The Great Chronicle of Buddhas

by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw | 1990 | 1,044,401 words

This page describes The Perfection of Wisdom (panna-parami) contained within the book called the Great Chronicle of Buddhas (maha-buddha-vamsa), a large compilation of stories revolving around the Buddhas and Buddhist disciples. This page is part of the series known as on Pāramitā. This great chronicle of Buddhas was compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw who had a thorough understanding of the thousands and thousands of Buddhist teachings (suttas).

(4) Fourth Pāramī: The Perfection of Wisdom (paññā-pāramī)

Three Kinds of Wisdom

The Vibhanga of the Abhidhamma, in the section on Nana Vibhanga, mentions three kinds of Wisdom (paññā):

(a) Cintāmaya Paññā,
(b) Sutamaya Paññā, and
(c) Bhāvanamaya Paññā.

(a) Cintāmaya Paññā:

Knowledge of various kinds, whether low or noble, including various crafts and professions, etc., which are acquired through one’s own reasoning and not through asking others or hearing about it from others, is called Cintāmaya Paññā (‘cinta’ - thinking; ‘māyā’ - formed of;hence, literally, wisdom formed of thinking.)

This kind of wisdom includes not only thoughts on mundane affairs but also on things concerning Dhamma matters. Therefore, it comprises the knowledge of ordinary worldly things, such as carpentry, agriculture, etc., as well as the knowledge of things of Dhamma nature, such as Generosity, Morality, Concentration and Vipassanā Insight Meditation. The Omniscience (sabbaññutañāṇa) of the Buddhas may even be called Cintāmaya Paññā, if one wishes to do so, because the Bodhisatta, Prince Siddhattha, had thought out by himself the practice leading to Omniscience without hearing of it from anyone and became Omniscient.

However, Wisdom as the fourth Perfection to be fulfilled by the Bodhisatta should be considered as only the group of fundamental knowledge necessary for the attainment of knowledge of the Path and Fruition State and Omniscience. We are not concerned here with the group of Wisdom, which is acquired in the final existence of a Bodhisatta, entitling him to Buddhahood. Bodhisattas, fulfilling the Perfection of Wisdom before the last life, practised only up to the first part of the ninth stage (saṅkhārupekkhā-ñāṇa, ‘Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations’) out of the ten stages of Vipassanā Insight. The final part of this saṅkhārupekkhāñāṇa leads on directly to the knowledge of the Path. So, Bodhisattas do not attempt to go beyond the first part until their last life, for should they do so, they would have accordingly attained magga-phala and become ariyas and passed into Nibbāna in those existences; they would not become a Buddha though. Therefore, it should be noted that as a Bodhisatta, the Perfection of Wisdom is fulfilled only up to the first part of the saṅkhārupekkhā-ñāṇa.

(b) Sutamaya Paññā:

Knowledge gained by listening to the wise who talk either on their own or at one’s request when one is unable to think out or reason by oneself is called Sutamaya Paññā. (‘Suta’ - hearing, ‘māyā’ - formed of; hence, wisdom formed of hearing.) Like Cintāmaya Paññā, this kind of wisdom is of very extensive nature. The only difference between the two is that in the first, wisdom is gained through one’s own thought or reasoning and in the second by hearing from others.

(c) Bhāvanamaya Paññā:

The kind of Wisdom gained at the time when one is actually experiencing the jhāna or phala states is called Bhāvanamaya Paññā.

The Abhidhamma Vibhanga, in the Chapter on the Ñāṇa Vibhanga, gives types of wisdom in groups of one kind, two kinds, etc. up to ten kinds.

All these groups of wisdom, however, may be taken as coming under the three types of wisdom given above. For example, in the Vibhanga, after the group of the three kinds of wisdom, namely, Cintāmaya, etc. are enumerated Dānamaya Paññā, Sīlamaya Paññā and Bhāvanamaya Paññā. Dānamaya Paññā is wisdom formed of generosity. Volition associated with generosity is of three kinds, namely, volition that arises before, volition that arises during and volition that arises after the offering. The wisdom associated with these volitions in each case is Dānamaya Paññā. Similarly, in the case of observance of morality, wisdom that arises with the intention: “I will observe the precepts”, wisdom that arises while observing and wisdom that arises on reflection after observing the precepts, all three are Sīlamaya Paññā.

