Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mahāyāna Perfectionism?

It is perhaps undeniable that the theories and practices of Mahāyāna Buddhism center around the so-called six or ten perfections (pāramitā: pha rol tu phyin pa) and hence I am wondering if the philosophy of the Pāramitāyāna or Pāramitānaya can be called “Mahāyāna Perfectionism.” We are told that in psychology, Perfectionism “is a personality disposition characterized by a striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.” In the Mahāyānic context, Perfectionism may be defined as “a religio-philosophical system characterized by the assumption that the best means of exploiting the best within oneself and others is to become a fully awakened being (i.e. a buddha) and the only means for doing so is by perfecting the so-called six perfections (i.e. the perfection of generosity or giving, of ethical-spiritual self-discipline, of the psychological and intellectual capacity to confront the state of affairs or reality, of diligence, of concentration, and of insight).

Dayal 1932 still remains a good source for the study of pāramitās.