The Buddhist Six Perfections of Writing

By Ruth Barringham

I always like to read and study Buddhism.

I’m not a religious person, but I am fascinated by Buddhism, which isn’t technically a religion because there is no “God” and no strict dogma.

Instead, it’s a way to live a peaceful and ethical life.

And a part of Buddhist tradition is living by what is called ‘The Six Perfections.’

As I read about them I couldn’t help but notice how they lend themselves to writing too.

The Six Perfections consist of three virtuous practices for living and three spiritual practices.

It is said that following these six practices leads us to the expression of our own blissful Buddhist nature.

The first three are:

  • generosity
  • ethics
  • patience

These are the three virtuous practices for everyone. But they could also be for writing:

Generosity - because a lot of writing is given away freely (blog posts, emails, etc) and because I always try and reach out to others who ask for my help.

Ethics - because you have to conduct your writing business honestly and always be careful that what you write doesn’t hurt anyone.

Patience - because writing can sometimes take much longer than you think. Usually the books that are run-away best sellers took a long time to write, and the authors had the patience to see it through.

And the other three are:

  • joyous effort
  • concentration
  • wisdom

These are more specifically about spiritual practice but can be about writing like this:

Joyous Effort - because sometimes it can seem drawn out and complicated when you’re trying to put a big project together. So write for the sake of writing and enjoy it, instead of rushing to get it finished. Enjoy the process not just the goal.

Concentration - because this is what we need the most to get our writing done. It’s a solitary occupation that requires complete focus so we need to practice concentration.

Wisdom - because we can’t earn money from our writing if we don’t know how to do it, or we don’t know what to write about, or worse, our writing is terrible.

So when you use these Six Perfections in your writing - generosity, ethics, patience, joyous effort, concentration and wisdom - it should be easy to become the wealthy writer you’ve always dreamed of being.

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