If the Dānamaya Paññā and Sīlamaya Paññā have been deduced through one’s process of thinking and reasoning, then it is to be classed as Cintāmaya Paññā; if it has been gained through hearing from others, they are to be included in Sutamaya Paññā. Other kinds of wisdom can similarly be classified under the same three heading of Cintāmaya Paññā, etc.

The teaching “paripucchanto budham janam paññā paramitam gantvā——accomplishing the Perfection of Wisdom by learning from the wise,” in the Buddhavaṃsa clearly indicates that the Buddha regards the Sutamaya Paññā as the basic wisdom. This is because in this world, one, who has not yet acquired basic wisdom, cannot know any thing through thinking it out for himself; he has to learn it first from the wise by listening to them. Therefore, the Buddha has expounded that one, who wishes to fulfil the Perfection of Wisdom, should first acquire knowledge from the wise before he has any basic wisdom.

In brief, Wisdom through hearing (Sutamaya Paññā) should be acquired before Wisdom through thinking (Cintāmaya Paññā).

The Commentaries such as the Atthasalini describe the innumerable lives of the Bodhisatta, for example, as the wise men Vidhura, Mahā Govinda, Kudala, Araka, Bodhi the Wondering Ascetic, Mahosadha, etc. when he had to fulfil the Perfection of Wisdom. In these lives, the Bodhisatta had already acquired basic wisdom; he also possessed therefore Cintāmaya Paññā. As his basic wisdom was already great enough, acquiring Sutamaya Paññā was no longer his chief concern in those existences.

[Four Kinds of Kavi]

The Nature of Wisdom

Wisdom is a separate mental concomitant, one of the ultimate realities. In the Dhammasaṅgani, various names, such as paññindriya, paññā, pajānanā, etc. are given to wisdom, because it is the characteristic of the Abhidhamma to give complete details of everything that should be taught about each subject. The principal term for wisdom is ‘paññindriya’ made up of ‘paññā’ and ‘indriya’.

It is called Paññā (Wisdom), because it is conducive to understanding in all aspects the Four Truths or the Three Characteristics of impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha), and non-self (anatta).

It is called faculty (indriya), (controlling or governing) because it can overcome ignorance (avijjā) and delusion (moha) or because it dominates in understanding the real nature. Paññā (wisdom), has the characteristic of creating light. Just as darkness is dispelled as soon as light appears in a dark room, even so, where ignorance blinds us, as soon as wisdom appears, ignorance is dispelled enabling us to see clearly. Therefore, the Buddha has said: “Paññā samā ābhā natthi——There is no light like wisdom”.

Wisdom has the characteristic of perceiving things with discrimination. Just as a clever physician discerns which food is suitable for his patient and which food is not, so when wisdom arises it enables one to distinguish between what is meritorious and what is not.

Wisdom also has the characteristic of penetrating the real nature as it is. It may be likened to an arrow which, shot by a clever archer, penetrates the target unerringly.

An important point to note with regard to this characteristic of wisdom: Genuine wisdom is knowing a thing as it really is and such a knowledge is blameless. That is why in the Abhidhammattha Sangaha, the mental concomitant of wisdom (Paññā Cetasika) is included in the ‘Beautiful’ (Sobhaṇa) types of mental concomitants.

Sulasā Jātaka in Brief

Questions arise concerning wisdom with reference to the action of Sulasā in the Sulasā Jātaka of the Atthaka Nipāta. In Bārāṇasī, a prostitute by the name of Sulasā saved the life of robber Suttaka who was about to be executed. She made him her husband and they lived together. Wanting to possess her jewellery, the robber persuaded her to put on her jewelled ornaments which worth one lakh of money and went up a mountain with him. On reaching the top of the mountain, he told her to take off all her jewelleries and prepared to kill her. Then Sulasa thought to herself: “He is sure to kill me, I must strike first and kill him by a ruse.” So she begged him: “My dear, even though you are going to kill me, I lose no love for you. Nearing my death, may I pay my respects to you from the four quarters, i.e. front, back and the sides.” Not suspecting her stratagem, the robber allowed her to do so. After paying respects to the robber, who was standing on the edge of a precipice, from the front and the sides, when she went behind him, she pushed him over the precipice with all her might and killed him.

