Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

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thomaslaw
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Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

Post by thomaslaw »

Dear Dharma friends,

What is the difference between Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)? Are the two terms the same in meaning but different only in name?

Regards
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Re: Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

Post by Wayfarer »

They're from the same root, jñā-, meaning knowledge or discernment. Prajñā is associated with Mahāyāna and specifically with the Prajñāpāramitā sutras.

The connotation of 'jñā-' or 'jñāna'' is nearer in meaning to the Western 'gnosis' than to 'knowledge', and in fact it's the same Indo-European root (gn-). The point about gnosis or jñāna is that it has a connotation of 'insight' or 'acuity' rather than simply knowledge in the sense of a discursive understanding of a subject. It is, if you like, 'transformative wisdom' not simply knowledge about a subject.

The 'pra' in 'pra'jñā' is an intensifier i.e. 'higher', 'superior' or 'supreme'. So it means 'supreme wisdom'. Prajñāpāramitā means roughly 'supreme wisdom gone beyond'. So, prajna is more associated with Mahāyāna and ñāṇa with non-Mahayana schools, but they're both terms for 'non-discursive wisdom'.

//ps - I’ve just remembered the Pali equivalent of Prajñā is panna with pretty much the same meaning. //
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thomaslaw
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Re: Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

Post by thomaslaw »

Thanks

But why the two paths are listed in the 10 Bodhisattva paths, if they are the same?
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Re: Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

Post by Wayfarer »

thomaslaw wrote: Thu Apr 02, 2020 6:41 am Thanks

But why the two paths are listed in the 10 Bodhisattva paths, if they are the same?
Link to, or provide, an example, if you can.

Don't forget, Buddhists love lists. :smile:
And they also love very fine distinctions.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi
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Re: Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

Post by Riju »

In fact there are three words with subtle meanings.

1. Jnana.......Knowledge which you have heard, read, seen etc. .....to be forgotten with time leaving no memory.
2. Prajna......Knowledge on which you have contemplated , meditated, analysed and then adopted and then strengthened to the extent that its life
goes beyond your one life. And now it is also termed as Wisdom,
3. Jhnana......Knowledge which gets connected to Universal TRUTH, This knowledge now Wisdom is one of the beads of string of Lotus Sutra. Once it
is part of your life, you cannot bypass it and mostly it works automatically . This also makes you member of family of Lotus sutra.
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Re: Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

Post by thomaslaw »

I refer to the 10 Paramitas in the Mahayana tradition.
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Re: Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

Post by Wayfarer »

thomaslaw wrote: Thu Apr 02, 2020 8:49 am I refer to the 10 Paramitas in the Mahayana tradition.
Six is Prajñā pāramitā (प्रज्ञा पारमिता): wisdom, insight.

Ten is Jñāna pāramitā (ज्ञान पारमिता): knowledge.

I would think the distinction in this context is between transcendent (6) and discursive (7) knowledge. Transcendent knowledge is gnosis, the direct perception of truth; discursive knowledge is associated with learning, reasoning and speech. That would be my interpretation.

However note that the 'ten perfections' is listed in the Daśabhūmika Sūtra, and that many other Mahāyāna texts list six perfections, in which case there is no additional jñāna pāramitā
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Re: Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

Post by thomaslaw »

Wayfarer wrote: Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:31 am
thomaslaw wrote: Thu Apr 02, 2020 8:49 am I refer to the 10 Paramitas in the Mahayana tradition.
Six is Prajñā pāramitā (प्रज्ञा पारमिता): wisdom, insight.

Ten is Jñāna pāramitā (ज्ञान पारमिता): knowledge.

I would think the distinction in this context is between transcendent (6) and discursive (7) knowledge. Transcendent knowledge is gnosis, the direct perception of truth; discursive knowledge is associated with learning, reasoning and speech. That would be my interpretation.
Does Prajñā pāramitā refer to 'emptiness', and Jñāna pāramitā refer to 'the four noble truths', in the Mahayana tradition?
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Re: Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

Post by Seeker12 »

Wayfarer wrote: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:49 am They're from the same root...
:good:
I heard this story about a fish. He swims up to an older fish and says: “I’m trying to find this thing they call the ocean.” “The ocean?” the older fish says, “that’s what you’re in right now.” “This”, says the young fish, “this is water. What I want is the ocean!”
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Re: Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

Post by Seeker12 »

Wayfarer wrote: Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:31 am
Six is Prajñā pāramitā (प्रज्ञा पारमिता): wisdom, insight.

