Mindful Study: Practicing the Six Paramitas While Learning
-Eveline Zwahlen, BA student from Switzerland
Recently in the TSTD review, one of my fellow students brought up an issue that most of us face at some point during our studies—the challenge of finding the balance between studying and practicing. When studying in an academic setting, students find themselves in a dynamic learning environment where they receive much information and material to be understood and applied quickly. Finding the time and tranquility for practice amidst the challenges of the daily study schedule is difficult and can lead to tension and feelings of imbalance.
However, especially when studying the dharma, there is no need for such tension as there is no real separation between study and practice. When we follow our classes with the motivation of bodhicitta, we can practice the six paramitas daily and have all the essential elements that make up the practice of a bodhisattva already included in our studies. The six paramitas are generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, concentration, and wisdom. We practice generosity, for example, by consciously dedicating our time and resources to following the teachings. Discipline is practiced by doing our assignments and exams in a way that does not violate ethical principles and consequently avoids academic dishonesty. We practice patience by accepting the difficulties that come our way without becoming angry and seeing them as possibilities to grow. Diligence is practiced by following the teachings with joy and interest and striving for a deeper understanding of the dharma. Furthermore, we practice concentration by focusing on what is said in class instead of planning the day or getting lost in our thoughts. Also, we increase our wisdom by studying the dharma and gradually working to reduce our afflictions.
When we approach our daily studies with such a perspective, there is no need for tension between study and practice. On the contrary, we can rejoice that, in addition to all the merit that comes from studying the dharma, we are also practicing all six paramitas on a daily basis.