The Bodhisatta, who was a deva then, living in the mountain remarked:

Na hi sabbesu thānesu puriso hoti pandito; itthipi pandito hoti tattha tattha vicakkhanā.—

Not in all circumstances is the man the wise one: woman is also wise and far sighted.”

Some raise the question as to whether it is proper for the Bodhisatta Deva to praise Sulasa as being wise. Sulasa’s intention to kill the robber is a matter of committing the wrong deed of killing and cannot be associated with paññā cetasika.

In reply to that, some say that Sulasa’s knowledge was not true paññā. Of the three kinds of knowledge, namely, knowledge through perception (sanna), knowledge through consciousness (viññāṇa), and knowledge through wisdom (paññā). Sulasā’s was knowledge through consciousness only, that is to say, through exercise of imagination. That knowledge through consciousness has been referred to, here, as paññā.

Others wrongly assert that of the two views: wrong view (miccha diṭṭhi) and right view (sammā diṭṭhi);Sulasā had wrong view and the Bodhisatta Deva was referring to her view as paññā and not praising her because of the faculty of wisdom, and, therefore, it is not against Abhidhamma.

Both these answers, taking consciousness (viññāṇa) and view (diṭṭhi) as wisdom (paññā) contrary to the principles of Abhidhamma, are entirely wrong.

Sulasa’s knowledge that she would win the robber, if she adopted a ruse was true knowledge and was, therefore, wisdom. One should not doubt whether genuine wisdom can be involved in matters connected with evil actions. For example, it is blameless to know discriminatingly about alcoholic drinks which should not be indulged in and which lead to immoral actions, as to which ones contain more or less alcohol, how much does each cost, what will happen if one drinks them etc. It begins to be immoral only from the moment one thinks of drinking the intoxicant.

Similarly, one can make a thorough study of all the various views and beliefs in the world without any exception, differentiating between what is correct and reasonable and what is wrong. Thus, studying and getting to know about them as they really are, whether right or wrong, is entirely faultless. Only when one misconstrues a wrong view to be right is one at fault.

So in Sulasa’s case, knowing: “I will win over him, if I use a ruse” is knowing rightly; it is knowing through wisdom and therefore blameless. But, since the moment of her decision to kill her husband by means of a stratagem, her action had become blameworthy, immoral. It is only with reference to the correct knowledge which initially arose in her, before the deed of killing, that the Bodhisatta Deva praised, saying she was wise.

As has been said above, we should distinguish clearly between the knowledge about evil on one hand and the commission of evil such as killing on the other. If one persists in the belief that knowledge about evil is not true wisdom, one would make the error of thinking that the great Omniscience of the Buddha itself is not free from blemish.

Through His supreme Wisdom, the Buddha knows all there is to know, everything moral or immoral; hence the name of Omniscience. If true Wisdom has nothing to do with anything evil, then the Buddha would have no knowledge whatever of evil things; indeed, the Buddha’s Wisdom is very extensive, infinite and is thus known as Omniscience.

In brief, the Buddha knows everything, good or evil. But since He has uprooted all latent defilements, He has no desire to commit anything evil, not to say of the actual deed. Thus reflecting on the attributes of knowing everything that is evil, of having abandoned what should be abandoned and of refraining from doing any evil, we should develop faith in the Buddha.

Again, we should also examine the story of Mahosadha the Wise as described in the Mahosadha Jātaka. In this story, Culani Brahmadatta with rulers of his vassal states surrounded and attacked the royal city of King Videha, who had as his right-hand man, Mahosadha the Wise. Mahosadha master-minded the defence of the city by devising various stratagem to deceive the enemy hordes, to break down their morale and finally to force them to retreat to all directions in a disorderly rout. Should we opine that deceptive measures adopted by Mahosadha, not being moral undertaking, do not count as Wisdom, there would be no occasion for the Bodhisatta to fulfil the Perfection of Wisdom. As a matter of fact, all the strategic devices employed by Mahosadha are the products of the Bodhisatta’s Wisdom. The Buddha has therefore specifically mentioned the story of Mahosadha as an example of how the Bodhisatta had fulfilled his Perfection of Wisdom.

