PRAJNA




PRAJNA: The sixth of the Six Paramitas (perfections) in the Buddhist concept of the Bodhisattva path. It is referred to as “wisdom” or “understanding” that is capable of extinguishing afflictions and bringing about Enlightenment. Simply stated, it is the field of pure consciousness beyond concepts, beliefs and imaginations.


In Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions, Prajna means the realization of the emptiness of all phenomenal existence. At this stage (Bodhisattva path), the individual would have reached the stage of sainthood and could have entered Nirvana if he so wished. However, out of compassion, this entry is prolonged and deferred to a time when all suffering beings have already been led towards enlightenment. Prajna is therefore balanced by Karuna (compassion) which is the part and parcel of the conception of wisdom. This motivates the perfection of wisdom – which is the conceptualization of the first five qualities of the Six Paramitas (giving, morality, patience, vigor, meditation).(see)

The Prajna-paramita Sutras of the Mahayanas, such as the Heart Sutra and the Diamond Sutra, describes it as supreme, highest, incomparable, unequalled, and unsurpassed essence. Both traditions focuses a lot on “emptiness” while meditating.

For the Theravada Buddhists, Prajna means to gain an intuitive understanding of the Four Noble Truths, Dependent Origination and the Law of Karma. Insight or Vipassana Meditation, like the other traditions, is the means to attain such wisdom. Through diligent practice, the meditation reveals the inherent suffering, impermanence and absence of self in all phenomena thus leading one to see reality.


THE THREE STAGES OF PRAJNA


The Mahayanas are believed to be the first to effectively conceptualize the Prajna. There are three levels of Prajnas related to the practice of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness [i.e., 1.) the body, 2.) feelings, 3.) minds, and 4.) mental objects]. This Prajna of mindfulness is a three-stage process of development in the path of Buddhism – the Prajna of listening; the Prajna of contemplating; and the Prajna of meditation.


These according to the Sutta-Satipatthana are the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, for attaining purity, overcoming suffering, and the realization of Nirvana.


SEE:

THE SUTRA OF THE 6th PATRIARCH, HUI NENG: Chapter II, On Prajna


THE WANDERLING







(source) BUDDHISM CONCEPTS (July 28, 2007)