Prajñā


Prajñā

"Prajñā" (Sanskrit) or "paññā" (Pali) has been translated as "wisdom," "understanding," "discernment," "cognitive acuity," or "know-how." In some sects of Buddhism, it especially refers to the wisdom that is based on the direct realization of the Four Noble Truths, impermanence, interdependent origination, non-self, emptiness, etc. Prajñā is the wisdom that is able to extinguish afflictions and bring about enlightenment.

In the Pali Canon

In the Pali Canon, "paññā" is defined in a variety of overlapping ways, frequently centering on concentrated insight into the three characteristics (impermanence, suffering, no-self) of all things and the Four Noble Truths.

For instance, when elaborating upon the Five Spiritual Faculties (faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom), the Buddha describes "paññā" (here translated as "discernment") as follows::"And what is the faculty of discernment? There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, is discerning, endowed with discernment of arising & passing away — noble, penetrating, leading to the right ending of stress. He discerns, as it is actually present, [the Four Noble Truths] : 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.' This is called the faculty of discernment." [SN 48.10 [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn48/sn48.010.than.html (Thanissaro, 1997).] ]

Similarly, in discussing the Threefold Training of higher-virtue ("adhi-sīla"), higher-mind ("adhi-citta") and higher-wisdom (or "heightened discernment," "adhi-paññā"), the Buddha describes "paññā" thusly:

:"And what is the training in heightened discernment? There is the case where a monk discerns as it actually is that 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress.' This is called the training in heightened discernment." [AN 3:88 [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.088.than.html (Thanissaro, 1998b,] which includes the ellipses used in this article's block quote; also see Nyanaponika & Bodhi, 1999, pp. 69-71).]

In a subsequent discourse regarding the Threefold Training, the Buddha indicates that higher wisdom entails the application of concentration and insight to end "fermentations" (or "mental intoxicants"; Pali: "āsava"), effectively achieving arahantship:

:"And what is the training in heightened discernment? There is the case where a monk, through the ending of the mental fermentations, enters & remains in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & made them manifest for himself right in the here & now. This is called the training in heightened discernment." [AN 3:89 [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.089.than.html (Thanissaro, 1998c;] also see Nyanaponika & Bodhi, 1999, pp. 69-71). Also see Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), entry on [http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.0:1:3098.pali "Āsava" (pp. 115-16)] (retrieved 2007-06-22), which in part states: "Freedom from the 'Āsavas' constitutes Arahantship...."]

In mapping the Threefold Training to the Noble Eightfold Path, [In MN 44 [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.044.than.html (Thanissaro, 1998a),] Bhikkhuni Dhammadinnā – who the Buddha declared the foremost Dharma teacher amongst his nuns ("see" Sravaka) – states::"... [T] he noble eightfold path is included under the three aggregates [of virtue, concentration, & discernment] . Right speech, right action, & right livelihood come under the aggregate of virtue. Right effort, right mindfulness, & right concentration come under the aggregate of concentration. Right view & right resolve come under the aggregate of discernment."What Bhikkhuni Dhammadinnā identifies here as "three aggregates" are often correlated to the Threefold Training, as is done in this article.] "paññā" is traditionally associated with "right view" ("IAST|sammā-diṭṭhi") and "right resolve" ("IAST|sammā-saṅkappa") which the Buddha defined as::"And what, monks, is right view? Knowledge with regard to stress, knowledge with regard to the origination of stress, knowledge with regard to the stopping of stress, knowledge with regard to the way of practice leading to the stopping of stress: This, monks, is called right view.

:"And what is right resolve? Being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill will, on harmlessness: This is called right resolve." [SN 45.8 [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn45/sn45.008.than.html (Thanissaro, 1996).] ]

From the Visuddhimagga

In to the fifth-century CE exegetic "Visuddhimagga", Buddhaghosa states that the function of "paññā" is "to abolish the darkness of delusion" and that it is "manifested as non-delusion." Its proximate cause is concentration. [Buddhaghosa & IAST|Ñāṇamoli (1999), p. 437.]

Buddhaghosa provides the analogy of a tree to discuss the development of "paññā":
* The "soil" of the tree are the::* five aggregates:* twelve sense bases and 18 elements:* 22 faculties:* Four Noble Truths :* Dependent Origination.
* The "roots" are::* purification of virtue:* purification of consciousness.
* The "trunk" is made up of::* purification of view:* purification by overcoming doubt:* purification by knowledge and vision of what is and is not the path :* purification by knowledge and vision of the way:* purification by knowledge and vision.Buddhaghosa instructs that, to achieve "paññā", one should first learn about the soil, then the roots and then the trunk. [Buddhaghosa & IAST|Ñāṇamoli (1999), pp. 442-443.]

