Monday, August 15, 2016

What is WISDOM?

Ven. Nyanatiloka (Buddhist Dictionary); Dhr. Seven, Crystal Quintero,  Wisdom Quarterly
The Buddha, Wat Si Chum, Sukhothai, Thailand (

The Buddha's peaceful, compassionate eyes of wisdom, Nepal (
The heart of wisdom is anatta/empty.
When the "wisdom eye" opens one becomes a stream winner, is imbued with true wisdom, glimpses nirvana (the deathless, the unconditioned element), understands for a moment things as they truly are.

That sudden insight happens only with a foundation. "Buddhism" is a path of practice to set up that foundation. Then insight can arise.

Part of the foundation includes virtue, which allows for right concentration called samadhi, which is better understood as mental collectedness, coherence, unity, alltogetherness, wholly unified, unbiased and at one with reality. Five Precepts are fundamental to virtue, and the first four meditative absorptions are right concentration in practice. Then we are ready for wisdom. But what is "wisdom"?

What is wisdom?
On top of Nepal's largest and best known stupa and mandala are these all-seeing eyes.
Paññā or prajna in Sanskrit means "wisdom, true understanding, direct knowledge, liberating insight." It is comprised of a very wide field.

However, the specific Buddhist wisdom or knowledge -- as part of the Noble Eightfold Path to liberation, freedom, emancipation, deliverance -- is insight (vipassanā).

"Insight" is the intuitive knowledge that derives from the knowing-and-seeing that results from the meditative-contemplative practice of Dependent Origination.
This brings about the various stages of enlightenment and the realization of nirvana by directly penetrating the Three Universal Marks of Existence:
  1. impermanence (anicca)
  2. unsatisfactoriness (dukkha, see sacca)
  3. impersonality (anattā) of all forms of existence.
With regard to the condition of wisdom's arising one distinguishes three kinds of knowledge:
  1. knowledge based on thinking (cintā-mayā-paññā)
  2. knowledge based on learning (suta-mayā-paññā)
  3. knowledge based on mental development/meditation (bhāvanā-mayā-paññā) (DN 33).
Wisdom based on thinking is the knowledge one has acquired through one's own thinking, without having learned or heard it from others. 

Wisdom based on learning is the knowledge one has heard from others acquired through learning.

Wisdom based on mental development/meditation is the knowledge one has acquired through calming, purifying, and unifying the mind/heart then developing it by insight-practice (sati, satipatthana, contemplation, recollection, review or anussati, reflection, consideration, seclusion, protection), which has reached the stage of full concentration (according to appanā) (Path of Purificaiton, Vis.M. XIV).
Wisdom is one of the Five Mental Faculties (bala), one of the Three Kinds of Training (sikkhā), and one of the perfections (pāramīs). For further details, see vipassanā and the detailed exposition of the term in the Path of Purification (Vis.M. XIV, 1-32).

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