Perfection of Wisdom Timeline

Perfection of Wisdom Timeline

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Paramitas: The Ten Perfections of Mahayana Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhism developed six paramitas or perfections early in its history. Later, the list was fleshed out to include ten perfections. The Six or Ten Perfections are virtues to be cultivated and practiced on the path to realizing enlightenment. To add to the confusion, Theravada Buddhism has its own list of Ten Perfections. They have several items in common, but they are not identical.

Although the Six Perfections are complete in themselves, the additional items in the list of Ten Perfections add the dimension of the bodhisattva path. A bodhisattva is an "enlightenment being" who has bowed to bring all other beings to enlightenment. The bodhisattva is the ideal of practice for all Mahayana Buddhists.

With the additional four "perfections, we see the fruits of wisdom manifested in the world. In some ways this recalls the Oxherding Pictures of Zen Buddhism, which represent stages of enlightenment. Realization of great enlightenment is represented in the eighth and ninth pictures. The tenth shows an enlightened master walking in a marketplace, bestowing blessings. Read on for the complete list of the Mahayana Ten Perfections.


The structure can be divided into three sections: [3]

  1. Book of Eschatology
    • exhortation to justice
    • speech of the impious, contrasts of the wicked and the just
    • exhortation to wisdom
  2. Book of Wisdom
    • Solomon's speech concerning wisdom, wealth, power and prayer
  3. Book of History
    • introduction, followed by diptychs of plagues
    • digression on God's power and mercy
    • digression on false worship and further plagues
    • recapitulation and concluding doxology.

The book is addressed to the rulers of the earth, urging them to love righteousness and seek wisdom the wicked think that all is chance and that they should enjoy each day, but they are deluded. [4] In the second section Solomon (not explicitly named, but strongly implied) tells of his search for wisdom.

The Wisdom of Solomon can be linked to several forms of ancient literature, both Jewish and non-Jewish, but it clearly belongs with biblical Wisdom books such as the Book of Job, one of only five such books among ancient Jewish literature. [5] In terms of classical genre it has been identified as an encomium and with the Greek genre of the "exhortatory discourse", by which a teacher attempts to persuade others to a certain course of action. [6]

Melito of Sardis [7] in the 2nd century AD, Augustine [8] (c. 397 AD) and Innocent I (405 AD) [9] [10] considered Wisdom of Solomon as part of the Old Testament. Athanasius writes that the Book of Wisdom along with three other deuterocanonical books, while not being part of the Canon, "were appointed by the Fathers to be read". [11] Epiphanius of Salamis (c. 385 AD) mentions that the Wisdom of Solomon was of disputed canonicity. [12] According to the monk Rufinus of Aquileia (c. 400 AD) the Book of Wisdom was not called a canonical but ecclesiastical book. [13]

The Book of Wisdom was listed as canonical by the Council of Rome (382 AD), [14] the Synod of Hippo (393), [15] the Council of Carthage (397) and the Council of Carthage (419), [16] [17] the Council of Florence (in 1442) [18] and the Council of Trent (in 1546). [19]

The Wisdom of Solomon was written in Greek, in Alexandria (Egypt), in the late 1st century BC or early 1st century AD. The author's prime literary source was the Septuagint, in particular the Wisdom literature and the Book of Isaiah, and he was familiar with late Jewish works as the Book of Enoch and with Greek philosophical literature. [20] It is uncertain whether the book has a single author or comes from a school of writers, but recent scholarship has favoured regarding it as a unified work. [21] In either case its blend of Greek and Jewish features suggests a learned Hellenistic background, and despite the address to the "rulers of the world" the actual audience was probably members of the author's own community who were tempted to give up their Jewishness in the face of the temptations of Greek culture and the hostile conditions facing Jews in the Greek world. [2]

The book opens with the opposed pairs righteousness/unrighteousness and death/immortality: those who do not follow righteousness will fall into "senseless reasoning" and will not be open to wisdom wisdom is not an inherent human quality nor one that can be taught, but comes from outside, and only to those who are prepared through righteousness. [22] The suffering of the righteous will be rewarded with immortality, while the wicked will end miserably. [23] The unrighteous are doomed because they do not know God's purpose, but the righteous will judge the unrighteous in God's presence. [24] Lady Wisdom dominates the next section, in which Solomon speaks. [24] She existed from the Creation, and God is her source and guide. [24] She is to be loved and desired, and kings seek her: Solomon himself preferred Wisdom to wealth, health, and all other things. [25] She in turn has always come to the aid of the righteous, from Adam to the Exodus. [2] The final section takes up the theme of the rescue of the righteous, taking the Exodus as its focus: "You (God) have not neglected to help (your people the Jews) at all times and in all places." (Wisdom of Solomon, 19:22). [2]

19th century American author Herman Melville marked his copy of the Wisdom of Solomon heavily. Without knowledge of biblical criticism he managed to note the interplay of Hellenistic Platonism and Jewish philosophy, writing, "this admirable book seems partly Mosaic & partly Platonic in its tone. Who wrote it I know not. Some one to whom both Plato and Moses stood for godfather." [26] The interplay of multiple philosophies is exemplified in many of Melville's works, specifically Moby-Dick and Clarel, wherein religious and philosophical interplay represent the struggle for certainty in the 19th century.