From the Prajñā-pāramitā Sutras

The "Prajñā-pāramitā Sutras", such as the Heart Sutra, describe "prajñā" as supreme, highest, incomparable, unequalled, and unsurpassed. It is spoken of as the principal means, by its enlightenment, of attaining nirvana, through its revelation of the true nature of all things.

The beginning of the Heart Sutra includes the phrase "...doing Prajñā..." indicating that prajñā is also an activity as well as an outcome, quality or state. As activity, prajñā can be described as "choiceless engagement" where "choiceless" means selflessly accepting outcomes as they develop while understanding interdependent co-existence and sunyata, followed by further engagement.

Hui-neng

In the history of Zen Buddhism, the Sixth Patriarch Hui-neng (d. 713) emphasized the practice of prajñā in counterpoint to the quietistic and self-absorbed style of meditation that was then current. In so doing, he emphasized dynamic action and human involvement as essential to Zen practice.

As a Perfection

"Praññā" is also listed as the fourth virtue of ten Theravada paramitas and "prajñā" is the sixth of the six Mahayana paramitas.

Notes

Bibliography

* Buddhaghosa, Bhadantācariya and Bhikkhu IAST|Ñāṇamoli (trans.) (1999). "The Path of Purification: Visuddhimagga". Seattle, WA: BPS Pariyatti Editions. ISBN 1-928706-00-2.
* Nyanaponika Thera and Bhikkhu Bodhi (trans. and ed.) (1999). "Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: An Anthology of Suttas from the Anguttara Nikaya". Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press. ISBN 0-7425-0405-0.
* Rhys Davids, T.W. & William Stede (eds.) (1921-5). "The Pali Text Society’s Pali–English Dictionary". Chipstead: Pali Text Society. A general on-line search engine for the PED is available at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/pali/.
* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1996). "Magga-vibhanga Sutta: An Analysis of the Path" (SN 45.8). Retrieved 2007-06-22 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn45/sn45.008.than.html.
* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1997). "Indriya-vibhanga Sutta: Analysis of the Mental Faculties" (SN 48.10). Retrieved 2007-06-22 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn48/sn48.010.than.html.
* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1998a). "Culavedalla Sutta: The Shorter Set of Questions-and-Answers" (MN 44). Retrieved 2007-06-22 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.044.than.html.
* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1998b). "Sikkha Sutta: Trainings (1)" (AN 3:38). Retrieved 2007-06-22 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.088.than.html.
* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1998c). "Sikkha Sutta: Trainings (2)" (AN 3:39). Retrieved 2007-06-22 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.089.than.html.


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  • Prajñā — Prajna  Pour l’article homonyme, voir Prajna (groupe).  (bouddhistes) Perfections   …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Prajñā — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Prajñā (sánscrito) o paññā (pali) se puede traducir como sabiduría , comprensión , discernimiento , agudeza cognitiva o saber hacer . En budismo, se refiere especialmente a la sabiduría basada en la realización… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Prajna —   [ dʒ ; Sanskrit »Weisheit«, »Einsicht«] die, , zentraler Begriff des Mahayana Buddhismus; bezeichnet die nicht begrifflich intellektuell, sondern intuitiv erlangte erlösende Erkenntnis der »Leerheit« als Wesensnatur alles Seienden (Shunyata) …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Prajna —  Pour l’article homonyme, voir Prajna (groupe).  (bouddhistes) Perfections   …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Prajna — Das Sanskritwort Prajñā (Pali: paññā; Tib.: shes rab, chinesisch 般若 bōrě) beschreibt die große umfassende Weisheit, die alle Dinge und Phänomene im ganzen Universum durchdringt. Prajñā existiert demnach schon, bevor das menschliche… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Prajñā — Das Sanskritwort Prajñā; Pali: paññā; Tib.: shes rab, Chin.: 般若, buo re) beschreibt die große umfassende Weisheit, die alle Dinge und Phänomene im ganzen Universum durchdringt. Prajñā existiert demnach schon, bevor das menschliche Bewusstsein… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • prajna — /pruj nyah, neuh/, n. Buddhism, Hinduism. pure and unqualified knowledge. Also called Enlightenment. [ < Skt prajña] * * * …   Universalium

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