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Jñāna (Skt., ‘knowing’).


In the early period, jñāna was practical knowledge or skill (e.g. of a warrior or farmer). But jñāna was rapidly extended to include all spiritual knowledge, and knowledge of the way to approach Brahman or God. More technically, jñāna is the cognitive episode or event in which knowledge can occur.


(Pāli, ñāṇa). According to Buddhists, perception and reason cannot be totally relied upon since they are conditioned and distorted by our subjective attitudes—likes (ruci), dislikes (aruci), desire (chanda), fear (bhaya), ill will (dosa), and delusion (moha). Consequently, true knowledge (aññā) can only come about as a result of eliminating unwholesome mental and psychological factors. Buddhism prescribes a programme for eliminating these factors: training in morality (śīla), concentration (samādhi), and understanding (prajña). In terms of Buddhist doctrine, the true object of knowledge is to be found in the Four Noble Truths and the law of causation (paticca-samuppāda). On this basis, one can attain higher states of knowledge, but only if one's mind is purified of five impediments (pañcanīvaraṇa, see NĪVARAṆAS—covetousness, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and doubt, Majjhima Nikāya 1. 181, 270, 276) and on attaining the fourth jhāna.

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