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Apr 19, 2016

Adhitthana, the Parami of Strong Determination

Dhammam saranam gacchami

Adhitthana, meaning strong determination, is the backbone of the ten paramis* (qualities to be perfected for full enlightenment. Please see note below). All ten paramis are needed and developed through Vipassana practice to fully purify the mind, and to share with all beings benefits thereby gained.

Adhitthana must be strongly developed to attain success, to gain strength of mind to fulfill the paramis - and to serve all beings with infinite compassion.

Each of these ten qualities (paramis) are also of course enormously helpful in daily life. These qualities are necessary to beneficially cope with situations, challenges, ups and downs in life, in more harmoniously dealing with others. Developing the paramis not only serves long-term benefits, but give benefits here and now.

Greater benefits from a most beneficial Dhamma service undertaking, greater could be hurdles, obstacles, fears, distractions, storms and temptations to pause, postpone or give up the work. But the parami of adhitthana gained through Vipassana practice gives strength to stay the course, purify the mind, live a wholesome life and continue undeterred in endless Dhamma service to all beings.

Attending the Vipassana course after the application has been confirmed is one adhitthana (strong determination) undertaking fulfilled. Steadfast, unshakable iron-will to undertake, complete the Vipassana course. No weak mind of surrendering to negative forces within, and postponing by saying "I will do it later, I"m too busy now." Time is now. 

During a Vipassana course, students develop adhitthana at various levels. The student follows the necessary beneficial rules and code of discipline for the course duration. Facing all difficulties that may arise during the course, and completing the course requires strong adhitthana.

At a much deeper level, the three one-hour group meditations daily during a 10-day Vipassana course (8.00 am to 9.00 am, 2.30 pm to 3.30 pm and 6.00 pm to 7.00 pm) with strong determination purifies the mind and develops adhitthana.

For this one hour, the student resolves not to change posture, not to make any movement of the body (a reaction) and observe objectively impermanent, changing sensations that arise and pass away within one's physical structure. 

No small movements of the body, as reaction to sensations. The body has to be very still, for the mind to be still.

For instance during the Vipassana process of cleaning the mind, the impurities buried deep in the mind could surface as the sensation of pain. It could feel like hot daggers driven into the body. Or these impermanent, continuously changing sensations could be very pleasant. The earlier habit pattern was to react blindly with aversion or craving to bodily sensations, thereby multiplying the suffering. Now one observes the bio-chemical flow of sensations as it is, with balance of mind, without any evaluation of past conditioning. The habit pattern of blind reaction weakens, the impurities dissolve and the mind becomes purer, stronger.

Whatever sensation manifesting in the body is used as a tool to develop equanimity. This equanimity purifies the mind at its root level, and strengthens the parami of adhitthana.

Strong determination (adhitthana) is needed to keep the mind in reality of the present moment by observing arising and passing sensations - and not letting the mind wander away, rolling in impurities.

Without adhitthana, no Dhamma commitment can be fulfilled.

Strong, resolute determination is root of success in every undertaking. Fully steady the mind. All wandering, wavering of the mind, weakness and temptations must be overcome in steadfast progress towards the Dhamma goal - however long it takes, however hard the path may be.

Developing his paramis in lives across countless eons, the ascetic Gotama had reached the last night before attaining full enlightenment. On that full moon night on  banks of Neranjara river, he took adhitthana not to arise from his seat of meditation - not even if his bones were scattered - until he reached his final goal of total purification of the mind. This fixed determination, accumulated purity, and unshakable will-power enabled him to steadfastly overcome all negative, anti-Dhamma forces trying to distract, stop him from reaching the final goal.

Even after attaining the final goal of full enlightenment, the Sammasambuddha continued living the life of an ascetic. He could have spent the remainder of his life in the luxury of his father's palace. Or he could have taught Vipassana living in palaces of the kings who were dedicated Vipassana students. But out of infinite compassion for all beings, he lived a homeless life of complete renunciation - to show the world what is real, most superior happiness: attaining ultra purity of mind, selfless Dhamma service - not dependence or addiction to luxuries and physical comforts, but the deep peace, happiness and mental comfort of a pure mind with no ego, no clinging and craving.

"Adhitthana literally means determination, resolution or fixedness of purpose. Adhitthana can be regarded as a foundation for all the perfections, because without a firm determination one cannot fulfill the other paramitas. Although one’s determination can be extended to either desirable or undesirable way; it should be clearly understood that the determination for the line of unwholesome deeds cannot be regarded as a perfection.

A person with a wavering mind or who sits on the fence cannot succeed in any undertaking.

One must have an iron-will, an unshakable determination to overcome any difficulties of hardship in order to achieve success. 

He who has no determinative mind would easily give up his work before it is successful. Such a person with weak and unsteady mind should get disappointed easily and disheartened quickly. Even a word of criticism would be adequate to put an end to his projects.

A Bodhisatta, who has an unshakable resolution and who is a man of principles, will never give up his noble effort even at the point of death. He is capable of setting aside any obstacles in his way and going forward, turning his eyes towards his goal.

Our Bodhisatta, when he was Sumedha Pandit, made a firm determination at the feet of the Buddha Dipankara in this way: “O Sumedha, from now on you must fulfill the perfection of strong determination as well. 

Be steadfast in whatever Dhamma resolution you make. 

As a rock, even while the wind beats upon it on every side, does not tremble nor quake but remains in its own place, you must likewise be unshaken in your resolution until you become a Sammasambuddha.
Ten paramis:
nekkhamma (renunciation), sila (morality), viriya (effort), panna (experiential wisdom), sacca (truth), khanti (tolerance), metta (unconditional compassion for all beings), upekkha (equanimity), adhitthana (strong determination), dana (donation).
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