Zen and the Art of Insight

November 1, 2020
Zen and the Art of Insight

The Prajnaparamita ("perfection of wisdom") sutras are one ofthe great legacies of Mahayana Buddhism, giving eloquent expressionto some of that school's central concerns: the perception ofshunyata, the essential emptiness of all phenomena; andthe ideal of the bodhisattva, one who postpones his or her ownenlightenment in order to work for the salvation of all beings.The Prajnaparamita literature consists of a number of textscomposed in Buddhist India between 100 BCE and 100 CE. Originallywritten in Sanskrit, but surviving today mostly in their Chineseversions, the texts are concerned with the experience of profoundinsight that cannot be conveyed by concepts or in intellectualterms. The material remains important today in Mahayana Buddhismand Zen.Key selections from the Prajnaparamita literature are presentedhere, along with Thomas Cleary's illuminating commentary, as ameans of demonstrating the intrinsic limitations of discursivethought, and of pointing to the profound wisdom that lies beyondit.Included are selections from:• The Scripture on Perfect Insight Awakening toEssence• The Essentials of the Great Scripture on PerfectInsight• Treatise on the Great Scripture on PerfectInsight• The Scripture on Perfect Insight for BenevolentRulers• Key Teachings on the Great Scripture of PerfectInsight• The Questions of Suvikrantavikramin