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One should practice what are called the six perfections of: giving, ethics, patience, joyous effort, concentration and wisdom. The first five are methods, the last, wisdom, is necessary for any of them to function.
It is said that mainly the first three are practices for the lay people, joyous effort and concentration mainly refer to meditation practice.

 

Giving

 

Giving one's possessions, virtues, even one's body if needed.
Giving of fearlessness, or protection to others.
Practising mentally giving to others.

'Others are my main concern. When I notice something of mine, I steal it and give it to others.'
Shantideva

In giving we not only find wealth while in cyclic existence but we achieve the zenith of prosperity in supreme enlightenment. Therefore we all have to practice giving. Giving is not just overcoming miserliness and being generous to others; a pure wish to give is cultivated, and through developing more and more intimacy with it, such giving is enhanced infinitely. Therefore it is essential to have the firm mind of enlightenment rooted in great love and compassion and, from the depths of one's heart, to either give one's body, wealth and virtues literally to sentient beings as infinite as space, or to dedicate one's body, wealth and virtues for them while striving in all possible ways to enhance the wish to give infinitely. We should literally give material help to the poor and needy, give teaching to others, and give protection to them, even the small insects, as much as we can. In the case of things which we are not able to part with, we should cultivate the wish to give them away and develop more and more intimacy with that wish.

 

Ethics

 

Keeping one's vows.
Working for sentient beings.
Restraining from negative actions.
Collecting merit (with the motivation of helping others).

Patience

 

Having patience in understanding and gaining faith.
Being undisturbed by anguish from suffering.
Practise patience before getting angry.
Having patience in accepting problems.
Being undisturbed by inflicted harm.

 

Joyous effort / perseverance

 

Collecting merit and helping others
Delighting in virtue and every beneficial action.
Avoiding putting off; craving worldly pleasures and discouragement.

It is not good to begin many different works, saying 'This looks good; that looks good', touching this, touching that, and not succeeding in any of them. If you do not generate great desires but aim at what is fitting, you can actualise the corresponding potencies and become an expert in that. With success, the power or imprint of that practice is generated

 

Concentration

 

Developing quiescence; single pointedness, stability & firmness (meditation)
This brings great progress in any meditation practice and supernatural powers.
Cultivating inner needs: to have few wants and generating contentment, abandoning demands of the world, and have pure ethics.
Creating outer needs: conducive place: quiet, easy food & water, blessed place, not too comfortable and a helper.

 

Wisdom

 

Generating ultimate wisdom (emptiness) to achieve liberation and Buddhahood.
Generating relative wisdom in practising the first five perfections and understanding karma.

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