3rd Century, 201 to 300

203 Origen, who is around twenty years-old, succeeds the wealthy Christian scholar, Clement of Alexandria, as leader of the Christian school in Alexandria. Clement has helped Christianity blend with Plato's philosophy and has championed allegorical interpretations of scripture.

208 The Parthian Empire has suffered from plague and their rule has shrunk to Mesopotamia alone. A king named Ardashir has arisen in Persia.

217 The Taoist cult leader, Chang Lu, descendant of Zhangling (See 142 CE) ) has warred with a neighboring Taoist cult, led by Chang Hsiu. He has been overrun by the warlord Cao Cao and he dies. Legend will describe his grave being opened and his body discovered to be miraculously preserved, signifying his special place in heaven.

224 Ardashir's army defeats the Parthian army. Four hundred years of rule by the Parthian dynasty, the Arsacids, comes to an end. Ardashir is the first king of a new dynasty, the Sassanids, which will rule across Persia and Mesopotamia.

242 At Ctesiphon, capital of the Sassanid Empire, Ardashir's son and successor, Shapur I, is tolerant of religious diversity and has given a 27-year-old named Mani permission to spread his religion, to be known as Manichaeism, around the empire. Mani believes that his views are the sum and perfection of all religious wisdom. With worldly knowledge having become a greater part of religious thought, Mani's religion includes his positions on the origins of the universe, anthropology, history, botany, zoology and geography. Manichaeism includes Zoroastrianism's struggle between good and evil, and Mani calls himself an apostle of Jesus Christ.

250 Since the last of the Severan emperors in 235, Rome has had fifteen different military-emperors, most of whom have died violent deaths. Rome is in chaos. Economic activity has declined. In the western half of the empire roads are deteriorating and cities have shrunk. Agricultural estates are growing as fortresses and ignoring Rome. Emperors have debased money in order to pay soldiers. In Gaul hordes roam about pillaging. Piracy has increased. Rome's trade with China has ended. Having lost their faith in government, more people are seeking refuge in religions that promise well-being.

250 Roughly five percent of people within the Roman Empire have become Christian. Having become more visible, Christians are increasingly under attack for refusing to take part in ceremonies to appease Rome's gods. People are blaming Christians for the anger of the gods. A wave of executions takes place, initiated by Emperor Decius, with the bishop in North Africa, Cyprian, describing the persecutions of Christians as God's punishment for their not doing His will. "We," he writes," are receiving the thrashing we deserve."

258 A second wave of executions take place, initiated by the Emperor Valerian. Cyprian is executed by beheading, witnessed by thousands, those near him throwing pieces of cloth to catch his blood. Romans are impressed by the willingness of Christians to suffer and die for what they believe in. Many see the state as more of an enemy than the Christians.

276 The Zoroastrian priesthood is opposed to rivals in the Sassanid Empire, including Christianity and Manichaeism. Under a new Sassanid king, Hormizd, Mani is executed and his followers are persecuted, and they scatter. Manichaeism spreads into the Roman Empire.

280 In China, wars among rival lords produces nominal unity and a new emperor: Jin Wu. By now, Mahayana Buddhism has grown in China. Introduced some two hundred years before, it has offered people salvation amid war and strife.

284 Commanders of rival Roman armies fight for power, and a commander of humble birth from Illyricum, Diocletian, emerges as emperor. Diocletian likes the trappings of power and the grand style of Asian emperors and proclaims himself the earthly representative of Rome's supreme god, Jupiter.

300 Christians across empire are about ten percent of the population. In the eastern half of the empire they are twenty or more percent of the population. North Africa had become largely Christian, the result of Christian evangelists having learned the Coptic and Berber languages.

300 Bantu speaking people have expanded into eastern Africa, alongside hunter-gatherers.

Unknown Authors

Bottom line, it's not settled exactly when these sutras were written, and the authors themselves are unknown. And while it was assumed for a long time they originally were written in India, more recent scholarship suggests that some of them may have originated in Gandhara. There is evidence an early school of Buddhism called Mahasanghika, a forerunner of Mahayana, possessed early versions of some of these sutras and may have developed them. But others may have originated with the Sthaviravadin school, a forerunner of today's Theravada Buddhism.

