Six Paramitas

The Six Paramitas describe the characteristics of a well-lived Buddhist life, and endeavoring to practice them in everyday situations is a lifelong journey.

Perfection of


More information


Skt. Dāna

Jp. fuse 布施

  • To freely give with a heart of great compassion. 
  • To give without expecting anything in return. 
  • To give thinking of the needs of others without considering one’s own benefit.
  • The practice of dāna was originally prescribed by Sakyamuni Buddha for householders to give in support of the Sangha and the poor.  With the rise of the Mahayana, dāna was included in the Six Paramitas of bodhisattva practice.


Skt. Śīla

Jp. jikai 持戒

  • Moral conduct, upholding precepts
  • Corresponds to: Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood in the Eightfold Path
  • One common list of precepts for monks (bhikkus) and nuns (bhikkunis) includes 227 total precepts for monks and 311 precepts for nuns.


Skt. Kṣānti,

Jp. ninniku 忍辱

  • Corresponds to: Right Effort (internal) in the Eightfold Path
  • In the face the face of difficulty and injury, to practice patience and forbearance by calming the mind and not giving rise to anger and hatred.
  • In the Discourse on the Stages of Concentration Practice (Skt. Yogâcārabhūmi-śāstra Ch. Yuqie shidi lun 瑜伽師地論), three elements of forbearance are described: (1) not giving rise to anger, (2) not clinging to hatred and grudges, and (3) not harboring ill will
  • The Sutra on the Mahayana Principle of the Six Paramitas (Ch. Dasheng liqu liu boluomiduo jing 大乘理趣六波羅蜜多經) states that the perfection of forbearance requires one to transcend the discriminating mind that separates self from other and good from bad.
  • In the Sūtra on Understanding Profound and Esoteric Doctrine (Skt. Saṃdhinirmocana-sūtra. Ch. Jie shenmi jing 解深密經), the following three aspects of forbearance are described: (1) tolerating anger and injury committed by others toward oneself, (2) calmly accepting all suffering that befalls oneself, and (3) discerning the truth in contemplating all phenomena.


Skt. Vīrya,

Jp. shōjin 精進

  • Corresponds to: Right Effort (external) in the Eightfold Path
  • To put forth a spirited and courageous effort in seeing the path to enlightenment.
  • To strive vigorously to cultivate goodness and cease committing evil deeds.
  • In his Commentary on the Sutra on Superior Birth (Ch. Shangshengjing shu 上生経疏) Cien Dashi describes the following two aspects of diligence: “[The word ‘diligence (精進Jp. shōjin)’ is made up of two Chinese characters ‘shō 精’ and  ‘jin 進.’]  Shō’ means ‘purity’ in the sense that no evil is mixed in.  ‘Jin’ means to advance on the path without negligence or laziness.”
  • In modern day Japan, shōjin-ryōri 精進料理 or “diligent cuisine” has come to refer to Buddhist vegetarian cooking.  This reflects the understanding that one who diligently pursues the path of Buddhist practice will strive to strictly observe the precepts against taking life and consuming intoxicants.


Skt. Dhyāna,

Jp. zenjō 禪定

  • Corresponds to: Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration (Samadhi) in the Eightfold Path
  • To focus the mind on a single point of concentration such that one arrives at a mental state free of distraction.
  • Through calming the activity of the mind in meditation (Skt. śamatha, Pali samatha), one establishes the ground for realizing insight (Skt. vipaśyanā, Pali vipassanā) and wisdom.


Skt. Prajñā

Jp. chie 智慧

  • Corresponds to: Right View, Right Thought in the Eightfold Path
  • The working that brings about the realization of awakening by illuminating that which is true and severing the distraction of falsehood.
  • The ability to correctly apprehend all things and see the true nature of reality.
  • In Japanese wisdom (chie 智慧) is written with the Chinese characters “chi智” and“e慧.”  “Chi” refers to illumination of the mind and understanding of worldly truth in the realm of discriminating consciousness.  “E” refers to illumination of absolute truth in the realm of enlightenment.