Activating the Wisdom of Equality
Learned audience, the second prajna is the prajna of equality. It is activated by focusing the luminous awareness of your universal mirror prajna (awakened to with one’s initial experience of enlightenment, or ‘kensho’) on yourselves, the world, and the daily activities and non-activities of your lives. Through this practice you awaken to the reality that everything you experience–trees, pebbles, the babbling of the stream, the coolness of the breeze, the fragrance of flowers, your memories and thoughts, all of it–is your own true self. The prajna of equality is the experience of the truth that all things are empty, that is, equal.
Good friends, the Zen masters urge you to avoid becoming stuck at this level of realization. Awakening to the prajna of equality, you may become enamoured by the blissful condition of quietude and fail to make effort to advance and actualize the third and fourth prajnas. Without ongoing, progressive practice toward these latter two, even the prajna of equality will not become fully actualized. The buddhas and Zen masters consider any teaching that encourages students to remain dwelling within the second prajna as an aberration of the true path.
I have observed pseudo-Zen teachers who claim that Zen practice and enlightenment is aimed only at realizing this condition, and learning to expand and sustain it. Such teachers are what the authentic masters sometimes refer to as, ‘dust-wiping’ or ‘mirror-polishing’ adherents. Attached to the notion of continuously wiping away defilements, adherents of this practice are unable to advance and experience the true path of Zen.