Manjushri: Prince of Wisdom

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Manjushri and the paramitas

The transcendent practices emphasized by the Manjushri archetype are wisdom, meditation, and discipline or ethical conduct. In Manjushri we can see how these perfections are interrelated and how they support each other.

Manjushri expresses wisdom and insight through his dignity, youthful vigor, and playfulness, taking on humble guises to demonstrate nonattachment to appearances and convention.

As the main figure in the meditation hall, Manjushri shows how wisdom emerges with the concentration and introspection of intensive meditation. Sitting meditation is a posture for perfecting wisdom. And insight into unity and emptiness is the content of meditation. When we concentrate to see what is essential, we are activating the meditation of Manjushri. This steady looking within, settling into our own deepest intention, can lead us to inner wisdom.

In sitting meditation, when thoughts bubble up out of small mind—delusions and pettiness of some kind—notice the discipline that arises to cut through them. This is the energy of Manjushri.

Ethical conduct
Manjushri's position as a prince symbolizes the nobility of upright conduct. His vow of purity and his discipline show that ethical conduct is a basis for meditation and wisdom. And meditation and wisdom make clear the value of discipline and strengthen ethical conduct. Then we naturally do our best to act in a wholesome, dignified manner, even if that may sometimes mean being a beggar. Right conduct in everyday situations allows more mental space for natural insight to arise.