Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/27/2012

A Year of Virtues

On vacation recently and with little time for formal seated meditation I found myself really focusing on gratitude and forgiveness throughout long bus rides through the mountains and seaside of Ecuador. Travelling with my kids and wife I somehow suddenly realized that I wasn’t giving my son a consistent spiritual education. He’s young yet but values such as gratitude and forgiveness just have not yet taken root and I can’t help but think that has to do more with a lack of teaching than his tender age. From my own upbringning I can testify that a complete absence of articulated values was disastrous although for others the opposite may have been the case. My own ex-hippie parents left me with a rough outline of how to treat others but really didn’t provide much of a framework for the scope and meaing of my actions in the world. This left me with a gnawing nihilism that ate a hole clean through me when things got hard. I can only wonder what would have happened had I been given the gift of a spiritual education.

So, in that vein, I have decided to select a different virtue each week to work on with my son (and my 2 year old daughter can destroy the printouts and activities I design too if she wants). I planned initially to use the paramis only but quickly realized that a whole host of virtues would be left out if I did so. For now the tentative plan is as follows:

  1. Khanti/Patience
  2. Kutūhalaa/Inquisitiveness
  3. Avihimsā/Ahimsā/Harmlessness
  4. Dana/Generosity
  5. Upakāratva/Helpfulness
  6. Hirimantu/Modesty
  7. Gārava/Respect
  8. Subbacatta/Meekness (Easy to Admonish)
  9. Anurāga/Fidelity-Loyalty
  10. Sacca/Truthfulness
  11. Viriya/Energy-Courage
  12. Aditthana/Determination
  13. Kataññu/Gratitude
  14. Metta/Loving-kindness
  15. Pacchātāpa/Repentance
  16. Khema/Forgiveness
  17. Karuna/Compassion-Mercy
  18. Aparigraha/Non-possessiveness or Not Stealing
  19. Mudita/Sympathetic Joy
  20. Upekkha/Equanimity
  21. Appicchatā/Contentment (Having few wishes)
  22. Nekkhama/Renunciation
  23. Attapariccāga/Self-sacrificing
  24. Sati/Mindfulness
  25. Samadhi/Concentration
  26. Paññā/Wisdom

Although I originally had 21 virtues listed in order to cycle through the series twice in one year I have to admit my arithmetic was wrong so the admission of 5 more was both a good thing in itself and worked to make an even 26 which will cycle nicely.

In short the additional five are Pacchātāpa, Upakāratva, Subbacatta, Attapariccāga and Paññā. For the first I had to look up the state of being helpful in Sanskrit and then do some chop-shop morphological changes to get what I think is the Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit. Meekness or compliance was absolutely critical and, if my children ever intend to be leaders or parents themselves I want them to value self-sacrifice. Pacchātāpa or contrition is something I feel is lacking in myself and most people I meet and, although I was unsure of whether or not to include it, I have added wisdom as the culmination of all the other virtues on the list.

I intend to put together activities, stories from suttas, jatakas and non-canonical sources (e.g. Nasruddin tales, news stories etc..) and may very well have a book when finished. If so I would offer it on Lulu or another service for free download and at cost for publishing.

You can find the PDF of the coloring page at the following link: Khanti-Paciencia-Patience Please don’t mind that the translation is in Spanish as it’s my son’s first language. If anyone is ever interested I would be more than happy to provide an updated English (or even Italian) version.

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