Prajna is the sixth paramita. The term Prajna is from the Sanskrit and is composed of two Sanskrit terms: “Pra” which refers to “that which is before,” and “jna” which refers to knowledge. The compound of these terms then means “before knowledge,” “root knowledge,” “profound knowledge.” It is often translated as “perfect knowledge, intuitive wisdom, understanding, intelligence, discrimination or judgment.” When we compare this with the Initiatic Kabbalah, we see that Prajna refers to both Binah, which is Hebrew for “intelligence,” and Chokmah, which is Hebrew for “wisdom.” Prajna is the intelligence of the Logos, a kind of knowledge or understanding that is beyond the mind, beyond the intellect. (written by Gnostic Instructor at Prajna. The Wisdom of Emptiness)
A few weeks ago I spent five days at a Buddhist retreat called Prajna Mountain Forest Refuge. I was going to sample the Prajna life and to consider being a caretaker there for some indefinite period of time. While I was on the mountain, I came across a book about tiny homes and my interest in natural building was rekindled. My goal here isn’t to write about my experiences at Prajna except to say that I felt a definite “no” about going up there to live. It wasn’t a logical “no”. There were no “reasons”. I just knew that it wasn’t what I should do. Perhaps the universe really does speak to us. Or maybe it is just that I was alone for long enough to hear my inner voice speaking.
Since I have been back, I have pursued my interests in knitting, spinning, and Heidegger. I have also been learning about earthbag buildings and how to build them. I have spent a considerable amount time thinking about taking classes at Santa Fe Community College in green building, sustainable living, and adobe construction. But today something changed.
I was sitting down to spin and started browsing through YouTube to find a lecture to listen to while I worked. I almost immediately came upon a TedX Talk by Barbara Sher. The talk is called “Isolation Is The Dream-Killer, Not You Attitude.” Well, that sounded interesting. Isolation?? Hmmmm…. Without going back to clarify, I will list here the points I thought were important:
- We know what we want to do.
- Once we identify our dreams, we need to ask others for help. People have resources and the only reason we aren’t aware of them is because we don’t ask.
- Now is the time to make our dreams happen.
As I thought about her words, I realized that going to school or helping Chris to build his little house is just a way of putting off my own dreams, meanwhile spending all the time and money that I should be spending on making my goals happen.
There was a funny little confirmation that the “universe” might be talking to ME. I was reading a little story on Barbara Sher’s website. While Sher was at a book signing in a small town, she met a woman who had been putting off doing something because she thought she was too old. That has been my excuse (for most of my life) for not doing what I wanted. The strange thing is that the book signing event took place in Sheridan, Wyoming. My hometown! There aren’t a whole lot of us from Wyoming, and there are a whole lot fewer from Sheridan! Hmmmm….
I have spent all afternoon thinking about this idea. Here are some initial plans.
- After doing some research, buy a small piece of land
- Buy a motorhome to live in until I can build the house
- Build some kind of pen for the dog
- Build a small structure (outhouse, shed, alpaca barn??) as a practice project and also, perhaps, to live in, store my stuff in, etc.
- Get a well and septic put in
- Start building a house
I would really like this house to be off grid: solar, woodstove, satellite for internet, etc..
I think I can do this! And I think it would be a good idea to record my progress on this website. Maybe this project needs its own page.
I started this entry with a quote about the word “prajna”. Maybe we all need to get away for a few days to listen. We have this “intuitive wisdom”. I believe that we all have an inner voice that speaks to us when we are willing to listen to it. The “world” almost always tells us NOT to listen to that voice. But we know what we want to do. And there is no good “reason” not to do whatever that is.
It seems odd, at first, that this writer equates the word logos with this intuitive wisdom. We get our word “logic” from this Greek word, of course. And all of our –ologies, too. Logic as we normally comprehend the word is all about having sound reasons for all the choices we make, and almost always, we are expected to include money-making potential among our reasons. However, the Greek word really does have a deeper, pre-knowledge meaning. Heidegger, in Being and Time, says that logos is apophansis, or letting something be seen by pointing it out. He is talking here about seeing entities, but ultimately, he thinks that early Greeks had an understanding of the world that allowed “what is” to show itself, rather than humans imposing their own ideas of the world onto what they could see. I think this applies to this prajna kind of thinking, this allowing some deeper truth to reveal itself, despite our own tendencies to impose our “reasoning” ideas on the world.