Dear Still Water Friends,
This Thursday evening, after our meditation period, we will explore together Prajña, the sixth of the Six Paramitas. In The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching Thich Nhat Hanh writes that prajña paramita, the perfection of understanding is:
the highest kind ofunderstanding, free from all knowledge, concepts, ideas, and views.Prajña is the substance of Buddhahood in us. It is the kind ofunderstanding that has the power to carry us to the other shore offreedom, emancipation, and peace. In Mahayana Buddhism, prajñaparamita is described as the Mother of All Buddhas. Everything that isgood, beautiful, and true is born from our mother, prajñaparamita.
The understanding Prajña points to is an intuitive knowing. Itcan only be pointed to indirectly through metaphorand paradox. Prajña asks us to hold at the same timethe concrete individuality of the particular and theinterconnectedness, the interbeing, of all reality. Again from the Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching:
Let us look at a wave on thesurface of the ocean. A wave is a wave. It has a beginning and an end.It might be high or low, more or less beautiful than other waves. But awave is, at the same time, water. Water is the ground of being of thewave. It is important that a wave knows that she is water, and not justa wave. We, too, live our life as an individual. We believe that wehave a beginning and an end, that we are separate from other livingbeings. That is why the Buddha advised us to look more deeply in orderto touch the ground of our being, which is nirvana. Everything bearsdeeply the nature of nirvana. Everything has been “nirvanized.” That isthe teaching of the Lotus Sutra. We look deeply, and we touch thesuchness of reality. Looking deeply into a pebble, flower, or our ownjoy, peace, sorrow, or tear, we touch the ultimate dimension of ourbeing, and that dimension will reveal to us that the ground of ourbeing has the nature of no-birth and no-death.
In the tradition of mindfulness, Prajna, is not a “piece ofknowledge” about ultimate reality separate from our dailylives, but a very concrete way of being with our feelings, ouremotions, our loved ones, and the people and circumstances whichchallenge us. When we can simultaneously hold both the particular andthe universal, the tradition tells us, we can live our days with a calmmind and a joyful heart.
Please join us this Thursday evening for our meditation and ourexploration of Prajña. Our discussion will begin with thequestion: When we say we want to be understood by others, is theunderstanding we seek “Prajna,” or something else?