Barring some invaluable archaeological discovery, the precise origins of the Prajnaparamita Sutras may never be known.

The Tibetan Buddhist tradition classifies the discourses ( sūtra , mdo ) delivered by Śākyamuni Buddha in terms of the three turnings of the doctrinal wheel, promulgated at different places and times in the course of his life. Among them, the sūtras of the first turning expound the four truths, those of the second turning explain emptiness and the essenceless nature of all phenomena, while those of the third turning elaborate further distinctions between the three essenceless natures. The sūtras of the Perfection of Wisdom ( prajñāpāramitā ) are firmly placed by their own assertion within the second turning, promulgated at Vulture Peak near Rājagṛha.

It is in these sūtras that the role of the compassionate bodhisattva with a mind set upon enlightenment achieves pre-eminence over the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas of lesser attainment. The central message subtly integrates relative truth and ultimate truth, reiterating that great bodhisattva beings should strive to attain manifestly perfect buddhahood in order to eliminate the sufferings of all sentient beings rather than merely terminate cyclic existence for their own sake, even though, from an ultimate perspective, there are no phenomena, no sentient beings and no attainment of manifestly perfect buddhahood.

The relentless deconstruction of all conceptual elaborations with respect to phenomena, meditative experiences, and even the causal and fruitional attributes characteristic of the bodhisattva path, which is explicitly emphasized throughout these sūtras, may have been controversial, but it has given rise to both Madhyamaka dialectics and to the non-analytical meditative pursuits of the Chan (Zen) tradition. In Tibet, on the other hand, these sūtras are generally approached through study of The Ornament of Clear Realization ( Abhisamayālaṃkāra , Toh 3786, a treatise said to have been dictated to Asaṅga by Maitreya) and its extensive commentaries, which constitute the Parchin ( phar phyin ) literature‍—one of the principal subjects of the monastic college curriculum. These treatises elaborate on the eightfold structural progression of the bodhisattvas’ goals, paths and fruit which are implied, though understated in all but the recast manuscript of the Sūtra in Twenty-five Thousand Lines .

Traditional Tibetan accounts hold that, following their promulgation by Śākyamuni, the sūtras were concealed in non-human abodes‍—the longest Sūtra in One Billion Lines among the gandharvas, the Sūtra in Ten Million Lines among the devas, and the Sūtra in One Hundred Thousand Lines among the nāgas‍—the last of these being retrieved and revealed by Nāgārjuna from the ocean depths and initially propagated in South India.

The extant texts forming this cycle of sūtras are replete with abbreviations, modulations and other mnemonic features, indicative of an early oral transmission‍—even today they are read aloud as an act of merit in monastic halls and public gatherings. At the same time, the medium length and longer sūtras explicitly extoll the merits of committing the sūtras to writing, in the form of books, as an offering for the benefit of posterity.

In Tibetan translation, the sūtras of the Perfection of Wisdom are contained in twenty-three volumes of the Degé and Narthang Kangyurs‍—comprising approximately one fifth of the entire collection. This division of the Kangyur precedes all the other sūtras in the Buddhāvataṃsaka ( phal chen ), Ratnakūṭa ( dkon brtsegs ) and General Sūtra ( mdo sde ) divisions of the Kangyur, reflecting the high prestige of the Perfection of Wisdom within Mahāyāna Buddhism as a whole.

They include twenty-three distinct texts, foremost among them being the “six mothers” ( yum drug ) and the “eleven children” ( bu bcu gcig ). The six mothers are the “longer” and “medium” length sūtras, which are said to be distinguished by their structural presentation of all eight aspects of the bodhisattvas’ path, as elucidated in The Ornament of Clear Realization . The shorter texts, being terser, do not fully elaborate this structure.

The six mothers are outlined as follows:

1. The Perfection of Wisdom in One Hundred Thousand Lines ( Śatasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā , Toh 8) comprises twelve volumes, twenty-five fascicles and seventy-two chapters.

2. The Perfection of Wisdom in Twenty-five Thousand Lines ( Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā , Toh 9) comprises three volumes, seventy-eight fascicles, and seventy-six chapters.

3. The Perfection of Wisdom in Eighteen Thousand Lines ( Aṣṭādaśasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā , Toh 10) comprises two and a half volumes, sixty fascicles, and eighty-seven chapters.

4. The Perfection of Wisdom in Ten Thousand Lines ( Daśasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā , Toh 11) comprises one and a half volumes, thirty-four fascicles, and thirty-three chapters.

5. The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines ( Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā , Toh 12) comprises one volume, twenty-four fascicles, and thirty-two chapters.

