Some ways of looking at the term wisdom…
1. Basic practice: it is wise to begin where we are: always from things just as they are. Beginning in acceptance. Human foibles, world troubles: we start by accepting that they are as they are. From there the work begins, of improving things: that’s wisdom too.
2. Responding appropriately. Unmon said: “One preaching, in accordance.” It is only one teaching, but it always accords with what is arising. “One teaching, fittingly,” as it is also translated. To act appropriately, fittingly, according to needs and conditions: that too is wisdom.
3. In Theravada practice, wisdom has at least two levels. The first is more associated with seeing clearly whether our conduct, in thought, word and deed, will lead to suffering for self and others, or not. It’s wholesome when it does not lead to harm or suffering, and unwholesome when it does.
4. A second level is about learning to see the “three marks” in all things. All phenomena of all kinds are subject to impermanence – nothing we see, know or have lasts. All things are liable to suffering or to causing suffering, and can’t be depended on for well-being. And all things are wholly dependent on other things – none exists independently. There is no independent self or thing-ness to anything. Wisdom therefore leads, in the end, to renunciation – to letting go of our desires and aversions, and of the self that underpins them.
5. And in Mahayana Buddhism, it is to see through to the essential emptiness of all experience – to have self and world struck by Manjusri’s sword, putting an end to both. After which they are continually reborn moment by moment as one, as all, as this. But we don’t need to bother too much about that. We can simply attend to what needs to be done.
Message from Henry is from our June 15 2020 Newsletter
Image: Owl by Lepale, Pixabay.com