Introduction - Ten perfections make cittas healthy and strong
Before we listened to the Dhamma, akusala citta was likely to arise often, and we did not understand at all how to develop the eightfold Path. When someone has listened to the Dhamma, he acquires understanding of the development of panna and of the eightfold Path. However, when people have gained already some degree of understanding, they can notice that samma-sati, right mindfulness, very seldom in a day arises and is aware of the characteristics of realities. Therefore, it is necessary truly to know oneself and to find out the reason why right mindfulness arises very seldom.
It may be that someone has understood the right way of the development of panna that can eradicate the wrong view of self and realize the four noble Truths. However, what is the reason that right mindfulness does not develop in accordance with one’s understanding of the Path? The reason is that everybody has defilements, and this can be compared to suffering from illness. We are like a sick person who does not know how to recover and gain strength. We see that the way we have to travel is extremely far, but when our body is not healthy and strong we cannot travel all the way through and reach our destination. The eightfold Path is the long way we have to travel in order to reach our destination, that is, the realization of the four noble Truths. If we do not examine and know ourselves, we are likely to be a person who knows the right Path but who cannot go along it. We are like someone who does not know the way to gain strength and recover from his ailments. Therefore, listening to the Dhamma and considering it so that we gain understanding, can be compared to the situation of a person who looks for the right medicine to cure his illness. Someone who does not listen to the Dhamma and does not even know that he is sick, will not look for medicine to cure his illness. As soon as he finds the Dhamma and has right understanding of it, he is like a person who has found the right medicine that cures his illness so that he has sufficient strength to travel a long way. The dhammas that make the citta healthy and strong so that one can walk the eightfold Path all the way through are the ten perfections.
We should carefully consider the perfections so that we have correct understanding of them, otherwise we shall not be able to develop them. We may listen to the Dhamma every day, but we should know and consider why we listen: we should listen with the firm determination and intention to have right understanding of the Dhamma so that we can apply it, now and during each life to come. We should know the right purpose of listening: the development of panna that can eradicate defilements. In this way the perfections can begin to develop while we listen.
When we listen, the perfection of determination can develop. We should know the meaning of the perfection of determination; without mental strength one cannot fulfil this perfection. Some people who perform kusala, such as generosity, express their determination by prayer, but they do not know the meaning of determination. When one has the firm, unshakeable determination to reach the goal, the eradication of akusala, determination is a perfection, and this is an essential condition for the development of panna.
If we do not study the perfections, we may continue just to listen without knowing the right purpose of it, and because of this we surely shall not realize the four noble Truths. We should consider whether the perfections begin to develop while we listen to the Dhamma. Whenever we have the firm determination to listen with the right purpose, the development of panna, we develop and accumulate all ten perfections so that they can reach accomplishment.
11 Nov 2014