6. The Verse Summation of the Perfection of Wisdom ( Prajñāpāramitāratnaguṇasañcayagāthā , Toh 13) comprises nineteen folios.

In most Kangyurs the long sūtras, 1-5 (Toh 8-12) each occupy their own primary section of the collection, but here they have all been placed under a single heading for the genre.

Of the shorter sūtras, all contained in a final “miscellaneous Prajñāpāramitā” ( sher phyin sna tshogs ) volume of the section, the best known are the Diamond Cutter ( Vajracchedikā , Toh 16, in three hundred lines), commonly known as the Diamond Sūtra , and the Essence of the Perfection of Wisdom ( Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya , Toh 21), justifiably famous as the Heart Sūtra .

Others include increasingly condensed versions: a version in 2,500 lines known as The Questions of Suvikrāntavikrāmin (Toh 14), versions in 700 lines (Toh 24), 500 lines (Toh 15), 50 lines (Toh 18), In a Few Syllables (Toh 22), and even In One Syllable (Toh 23). The version in 150 lines (Toh 17) is strongly tantric in style and content, and indeed several of the sūtras are duplicated in the Tantra section of the Kangyur.

In addition to these Tibetan translations, there are extant Sanskrit manuscripts from Gilgit and Nepal, complete in some cases, partial in others, and Chinese translations representing all of the longer and medium length versions of the sūtra, with the exception of The Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom in Ten Thousand Lines .

A bibliographic appraisal of all texts within this division can be found in Conze, Edward, The Prajñāpāramitā Literature (2nd edition), 1978: Tokyo, The Reiyukai.

The Benefits of Studying the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras (Prajnaparamita)

This is a talk given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa in Pomaia, Italy on October 22, 2000. Edited by Patrick Lambelet. It is part of the Basic Program course materials published by the FPMT. Istituto Lama Tsongkhapa is the site of the FPMT Master's Program which is also mentioned in the talk.

Guru Shakyamuni Buddha gave teachings to 500 swans in a field and, due to that, all those 500 swans were born as human beings in their next lives. Not only that, but they all became fully-ordained monks and then achieved the arya path in order to achieve total liberation from samsara. They progressed in the five paths, achieving the path of accumulation, path of preparation, path of seeing, path of meditation, and the path of no-more-learning. They all achieved those arya paths and so were able to overcome the sufferings of samsara in their next life.

This is how powerful it is to listen to the Buddha’s teachings and what great impact or benefit one receives. Just as those birds received unbelievable results in their next lives, so too it is the same for us in our daily life through listening to teachings, even if we do not understand them. The great benefit or impact that we get in our mental continuum just by listening to the teachings of Buddha is like the limitless sky we get limitless skies of benefit. It is totally different from reading newspapers or watching TV – twenty-four hours or one hundred hours of watching TV – or reading novels about wars or somebody’s made-up stories. In the West, there are so many made-up stories people read novels just to pass the time when they cannot fall asleep or have nothing to do. Then our life goes into novels. But there is a huge difference between reading or listening to Buddha-Dharma, Buddha’s scriptures – even if you do not understand them – and reading those other subjects. There are skies of difference, like the difference between the sky and the earth.

The impact or effect on your mental continuum from other subjects that are opposite to Buddha’s teaching is that they give rise to attachment, anger, and jealousy – when you see that somebody has great success in business or has great wealth, is a billionaire, millionaire or zillionaire, you become jealous. All the various negative, disturbing emotional thoughts arise and leave negative imprints on the mental continuum, which makes it more difficult to have the realizations of the path to enlightenment. By obscuring the mind, these negative emotional thoughts and their negative imprints become obstacles to seeing the ultimate nature, emptiness. Then, that makes it difficult to cease the cause of suffering – the unknowing mind, ignorance – as well the other obscuring, disturbing emotional thoughts and karma. This makes it difficult to become free from samsara, all the oceans of samsaric sufferings. So, you see, by listening to, studying, and reading Buddha-Dharma, even if you do not understand it now, it becomes very easy to understand that subject in your future lives. It becomes so easy to understand and actualize the meaning of the subject, the meaning of the words, and the path to practice. It makes your future life so easy, like the example of those birds who just heard the Buddha’s words. That story is nothing new, but it indicates the special benefit of listening to the Dharma, whereby it encourages one to listen to, read, and study Buddha’s teaching.

