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Wisdom in the Dharma

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran
edited September 15 in Buddhism Today

I have recently been wondering about the function of wisdom in the dharma. I read a primer on it on the Dutch-language Boeddhaforum website which contained many sutra references, and while some of it was rather circular such as “wisdom helps develop the path, the essence of wisdom is right view, therefore wisdom accords with the path” there were other references which pointed to wisdom as a separate quality which helped develop the dharma.

The primer was in Dutch but I’ve gotten together a Google Translate powered English version for you, here is the link:

Wisdom in the Dharma Primer in English

Perhaps some people will find it an interesting read, although it is quite long.

Wisdom is better than any wealth.
Because through wisdom you obtain the ultimate goal.
Because people commit bad deeds through ignorance
While they live on life fail to reach the goal. (MN82)

Comments

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    Here I thought the function of wisdom in the Dharma simply describes what leads anyone towards suffering's cessation.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @how said:
    Here I thought the function of wisdom in the Dharma simply describes what leads anyone towards suffering's cessation.

    That is another case of a self-referential description, it doesn’t describe what wisdom is or how to develop it. There are a lot of instances where it is referred to in the sutra’s, and some clarify this a little.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    Wisdom is a word. To a Buddhist it's described as the path and the means from moving from selfishness to selflessness, from harmfulness to harmlessness or the 4NT/ 8 FP/DO/ converting greed, hate & delusion into compassion, love and yes...wisdom.
    To protest about a lack of a description for what wisdom is or how to develop it is like a fish protesting that he has no proof that water exists. The entire Buddhist Cannon is the embodiment of what you claim you can not see.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    You could certainly apply a larger definition of wisdom in that way. A narrower definition though is tricky to pin down, and when you investigate the sutras for what they have to say about it you end up with, as the primer above shows, a somewhat fragmentary image, but of an important concept that does have influence.

    Perhaps it’s impossible to really get it clear.

    how
  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    Asking an illusionary conglomeration of karmic vibrations to use one of its most self compromised sense gates to come up with a narrow definition of its own existence (or what I call wisdom), is a pretty tall order.
    The real answer to wisdoms definition, which is obscured only by a mind more interested in it's own empire building than in wisdom's true source, is unlikely to ever be understood unless a spiritual practice is able to demote said mind off it's own throne and have it back collegially sharing life's stage with all the other sense gates.
    For me, both narrow and wide definitions of wisdom arise simply from the equation of equanimity.

    Shoshin1コチシカ
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    This is modern psychology's take on wisdom, what it is, how it is gained. I haven't seen any in depth comparison with Buddhism's understanding of wisdom, but to my mind it looks to match up well enough.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/wisdom

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I read it, there are a few different peoples views cited in that article, but no consensus emerges.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    The Pali term panna is often defined as reason, wisdom, insight, knowledge, recognition, and discernment. It's a type of knowledge that comes from the combination of experience and reflection. In Buddhism, wisdom begins by asking the following questions:

    What is skillful, venerable sir? What is unskillful? What is blameworthy? What is blameless? What should be cultivated? What should not be cultivated? What, having been done by me, will be for my long-term harm & suffering? Or what, having been done by me, will be for my long-term welfare & happiness? (MN 135, Thanissaro)

    According to MN 43, "The purpose of discernment is direct knowledge, its purpose is full comprehension, its purpose is abandoning."

    And it culminates with insight into and direct knowledge of the four noble truths, the knowledge of release, and the "cessation of this entire mass of stress and suffering" (AN 10.92).

    I see wisdom as stages. The first is seeing the benefit of trying to be as harmless as possible. The second is exploring the mind and its relation to experience, peeling apart our experience of the world like a banana tree. And finally, the stage of "aha, it's like this."

    lobsterShoshin1
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @Kerome said:
    I have recently been wondering about the function of wisdom in the dharma. I read a primer on it on the Dutch-language Boeddhaforum website which contained many sutra references, and while some of it was rather circular such as “wisdom helps develop the path, the essence of wisdom is right view, therefore wisdom accords with the path” there were other references which pointed to wisdom as a separate quality which helped develop the dharma.

    The primer was in Dutch but I’ve gotten together a Google Translate powered English version for you, here is the link:

    Wisdom in the Dharma Primer in English

    Perhaps some people will find it an interesting read, although it is quite long.

    Wisdom is better than any wealth.
    Because through wisdom you obtain the ultimate goal.
    Because people commit bad deeds through ignorance
    While they live on life fail to reach the goal. (MN82)

    I think it's a pretty good primer on wisdom utilizing many of the references in the Pali Canon.

  • ChoephalChoephal UK Explorer
    edited September 17

    The Sanskrit term is prajna. It carries meanings far beyond the English term, it’s not just an ability to problem solve resulting from life experience, or to give meaning to ones actions. It refers to an innate faculty which when realised points to right action. This is Direct Knowledge, knowledge which does not depend on concepts or data.
    In the Mahayana it is invariably paired with karuna..compassion. Wisdom and compassion are often described as the two wings of a bird, both are needed for the bird of Dharma to fly...Forgive the flowery metaphor...🙂

    lobster
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @Choephal said:
    The Sanskrit term is prajna. It carries meanings far beyond the English term, it’s not just an ability to problem solve resulting from life experience, or to give meaning to ones actions. It refers to an innate faculty which when realised points to right action. This is Direct Knowledge, knowledge which does not depend on concepts or data.
    In the Mahayana it is invariably paired with karuna..compassion. Wisdom and compassion are often described as the two wings of a bird, both are needed for the bird of Dharma to fly...Forgive the flowery metaphor...🙂

    I think this is a good point. Ajahn Chah taught that wisdom is like a knife, and that right knowledge or understanding must have a solid foundation of goodness (virtue) and mental steadiness (concentration), otherwise it can be used to cut the wrong things, like other people, instead of the right things, like attachments.

    ChoephalShoshin1lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited September 18

    As some of you know I am extremely virtuous [and also nearly as humble as the little trump]. Even my farts are virtuous ... I offer them as perfume to the hell dwellers ... It is a tantra thing ...

    Really like the points being made. Worth studying for clues ...

    Be Good!
    Bodhi Mother Beings to krill

    OM MANY PER FU ME HUMMM ...

    @Jason said with red link:
    I see wisdom as stages. The first is seeing the benefit of trying to be as harmless as possible. The second is exploring the mind and its relation to experience, peeling apart our experience of the world like a banana tree. And finally, the stage of aha, it's like this

    https://buddhismnow.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/itslikethis-ajahn-chah.pdf

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