Prajñāpāramitā means: Prajñā is ‘unerring insight’, insight in the sense of seeing transcendentally, which again means no separation between the observing subject and the observed subject. It is essential for us to understand all this as the background to looking at the sutra itself, otherwise we always miss the main road, we get turned off down some alley or other. Prajñā is unerring insight, that seeing which is faultless seeing, and that faultless seeing, remember, is the same as being.
And on the purely intellectual level, the strongest, the most powerful obstructions are our biases, our prejudices, our preconceptions and our assumptions. But where there is Transcendental wisdom, none of those conceptions or ideas exist.
One meaning of Pāramitā is ‘excellence’. Another meaning is obtained by splitting the word into its two parts, Pāram-itā, ‘beyond this which is the ordinary’, the wisdom or insight which is beyond the ordinary, the wisdom that has gone beyond, or if you like, Transcendental wisdom. Bearing in mind what we have considered together these few minutes, this Transcendental wisdom therefore is not some wonderful piece of knowledge. Knowledge consists of intellectual formulations, verbal formulations ultimately. Knowledge is acquired. Knowledge always remains the separate something which we put into our mental luggage. All acquired knowledge can be put under one heading — science. Science is that which is made known in the ordinary way, the ordinary way being the use of our senses and the analysing and synthesizing process which this computer brain indulges in. It’s indispensable. We can’t escape it at any time, in fact. Nevertheless, that is knowledge. And it is the put together after our sense activity by the brain which is conditioned by, and which is subjected to, its abilities on the one hand, its confusions and disabilities on the other. It’s what we commonly describe as virtues on the one hand, and greed and resentment and delusion and so forth, on the other. And on the purely intellectual level, the strongest, the most powerful obstructions are our biases, our prejudices, our preconceptions and our assumptions. But where there is Transcendental wisdom, none of those conceptions or ideas exist. And when we come to the stage where we want some intellectual expression and a verbal formulation of what is true Transcendental wisdom, then we have to recognise this extraordinary fact, that to each and every single, logical proposition as well as to its converse, we have to say “yes” as well as “no”. Otherwise we are in the realm of untruth, in the Transcendental sense.
From The Heart Sutra, Phiroz Mehta
With thank to The Phiroz Mehta Trust.