Clark Strand, who led a Tricycle Retreat on Green Meditation in March, recently wrote six short pieces on the paramitas (transcendent perfections) from the perspective of a Green Bodhisattva. The first was Generosity. Today’s, the most recent, is Wisdom. He begins today’s teaching with a puzzle:
The Prajnaparamita Sutras are the foundation of Mahayana Buddhism. Prajna means wisdom, and paramita means “perfect” or “transcendent.” But perfect in comparison to what? What does wisdom transcend?
In classical Buddhism, the answer is samsara—the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. However, the Mahayana teachings tell us repeatedly that this is not the answer. Samsara IS nirvana. In reality, there is nowhere to transcend.
But in that case, the prajnaparamita (“transcendent wisdom”) teachings offer us a profound puzzle. Clearly there is some way to “get beyond” the sufferings of samsaric existence. Otherwise, people would not have practiced Mahayana Buddhism for over 2,000 years. But how?
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