Prajna is one of those terms that holds a fascination for me.  It’s what Buddhists call the clarity that comes from seeing the way things are.  (If you can see what-is, it’s likely that you’ll be able to act more appropriately, they say.)  It is, I suppose, another way of Un-Seeing.

Prajna encompasses discernment and discrimination, insight, wisdom and enlightenment, all of which are very big words with lots of layers of meaning in them.  I’ve gnawed on it for a long time now, and am still trying to get a handle on it.  It’s an ongoing process.

Yeah, yeah…I know.  Slow learner.  But, for real, reaching for clarity has been a puzzlement for people wiser than me through the ages.

I’ll try breaking it down into the parts.  Maybe that’ll help.


Discernment and discrimination are tools you use to separate things into various categories.  These help you define and label what’s in front of you.  They are really good for sorting things and sticking them in organized piles so you can think on them more easily.  They’re mostly good for labeling stuff.

I thought on that one for a while.  I even wrote a poem about it:


 What you call yourself has power:

Word does manifest as real.

You’re the archer, you’re the arrow,

And the Word’s the bow you wield.


When you call yourself a victim,

you teach others you are prey.

When you call yourself a warrior,

others fight you all the way.


When you call yourself a businessman,

you’ll run busy all the time.

When you call yourself a poet,

all the world turns into rhyme.


When you call yourself a captain,

then the world hangs on your neck.

When you call yourself a seeker,

nothing true comes at your beck.


When you call yourself a pauper,

then your world is filled with lack.

When you call yourself a king,

spears and knives will seek your back.


When you call yourself a servant,

rules and regs fly ’round your head.

When you call yourself a debtor,

obligations make your bed.


It’s a funny thing to notice,

the strangest thing of all to see:

when you stop plastering on the labels,

you’ll just be whatever you be.

By Netta Kanoho


Insight is a gift that comes to you when you study a thing deeply, looking at it from every angle.

My favorite story of an art exercise that develops insight is the one where a student is given a fish and told to paint/draw the thing every single day for a month.  At the end of the month, the fish is a lot worse for wear and probably hard on the nose.

However, if the student practices this exercise properly (with mindfulness, focus, and concentration), the student will begin to understand what “fish” is…it says here.

Insights are supposed to be delivered via “Ah-Ha” moments…when all of a sudden all the different perspectives come together into one big oh-wow thought that’s supposed to put all the bits and pieces together.

Ah-Ha moments are supposed to be life-defining things.  It’s the finger that sets up the path to, well…meaning, mana and all that good stuff…maybe.

Here is a TEDx talk from a high school teacher at Clarkstown High School North, Jordan Turner, who puts a different spin on the wonderful “Ah-Ha” Moment that is supposed to signal some big insight or other.

According to Turner, the Ah-Ha clarity may be just one more step to more questions.


Wisdom is another gift of time.  It seems to grow out of an accumulation of insights and is kind of like a catalog of thoughts based on previous experience that will probably work pretty well.

Enlightenment is apparently a level of insightfulness that encompasses everything that is in front of you, bringing the all of everything into clear focus.  It’s an ideal state of being, it says here.

It is also, according to Buddhists, the result of many, many lifetimes of concerted effort…two steps forward, one step back, one step forward, three steps back and so on and so forth.  The enlightenment all the wise guys seem to keep going on about is “freedom from delusion.”

It’s a tool — just as things like focusing on the abundance in the World, trusting the Creative to be untrammeled and limitless, learning to balance the energies of Heaven and Earth within your own self, making things pono (in right relationship to each other) and seeing what-is are all tools you use to work on becoming a high-vibe being in the World.

One of the best resource books for Seeker wanna-bes (as well as the more earthbound sorts who just want to live a better life) that I’ve ever found is one put together in 1984 by Rick Fields and three other editors of the New Age Journal.  The book, CHOP WOOD, CARRY WATER: A Guide to Finding Spiritual Fulfillment in Everyday Life, is full of ancient wisdoms that remain relevant today.  It is a down-to-earth guide for those who want to fly.


