Assets Beyond Measure (The Pāramīs)

what are paramis

what are paramis

The Adventure of Going Beyond

Life is an ongoing adventure. Humanity’s path from ocean to trees to savannah to the internet has been one long journey of “going beyond”. Going beyond our current understanding is what we humans do.

Wisdom is the tool that leads us on from where we are now. Each new step forward makes us more compassionate, loving and wise.

There is a wonderful synopsis of this progression and wisdom in the Buddhist Prajñāpāramitā mantra:  ‘Going, going, going beyond, going beyond, hail to the goer’.

In order to ‘go beyond’, ‘come’, or really ‘be’, there are six qualities, or ‘assets’ we can develop on the path. These assets take us beyond the struggles of our daily life. They are tools to help us overcome feelings of isolation and loneliness, frustration, irritation, worry and anxiety. They also develop engagement, commitment, creativity, imagination, humor and joy.

You may have heard of these six assets being called the pāramīs or pāramitā.

Horse and Cart Dharma

Photo Attribution James McNally

Seeking wisdom, going beyond, is hardwired in each of us. This seeking however often gets hijacked by the programming, the ego or self.

Having the ego in charge is like having the cart (ego) before the horse. The following six assets help us put the horse (the drive to be our very best selves) in front of the cart (our habitual conditioned programming).

What are the Six Assets Beyond Measure?

The first asset is generosity.  One must feel strong and secure to be generous. Like a parent who takes care of the children no matter what the cost, a generous person sees others as oneself and takes care of them as best she can. Another benefit of generosity is that you can’t really be in a negative state while giving. In the actual ‘handing over’ there is joy and love. It is a type of surrender. But it is a surrender from strength not weakness. Non-generosity is rooted in fear and insecurity. Therefore, learning to be generous strengthens us.

The second asset is caring. This asset is sometimes confused with morality and ethics but for most beings this conjures up social conditioning that may or may not actually be caring. For instance the word ‘sin’ is often associated with ‘evil’. Sin actually means to ‘miss the mark’ so if we sin it’s not so much that we are bad but that we need to improve our aim. Similarly, ‘evil’, spelled backwards is ‘live’. The idea is if were not truly living, being compassionate and explorative, we are being ‘evil’.

The third asset is patience. Impatience is basically a temper tantrum, the result of not getting what one wants or getting what one doesn’t want. We all know how old we are being when we have temper tantrums. Humanity didn’t get this far on temper tantrums. Also tantrums are similar to traumas because when we are traumatized or hurt, we are typically impatient.

Impatience is a form of fear rooted in the ego’s sense of separation. The baby’s unconscious thought that “If mother doesn’t show up soon I am dead” doesn’t tend to lead to patience. Therefore patience is embracing yourself as your own ‘good enough mother’. When we are impatient we tend to be like children and when we practice we tend to be like, hopefully, the good mother.

The fourth asset is energy. One common thing about the speed and busyness of daily life in the 21st century is it is a huge consumer of energy and resources. We spend countless ‘ergs’ just keeping track of our passwords. If life is a vast tank filled with water and our daily activities are either boulders, rocks, pebbles or sand we often find that we fill the tank with sand, smaller more trifling matters, more often than with rocks, the big important things in life.

Putting the big rocks in first is a discipline many of us struggle to master. For instance, most of us spend a fair bit of time developing our careers (a big rock) but far less time developing our relationships, spouse, children and friends (another big rock). We most likely spend more time organizing our computers (sand) than we do really getting to know the people around us.  Freeing up energy and building one’s energy for the important things is a huge asset.

The fifth asset is concentration. Attention is seemingly a choice but so much of what we pay attention to is rooted in either habit or marketing. The ego of today is not the ego of going beyond. We must pass through blind habit to mindfulness, or wakefulness, to meet the beyond. The best of what we are today has been envisioned or crafted by egos that looked beyond.

Concentration is karma, it is will, it is a decision. A strong will keeps us focused on the big rocks. If we revert to mere habit, the sand quickly takes over and our state deteriorates.

The sixth asset is wisdom. Wisdom is the result when the previous five assets settle into a kind of chiropractic alignment. In yoga terms, the chakras have lined up and the kinks have been dissolved while the energy, kundalini, is free to move up and down. Another way to say this is that the being whose horse (wisdom) is in front of his cart (ego) can travel in any direction ‘she’ chooses.  This is the redemption of the ego, the transcendence of ego struggle, the opening to wisdom that takes us beyond.

Becoming a Work of Art

Because the transcendent person now has a dis-armored hurt and defense system, their explorations and discoveries are life supporting, life-affirming, positive, wholesome (not particularly religious) and interesting.  He has become a true work of art, and shares that beauty with others.  She uses science, psychology, the arts, meditation and study to conceive, create and mold a kinder, gentler, more human, environmentally conscious and socially sensitive planet.

Surely, this is a path worth walking towards. It is a path for all regardless of intelligence, capabilities or talents. It is a place, a state of being, where kindness, investigation and risk taking don’t cost. It is a place where everyone can grow and develop, as they are capable of or willing to. Mostly it is a place where wisdom precedes fame and fortune and where love and compassion dictate values.

Doug & Catherine Sensei regularly teach retreats on the Pāramīs and Assets beyond Measure. Find out more here: Meditation Retreats & Courses

Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat, Western Mysteries TeachersDoug Duncan & Catherine Pawasarat are modern day teachers of transcendence. Their work with students draws upon Buddhist, Western Mysteries, modern psychology and other traditions. If you found this article helpful, consider sharing your gratitude by making a gift of Dana to the Teachers.

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