Edited with Excerpts from H.P.B.'s Voice of the Silence (p. 33 and pp. 47-48) and G. de Purucker's Fountain-Source of Occultism (pp. 43-53)
To live to benefit mankind is the first step. To practise the six glorious virtues is the second.
The manner in which these paramitas are to be practiced is well illustrated by the following extract from the Mahayana Sraddhotpada Sastra. . . .
1. DANA, the key of charity and love immortal.
How should one practice charity (Dana)?
If someone comes and asks for anything, disciples, as far as they are able, should grant the request ungrudgingly and in a way to benefit them. If disciples see anyone in danger, they should try every means they have to rescue him and impart to him a feeling of safety. If any one comes to disciples desiring instructions in the Dharma, they should as far as they are able and according to their best judgment, try to enlighten him. And when they are doing these acts of charity, they should not cherish any desire for recompense, or gratitude, or merit or advantage, nor any worldly reward. They should seek to concentrate the mind on those universal benefits and blessings that are for all alike and, by so doing, will realise within themselves highest perfect Wisdom.
If we visualize the path as a one-way sieve then this precept comes to light wonderfully. If acts we do go out but desire for results or reciprocation do not easily come in, this is what is meant.
2. SHILA, the key of Harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action.
How should one practise the virtuous precepts (Shila)?
Lay disciples, having families, should abstain from killing, stealing, adultery, lying, duplicity, frivolous talk, covetousness, malice, currying favor, and false doctrines. Unmarried disciples should, in order to avoid all hindrances, retire from the turmoil of worldly life and, abiding in solitude, should practise those ways which lead to quietness and moderation and contentment. . . . They should endeavor by their conduct to avoid all disapproval and blame, and by their example incite others to forsake evil and practise the good.
If we vibrate with the resonance of the Path we can see it clearly, but if we build up in our nature contrary (to Nature) elements, then we necessarily see a fog about us and lose our sense of location/direction.
3. KSHANTI, patience sweet, that nought can ruffle.
How should one practise patient forbearance (Kshanti)?
As one meets with the ills of life he should not shun them nor feel aggrieved. Patiently bearing evils inflicted by others, he should cherish no resentment. He should neither be elated because of prosperity, praise, or agreeable circumstances; nor depressed because of poverty, insult, or hardship. Keeping his mind concentrated on the deep significance of the Dharma, he should under all circumstances maintain a quiet and equitable mind.
Patience, Forbearance, Endurance
As H.P.B. says regarding study of the Secret Doctrine -- one should study the three fundamental propositions, even if it takes a lifetime to do so, without going further -- Wait, for all good things come to those who wait.
4. VIRAG, indifference to pleasure and to pain, illusion conquered, truth alone perceived.
A doing only of our duty without desire for results for if we become attached it would seem we deter not only forward progress but would fill the Path and not leave it void for our passing. Attachment would necessarily draw to itself scenes of passion which would cloud the view. The attachment of the Supreme Goal however draws us toward it, to ever-increasing splendor.
5. VIRYA, the dauntless energy [or fortitude] that fights its way to the supernal TRUTH, out of the mire of lies terrestrial.
How should one practise courageous vigor (Virya)?
In the practise of good deeds one should never become indolent. [complacent]. He should look upon any mental or physical suffering as the natural following of unworthy deeds done in previous incarnations, and should firmly resolve that henceforth he would only do those things which are in keeping with a spiritual life. Cherishing compassion for all beings, he should never let the thought of indolence arise, but should ever be indefatigably zealous to benefit all beings. . . .
We should always make slow deliberate effort in the direction of the path, never tarry or assume we have reached an 'end,' for there are no 'ends,' just subtle and gradual transformations.
6. DHYANA, whose golden gate once opened leads the Narjol (A saint, and adept.) toward the realm of Sat eternal and its ceaseless contemplation.
How should one practise meditation (Dhyana)?
Intellectual insight is gained by truthfully understanding that all things follow the law of causation, but in themselves are transitory and empty of any self-substance. There are two aspects of Dhyana: the first aspect is an effort to suppress idle thinking; the second, is a mental concentration in an effort to realise this emptiness (sunyata) of Mind-essence. At first a beginner will have to practise these separately, but as he gains mind control the two will merge into one. . . .
He should contemplate the fact, that although all things are transitory and empty yet, nevertheless, on the physical plane they have a relative value to those who are cherishing false imagination; to these ignorant ones, suffering is very real -- it always has been and it always will be -- immeasurable and innumerable sufferings. . . .
Because of all this, there is awakened in the mind of every earnest disciple a deep compassion for the suffering of all beings that prompts him to dauntless, earnest zeal and the making of great vows. He resolves to give all he has and all he is to the emancipation of all beings. . . . After these vows, the sincere disciple should at all times and as far as his strength and mind permit, practise those deeds which are beneficial alike to others and to himself. Whether moving, standing, sitting or lying, he should assiduously concentrate his mind on what should be wisely done and wisely left undone. This is the active aspect of Dhyana.
Spiritual Meditation, a golden gate once opened leads the neophyte to the realm of eternal verity and ceaseless contemplation of it.
Katherine Tingley said that one should fill their mind at least half with contemplation of the spiritual. This meditation should again be deliberate and the effort or discipline of concentration is very important.
7. PRAJNA, the key to which makes of a man a god, creating him a Bodhisattva, son of the Dhyanis.
Direct Perception or Self Knowledge.
How can one practise Intuitive Wisdom (Prajna)?
When one by the faithful practice of Dhyana attains to Samadhi, he has passed beyond discrimination and knowledge, he has realized the perfect oneness of Mind-essence. With this realisation comes an intuitive understanding of the nature of the universe. . . . he now realises the perfect Oneness of Essence, Potentiality, and Activity in Tathagatahood. . . .
Prajna-Paramita is highest, perfect Wisdom; its fruitage comes unseen, without effort, spontaneously; it merges all seeming differences whether they be evil or good into one perfect Whole. . . .
Therefore let all disciples who aspire after highest, perfect Wisdom, which is Prajna-Paramita, assiduously apply themselves to the discipline of the Noble Path for that alone will lead them to perfect realisation of Buddhahood.
Wisdom -- The directing principle of the other Paramitas.
Wisdom combined with discriminating intelligence, which makes of a man a god, creating him a Bodhisattva, a son of the Dhyanis.
This principle makes of wisdom a separate thing from knowledge. Knowledge is learning from the physical apparatus and wisdom is an innate understanding or intuitive glimpse. It affords us wider perception of the view of the universals and their patterns.
Such to the portals are the golden keys.
Will approach, not only respond, to danger and difficulty. Proper method or discipline in following the Path.
A reliance on the Law (karma) to provide for everything that is, is right and that universal justice will be meted out in the end.
Searches for and finds the right method of applying the paramitas. The urgent wish to achieve success for the sake of being an impersonal beneficent energy in the world.
Much akin to discernment, discrimination allows us or affords us to choose between the selfish and selfless objects as they pass our purview.
10. PRABODHA (or SAMBUDDHI),
Prabodha -- Awakenment of inner consciousness, bring knowledge and foreknowledge thus opening up glorious visions on the pathway.
Sambuddhi -- Complete or perfect illumination or vision, or self-consciousness of one's identity with the spiritual, the culmination or crown of all. Otherwise phrased it is 'union with the buddhi.'
A continuous exercise of the intellect in study of self, of others, and incidentally of the great religious literatures and philosophies of the world.
Awakenment or Inner Vision or Consciousness -- Union with the buddhi.
A culmination or unifying combination of all the preceding into ONE.