Sunday, January 17, 2010

Prajna


I took this photo this morning in bed. I was on a perception safari with my camera and a couple of lenses. I will post a photo essay later today...


and so dear readers, we arrive at the final ferry to the far shore - prajna. Prajna, as The Sakyong Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche tells us, is the binding factor of all the paramitas. It is 'best knowledge' or the wisdom of seeing how things are. And how are things? There is suffering, impermanence and selflessness. Our prajna, like a sharp sword, cuts through our ideas of how we would like things to be - all cozy and sleepy and warm and maybe a bit fuzzy. Our prajna sees that things are not like that and it does so when married to compassion. This allows us to see that our conceptions are not really truly kind to us - being allowed to sleep in day after day is not a kindness but a mindless indulgence instead. When we see how things really are, compassion arises - both for our own predicament and for others' predicament. We are just dear humans trying to bumble along. This prajna, which we all have if sometimes a little rusty and dull, when shined up and sharpened, will allow us to apply the other parmitas - generosity, discipline, patience,exertion and meditation to our task of creating enlightened society.
If we practice the paramita of prajna in our writing we will create fictions that are nothing but true - we will have patience with our process, we will be generous with what we struggle with and what we obtain, we will have discipline and exertion that is joyous and vibrant. Our writing - whether an essay, a novel, a poem, or a letter to someone we love, will be transcendent and luminous. We will know it is so because as we write it, we will feel the joy and grace that comes from writing from that wise place. We will be able to see that everything we encounter, our dream world, is bursting with colour, shimmering with beauty, devastatingly full of longing and loneliness, at the same time as it is poignant with the connectivity of all living matter. Every moment will be an opportunity to use the paramitas and so row ourselves and others to the far shore.
If we don't fashion ourselves writers our prajna will do the same for our dealings with others, our actions at work, the way we play the piano or take photos or cook a meal. Even listening to a child tell us the plot of a long and somewhat tedious movie will be the only thing we wish to do in that moment. Prajna is an open and curious mind just looking for the dharma or truth in all phenomena.
I encourage any of you who are interested to pursue the paramitas - there are lots of good essays on the web. I am most thankful to my teacher, Sakyong Mipham for everything he does and in particular for his clear writing. Here is his site http://www.mipham.com/home.php.

3 comments:

Watery Tart said...

So this one I so long for requires me to do all the others? Not a pick and choose menu of "i'll do this one and this one"? Hmph. Why is rising to the next plane always so much WORK?

Seriously though--I love this idea, and the idea that what you achieve is compassion for your others and self. Compassion is my favorite feature of Buddhism (or the slim knowledge I have of it, anyway), and this is the first I've seen on how to achieve it.

My own compassion is partially personality (we sensitive cancers and all) but I think a person doesn't get through a higher degree in the social sciences without earning a little of this--all that perspective taking...

I really have loved this series, Jan, and I do feel compelled to learn more. That 'connectivity of living things' is central to my own spiritual beliefs, though I have no formal system. I look at it more like we are all parts of a whole, so to harm another (human or otherwise) is self destructive. We put in when we can, so we can draw on it when we need...

L. Diane Wolfe said...

The pro photographer in me LOVES the photo! When I do fun shots, I tend to do close ups and look for unusual stuff.

Gwen Buchanan said...

oh this is wonderfully written, I fell into it and flowed along..

..you are so right... I have also always thought that all activities creative or otherwise, reflect and inspire the others... they are all nourishment... Thank you...