Prajna - the wisdom of mind body unification
November 29, 2015

How do we move to know what we are unaware of? We can begin by becoming aware of how often we automatically see from and apply what we already know, how much we confirm our views moment to moment. And, what part of us feels affirmed in this effort to prove ourselves right? Then we can move our awareness out of confirmation and into the uncontrolled flow of life in the present moment.

This movement into life is also a letting go of our grip to what we already know. As long as we think we know, as long as we seek certainty, we are not open to…anything or anyone. But don’t worry, everything I think I know is still available when I stop holding it so tightly.

For all of the functional usefulness of the conceptual, narrative mind, it is forever a pale approximation of reality at best. In this sense it is always removed from reality, or the immediate “what-is-ness,” of any moment. Conceptual mind is at best a flat representation of a vast and ever changing reality. And while the conceptual, narrative mind is fundamentally separate from the living moment, it is also unaware of this disconnection. But all is not lost…

There is a unified intelligence that includes, but is beyond concepts, that seems unlimited and astoundingly connected. This kind of knowing can be called prajna, a Sanskrit word usually translated as wisdom: pra means before, and jna means thought. So it is the wisdom present before thinking. It is a knowing that arises from one’s entire being: immediate, intimate, connected. And we all can open to and cultivate our capacity for prajna.

Prajna in this sense is not so much any specific thought or feeling, but rather the capacity to perceive the wholeness, or non-division, of life. That perception of non-division reconfigures our entire way of thinking and feeling, as well as relating. Although we cannot limit the workings of prajna to any specific thoughts, feelings, or emotions, it does manifest as a form of profound clarity, calmness, kindness, and peace.

The practices of unifying mind and body and abiding in the present moment are powerful ways to evoke prajna into consciousness. When prajna appears, there is often clear insight into issues that were formerly confusing and problematic. Such insight arises naturally from deep within the silence of our being. In order to come to know or evoke this non conceptual wisdom, we must open to the unknowing silence at our core. It is somewhat counterintuitive, but this is the way prajna arises. Tohei Sensei instructed, “Zenshin no chikara o kanzen ni nuku.” Drop the entire power of your body, mind, identity, history, and skills; without becoming slack. We relinquish our addiction to our mind’s divisive noise and constant attempts to control, in order for prajna to arise. We block access to this natural wisdom when we act as an isolated agent trying to produce a result. But we can “relax completely,” breathe, let go and connect. Then the mind lights up with an intelligence that it did not create, but that it can participate in. And the body opens into unity and connection with all beings.

(With thanks, adapted from a Q & A session with Adyashanti.)

May your practice go well.





© Steve Self, 2016, All rights reserved.