Many of the Seekers who look at these kinds of things may be a bit off, I am thinking.  They seem convinced that Enlightenment-with-the-Big-E is some kind of end-product and goal.

Enlightenment, to my mind, is just one more thing to clean the pot that is you.

The whole point for doing this dance, it seems to me, is about using that pot to cook up good nourishing things for the big party with the Creative and the World and the sentient beings in this life.  Now THAT is something I can get behind!

My own take on all this is that often what we call clarity is likely to reflect our own understandings of what is true and what we value.  We tend to see what we believe, I think.  Prajna goes beyond that.

What do you think?

Picture credit:  Lotus by M. G. N.  via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)



(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you…)


Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below.

22 thoughts on “CLARITY AND ALL THAT

  1. Antonis Christonasis says:

    What an inspirational post once again. And a beautiful poem to enhance your message. I too believe that you tend to get in your life, what you truly believe in deep inside. Sometimes you may not even realise that you do. So, labeling turns out to make us behave in certain ways, in order to go along with the role that the label suggest to us.

    1. Hey Antonis:

      Welcome back! It’s true. Very often you really DON’T realize what you truly believe, and you can only see what you believe, so…there you are.

      That’s why, I think, it is important to lift up the hood of that vehicle you’re riding in to get through this world to see what’s under there. The only problem is the thing doesn’t come with an owner’s manual and mostly you’re not a gear-head that can intuit all those gears and things, so you have to go looking for the answers your own self. It’s a process, but it’s also one that many others before you have studied on so it’s not like you’re having to do it all by yourself. And that’s a good thing….

      Please do come again!

  2. Hello Netta, great blog!! I also love to write poetry, but in a spoken word type format, if you call that poetry. I do believe that enlightenment is something that you get traveling through your journey of life and clarity comes when you finally realize what enlightened you. I really love your site and keep on writing. I know for me I use it more for a therapeutic tool and some days I need more therapy then others 🙂 Thank you for making me think.


    1. Hey Carol: Thank you for your visit and your comments. Please do come again!

  3. Hello Netta, great blog!! I also love to write poetry, but only when I have spare time sadly. It is a hobby you have inspired me to dedicate more time to! I really love your site and keep on writing. The way you present each topic is engaging and I would love to know what you inspiration is. I’m intrigued by how you make it work on a daily basis. Continue, continue!

    1. Hey Chris:

      Thanks for commenting!

      For years I’ve had the habit of getting up before dawn and the first thing I do is to sit down and start writing. It started as an exercise, a la Julia Cameron of Artist Way fame, called “Morning Pages.” Before facing the world, I greet the day by sitting with my thoughts and try to capture them on a page. Sometimes a poem grows out of it, sometimes not. Sometimes I rant and rave and snark (the BMW ploy — bitchin’, whinin’ and moanin’). Sometimes I just wander around in the leftover bits of dream-time. It’s all good.

      You might want to try this your own self.

      Please do come again….

  4. Hi Netta, I must say that this article is very helpful and motivational. My wife is not a poet but she enjoys writing and inspiring others so you remind me a little on her. This is what we need today as we live in such stress and this should relax us and give us additional motivation.

    1. Daniel, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate it.

      Please do come again.

  5. Todd Matthews says:

    To me, I think Prajna means to see things as we perceive them, and in many cases it is so. I love the poem you wrote, stating that what you see yourself as is exactly what the world will see you as. In my experience, this bodes true, true, and even more true. When I saw myself as a personal trainer, everyone I came into contact with saw me as one. When I stopped training to focus on other projects, I started seeing myself as less than a trainer and more of a writer/blogger. Next thing I knew, those same people saw me as such. Now, I’m getting back into training while continuing to write. It’ll be interesting, seeing myself as a trainer/writer, what the world sees me as. This is what I picked up from the post. I could be right, I could be wrong. 

