Prajñā does not refer to passive knowledge, such as knowing stuff on Wikipedia or knowing how to get from Vancouver to Halifax. Prajñā is the active inquisitiveness of our mind, its basic curiosity of wanting to find out how things really are. If we look at the Buddha’s own career, this is exactly how he started. He did not start with the answers or by following some religion, tradition, or code of behaviour. He started with questions. As Prince Siddhārtha he lived in his sheltered existence in the palace of his parents, who wished to protect him from the bad world (as most parents do). However, eventually he got out with his charioteer and saw things he had never seen before, such as an old person. He asked his charioteer, “What is that?” “This is an old person.” “Does this happen to everyone?” “Yes, even to you.” The same exchange took place when Siddhārtha saw a dying person and a sick person. When he finally saw a meditator under a tree, the charioteer explained, “This guy tries to overcome all the problems that you saw before.” Every time, Siddhārtha realized, “I do not really know what is going on here,” so he tried to find out, which is now known as the Buddhist path.
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