In view of what has been said, it should be noted that in the story of Sulasa, the Mountain deva praised Sulasa as a wise person because she indeed had Wisdom.

(This is an explanation on doubtful points with regard to characteristics of Wisdom.)

The Kinds of Wisdom

The definition of ‘wisdom’ given in the Commentaries, such as the Aṭṭhasalini, etc. as the knowledge of or the knowledge leading to full comprehension of the Four Noble Truths and the Three Characteristics refers to the highest (ukkaṭṭha) type of Wisdom. There are also certain types of Wisdom which are much lower.

The Commentary on the Abhidhamma Vibhaṅga, in expounding on Cintāmaya Paññā and Sutamaya Paññā, describes the kinds of Wisdom involved in ‘manual labour for earning one’s livelihood’ (kammāyatana) and in ‘skills for earning one’s livelihood’ (sippāyatana). Each is again divided into two kinds, lower and higher. Carpentry is an example of a lower type of manual labour. Farming, trading are of a higher type. Mat-making, weaving, etc. are of lower forms of skill for earning one’s living and writing, calculating, etc. are higher forms of skill for earning one’s living.

The essential distinction between forms of livelihood is that when manual labour is done for livelihood without taking special training, it is Kammāyatana type and when skill for earning livelihood is acquired after special training, it is called Sippayatana. When special training is for skill in vocal accomplishments it is called Vijjāthāna.

When we discriminate one fire from another, our discrimination is not based on the quality of the fuel used for burning but on the quantity of the fuel and we say “a small fire” or “a big fire”. So also in the case of wisdom, discrimination should be done not on the basis of the quality of what is known but rather on the basis of the degree or extent of what is known and we should speak of wisdom as “weak” or “powerful”, in other words, “simple” or “profound”. We should not restrict ourselves to higher forms of knowledge, as expounded in the Commentary, but also recognize the lower forms also as wisdom.

Therefore, one who wishes to fulfil the Perfection of Wisdom should do so irrespective of the standard of wisdom, whether low or high, and regarding things unknown, one should approach the wise for learning from them. Therefore, it is said in the Buddhavaṃsa: “Paripucchanto budham pannaparamitam gantva.” meaning “Repeatedly asking the wise, having reached the Perfection of Wisdom.”

Seven Ways of Developing Wisdom

The Sammohavinodani, Commentary to the Abhidhamma Vibhanga gives seven ways of developing wisdom in the chapter on the Foundations of Steadfast Mindfulness (Satipatthāna):

(1) Paripucchakatā

(—asking the wise again and again.)

(This is in accordance with the Pāli phrase quoted above.)

(2) Vatthuvisadakiriyā

(—making objects, both inside and outside the body, pure.)

(For internal cleanliness, one’s hair, nails and beard should not be too long. The body should not be soiled with sweat and dirt. For external cleanliness, one’s clothes should not be old and bad smelling; one’s dwelling should be kept clean. When there is impurity inside and outside the body, the wisdom that arises is like the thick flame produced from a dirty wick soaked in the turbid oil of an unclean lamp. In order to have clean and bright wisdom, which is like the flame of a clean lamp, one should keep one’s body clean both internally and externally.)

(3) Indriya samatta patipādanā

(—bringing the faculties, such as faith, etc., into perfect balance.)

(There are five faculties[1] which control consciousness and mental concomitants of beings. If the faith faculty is too strong, the other four faculties are bound to be weak;consequently, energy faculty cannot exercise its function of giving support and encouragement to exertion; mindfulness faculty cannot fulfil its task of minding the object of attention; concentration faculty cannot prevent distraction of mind; and wisdom faculty fails to discern. When faith faculty is in excess, an attempt should be made to moderate it and bring it in line with others either by reflecting on the Dhamma that will normalise it or avoiding to reflect on the Dhamma that will promote and strengthen it.

