Our teacher, Thanat Chindaporn, regularly explains to students that there are three kinds of wisdom. These is wisdom from copying or memory, wisdom from thinking or analysis and wisdom from insight meditation practice.

The famous insight meditation teacher, Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw, explained that mundane wisdom can be either wholesome or unwholsome. That is, when we learn from memory and from analysis, we can use this wisdom to relieve suffering, for example, through humanitarian work or we can use it to cause suffering, for example by propagating war.

But, as the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw explains, the third kind of wisdom, wisdom from insight meditation practice, can only have good results. This kind of wisdom is the wisdom that allows us to penetrate to the underlying truth inherent in all reality, namely that all things are impermanent, subject to suffering and not under our control.

This kind of wisdom is liberating because, once we realize that suffering comes from our failure to accept reality, not from reality itself, we immediately develop the capacity to rise above all kinds of conditions whether they are positive, negative or neutral.

Enlightenment is the habit of seeing and accepting things as they are without any desire to try to change them. An enlightened being acts solely based on the wisdom of what is good and correct to do and is therefore unafflicted by the taint of desire. That is why, as the accomplished insight meditation teacher Ven. Ofer has explained, the Pali word for enlightenment, “Nibanna” comes from the root word “Niroda” which means literally “turning off,” because upon enlightenment, the suffering that comes from unquenchable desire is totally quenched without any remainder.

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