Ten Qualities Leading to Buddhahood


When the Buddha had electrified the ancient world with his teachings and his example, people came to him and asked, “What are you? A god, a saint, an angel?” And he replied: “I am awake.” Within this statement is embedded the heart of Buddhism’s unique position among the world’s spiritual traditions. For as the Buddha showed, each of us can overcome the “sleep” of ordinary consciousness and awaken our hearts and minds to achieve the true freedom that every moment of life offers us.

Buddhism’s most basic foundation for mindful living is the Ten Perfections. These perfections— which include such universal virtues as truthfulness, simplicity, and lovingkindness— offer immediate answers to the problems and challenges we face every day of our lives. By using them as keys, you can unlock the human gate to supreme wisdom and open fully to the perfection within each moment of experience.

The Buddhist List of The Ten Perfections

Generosity (dana)

This can be characterized by unattached and unconditional generosity, giving and letting go. Giving leads to being reborn in happy states and material wealth. Alternatively, lack of giving leads to unhappy states and poverty. The exquisite paradox in Buddhism is that the more we give – and the more we give without seeking something in return – the wealthier (in the broadest sense of the word) we will become. By giving we destroy those acquisitive impulses that ultimately lead to further suffering.

Morality (sila)-virtue, integrity

It is an action that is an intentional effort. It refers to moral purity of thought, word, and deed. The four conditions of sila are chastity, calmness, quiet, and extinguishment, i.e. no longer being susceptible to perturbation by the passions like greed and selfishness, which are common in the world today. Sila refers to overall (principles of) ethical behaviour.

Renunciation (nekkhamma)

Nekkhamma is a Pali word generally translated as “renunciation” while also conveying more specifically “giving up the world and leading a holy life” or “freedom from lust, craving and desires.” In Buddhism’s Noble Eightfold Path, nekkhamma is the first practice associated with “Right Intention.” In the Theravada list of ten perfections, nekkhamma is the third practice of “perfection.”

Wisdom (pañña)

Prajña (Sanskrit) or pañña (Pali) has been translated as “wisdom,” “understanding,” “discernment,” “cognitive acuity,” or “know-how.” In some sects of Buddhism, it especially refers to the wisdom that is based on the direct realization of the Four Noble Truths, impermanence, interdependent origination, non-self, emptiness, etc. Prajña is the wisdom that is able to extinguish afflictions and bring about enlightenment.

Energy/Strength (viriya)- effort

It stands for strenuous and sustained effort to overcome unskillful ways, such as indulging in sensuality, ill will and harmfulness. It stands for the right endeavour to attain dhyana. Virya does not stand for physical strength. It signifies strength of character and the persistent effort for the well-being of others. In the absence of sustained efforts in practicing meditation, craving creeps in and the meditator comes under its influence. Right effort known as viryabala is, thus, required to overcome unskillful mental factors and deviation from dhyana.

Patience (khanti)

Khanti (Pali) has been translated as patience, forbearance and forgiveness. It is the practice of exercising patience toward behavior or situations that might not necessarily deserve it. It is seen as a conscious choice to actively give patience as if a gift, rather than being in a state of oppression in which one feels obligated to act in such a way.

Truthfulness (sacca)

Sacca is a Pali word meaning “real” or “true.” In early Buddhist literature, sacca is often found in the context of the “Four Noble Truths,” a crystallization of Buddhist wisdom. In addition, sacca is one of the ten paramis or perfections that a bodhisatta must develop in order to become a Buddha.

Resolution – determination (adhitthana)

Adhitthana (Pali; from adhi meaning “higher” or “best” plus stha meaning “standing”) has been translated as “decision,” “resolution,” “self-determination,” “will” and “resolute determination.” In the late canonical literature of Theravada Buddhism, adhitthana is one of the ten “perfections” (dasa paramiyo), exemplified by the bodhisatta’s resolve to become fully awakened.

Lovingkindness (metta)

Metta (Pali) or maitri (Sanskrit) has been translated as “loving-kindness,” “friendliness,” “benevolence,” “amity,” “friendship,” “good will,” “kindness,” “love,” “sympathy,” and “active interest in others.” It is one of the ten paramitas of the Theravada school of Buddhism, and the first of the four Brahmaviharas. The metta bhavana (“cultivation of metta”) is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism.

The object of metta meditation is loving kindness (love without attachment). Traditionally, the practice begins with the meditator cultivating loving kindness towards themselves,then their loved ones, friends, teachers, strangers, enemies, and finally towards all sentient beings. Commonly, it can be used as a greeting or closing to a letter or note.

Buddhists believe that those who cultivate metta will be at ease because they see no need to harbour ill will or hostility. Buddhist teachers may even recommend meditation on metta as an antidote to insomnia and nightmares. It is generally felt that those around a metta-ful person will feel more comfortable and happy too. Radiating metta is thought to contribute to a world of love, peace and happiness.

Metta meditation is considered a good way to calm down a distraught mind by people who consider it to be an antidote to anger. According to them, someone who has cultivated metta will not be easily angered and can quickly subdue anger that arises, being more caring, more loving, and more likely to love unconditionally.

Equanimity (upekkha)

American Buddhist monk Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:
“The real meaning of upekkha is equanimity, not indifference in the sense of unconcern for others. As a spiritual virtue, upekkha means equanimity in the face of the fluctuations of worldly fortune. It is evenness of mind, unshakeable freedom of mind, a state of inner equipoise that cannot be upset by gain and loss, honor and dishonor, praise and blame, pleasure and pain. Upekkha is freedom from all points of self-reference; it is indifference only to the demands of the ego-self with its craving for pleasure and position, not to the well-being of one’s fellow human beings. True equanimity is the pinnacle of the four social attitudes that the Buddhist texts call the ‘divine abodes’: boundless loving-kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity. The last does not override and negate the preceding three, but perfects and consummates them.”