Prajnaparamita. The Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom

Dear Friends,

Over the last several months, these posts and the daily virtual practices with the Sangha of the Pandemic have been focused on five of the six paramitas, often translated as transcendences, purities, or perfections. Throughout the buddhist sutras and commentaries, the paramitas are pointed to as practices that are essential to the abolishment of suffering for oneself and for all beings. These posts have reflected the perspective and understanding of these teachings that have developed in this particular being-stream named William Gentner. These are the thoughts and experiences that I have had and are unique to me.

They are not ever meant to be definitive approaches to buddhist practices or the only way to think about buddhist teachings. As I have mentioned before these words and practices are a meager attempt to use dualistic concepts to point to the non-dualistic reality of beingness. Each individual being will understand the truth of universal goodness based on their own being-stream and habitual tendencies that they have developed. Each individual will find words, phrases, approaches and activities that allow a uniquely beautiful way to manifest the truth of goodness and bring about an end to suffering. Every step along this path that we walk together, every unique expression and practice contributes to the universal realization of goodness. 

Before we move into the sixth paramita: prajnaparamita or the Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom, here is a brief review of the five paramitas that have been covered since last July. They are listed with their Sanskrit name, there common English translation , and a word or phrase that summarizes my experience of their actualization.

Danaparamita. Generosity. Selflessness

Silaparamita. Ethical Conduct. Harmlessness

Santiparamita. Patience. Peace

Viryaparamita. Diligence. Effortlessness.

Dhyanaparamita. Meditation. Attending, Staying With, Malleability and Abandon.

Although each paramita is presented as a separate aspect of practice and fruition, they each contain and cannot be actualized without the other five. For example: Generosity is realized as selflessness through generous practice, harmlessness, the peace of patience, diligence, and self awareness that comes through meditation. Likewise, meditation reveals the nature of the generosity of selflessness, promotes harmlessness and peace, and is itself realized through diligence. This is applicable for the other two and the sixth: prajnaparamita.

Prajnaparamita , the transcendent perfection of wisdom, is regularly presented in the buddhist scriptures as the ground of all beingness; the seed, sprout, path, flower and fruition of all practice; the canvas, pigment, paint brush, painting, painter and witness of all art and all endeavors. 

Prajnaparamita is considered to be so all encompassing that there are treatises about the treatises that are about the origin of the treatises that are about the definition of the words used to describe prajnaparamita while claiming at the same time that it is not definable. A contemporary philosophy that tries to surmise the entirety of prajnaparamita  is Ken Wilbur’s “Theory of Everything” in which he introduces the concept of universal contribution, and the path that all activity is “expanding to include”. There is a buddhist sutra elucidating prajnaparamita  entitled “The Sutra in One Hundred Thousand Lines, which is then summarized in “The Sutra in Twenty-Five Thousand Lines”, which is summarized in “The Sutra in Eighteen Thousand Lines” which is summarized in “The Sutra in Ten Thousand Lines” which is summarized in “The Sutra in Eight Thousand Lines” which is summarized in “The Verse Summary”. In addition to all that there have been billions of other words written and are still being written since Shakyamuni awakened to the truth of suffering, it’s causes, it’s cessation and then began to point to the reflection of the moon of truth and this freedom from suffering through the presentation of the Eightfold Path. 

(chuckle)

And for the next several weeks we will continue this great tradition as  the sangha will be exploring and I will be sharing interpretations and reflections about and this ineffable, nonconceptual, truth of the goodness of being a.k.a. the transcendent perfection of wisdom. I am committed to this exploration and these practices, not because I think that we will arrive at a definitive universal understanding, but because this wisdom and all of the paramitas are knowable, and can be actualized through self revelation or boundless self-knowing. This wisdom that “surpasseth all understanding” is simply who and what is already here, and with the practices of selflessness, harmlessness, peace, effortlessness, and abandon, perhaps we’ll experience a glimpse, a taste, a whiff, a whisper, a caress, or an inkling of the truth of our own human beingness.

The exploration will culminate in a four day virtual retreat, currently scheduled for June 13th – June 17th called “The Art and Wisdom of Being Human.” Look for more information in future posts. 

As always, I look forward to walking th e path, sharing and practicing with you.

With these words I pay homage to all buddhas, bodhisattvas, sentient beings, and the totality. May these words not confuse, bring doubt, or harm, but bring ease and warmth and an end to suffering for all beings throughout all times and in all directions.

William

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Practice

Practicing in sangha, even virtually, supports the practice of meditation differently than practicing solitarily. The members of the Sangha of the Pandemic, invite you to practice with us. No experience is required. There is no cost. Everyone is welcome. 

 We practice on ZOOM:

Mornings

  • Mondays – Calm abiding. 6:30 AM Pacific Time
  • Tuesdays – Body awareness. 6:30 AM Pacific Time 
  • Thursdays – Tonglen, 6:30 AM Pacific Time 
  • Wednesdays and Fridays – “Formal” Practice 7:00 AM Pacific Time.
  • Sundays – Paramitas. 7 AM Pacific Time 

ZOOM Link:   https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89989680789 

Please feel free to reach out with questions or insights. Please also feel free to forward this post and invite others to join the sangha. You may find more reflections, poetry, art at sanghaofthepandemic.org . If you would like to comment or offer feedback and insight you may do so in the comment section on the websiteor by email to wrgentner@gmail.com 

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Check-In

If you have questions about meditation practice, or would like to have a conversation about the practice or anything else, you can check in with William by making an appointment. Go to “Check In Appts.”