Message from Henry: Sixth Paramita

Not knowing is most intimate.

So what about the last paramita, the sixth, prajna, generally translated as “wisdom”?

Pra-jna: before knowing; beyond knowing. Wisdom that can start to show itself once knowing ends, or before knowing has begun.

Knowing is not the Way, as Nansen said.

Manjusri wields the sword of wisdom, the one thing that has the capacity to cut through everything. Nothing it cannot cut through. What kind of sword would that be?

A monk asked Joshu: You say you don’t dwell in clarity; if so, what is there to keep a firm hold on?

Joshu answered: I don’t know either.

Jizo asked the young Hogen: Why are you going on a pilgrimage?

Hogen answered: I don’t know.

Jizo said: Not knowing is most intimate.

So if it’s not knowing, why is it the final fruit of practice? Wouldn’t that seem to turn the whole business of practice into a fiasco?

The Way that can be spoken of is not the true Way. The Way that can be known is not the true Way.

Prajna is what every koan, one way or another, seeks to open up in us. But it’s not the end of practice at all. It’s actually the start of the real journey, the real practice, the real project. It’s the deepest source of compassion, the one totally uniting force in the universe.

 

 

Message from Henry is taken from our May 20, 2017 Newsletter
Image: 1) Trees of Mystery, by Rolf Brecher, CC by-SA 2.0, from Flickr.com 2) Sonnenhoff from Henry Shukman

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