Manjushri: Prince of Wisdom

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Sacred monk of the meditation hall

Manjushri sits enshrined on the center altar of Zen meditation halls, to encourage introspection and the awakening of insight. Thus he represents a primary aspect of Buddhist meditation, penetrating into the essence and cutting off all distractions and delusions. Meditation can be the context in which insight comes forth, and Manjushri embodies the samadhi (concentration) that is not separate from arising wisdom.

Buddhist meditation is not done in order to acquire wisdom as a goal. Rather, settling into the self, and becoming aware of body and mind as they are, is itself an expression of wisdom.

Manjushri's place in the meditation hall also represents his vow to embody purity and discipline for all beings. Discipline and ethical conduct function as spiritual housecleaning, preconditions to intensive meditation.