Wisdom: Base, Path, Result


What is wisdom? In Buddhism, we can talk about wisdom in many ways. The way the Prajnaparamita sutras deal with wisdom is: combining wisdom and knowledge. Wisdom is a state of mind, no doubt. However, these sutras do not directly talk about the mind. Instead, they talk about the nature of reality. The nature of phenomenon–and that is knowledge. So wisdom and knowledge are together here.


The traditional way of introducing the basic functioning of Buddhism talks about ground, or basis, and then path, and then result, goal or fruit. These three are also connected with wisdom and this way of presenting the wisdom is used in the Prajnaparamita Sutras.

The Basis: What is this about? What is the nature? The basis is commonly known in the Tibetan tradition as the two truths; commonly translated as relative truth and absolute truth (I don’t know if that is the correct translation; it depends on how you understand it). When in Mahayana Buddhism we talk about these two truths, they are also connected to those Prajnaparamita Sutras. Absolute truth, or highest truth, in Tibetan, dön dam, is the truth that is talked about in the Heart Sutra. Relative truth and absolute truth are connected. You can’t explain one without talking about the other, they exist together, they are of the same nature. So the basis is connected with wisdom. The basis is the nature of ourselves and what we are experiencing. So the basis is the nature of reality, which is connected with the two truths.

The Path is connected with wisdom, too. The main path to the goal is to realize, or rather, really get into, the highest truth. Through meditation you go [into it] as deep as possible. That is the path level of wisdom. We could wonder why the path should be the experience of the deepest level of truth. That is connected to the samsara-nirvana idea of Buddhism. Why are we in samsara? Basically because we didn’t really get into the truth. We are not seeing the truth. We see [reality] in a different way. We got into the dualistic nature, into duality. The highest truth is of unity nature. It is the truth that encompasses the whole existence of the universe, the existence of phenomena, and whose nature is unity. However, we have a different way of looking at reality, so we have a different way of experiencing it and that is why we  to into samsara. So we have to change, to turn around to get into the unity nature. That is how the path has to do with what is called, the “absolute”-truth nature. That is also wisdom.

The Goal is the unity we reach to. Samsara is the dualistic way of existing, and the goal, nirvana, is the unity nature. The unity nature is connected to the highest truth, so to wisdom.

~ Tarab Tulku, Unity In Duality, 2003, p. 6


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