Five Perfections

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The Five Perfections (phun sum tshogs pa lnga).

The five perfections are a common principle in both the Sutra and Tantra teachings. Though they are presented in a variety of contexts, they are most commonly used to demonstrate the various elements present when Buddhist teachings are being transmitted. To give one example, in the following passage Longchenpa explains how the five perfections relate to the teachings given by Dharmakaya buddhas. He writes:

"The dharmakāya teachers as well, all those who dwell in the realization of the combined three kāyas, which are beyond meeting and parting, also experience the perfect enjoyment of the five perfections. The perfect place is the completely pure basic space of reality, which is infinite and uninvolved with any conceptual reference points. In this basic space, the perfect teacher, Samantabhadra, spontaneously enacts the entire range of natural activities. His perfect retinue consists of the perfect enjoyment of the apparent aspect of the kayas and wisdoms, which are none other than Samantabhadra himself, as well as the infinite number of Vajra-holders which spontaneously appear from this expressive potential. To this retinue, he teaches the perfect teaching — the vajra nature of reality itself. Said differently, the perfect teaching is the great realization of innate luminosity, which has not been conditioned by anyone whatsoever. The perfect time is the pure witnessing of reality itself. Hence, this teaching transcends words and letters, arising naturally of its own accord."

-Translated from zab don rgya mtsho sprin, p. 39 CJD