(If the energy faculty is too strong, faith faculty will not be able to perform its function; the rest of the faculties also cannot perform their respective functions. This excess of energy should be corrected by developing tranquillity. The same holds true in the case of each of the remaining faculties.)

What is particularly praised by the wise and virtuous is balancing faith with wisdom, and concentration with energy. If one is strong in faith and weak in wisdom, one will have faith in unworthy ones to no purpose. (Being weak in wisdom, one is unable to discern critically who is deserving of reverence and who is not; mistaking what is not true ‘Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha’ for genuine ones, one’s devotion is then of no avail and fruitless.) Mistaken belief of those who wrongly devote themselves to false Buddha or false Dhamma is not true faith but only wrong and harmful conclusion (micchadhimokkha).

If wisdom is strong and faith is weak, one will miss the correct path and follow the wrong one, which leads to the side of cunning. To bring such a person to the right path is as hard to cure as a patient suffering from ill-effects of wrong medicine. For example, these are two kinds of giving: (i) gift of volition (cetanā-dāna) and (ii) gift of material objects (vatthu-dāna). A person, who has cunning ways of thinking, might consider that it is only volition not the material objects that would be fruitful in future; therefore, it is not necessary to offer material things as dāna;gift of volition is sufficient. Such a person who fails to do meritorious deeds of alms-giving, because of his cunning, would be reborn in the lower planes of existence.

Only when faith and wisdom are in balance can one have proper faith in deserving ones and with the absence of cunning, there can develop many advantages. Energy and concentration should also be in balance;when energy is weak and concentration strong, idleness (kosajja) will result: without any activities but assuming an air of calmness as if in good concentration, one is overwhelmed by indolence.

When energy is strong and concentration weak, there will be agitation and excitement but no steadiness. Overwhelmed by restlessness (uddhacca), one may be distracted with the thought: “If this work does not yield any good result as expected, it will not be suitable for me. I would abandon it and try something else.” When energy and concentration are in equilibrium, idleness (kosajja) and restlessness (uddhacca) get no chance to arise. Balancing of these two leads to quick attainment of jhāna or Absorption Concentration (Appannā).

However, mindfulness-faculty can never be in excess; there may be only its shortage. In the Text, it is likened to salt, a necessary ingredient of all food preparations or to a Prime Minister who attends to all the royal business. Therefore, while maintaining the maximum possible mindfulness, faculties in each of the two pairs, namely, faith and wisdom, energy and concentration, should be kept in perfect balance with each other. Excess of any is a disadvantage.

In this connection, the Venerable U Budh has made the following comment in his Mahā Satipatthana-Nissaya:

Excess of faith leads to over enthusiasm,
Excess of wisdom leads to craftiness,
Excess of energy leads to restlessness,
Excess of concentration leads to ennui (mental weariness),
But there is never an excess of mindfulness.

(4) Duppaññapuggala parivajjanam

(—avoiding persons without wisdom.)

(Duppañña means an individual who has no wisdom to discern penetratingly such groups of Dhamma as the aggregates (khandha), the bases (āyatana), etc. One should keep oneself far away from such people.)

(5) Paññavanta puggalasevana

(—associating with the wise.)

(The wise means persons who are possessed of the fifty characteristics of the knowledge of arising and falling (udaya bhaya ñāṇa). For details of the fifty characteristics of Udhaya bhaya ñāṇa, Patisambhidāmagga may be consulted [2].)

Concerning both items no’s (4) and (5), the commentator is only describing the developments of the highest (ukkattha) type of wisdom. In item (4), a person without wisdom means one who cannot discern penetratingly the group of Dhammas such as aggregates and the bases; a person with penetrating knowledge of such Dhammas can only be one who is of great wisdom. But there are those, who though not possessing wisdom to discern such subtle Dhammas as aggregates and bases, know ordinary matters concerning practice of Dhamma: “It is proper to make such offering; it is not proper to do so. Precepts should be observed thus; they should not be observed otherwise.” They also know matters concerning worldly living, “This act will prolong one’s life; this act will shorten one’s life.” Such persons cannot be said to be entirely devoid of wisdom. One should cultivate association with them too.

