The paramitas are the essential practices of Mahayana. They constitute the phase of accomplishment of what is called bodhicitta (1). The translation of the Sanskrit term is problematic. It is usually rendered as "perfection", which is false. Indeed, perfection means something like full realization and therefore its completion. The idea of perfection goes hand in hand with that of definition, of delimitation – reaching one's limit, one's end – which is perfect. But then, the element within which the bodhisattva (2) sails is precisely infinity! The path of the bodhisattva is precisely that of the absence of identity, of definition – what is called “vacancy” (sunyata). The bodhisattva's commitment to liberating all beings from ill-being does not lead him to help or love "people", but to exchange his self with others in such a way that the difference and therefore the delimitation between I and you disappears. U.S. and you…
The paramitas are the naves of the bodhisattva who enters the ocean of Dharma.
Thus, if perfection is an important and estimable notion in itself, it is not by seeking it that one reaches the field of Buddhist practices, in particular those of the paramita. It would therefore be better to render this term differently, and undoubtedly in a more literal way. It designates in fact first of all the idea of a crossing.
The paramitas are something like “fords”. There are six or ten of them depending on the school: gift (dana), discipline (sila), tolerance (ksanti), courage (virya), "veillance" or contemplation (dhyana), lucid discernment (prajna ). To these six are added four others in order to make them correspond to the ten meditative levels of the bodhisattvas (Bhumi): skill (upaya), enthusiasm (Pranidhana), power (bala), knowledge (jnana). Understood on the basis of this idea of crossing, of fording, the practice of the paramitas does not consist in “realizing” these six or ten dispositions, but in walking with them or on them. They are the footbridges by which one crosses existence; they are the naves of the bodhisattva who enters the ocean of Dharma