Prajñā


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  1. As long as there is something attained, there is so much error rising; when the Mind itself is thoroughly understood, error neither rises nor ceases.

The perennial problem often with zen-adepts is that some form of objective needs to be met—something to strive after and thus something attainable. Mystically this is very faulty reasoning because there really is no-thing out there to be attained, it’s a form of objective fallacy. The great Hui Hai once put this to rest by proclaiming, knowing that there is nothing attainable or achievable is the Self-Realization of the Dharmakaya of the Buddhadharma. Furthermore, Anuttarasamyaksambodhi is thus a Self-Perfection that is beyond both the attainable/ [Un]attainable.

  1. When the [Yogin] enters upon Mind-only, he will cease discriminating an external world; establishing himself where suchness has its asylum he will pass on to Mind-only.
  2. By passing on to Mind-only, he passes on to the state of imagelessness; when he establishes himself in the state imagelessness, he sees not [even] the Mahayana.

Mind-only is indeed the decisive affair—when the discrimination is put to rest along with all associations within the skandhic-mind. When the Such is won, then one is immersed in the refuge of the imageless Mahasunya, or the sanctum sanctorum of the Unborn Mind. There is an error above, because imagelessness is not really a state—it is stateless and truly not something cognizable or concrete (a state) in the ordinary sense. It transcends all images. Tozen once definitively articulated this:

Here in the Unborn Mind School of Zen, an “image” refers to any Mind projected-manifestation that is sustained through ignorance as any Form, any Sound, any Sensation, any thought, Concept or idea; any Emotion, or in short, any sensory impression or expression that in itself or in combination with other images makes the image appear “alive” in notions of enjoyable, seductive, attractive, repulsive, frightening, or even painful.

  1. There are no Skandhas in Nirvana, nor is there an ego-soul, nor any individual signs; by entering into the Mind-only, one escapes from becoming attached to emancipation.

The Nirvanic-Mind is an imageless one, signless, devoid of any skandhic contaminations. Yearning for emancipation itself can become a mind-trap. Emancipation from what and by whom?

  1. [Cleary]: The fallacy causing the appearance of existence seems external to humans; mind is invisible, so mind is not seen.

Mind is not something created or un-created, not to be seen by sensate minds and thus an imageless affair. But one needs to be cautious here, for imageless doesn’t equal invisibility. If it did it would require some previous form from which to become invisible.

  1. (Chapter III, v. 38) Karma is accumulated by Citta, and discriminated by Jnana; and one acquires by Prajna the state of imagelessness and the powers.

One acquires by Prajna: we have come to the blog proper, or today’s title, Prajñā. Generally, it is known as wisdom and is one of the six paramitas. But there’s so much more to savor from such a mystically succulent term. Doing a search here on Unborn Mind Zen, one would discover a rich reservoir of connotations stretching over a vast array of blog-posts. The following, while not exhaustive, offers a well-balanced overview of the term:

Yampolsky:

 “What is prajñā?  Prajñā is wisdom (chih-hi). When at all times successive thoughts contain no ignorance, and you always practice wisdom, this is known as the practice of prajñā. If but one instant of thought contains ignorance, then prajñā is cut off; but if one instant of thought contains wisdom, then prajñā is produced.  

“People are deluded and do not see prajña. They speak of prajñā with the mouth, but in their minds they are constantly ignorant. They themselves say: ‘I am practicing prajñā,’ and in consecutive thoughts they speak of emptiness, yet they do not know the true emptiness. Prajñā has no shape and form. This, then, is the mind of wisdom.”

Prajñā (Absolute Wisdom) and Adhimukti (Resolute Faith) are far superior to all other virtues and are part and parcel of the Doctrine of the Ratnagotra—the Uttaratantra, or “Ultimate Doctrine.” Prajñā removes kleśa-jñeyāvaraṇas, or all the afflictive Obstructions through the activation of bodhipower. Prajñā  is side-by-side a crucial element with Bodhi, this is why the [Prajñā-pāramitā] is a highly extolled factor in the text, yea it is THE prime pāramitā that purges, in conjunction with bodhipower, the kleśa-jñeyāvaraṇas. Also, if one hears and absorbs the Teachings of the Ratna, one will soon begin to fathom and have resolute [faith] that one already has the Tathāgata-garbha within. In so doing, such a Noble One becomes a living receptacle of faith bearing the Bodhi-seeds. Such a Mind is primed with Bodhicitta (enlightened consciousness), thus strengthening the receptacle through Sambodhi, or the power of Bodhicitta.

