paññā vs ñāṇa is there a difference?

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paññā vs ñāṇa is there a difference?

Postby Alex123 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:24 pm

Hello all,

Does anyone know if there is a difference between paññā and ñāṇa? If so, what is the difference? Or are they total synonyms?

For example In Ptsm there is chapter called:
"Sotāvadhāne paññā sutamaye ñāṇaṃ."
"Understanding of applying the ear is knowledge of what consists in the heard (learnt)" - Bhikkhu Nanamoli translation.

Pali program that I have, has this translation:
paññā=f. wisdom; knowledge; insight.
ñāṇa= nt. wisdom; insight.

Thanks,

With metta,

Alex
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Re: paññā vs ñāṇa is there a difference?

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:40 pm

I think paññā has to do with wisdom (a correct understanding and use of the knowledge), while ñāṇa has to do with the knowledge itself. From PED on ñāṇa:

2. Scope and character of ñāṇa: ñ. as faculty of understanding is included in paññā (cp. wisdom=perfected knowledge). The latter signifies the spiritual wisdom which embraces the fundamental truths of morality & conviction (such as aniccaŋ anattā dukkhaŋ: Miln 42); whereas ñ. is relative to common experience.

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Re: paññā vs ñāṇa is there a difference?

Postby Alex123 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:48 pm

Thank you for your reply.

Do you mean that ñāṇa is less powerful than paññā? (seems right)
And do you think that paññā is more of intuitive understanding, while ñāṇa is more of a theoretic knowledge?

If so, could one gain ñāṇa through reading & considering the suttas, while paññā would require more direct-seeing development ?


With metta,

Alex
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Re: paññā vs ñāṇa is there a difference?

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:51 pm

Alex123 wrote:Do you mean that ñāṇa is less powerful than paññā? (seems right)
And do you think that paññā is more of intuitive understanding, while ñāṇa is more of a theoretic knowledge?

If so, could one gain ñāṇa through reading & considering the suttas, while paññā would require more direct-seeing development ?


I think so. I'm not an expert on Pāli, but that seems about right to me.

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Re: paññā vs ñāṇa is there a difference?

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:02 pm

Alex123 wrote:Does anyone know if there is a difference between paññā and ñāṇa? If so, what is the difference? Or are they total synonyms?

The way ñāṇa is used in a Buddhist context, it is usually considered as the knowledge/gnosis which arises as a result of paññā. Thus, it is fruitional. There are three levels of discernment (paññā): discernment obtained through hearing (sutamayā paññā), discernment obtained through reflection (cintāmayā paññā), and discernment obtained through meditative development (bhāvanāmayā paññā). There are many types of ñāṇa mentioned in the suttas and canonical ābhidhammika treatises. These knowledges are obtained through the engagement and refinement of the three types of paññā.

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Re: paññā vs ñāṇa is there a difference?

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:15 pm

It seems like the ñāṇa can be given, but not paññā. Is this true also?

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Re: paññā vs ñāṇa is there a difference?

Postby Alex123 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:19 pm

Hello Geoff,

Interesting. I was thinking about Ptsm chapter on convergence where basically it seems to say that citta + ñāṇa cause convergence of 37 factors of awakening (paññā among them) at maggaphala moment.

Also the insight-knowledges (such as those starting from nāma-rūpa-pariccheda-ñāṇa) seem to be more basic than paññā that liberates. It almost seems that insight knowledges are requirement for paññā. But again, it is possible that paññā means different degrees of wisdom in different context.


Thank you for your reply.


With metta,

Alex
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Re: paññā vs ñāṇa is there a difference?

Postby Nyana » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:46 pm

It all depends upon the context, but usually ñāṇa is considered the insight knowledge which results from practice, i.e. which results from discernment obtained through meditative development (bhāvanāmayā paññā). These types of ñāṇa include the gnosis and vision of things as they are (yathābhūtañāṇadassana), the gnosis of nibbāna (nibbānañāṇa), gnosis of elimination [of the āsava-s] (khayeñāṇa), and so on.


There are a number of related terms derived from the verb root - √ñā (to know):

saññā: recognition, apperception, perception, cognition

viññāṇa: consciousness, cognition

paññā: discernment

ñāṇa: gnosis, knowledge

abhiññā: higher gnosis; six types of higher gnosis (chalabhiññā)

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