The Six Perfections or Transcendent Virtues

Note: In other texts, the accumulation of merit is often discussed in the context of the Mandala Offering.

If we compare the altruistic desire to attain enlightenment for the good of all to the wish to go on a journey, the journey itself would be the practice of the six transcendent virtues—(1) generosity, (2) discipline, (3) patience, (4) joyous effort, (5) concentration, and (6) wisdom—that will perfectly accomplish the double acquisition of merit and wisdom.

Those virtues can only really be called “transcendent” if they are practiced with the understanding that the three aspects of whatever one does—the subject, object, and the action itself—are empty of intrinsic reality.

In other words, the first five virtues become truly transcendent insofar as they are impregnated with the sixth, wisdom.

Transcendent generosity, for example, is not just the act of giving, but a natural expression of freedom from the notions of “I” and “mine.” It then performs the dual function of relieving the immediate suffering of those in need and contributing to the enlightenment of those who practice it. That enlightenment is the ultimate remedy for suffering.

Source: Ricard, Matthieu. On the Path to Enlightenment: Heart Advice from the Great Tibetan Masters. Boston, Massachusetts: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2013.