning the words have an almost heroic sound in them especially as long as the freshness of their transmission is still there. And then you’re left alone to keep practicing the chant and as the time goes by you understand that you have to explore the meaning that it has for your own self. You have to make it yours through repetition that keeps going on to the point that the words stop being heroic, they become flat and some how if you keep practicing the chant, for some completely unreasonable reason, the words transform to something that has meaning for that deep place inside you which is so personal and so true that it turns objective and universal. The chant transforms itself to a point of reference that can guide you through many different situations in your everyday life. Connecting to it’s meaning becomes a riddle that is being solved and riddled again at the same time as you apply your understanding of it, resulting in a never ending exploration that reaches each time new depths and the freshness of the practice is renewed again and again and along with it the curiosity and the joy of discovery.
He was right after all, writing about it helps me discover anew. It’s no more a log of my thoughts in a particular moment of flow. It’s a whole new one. Thank you my friend. 
So in this particular chant the name of the transcendental quality that we want to arouse is verbalized first and then comes the main body of the chant that remains the same till the end and only the name of the paramita (transcendental quality) is being changed each time. It goes like this:

NAME OF PARAMITA                  PARAMI SAMPANO
NAME OF PARAMITA           UPA PARAMI SAMPANO
NAME OF PARAMITA PARAMATA PARAMI SAMPANO
METTA KAROUNA MOUDHITA UBEKHA
PARAMI SAMPANO
ITI PISO BAGAWA

As far as the main body is concerned, PARAMI SAMPANO means noble transcendental quality. Noble in the sense that it is contained in, cultivated at and expressed through this part of ourselves that connects us back to the sacredness of our humanity. It is this place of origin that gives the transcendental character to these qualities. In order for them to be born and realized we have to step out and go beyond the small self, we have to transcend our egos. This takes place in ever deepening spirals, quantum leaps, small everyday battles that lead us further and further towards the freedom of action that characterizes the bodhisattva, the spiritual warrior, the being that vowed to strive towards bodhi, light, wisdom treading the path of just being at the service of all sentient beings. This transcendence of the small self, this transformation to a boddhisatva is a process that deeply relates and comes hand in hand with the training of perfecting the paramitas. This perfection, yes my friend you are right, does not come about at once but it has different levels, different textures as we mature on the path and we are reminded of it in the verses UPA PARAMI SAMPANO noble transcendental quality that goes beyond, PARAMATA PARAMI SAMPANO that goes even further the beyond, transcending the transcended, ever deepening. Then comes a reference to the four colors, textures of the energy of our hearts in the verse METTA KAROUNA MUDDHITA UBEKHA, which are namely loving compassion, kindness (metta), forgiveness, letting go (karouna), taking joy in the accomplishment of others, the antidote of envy and jealousy (muddhita) and finally the courage and spaciousness of our hearts that enables us to welcome life as it comes (ubekha). The repetition of these four qualities is a practice that can be done separately and going in to their further explanation can be the theme of a whole different article. The final verse ITI PISO BAGAWA is translated so said the Bagawa which is one of the ways to address for the Buddha. 
DANA is the paramita that is commonly translated as generosity. But as we have already mentioned there are different levels of the meaning of generosity and levels as far as the application of it is concerned. Generosity for most of us means giving, sharing. In a deeper sense though, it is the transcendence of the poverty mentality, that inner apprehension that we don’t have enough. Dana as a transcendental quality helps us understand that in the present, in the presence, we are already rich as we are and we can afford to open, to really open and share life with everything around us. We are so rich that we have nothing to lose; we are so rich that we can give transcending the fear of our small self that always wants to save for the difficult times. We don’t have to fear anymore, we know and we trust that there’s not only enough but plenty to give and share.