Vasubandhu, who wrote the text Abhidharmakosha, recited it every day. A pigeon, sitting on the roof above, was able to hear Vasubandhu reciting this. After the pigeon died, Vasubandhu checked with his psychic powers to see where this pigeon had been reborn and saw that it had been born as a human being to a family in the same area. He went down into the valley and, finding this child, asking the family whether he could have the child. The family offered the child to him and he took him back to his place. This child later became a monk named Acharya Sthiramati who wrote four commentaries on the Abhidharmakosha text that he had heard when he was a pigeon. Because that text was so easy for him to understand, he became learned in that subject and wrote four commentaries in that life. On the other hand, when he heard Madhyamika teachings, he found them hard to understand because he had not heard those teachings much in his past life. This shows how hearing the teachings of Buddha now makes a huge difference, even if we have not heard them in past lives. Even just hearing the teachings of Buddha – leave aside understanding them – makes a huge difference in our next lives. So that is a short story. From such stories, you can understand that by listening to Dharma, just by listening to the teachings of the Buddha, you can achieve a good rebirth in the next life.

In particular, it is important to study the subjects of the seven-year Masters Program and the Basic Program– the Prajnaparamita [Perfection of Wisdom] teachings, Abhisamayalamkaraand Madhyamikavatara, as well as Abhidharmakosha. The more extensively you learn the teachings of Buddha, the broader your understanding of what are correct thoughts and what are mistaken thoughts. You will develop more wisdom enabling you to discriminate what is right from what is wrong. Therefore, when you practice, not only will you practice correctly without many hardships and much time, but you will also be able to achieve correct realizations quickly. The more extensive your understanding of Dharma, the more you will be of benefit to others. You will be able to reveal the path to enlightenment and liberation according to the levels of intelligence of other sentient beings. For those who are of lower intelligence, you can give teachings that are more simple for others, a middle version of explanation then, for those who have greater intelligence, you can explain the Dharma in depth. In this way, you will teach that which suits their wishes and their level of intelligence. In this way, you will have more freedom to benefit other sentient beings. On the other hand, if one has very little understanding of Dharma, then there is not much freedom to benefit others by explaining Dharma to them.

Kunkyen Jamyang Shayba, one very high Amdo lama, wrote many extensive philosophical teachings. In fact, the very first definitions that one learns when beginning to debate the philosophical subjects in the monastery are his definitions of form, color, and so on. Each time one learns these definitions, those Dharma words, it helps develop omniscient mind it is a procedure to achieve omniscient mind. It is a way to develop omniscient mind to make the mind fully awakened or enlightened. Like that, every day, as we learn more meanings of words, we are creating omniscient mind. Thus, it is extremely worthwhile to learn Buddhism, especially to learn it in depth and extensively. Now, here, learning the Prajnaparamita is unbelievable. There is no way one can measure the benefit.

In the Lion’s Roar of Shrimaladevi Sutra, it mentions the benefits of listening to teachings on the perfection of wisdom – Abhisamayalamkara and Madhyamikavatara. Abhisamayalamkara directly shows the method and indirectly, that is, in a hidden way, shows emptiness. By listening to these teachings on the Prajnaparamita (the Perfection of Wisdom) – teachings that explain the ultimate nature – one collects more merit than from ten eons of practicing the five paramitas (perfections). That means ten eons of practicing the paramita of charity, the paramita of morality, the paramita of patience, and so on. For us, if somebody even provokes us one time, for example if somebody says, “Hey, you’ve done this and that!”, or shouts at us or provokes us, it is very difficult to practice patience. If somebody tells our mistakes to others – announces and advertises our mistakes to others – it is difficult to practice patience even one time. Anyway, for a person like me, it is very difficult to practice patience even one time, but here this sutra mentions ten eons of practicing charity, morality, and so on. We can understand how difficult that is by relating it to ourselves – how much one can practice morality, even once, purely. Ten eons of practicing morality, ten eons of practicing patience, perseverance, and concentration. Just listening to teachings on the perfection of wisdom collects far greater merit than ten eons of practicing the other five paramitas. In addition, ten eons of explaining the teachings on the perfection of wisdom to other sentient beings collects far greater merit than ten eons of listening to the teachings on the perfection of wisdom. Then, one second – the duration of a fingersnap – of meditating on emptiness collects far greater merit than ten eons of explaining the teachings on the perfection of wisdom to other sentient beings.

When you study the teachings on the perfection of wisdom, if you relate the studies to your own mind, your own view, your own life, your own concepts, and then analyze them, your studying becomes meditation. Therefore, you can see how much merit you collect studying the perfection of wisdom, such as the teachings on the Madhyamikavatara. It is just unbelievable merit, good luck, or good fortune. One collects good karma it is just mind-blowing.