In item (5) also, by defining a wise person as one who in possessed of the fifty characteristics of the knowledge of arising and falling (udayabbaya-ñāṇa), the commentator is referring by way of excellence (ukkattha naya) only to the wise who are most highly advanced in Vipassanā Meditation.

But with regard to acquiring knowledge, the Buddha had expounded in the Buddhavaṃsa: “Taking the example of a bhikkhu going on alms round to all the houses in serial order without discrimination, a learner should approach whoever can answer his questions, regardless of his social or educational status. Therefore, he should avoid only a totally ignorant one and approach all who can help him in his quest of knowledge.”

In short, avoiding only those who are completely incapable of answering any questions, one should associate with those who can furnish him with even the slightest information he is seeking.

According to the Buddhavaṃsa, in acquiring wisdom, one should first ask and learn from the wise to develop wisdom through hearing, Sutamaya paññā. Then, if one is not clear about any point, one should reflect on it and think about it, and thus develop wisdom by means of thinking, Cintamaya paññā.

In the Discourse to the Kalamas (Aṅguttara Nikāya, Tikanipata, Dutiya Pannasaka, 2Mahavagga, 5-Kalama Sutta), the Buddha was told by the Kalamas that many preachers visited their place, that all of these visiting preachers praised only their own doctrines, denouncing and condemning others and that they had doubt and perplexity as to which doctrine to accept and follow. The Buddha’s reply to them may be summarized as “you should accept the doctrine which you find after due consideration to be free of fault.”

This Discourse shows that one should first acquire Sutamaya paññā by listening to the talks of preachers. and then think over which doctrine is blameless by using the Cintamaya paññā.

Moreover, in the Patha Jātaka, Dasaka Nipata, 9-Maha Dhammapala Jātaka, when the great teacher of Takkasīla went in person to the village of Dhammapala to find out why the young people of the village did not die before the end of their life span, Mahadhammapala, (the village headman) who would be reborn as King Suddhodāna in time to come, replied: “We listen to all who come and preach. After listening, we ponder upon their preaching. We do not heed what the immoral persons teach, instead we forsake them. We accept only the teachings of the moral ones with which we are delighted and which we follow. Therefore, in our village, the young ones never die before the end of their life span.”

This Jātaka story also clearly shows that one acquires wisdom first by means of Sutamaya Ñāṇa, and then accepts only what is confirmed to be true by Cintamaya Ñāṇa.

Associating with The Wise

The expression ‘associating with the wise’ does not mean mere approaching a wise person and staying with him day and night. It implies learning and acquiring some knowledge from the person who is possessed of wisdom.

The advice “Do not associate with the fool”, given as one of the Blessings in the Maṅgala Sutta, does not necessarily present staying with a foolish person. One may even live with him for the purpose of coaxing and persuading him to the right path. In such a case, one is not going against the advice of the Maṅgala Sutta. An example is the sojourn of the Buddha in the Uruvelā Grove in the company of ascetics of wrong view (to help them abandon their wrong path).

Thus, only when one accepts the view and follows the practices of a foolish person, one is then said to be associating with the fool. Likewise, the advice given in the Maṅgala Sutta exhorting one to associate with the wise is well taken, not by merely keeping company with him but only when one acquires some form of knowledge (from him), be it only a little.

(6) Gambhirananacariya paccavekkhana

(—reflecting on the nature of Dhamma which is the resort of profound wisdom.)

(Herein, wisdom is like fire which burns all inflammable things whether big or small. Depending on the size of what is burning, fire is said to be a small fire or a big one. In the same way, wisdom knows everything there is to know; it is called small, manifest or profound depending on what is known as small, manifest or profound. The Dhamma which is the resort of profound wisdom comprises aggregates, bases, etc. The wisdom, which arises from the knowledge of these profound subjects, is what is meant by profound wisdom. Such profound wisdom is as numerous as there are profound Dhammas. Analytical review of all these numerous profound Dhammas leads to the development of wisdom.)

(7) Tadadhimuttata

(—Having the inclination towards developing wisdom.)