SILA again is translated as morality or discipline. Usually it describes the code of ethics concerning the monastic and lay life accordingly. Again in the sound of the words morality and discipline a sense of constraint is created. But in another context sila is the quality that really shapes our energy. Sila is actually an artist’s action. Let’s suppose we are sculptors and we are given a big block of marble to produce a work of art. We look at it and after a while somewhere inside this big block we see the sculpture, we are inspired. We pick up the chisel and the hammer and we start working taking away pieces of marble until we give shape to our inspiration. This act of taking away the unnecessary pieces of raw material until something is shaped requires among other things precision, discipline and a lot of care for the object of our expression. The same rule applies for the spiritual transformation. Sila is the chisel and hammer that we use to take away all the excess and unnecessary formations of our energy leaving the raw material of our psyche exposed and refined as a work of art. Practicing Sila under this perspective is not something that is being imposed on us by the rules of an institution or a spiritual practice but an actual act of love towards ourselves and the world; leaving everything clear and shaped like a work of art. In this way the application of Sila in our everyday lives is not heavy but leaves us carrying lesser luggage making our spiritual journey lighter.
NEKHAMA is the quality that is associated with sacrifice. A very difficult quality, for some of us, to get in touch with. In order to sacrifice we have to be able to let go of something very valuable to us. We have to let go. And its ok if we are sacrificing for a loved one but can we do it for someone we don’t even know? Again the question that comes forth is can we reach paramata parami sampano level? Can we reach at the point of giving our life away for somebody, something that we don’t even know? Can we reach the point that we can see that life is not personal but something that goes on from creature to creature and that by giving away the personal and the valuable we live in a timeless richness? Sacrifice I believe comes as a result from the deepening of the dana and sila practice. We started by training to give and we are treading the path with discipline that is sculpting our energy towards giving, so we at last can give away and lose the sense of self or personal territory and we are ready to completely devote ourselves in the service of others. We do not feel separate anymore. We understand that in the process of complete giving we never lose. We are ready to sacrifice all personal to the collective. And as I already said this seems to be a process that when you’re following it, this last level seems to be so far away.
Next one to be named is the quality of PANYA, the quality that you so beautifully described my friend as organic intelligence. Again it stems out of the previous one when we reach the point where we can have a glimpse of the truth that life is not a personal phenomenon, it does not belong to the realm of me and mine. Then we can start understanding that we are interrelated with everything around us, we are joined with the world through the manifestation of life itself. Sometimes it feels like currents in a vast ocean, the ocean being life and the currents the different manifestations of it. Under this perspective Panya links us back to the primordial truth of oneness helping the seed of tenderness and caring for everything around us to grow. Inside the atmosphere of Panya a certain kind of fearlessness arises. The fearlessness that stems from the certainty that we are life itself and as that we were never born and we are never going to be lost. Under the wings of Panya we just Are.
The fifth paramita is Viriya. It is commonly translated as perseverance, a quality so valuable in any spiritual path. In this certain approach though, it represents the inexhaustible energy that accompanies the spiritual warrior. My feeling is that it stems from the Sila paramita, keeping the discipline at some point naturally leads you to the point of having the energy to keep ever going. It is the quality that keeps you always somehow motivated, it gives this surplus of energy needed to devote oneself in the complete care of each step of the way, it is the “finishing properly” energy. It has this springing feel to it, this perkiness. Viriya is what keeps you awake in the long sittings of meditation, it is this feeling of aliveness that makes the time go by and keeps you there until the gong sounds. It is this exact quality that gives you the strength to keep alive and attentive in your everyday life treading the path. It is what gives the energy to fulfill the last vow of the bodhisattva path “long is the path, I vow to follow it till the end”.
The next one is Khanti paramita, patience. So beautifully it follows Viriya. First one must have the energy of the path, then he must cultivate patience, he has to tame the power with wisdom. Having what it takes and knowing how to wait in order to use it and be effective. Patience is not to be misunderstood only as passive complete acceptance of every kind of suffering imposed by someone else or the conditions of a situation, although there are circumstances that this has also to be done. May be this is the starting level or the paramata pamisampano one for Khanti, I don’t know. For me though at this stage of my practice Khanti is connected directly with this “inner listening” quality of our consciousness that makes us pause and wait, trusting that in this quiet space of opening and listening whatever we are facing will reveal itself to us. We can afford to wait, to trust enough and be patient, having the energy (thanks to Viriya) and seeing through to the totality of the situation (thanks to Panya, our organic intelligence), so that we can come out of whatever circumstances stronger, wiser and why not more loving.