In the Diamond Cutter Sutra it mentions that even memorizing four lines of the teachings of the perfection of wisdom has unbelievable, mind-blowing benefits. The Buddha explained that the benefits are equal to the number of worlds equaling the number of sand grains of the river Ganges. The sutra also mentions worlds equaling the number of atoms of the water of those worlds. The number of worlds equaling the number of the sand grains of the river Ganges is unbelievable (Ganges is also interpreted to mean “ocean”). The river Ganges is so wide and long and the number of sand grains is uncountable. Then, next is the worlds equaling the number of atoms of water in those worlds. Just memorizing four lines – one stanza – of the teachings on the perfection of wisdom collects far greater merit than if you were to fill that many worlds with precious jewels, gold, diamonds, and silver and make offerings of these to the Buddha. Even though the offering is unbelievably mind-blowing, extensive, it is very small if you compare it to the benefits of memorizing just four lines of the teachings on the perfection of wisdom. Therefore, you should realize the opportunity that you have now.

Originally, Lama Yeshe – who is kinder than all the three times’ buddhas – set up this seven-year program. Geshe-la [Geshe Jampa Gyatso], who was a classmate and a friend of Lama’s, planned and determined to establish this program. Because of that, you have this opportunity to study and learn these teachings on the perfection of wisdom – Madhyamakavatara and, before that, Abhisamayalamkara. You do not know how fortunate you are, so now you need to recognize the benefits of learning, memorizing, even just hearing these teachings. The benefit is unbelievable, whether one immediately understands the meaning or not. The main point is to realize that this teaching is so precious and what incredible benefit you get from that. The beginning of the Madhyamakavatara text says that [the perfection of wisdom] is called “mother” because all the numberless past, present, and future buddhas have been born from this perfection of wisdom. Also, the numberless bodhisattvas and numberless arhats are born from this wisdom. This wisdom is what liberates numberless sentient beings from all the oceans of samsaric suffering. It is the real Dharma, the real refuge that liberates us from the oceans of samsaric suffering, whose continuation has no beginning. This Prajnaparamita teaching is so precious, unbelievably precious. The Buddha said “Wherever this Prajnaparamita teaching is, I am there.” The Buddha said to Kunga (Ananda) that even if other teachings are destroyed that is okay, but one should not degenerate or allow even a little bit of the teaching of the Prajnaparamita to be destroyed. The Buddha asked Kunga to look after and protect the teachings of the Prajnaparamita. So, your studying the teachings of the Prajnaparamita is also a service to the teachings of the Buddha – to preserve and spread them. It is a very important service to the Buddha – this is what Buddha cherished so much, the teachings on the Prajnaparamita.

Therefore, it is a great success of Lama Tsongkhapa Institute that these programs – not only the seven-year program, but also the four-year Basic Program – are being established, fulfilling Lama’s holy wishes. As far as Dharma education is concerned, establishing and organizing this program is a great success on the education side. It also fulfills Lama’s holy wishes as far as organizing education for Western students in the West. That is an extremely important thing for personal development as well as to benefit the most important project in the FPMT – to have many qualified teachers to liberate numberless sentient beings. Each student, each person, who completes their studies will be able to liberate numberless other sentient beings – not only from the lower realms but from samsara, which is only in the nature of suffering – and then bring them to full enlightenment. So once this becomes successful, it can inspire people to start more programs like this in other parts of the world, in different countries, at other centers. The students who complete the studies here could help with, assist, or teach the Basic Program and other seven-year programs. After having studied well, they could be actual teachers. In so many parts of the world, they will be able to teach many people, enlighten and awaken many sentient beings from the darkness of ignorance sentient beings whose minds have been dark, without the light of Dharma wisdom, from beginningless rebirth.

So I would like to take this opportunity to thank you. Actually, I should give each one of you a billion dollars, that is what I should do! A billion dollars, or even a zillion dollars, to each person! To those who go without sleeping, even at nighttime, I could give a zillion dollars! Anyway, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organizers here, including Geshe-la, and then everyone, then all the students, from the bottom of my heart. I would like to thank you on behalf of Lama Yeshe, on behalf of all the buddhas, bodhisattvas, and all the sentient beings. So I would like to thank you. Thank you very much.

Anatta and Sunyata

The historical Buddha taught that we humans are made up of five skandhas, which are sometimes called the five aggregates or five heaps. Very briefly, these are form, sensation, perception, mental formation, and consciousness.

If you study the skandhas, you might recognize that the Buddha was describing our bodies and the functions of our nervous systems. This includes sensing, feeling, thinking, recognizing, forming opinions, and being aware.

As recorded in the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta of the Pali Tipitaka (Samyutta Nikaya 22:59), the Buddha taught that these five "parts," including our consciousness, are not "self." They are impermanent, and clinging to them as if they were the permanent "me" gives rise to greed and hate, and to the craving that is the source of suffering. This is the foundation for the Four Noble Truths.