(In all four postures of lying, sitting. standing and walking one should be only inclined to development of wisdom. Having such a mind is one of the causes of developing wisdom.)

Resume in verse by U Budh:

(1) Asking again and again,
(2) Keeping things clean,
(3) Having faculties in balance,
(4) Avoiding the fool,
(5) Associating with the wise,
(6) Pondering deeply, and
(7) Having the mind bent on development of wisdom constitute seven ways of developing of wisdom.

The Qualities of Wisdom

(1) When Wisdom takes a predominant place in performing multifarious functions, it acquires the name of Vimamsadhipati, one of the four Predominance-conditions.

(2) Forming constituent parts of the twenty-two Controlling Faculties are four different faculties which are concerned with wisdom: (a) the Wisdom that is included in the thirtynine mundane consciousness associated with knowledge (lokiñāna-sampayutta citta) is called Pannindriya; (b) the Wisdom accompanying the consciousness that arises at the moment of the first stage of Enlightenment (sotāpatti-magga citta) is known as Anannātaññassāmit'indriya; (c) the Wisdom that arises with the Fruition State of Arahatship (arahatta-phala) is called Aññātavindriya; (d) the Wisdom that is associated with the six intermediate supramundane consciousness (that comes between the sotāpanna and arahatta stage) is termed Aññindriya.

The Wisdom that should be fulfilled as a Perfection is concerned only with mundane consciousness; thus it is included in the thirteen kinds of moral consciousness (Kusala Nana Sampayutta Citta) of the thirty-nine lokināna-sampayutta citta. (The non-functional consciousness (kiriya citta) belongs only to arahats; it is not the concern of Bodhisattas who are still worldlings; the Resultant Consciousness (Vipāka citta) arises without any special effort as a consequence of one’s past kamma. Therefore, the wisdom that is associated with these two types of consciousness does not count as Perfection.) Bodhisattas concentrate only on the mundane wisdom so as to fulfil the Perfection of Wisdom to its highest degree.

In the thirty-seven Constituents of Enlightenment (Bodhipakkhiya Dhamma) are included the five Controlling Faculties (Indriya), one of which is Faculty of Wisdom (Pannindriya);this Faculty of Wisdom is of two kinds: mundane and supramundane. The supramundane kind is not included in the Perfection of Wisdom developed by a Bodhisatta. Only the wisdom that is associated with mundane moral consciousness which arises while undertaking purification of morality and purification of mind previous to attainment of magga-phala states is the Perfection of Wisdom fulfilled by Bodhisattas.

(3) Similarly, in the other four constituents of the Bodhipakkhiya are included factors of wisdom (paññā) under different names. Thus in the Five Powers (bala)it is known as Power of Wisdom (Paññā bala);in the Four Means of Accomplishment (Iddhipada) as Accomplishment by Wisdom (vimansiddhipada); in the Seven Factors of Enlightenments (Bojjhaṅga) as Investigation of Dhamma (Dhammavicaya Sambojjhanga) and in the Eight Constituents of the Noble Path (Ariya-magganga) as Right View (Samma-ditthi).

As with Faculty of Wisdom (Paññindriya), these various factors of wisdom, under different names, are developed at two different levels: mundane and supramundane. The Wisdom that accompanies the supramundane consciousness is not included in the Perfection of Wisdom as fulfilled by Bodhisattas. It is only the wisdom associated with mundane moral consciousness, which arises while undertaking purification of morality and purification of mind previous to attainments of magga-phala states, that counts as the Perfection of Wisdom fulfilled by Bodhisattas.

Contemplating on these special qualities of wisdom, may you fulfil the Perfection of Wisdom to its highest possible stage.

Footnotes and references:


The five faculties are faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom; each has its own function: faith enables one to give devoted attention to the objcet of reverence; energy gives support and encouragement enabling one to exert and strive hard; mindfulness keeps track of the object of attention; concentration prevents distraction of mind; and wisdom enables one to see, to understand. These faculties must be kept in balance, for if one is in excess, the others would suffer and fail to do their functions.


May also see Path of Purification by Bhikkhu Nanamoli. Chapter XX para 93-104.

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