Ten is Jñāna pāramitā (ज्ञान पारमिता): knowledge.

I would think the distinction in this context is between transcendent (6) and discursive (7) knowledge. Transcendent knowledge is gnosis, the direct perception of truth; discursive knowledge is associated with learning, reasoning and speech. That would be my interpretation.

However note that the 'ten perfections' is listed in the Daśabhūmika Sūtra, and that many other Mahāyāna texts list six perfections, in which case there is no additional jñāna pāramitā
I think in general the last 4 are considered to be basically subcategories of the prajna paramita, yes?
I heard this story about a fish. He swims up to an older fish and says: “I’m trying to find this thing they call the ocean.” “The ocean?” the older fish says, “that’s what you’re in right now.” “This”, says the young fish, “this is water. What I want is the ocean!”
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Re: Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

Post by Caoimhghín »

Wayfarer wrote: Thu Apr 02, 2020 3:49 am They're from the same root, jñā-, meaning knowledge or discernment. Prajñā is associated with Mahāyāna and specifically with the Prajñāpāramitā sutras.

The connotation of 'jñā-' or 'jñāna'' is nearer in meaning to the Western 'gnosis' than to 'knowledge', and in fact it's the same Indo-European root (gn-). The point about gnosis or jñāna is that it has a connotation of 'insight' or 'acuity' rather than simply knowledge in the sense of a discursive understanding of a subject. It is, if you like, 'transformative wisdom' not simply knowledge about a subject.

The 'pra' in 'pra'jñā' is an intensifier i.e. 'higher', 'superior' or 'supreme'. So it means 'supreme wisdom'. Prajñāpāramitā means roughly 'supreme wisdom gone beyond'. So, prajna is more associated with Mahāyāna and ñāṇa with non-Mahayana schools, but they're both terms for 'non-discursive wisdom'.
"Prognosis" is actually directly related to "prajñāti" in terms of how the word is formed, even though the two terms mean different things.

pra = pro
jñā = gno
ti = sis

You may further know this, but the gn- cluster becomes kn- in English

gno --> kno, "kno" becoming "know." Unfortunately, there is no word that pairs "know" with a cognate of the Greek -sis and Sanskrit -ti, but if one did exist, it would likely look like "knowety" or possibly even "noety" (based on the term "noetic") IMO, pronounced something like "nəʊˈɛt.i"
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
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Re: Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

Post by Wayfarer »

Well, they mean different things, but presumably, for those with Prajñāpāramitā, the prognosis is good. :smile:

‘Noesis’ is a term that is used in Husserl’s philosophy - usually paired with noema - but I haven’t studied it.
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Re: Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

Post by Caoimhghín »

"Knowety" has a sense of uncleftish beholding to it, if you catch my drift.

Noesis, noetic, noema, etc. (and the above-coined spelling 'noety') actually come from noûs (νόος), an Ancient Greek term for the mind. It has an uncertain etymology, but we constantly see the g being removed from the gno- root (technically a *-ǵneh₃ root) in various gno- cognates in all sorts of languages. It's not a significant stretch IMO to postulate

gno(s) --> gnoû(s) --> noûs

but I am not a trained linguist. I assume there's no substantial proof for the above, hence why it isn't a suggestion, but I don't really know.
Then, the monks sang this gāthā:

These bodies are like foam.
Them being frail, who can rejoice in them?
The Buddha attained the vajra-body.
Still, it becomes inconstant and rots.
The many Buddhas are vajra-entities.
All are also subject to inconstancy.
Quickly ended, like melting snow --
how could things be different?

The Buddha passed into parinirvāṇa afterward.
(T1.27b10 Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra DĀ 2)
Orgyen
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Re: Prajñā (wisdom) and Jñāna (knowledge) in Pāramitā (the Bodhisattva path)

Post by Orgyen »

According to Avatamsaka :

菩萨于诸佛所,善观诸法,得实相印,
普入一切智门,是名般若波罗蜜。
Prajñā ~
this wisdom is about emptiness of dependent origination .


菩萨知一切法真实,知一切如来力,
普觉悟法界门,是名智波罗蜜。
Jñāna ~
this wisdom is about knowing
the Tathagata powers and
skillful of all type of knowledges .
People may speaks marvelously, highly intelligent but they have no integrity, the dharma do not function in their life .
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