The teaching in the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta is called "anatta," sometimes translated "no self" or "not self." This basic teaching is accepted in all schools of Buddhism, including Theravada. Anatta is a refutation of the Hindu belief in atman -- a soul an immortal essence of self.

But Mahayana Buddhism goes further than Theravada. It teaches that all phenomena are without self-essence. This is sunyata.

Heart Sutra

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Heart Sutra, Sanskrit Prajnaparamitahridaya-sutra (“Discourse on the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom”), in Mahayana Buddhism, an extremely brief yet highly influential distillation of the essence of Prajnaparamita (“Perfection of Wisdom”) writings, much reproduced and recited throughout East and Central Asia.

True to its title, this short sutra goes to the heart of the doctrine it summarizes. In the space of a single page (some versions adding an introductory and a concluding paragraph), in words ascribed to the bodhisattva (“buddha-to-be”) of compassion, Avalokiteshvara, the Heart Sutra discusses the doctrine of “emptiness” ( shunyata), which is the nature of reality. The process of death and rebirth (samsara), the suffering (dukkha) that one experiences while knowing that one may die, the effects of past actions (karma) that bind one to samsara, the skandhas that constitute a sense of selfhood, the ephemeral and microscopic dharmas that constitute phenomenal reality—all are revealed to be devoid of permanence, and thus “empty.” Awareness of such emptiness leads to release (moksha) from samsara and to the wisdom that precedes enlightenment (bodhi).

This article was most recently revised and updated by Matt Stefon, Assistant Editor.

Perfection of Wisdom Timeline - History

History of the Perfection Stove Company

More than just a heater, Perfection was a Way of Life for many people.

In 1888, Henry Parsons Crowell was approached by Frank Drury to build, and market, a 'lamp stove'. The two men discussed the practicability of such an item. A patent was applied for the Cleveland Foundry Company began building and then selling the stove. The 'Perfection Stove Company' was born.

In 1888 the Cleveland Foundry Company was formed. They manufactured a line of oil lamp stoves, along with many lamp companies such as Bradley & Hubbard and Miller. In 1894, the plant started producing portable heaters. These heaters used the "store lamp" wick that had been standardized by Rochester in 1884. In 1901 Francis Drury approached John D. Rockefeller of Cleveland owner of Standard Oil Company. At the time Standard Oil was delivering kerosene to homes and businesses for use in kerosene lamps. Rockefeller knew that with use of the Drury Stove the demand for this kerosene would increase substantially and it did. Rockerfeller selected the company to design, develop and manufacture for it a complete line of stoves which were to be sold under the name "Perfection" to dealers by a group of 300 Standard Oil salesmen. This arrangement was continued by other oil companies.

The Perfection product lineup was extremely important to the growth of American civilization. By 1918, over 5,000,000 heaters were in use. By 1922, over 3,000,000 Perfection kitchen stoves and ranges were in use in American homes! A sizeable percentage of households used a Perfection product on a daily basis.

1932 Ford Delivery Van model

Before WW I, oil companies had horse drawn carts with large tanks of kerosene that would go through the larger cities of America. Fasten to the sides of these tankers were Perfection stoves and heaters that the deliverymen would sell off the cart. Following Standard Oil's breakup in 1916, the oil companies decided to concentrate on the gasoline business and gave up marketing stoves. (After WW I, d ealers had trucks which would deliver stoves, wicks, kerosene and other products within a licensed delivery area, and there were small neighborhood shops as well (See the sign at the top of this page.) The Perfection Stove Company sold so many stoves and ranges they also had their own line of cook book!)

Following the merger with Cleveland Metal Products Co. in 1917, Cleveland Foundry assumed the name of Cleveland Metal Products Co. In 1925 the name was changed again to Perfection Stove Company. In the years from 1920 to 1940 the company expanded its line of kerosene burning appliances to include water heaters, space heaters, power burners, furnaces and absorption refrigerators.

<<< At left, my Perfection Hot Water Heater. The one gallon glass jar on the right fed a 331X wick (in bottom brass burner) below the burner a special catalytic converter (middle, white), which heated a ribbed cast iron section (top) in which water was circulated. A cap (front) covered the top to keep everything clean, and a vent on the cap allowed a small chimney to vent any fumes to the outside.

The "Cleveland Foundry" began to offer stoves, first single burner "Ivanhoe" models, then graduating to multiple burners and finally complete kitchen ranges. These used the 331X wick. Later, as the Perfection Stove Company, they offered hot water heaters, refrigerators, etc. The smaller units used the 331X wick while the largest units used the 441 "Giant Superfex" wick. (Perfection also sold their ranges to Wards for sale under the Montgomery Ward's label. Click here for the owner's manual for a 1927 Ward's "Windsor" range. Thanks to New England Gardener of for this manual.) Perfection 331X wicks available here.

