Wednesday, July 12, 2006

shes yon shes rab ye shes - Wisdom

Let's look at some of the words translated as wisdom. In Sanskrit, and Tibetan, there are many different words for wisdom, unlike in our society...

Anyway, shes yon is knowledge, education.

shes rab is transcendental wisdom, in Sanskrit prajna, the wisdom that bodhisattvas practice, direct understanding of emptiness, in order to become Buddhas. I like the word transcendental (heard Jay Goldberg use this term this weekend a lot when he translated), as it has a connotation of transcending mundane wisdom and knowledge. It will transcend someone into Buddhahood.

ye shes is primordial wisdom, in Sanskrit jnana, this is the constant mode of an enlightened mind, they dwell in this natural wisdom state. Again, I like the word primordial in this case, as it's really the natural state of mind, obscured in sentient beings. Other translators might have a different spin on this all -- but it's important, at least in my view, to not use the word wisdom everywhere. As you saw there could be different translations involved with the text, and the original word used.

You might have noticed the root shes in all these three words, shes means to know.

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