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Activities For Developing Prajna Wisdom

An authentic and effective spiritual practice not only helps up to cultivate wisdom but also transforms how we live, think, and act. Regular, on-going practice forms the basis for developing prajna wisdom, which leads to enlightenment. Discussion, introspection, life planning, and learning to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity also help in what I lovingly dub "the Wisdom Project," a path of sagacious discrimination.

The Talmud says that the wisest among people is the one who learns from all. I have found that we all have lots of potential learning experiences, but not everyone digests their lessons and becomes a wise elder over the years as a result.

Some simply become old fools - jaded and cynical, bored and disillusioned - because they don't reflect on, comprehend, and learn from what they've lived through. As Plato says, "The unexamined life is not worth living." Wisdom tells us that it is not what happens to us but what we do with it that makes all the difference. We can't help our past negative conditioning, but that doesn't mean we have to remain as the mercy of it. Magician Eliphas Levy's words are well worth taking to heart: "Wisdom may be summed up [as follows]: to know, to will, to love, and to do what is good, true, beautiful and just."

Here are activities I recommend for developing prajna wisdom:

- Read wise words every day: You can use a book or calendar of daily readings or you can subscribe to daily words of wisdom online.

- Walk through a cemetery on a regular basis, preferably once a week or month. As you do, contemplate impermanence, mortality, the brevity of life, and the vital need to prioritize your goals and values. Read the inscriptions and dates on the tombstones and consider: The persons buried here lived on this planet and are now gone, just as I shall be one day.

- Meditate daily on a selected portion of wisdom scripture. for example, you might choose the Heart Sutra, the best-known and most-often-recited sutra in Mahayana Buddhism; Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching; or the long poem by Seng Ts'an (the Third Zen Patriarch), "Trust in the Heart" (also known as "Faith in Mind"). Intentionally reflect on individual lines as they become luminous during the course of each day.

- Spend time with those with those who have genuine wisdom.

We can't simply study and swiftly acquire wisdom, but we can gradually become wise. And we must do so, not only for our own sake but also for the sake of everyone else in this sorely troubled world. Many can utter words of wisdom, but few can actually practice them. Henry David Thoreau believed, "To love wisdom is to live, according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust." Timeless wisdom is practically useless unless we personally confirm it for ourselves and the world. Everyone has the beauty of enlightened wisdom within their own mind.

- Buddha Is As Buddha Does by Lama Surya Das

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