(The primary Perfection patent was their 1913 patent on a moveable flame spreader, shown in profile at left. Because flame spreaders had existed since the Jan. 15, 1884 patent by Leonard Henkle (which was purchased by Charles Upton for his Rochester lamps), even that patent was shaky. The primary change made by Perfection was using a wick sleeve to make changing wicks faster and easier. They could not patent the heater or wicks because heaters made by B&H and Miller using the same wick (without the wick sleeve) had been in use since the late 1880's. As a result, clones of the Perfection heater (and wick) were made and sold with the trade names Barler, Boss, New Process, Nesco, Tropical #015 Oil Heater, United States Stove Co. US-89A, Valor, Savoil D-81 and "Old Antique".)

During the Second World War, production of civilian products was stopped. A line of military heating equipment for operations in the Artic was developed and manufactured, and contracts were obtained for the production of other military goods such as aircraft parts and army field ranges. After the war, production of kerosene-burning appliances was resumed and augmented over the years by the addition of gas space heaters, furnaces, gas and electric ranges, gas fired infrared heating equipment, and air conditioners.

The "Golden Age" of the Perfection Stove Co. lasted from 1916 until the middle 1950's. While FDR's rural electrification program was announced in the late 1930's, it was not until well after WW II that electric power lines were finally strung throughout rural areas. And by the 1950's, the cost of electricity in cities had been reduced significantly. Combined with the post-War economic boom, this spelled the end of easy, virtually automatic sales of kerosene powered stoves, ranges, hot water heaters and other appliances sold by the Perfection Stove Company.

In 1954, the company opened a plant in Georgia, taking over an existing 156,000 sq ft factory near Waynesboro. In 1955, it changed it's name to Perfection Industries, Inc. and was purchased by Hupp Corporation. In 1967 White Consolidated Industries, a major appliance manufacturer, bought Hupp Corporation and operated it until 1981 when it was sold to Bernd Schwank of Cologne, Germany. Scwank's father developed the infrared heating system and special ceramic tiles that convert gas-fuel flame to usable infrared rays. Perfection began to manufacture Schwank's products in 1955 under license of the German company. A quarter of a century later, Bernd Schwank would purchase the Waynesboro plant and Perfection would mark it's 100th anniversary. Production of Perfection Oil Stoves and parts apparently ceased in 1981.

During most of the production run of Perfection heaters, their only competition came from clones of their own heaters and from the Aladdin Blue Flame heaters made in England (left). In the late 1970's, Toyotomi of Japan began to export their heaters to the US under the brand name KeroSun. The first KeroSun heater was the Moonlighter, which was a flame spreader heater - essentially a miniaturized and restyled version of the Perfection 500 (shown at right). By 1980 the importation of Japanese kerosene space heaters using the improved catalytic converter burner system, long-lasting fiberglass wicks and employing a safety tip-over switch combined to virtually doom sales of the almost century-old Perfection heater design, and production of Perfection flame spreader heaters ended soon thereafter. In the 1980's there were some heaters sold by "Perfection," but they appear to have been made by Toyokuni of Japan and re-branded to sell using the Perfection name brand.

The full history of Perfection stoves and all their various products has never been definitively recorded - I am not aware of any authentic company records being released to the public. The stoves and heaters were not serial numbered in such a way that we can positively identify a date of manufacture. Most of what we can deduce comes from period advertisements. Was there a Perfection manufacturing facility in Canada, or an advanced assembly plant? Below right is an advertisement dated June 10, 1922 which was preserved by Google books which shows an address for Perfection Stove Co. LTD being located in Sarnia, ONT Canada.


Cast into top grate - Top: Perfection Stove Co. LTD. Bottom: Sarnia ONT Part No. 570

The Cleveland Metal Products Company was found in 1888 by Henry P. Crowell and Francis E. Drury in Cleveland, Ohio. Its industry was lamps and heaters and its headquarters remained in Cleveland, Ohio. It was purchased by the Hupp Corporation in 1955. It was acquired by Schwank, Inc. in 1981. The Perfection name was eventually dropped.

It had a subsidiary that went under the name Perfection Stove Company, Limited that was located in Sarnia, Ontario.

Cleveland Foundry Company (1888-1910)
Cleveland Metal Products Company (1910-1921)
Perfection Stove Company (1921-1955)
Perfection Industries, Inc. (1955-1964)
Perfection Furnace & Air Conditioning Division, Hupp Corporation (1964-1965)
Typhoon Air Conditioning Division, Hupp Corporation (1965-1981)
Perfection-Schwank, Inc. (1988-?)

Perfection Stove
Perfection Water Heater
Perfection Oil Heater
Aladdin Cooking Utensils

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