Prajna (Wisdom) is Absolute Purity which contains no-thing that is actually graspable. This is the meaning behind “there really is no Dharma to expound.” Also the substance behind prajna is Absolute Perfect Stillness, yet it’s “functions” are as numerous as all the sands of the Ganges. Hence, it’s aware of everything and thus expediently preaches the Dharma. Yet, as the Diamond Sutra teaches, “Having no-Dharma to expound (that is really nothing in words) is known as preaching the Dharma.”

Gnosis is reached when one’s mind is clear yet has no oppressive-thought concerning this clearness. In this three-fold manner holy prajña makes one aware that they are indistinguishable within the Undivided Nature of the One Mind and Absolute.

Mahabala Bodhisattva asked, “What are the three liberations? Through what Dharma may one access the samadhi of the [natural] thus-awareness?”

The Buddha replied, “The three liberations are: [firstly] the liberation of the void [that everything is ultimately void in nature, whereby one is free from entanglements of all dharmas]; [secondly] diamond liberation [that everything is ultimately formless, whereby one is free from all mental agitations]; [and thirdly] prajna liberation [that everything, being void in nature, is beyond grasping, whereby one awakens to the primordially pure and silent nature of the mind]. The mind of one who is in accord with the principle [of the void, formlessness, and purity] is in contemplation [of thus-awareness] (free of abiding and obstruction) with no affirmation or negation to be differentiated.”

In the “liberation of the void” one totally disengages from all dharmata as the self-realization dawns that they are all self-empty. In the “diamond liberation” all mental perturbations cessate as the great Dragon Mind breaks-free from both form and formless realms. “Prajna-liberation” entails awakening to the primordially-pure quiescence that is beyond all grasping, via contemplating “thus-awareness”.

Awakening to the prajñāpāramitā is a Self-Benediction, wherein the undifferentiated mindset is perfected in the unobstructed wisdom of Self exclusively for Self.

Bodhiprajñā: The untainted and Undivided Awakened Wisdom of the Tathagatas; procured after many years of disciplined Sutra-Study and countless hours of being yoked with the Tathatic-Spirit in the dharma-womb of the Tathagatas via Deep-Samādhis. This Premier-Noble Wisdom is issued directly from the Other Shore of Deathless Suchness, and is fully conferred upon the garbha-child that grows to spiritual maturity (Bodhisattva).

For the Bodhisattva, prajnā-pāramitā is most paramount; this Intuitive Wisdom is initiated through bodhicitta. In this sense, “whether they lift their feet up or put them down”—literally all that they do is initiated from within this inner-chamber of the Buddha’s bodhi-seat…indeed, it is the Spirit of Bodhi that now animates their every resolve.

Of course, let us not neglect to include the Supernal Hymn to prajñā in the Heart Sutra:

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi, Svaha

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi, Svaha
Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva,
when deeply practicing prajna-paramita,
clearly saw that the five skandas are all empty,
and was saved from all suffering and distress.

All buddhas of the past, present and future
rely on prajna-paramita,
and attain full, complete realization.

Therefore, know that prajna-paramita
is the great transcendent mantra,
the great bright mantra,
the supreme mantra,
the unequalled balanced mantra,
that can eliminate all suffering,
and is real, not false.

Thus, the secret key to the Heart Sutra: Nothing grasped, nothing attained. When united with the Bodhi-Mind there is no-thing to perceive or conceive; this is known as being placed in the sacred sanctuary of the Bodhimandala, thus the Heart Sutra’s Supreme and Unequalled Prajñāpāramitā-Mantra. The beauty of its secret-import is that it perfectly serves both mundane supplications and the transcendent Self-Realization of Noble Wisdom.

“It is the mantra that completely pacifies all sufferings because reciting the perfection of wisdom, bearing it in mind properly, and explaining it to others destroys all diseases and brings one under the protection of Buddhas, deities, and nāgas, and practicing the perfection of wisdom overturns the bad realms and the entire ocean of samsara.” (Donald Lopez Jr, ibid, pg.110)

Prajñā is also the secret gate, or the (sacred wisdom) that gives birth to all Buddhas. Manifested in all the consorts of the Five Dhyani Buddhas.

Recollect that the Wise, meaning the children of Bodhi, the Noble-Shining Ones embody perfect Prajñā. Thus they become perfected-receptacles bearing the salvific news of the Tathāgata-garbha.

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