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10 pāramī
dāna
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paññā
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Mañjuśrī, the bodhisattva of wisdom. China, 9th–10th century

Prajñā (Sanskrit) or paññā (Pāli) "wisdom" is insight in the true nature of reality, namely primarily anicca (impermanence), dukkha (dissatisfaction or suffering), anattā (non-self) and śūnyatā (emptiness).

Etymology

Prajñā is often translated as "wisdom", but is closer in meaning to "insight", "discriminating knowledge", or "intuitive apprehension".[1]

  • jñā can be translated as "consciousness", "knowledge", or "understanding".[web 1]
  • Pra is an intensifier which can be translated as "higher", "greater", "supreme" or "premium",[web 2] or "being born or springing up",[2] referring to a spontaneous type of knowing.[2]

Understanding in the Buddhist traditions

Paññā is the fourth virtue of ten Theravāda pāramitās, and the sixth of the six Mahāyāna pāramitās.

Theravada Buddhism

In the Pāli Canon, paññā is concentrated insight into the three characteristics of all things, namely impermanence, suffering and no-self, and the four noble truths.[3][4][5]

In the 5th-century exegetical work Visuddhimagga, one of the most revered books in Theravada Buddhism, Buddhaghoṣa states that the function of paññā is "to abolish the darkness of delusion".[6]

Mahāyāna Buddhism

In Mahayana Buddhism, the importance of prajna was stressed in combination with karuna, compassion. It took a central place in the Prajñā-pāramitā Sutras, such as the Heart Sutra. Prajna is spoken of as the principal means of attaining nirvāna, through its revelation of the true nature of all things as emptiness.

See also

References

  1. Keown 2003, p. 218.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Loy 1997, p. 136.
  3. Steven Collins (1998). Nirvana and Other Buddhist Felicities. Cambridge University Press. pp. 140. ISBN 978-0-521-57054-1. https://books.google.com/books?id=Z2go_y5KYyoC. 
  4. Richard Gombrich (2006). Theravada Buddhism. Routledge. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-134-90352-8. https://books.google.com/books?id=jZyJAgAAQBAJ. , Quote: "All phenomenal existence [in Buddhism] is said to have three interlocking characteristics: impermanence, suffering and lack of soul or essence."
  5. Carl Olson (2005). The Different Paths of Buddhism: A Narrative-Historical Introduction. Rutgers University Press. pp. 63–64. ISBN 978-0-8135-3778-8. https://books.google.com/books?id=QRp-AixBLKUC. 
  6. Buddhaghosa & Ñāṇamoli 1999, p. 437.

Sources

Published sources

Web-sources

  1. See, e.g., Monier-Williams (1899), "jña," p. 425 (retrieved 14 August 2012 from "Cologne U." at mw0425-jehila.pdf).
  2. See, e.g., Monier-Williams (1899), "prā," p. 652 (retrieved 14 Aug. 2012 from "Cologne U." at http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/cgi-bin/monier/serveimg.pl?file=/scans/MWScan/MWScanjpg/mw0659-prajalpana.jpg)

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