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Todd.

      What your riff reminds me of is the African concept of “ubuntu” — “I am because WE are.”  One interpretation of that is that how you see yourselves is affected by how others around you see us and, as you pointed out, how you see yourself does affect how the ones around you see you.  It’s all very circular, that concept of connectivity and really satisfying to consider, I think.

      Thanks for that reminder.  

      Please do come again….

  6. RoDarrick says:

    This poem is great. I like how you present the poem. I like writing poems too but yours is actually on a par that I just have to respect as a masterpiece. I love how you present the poem with the ideas communicated In this poem. Whatever could have inspired you to pen this is very worthy. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Ro, I do thank you for your visit and your kind words.  

      Please do come again….

  7. Letha Kitchens says:

    Hi, Netta what a great blog and nice image. Poetry is something that I never have gotten into, but I’ve always admired those who do. My brother wrote poetry around the house at an early age and that’s a gift for many. I truly believe that wisdom comes from experiences and insights which helps someone to become better. This is a great poem.


    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your story.  I am pleased you liked the poem.

      Please do come again….

  8. chinthaka says:

    Actually, Buddhism touched my whole life a lot.  BUDDHA also tried to explain most of the things through examples. He always taught me to see a thing with clarity. 

    Nice and wonderful wordings that you have selected to explain the behavior of self and the universe are very creative.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, chinthaka.  I am pleased that my explanations were helpful to you.  (Hope I didn’t get too far off.)

      Please do come again.

  9. Well said.  Excellent article.  So much to learn. 

    I appreciate your sharing and education helping people to find the good inside themselves through your clarity and all that. Very profound and useful information as well as an opportunity to learn from the subject. 

    I also like the list of your books including “A Guide to Finding Spiritual Fulfillment in Everyday Life”. 

    Thank You for sharing.

    1. Akim, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate it.

      Please do come again.

  10. This article on prajna has been wonderful food for thought. I particularly like the exercise of painting or drawing a fish each day for a month in order to better understand what “is”. 

    Seeking clarity usually seems like a worthy goal, but perhaps allowing some things to keep a mysterious nature can also be a helpful way to find insights. 

    How do you think this would relate to the thought experiment of Schrödinger’s cat?

    1. Hee!  Thanks for bringing up that silly is-it/is-it-not, maybe-could be dead-or-alive cat.  All I know is that as long as the thing stays in the closed box, it remains as an “unknown/unknowable” object.

      I’m afraid my own tendency is to OPEN THAT BOX.  I want to see what happened and what is in there, not make theories about what might have/could have happened.  (Maybe I’m just a lousy engineer.)

      My cousin used to threaten me with major bodily injury if I took a hammer to her intact thunder egg.  She liked the mystery of it.  I wanted to know what was IN there!

      Oh, well…

      Please do come again.

  11. Great article! Your insights into the quest for clarity really resonated with me. I find that seeking clarity often involves sifting through a lot of noise and confusion.

    Do you have any specific strategies or practices that you’ve found particularly effective in maintaining clarity, especially during times of high stress or uncertainty?

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this important topic!

    1. Hmmm.  Corey, that is a question that is part of my perpetual quest, I think.  The post pretty much details what I’ve learned so far.  (It’s not so very much, I admit, but it’s what I’ve got to work with.)

      I think my biggest thing has been a shift in focus.  I decided that I am no longer going to be a “seeker.”  Uh-uh.  I am now self-identifying as a “finder.”  I am one who finds things that help me get myself to the world I am in the process of building for me and my heart-people.

      The few things that I have found which do work for me are my foundational stuff.  They work (for me).  Maybe other people have found other things that work as well for them.

      This year I decided that I am going to learn how to become comfortable standing in ambiguity and uncertainty.

      The first step, I think, is developing an abiding trust in my own self.  I am working on that one now.

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