Aspects of Prajna

Prajna is usually translated as “wisdom,” but it’s much more than that. Prajna Paramita, the Perfection of Prajna, is considered fundamental to the Mahayana path. Like “Dharma” and “Buddha” it’s a word that really serves us best when we don’t translate it.

Prajna involves development of the mind. It involves expanding our vision and awareness as far as possible. With prajna we can enter a higher level of awareness. We can be fully present to understand the reality of the world around us. Prajna wakes us up and makes us more open. We can have a deeper connection to the world around us through our cultivation of prajna. Meditation is the development of awareness. Prajna is the product of it.

There are said to be three aspects of prajna. They are Hearing, Contemplating, and Meditating.

Hearing: It’s called hearing, but this represents listening to the dharma and also reading about it. We recognize something useful in the Dharma and we feel a connection to it. We cultivate prajna by learning what has been told in the sutras and also teachings that have been presented by experienced practitioners throughout history. Hearing is where we study and learn the dharma. The teachings connect us with our Buddha nature, with the basic goodness of our existence.

Contemplating: This comes from awareness and understanding. Reflecting on the dharma we begin to understand why the teachings are important and meaningful in our lives. Through contemplation we increase our faith in ourselves and in the dharma. We come to an understanding of the nature of things.

Meditating: This is where we become one with the dharma and overcome the three poisons.

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