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The Perfection of Wisdom

The sixth and final perfection is prajnaparamita: the perfection of wisdom. It is this quality of wisdom that makes all the other perfections “perfect.” The essence of wisdom is understanding that there is no one reality. There is no one way that things really are. Pema Chodron says it like this: “there is no such thing as a true story.”

The perfection of wisdom is complex, broad, and expansive. It is not about accumulating information. It is definitely not about becoming some kind of walking encyclopedia. Wisdom is not conceptual, but rather very personal and experiential. It is about exploring our life and what it means to us, while understanding that the truths we come to are ours, and ours alone. They are not applicable to others. We cannot solidify wisdom and apply it to every person and every situation, or even to ourselves for the rest of our lives. It is fluid and arises always and only in relationship to the present moment. Every person, every situation, every moment, is unique.

Additionally, the perfection of wisdom is open, accepting, accommodating. When wisdom is present, compassion naturally arises. Judgement is an obstacle to wisdom. Any time we find that we are judging ourselves or judging others, we can be certain that wisdom is not present. Wisdom also has a relational quality. It is dynamic. It informs how we relate with others and with our world.

The perfection of wisdom is innate. It already exists within us. Sometimes we are connected to it and sometimes we are not, but we can have confidence that it is there. Meditation is a practice that allows us to access the wisdom within us. It invites us to pay attention fully in the present moment.

Here’s a short practice to explore:
  • Sit quietly in meditation for a few minutes, gently resting attention on the beautiful simplicity of your body breathing.
  • Bring one hand to your heart and silently say to yourself: “in this moment, this is how I feel.” Be open to whatever comes.
  • Place your other hand to your belly and silently say to yourself: “in this moment, this is what I know.” Be open to whatever comes.
  • Finally, bring your hands together in prayer at your heart, joining feeling and knowing together in the simplicity of being. Rest in the light of your true self.

Photography by Lacey Marie

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