The seventh in the row is Sacca. Sacca is translated as honesty, integrity. One could argue that Sacca should be in the beginning of this list. That it is one of the qualities that should be mentioned along let’s say with Sila, morality. I am always puzzled with the why of the order of the paramitas. But my feeling is that this is the right moment to turn our “inner gaze” to Sacca. We have come along way, we have practiced enough and in this there is a kind of pride. We’ve followed a path long enough to appreciate the goodness of it and take pride in it. In this kind of pride I find there is nothing wrong. It is the kind that you can see in somebody honest, in someone with integrity. It is this look in the eyes of these people that is clear, bright, proud, and straightforward. Sacca is this quality that makes us proud of who we are, of the path we follow, because through it we do not deliberately mislead anyone for our own interest. It is this beautiful quality that when we become connected with it we can look everyone straight in the eyes, not with aggression but with tenderness. With Sacca we will never avoid looking straight in the eyes of a person, we will always look at people the way babies do, because we will have nothing to hide as we had nothing to hide when we were innocent enough. Sacca is connecting back with this long lost innocence and sincerity. And at this stage of the practice of the path, sincerity is most crucial. It is the point where we have to be honest with the path and ourselves. It is the point where we really have to lose ourselves in the best interest of others. We cannot afford anymore to pretend we follow the path, we have to be sincere, so this is why Sacca.
Next one to be named is Addhitana, meaning strong decisiveness. After we sincerely devote ourselves to the path with Sacca the whole of our perspective changes. Our mind somehow becomes one pointed in treading the path. There is no space for doubt anymore. Our decision is final and our root in it strong. We are going to take it till the end, and this kind of decisiveness makes the spiritual warrior, the bodhisattva, most powerful and effective. The moment he acts there is no other chance than the one the bodhisattva has set for because there is no doubt whatsoever in is mind and therefore no inconsistency in his action. Again going back to the roots of the practice we are reminded that the Buddha himself used this quality of Addhitana to become enlightened. When he sat under the Boddhi Tree he vowed that he would not stand up unless he became enlightened. That was the example he handed down to us as Addhitana.
The next two the ninth and tenth paramitas are Metta and Ubekha respectively. Metta is what keeps us connected with the kindness and softness of our hearts. It is what connects us with others and nature itself. Sometimes it is rendered as loving compassion, although it is not as romantic and wooly cotton as one would haste to assume. Metta comes from a very tough aspect of our hearts that can look at life as it is and realize the suffering involved. As beings born in this realm at the basis of our being we share this common fate, suffering. So basically we all boil in the same pot, we are in the same soup. We might feel that we are so different from everybody else but truly if we look at this basic level we have nothing to part, we are all going to suffer either physically or psychically, we are all going to die, to feel the loss of loved ones and the list can go on infinitely. From this perspective, the tough, realistic and courageous look of the warrior, we can allow ourselves to be truly compassionate, understanding from the depth of our own suffering the state of others. Again there is nothing to part. Once more we are reminded of our oneness. Ubekha is the last of the list but not the least. Probably is the most profound state that the spiritual warrior, the bodhisattva, can establish himself in. Ubbekha many times is translated as equanimity. But my personal feeling is that this particular notion can mislead as a translation to something quite dry, like everything is the same, flat, colorless. It doesn’t incorporate the rich quality of spaciousness that can embrace life as it is manifested at each moment. The courage and the love needed to accept whatever life brings forward for what it is and allow oneself to completely connect with the moment and eagerly work with it. Again in Ubbekha there is no space to feel sorry for yourself or for your life. You are gratefull for it, because you realize that it is your own canvas to create the work of art that your life can be, it is your own battlefield where you must give your battle with your shadow, your own potential to connect with the vastness of experience. Ubbekha is the quality that leads us out of fear, to a fearless presence full of potential. The most striking thing at this point is that we have been evoking both of them each time we were repeating the main body of the chant for each paramitta. Why is it needed to repeat them again separately?  My feeling is that we have to be reminded that everything, all the paramitas, all this journey in evoking and manifesting in our everyday life these warrior qualities, starts with the help of Metta and Ubekkha and finishes with them. It is the reference point, the essence of human existence that can only be situated in the heart. This is what we are reminded so loudly in the end. It always has been, it is and it will always be a matter of Heart.