Primordial Wisdom Mind
Truth is one; many are its names.
The Wisdom of Mindfulness Meditation. The nature of mindfulness (shamatha, sati, bhavana) is our selfless primordial Wisdom Mind, the wisdom of seeing and experiencing the essential nature of arising phenomenal reality directly, precisely as it is in this spacious, precious infinite freedom of the present moment now, prior to any dualistic elaborated and fabricated concepts, theories, personal and collective beliefs and biases, and hopes and expectations about it.
There exists a luminous peaceful, even blissful cognizance in the selfless absence of discursive conceptual thinking that transcends the semiotics (semantics, syntax, pragmatics) of mere dualistic language arising from habitual global concept-mind. Few people have experienced it intentionally. Few people are aware that it may be consciously developed and increased. Without such mindful intervention we habitually abide in our familiar, not so comfortable cognitive comfort zones, almost forever.
Yet we all have had tastes, little satories of this peace and love that “passeth all understanding”. It is blissfully present in the mother’s love of her child. In the man’s first sight of his newborn. At the trans-conceptual moment of orgasm. Or at the empty instant of a sneeze. It is present in the all too brief feeling of peace and connectedness to everything in a beautiful sunset. In the refreshingly non-rational bliss of religious experience. It’s there in “the zone” of aerobic exercise.
Let us then further explore how it is that we may make such happiness and peace a part of our everyday experience.
Our primordial wisdom tradition knows quiescent peaceful first person nondual wisdom as jnana, yeshe, gnosis. Nondual cognition—”not two, not one, but nondual”— is a knowing that is radically free of dualism; free of a knowing subject separate from its object known; free of the split between self and other; between self and God; free of this sad and tiresome I-other false dichotomy that is inherent in the conceptual mind’s logical syntax of language. Thinking mind is inherently dualistic and painful. The urgent question is, what to do about it?
There exists in the engagement of mindfulness a peaceful, spacious, quiescent unity of subject and object, I and other, just prior to this adventitious subject-object split. The perceptual and conceptual barrier, the dark duality of knower and something other known does not exist in this generous spaciousness of trans-conceptual mindfulness. And you shall know it directly upon the breath as a quiescent, subtle innermost peace or a subtle bliss—a sense of well being, of interconnectedness and completion. A caring for all living beings. In the profound and beautiful words of the H.H. the Dalai Lama’s teacher, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, expressing nondual Wisdom Mind on the Mahayana/Vajrayana Buddhist view:
Thoughts are the play of pure awareness.
They arise within it, and dissolve back into it.
To recognize pure awareness as the heart
source of thought and emotion is to recognize
that our thoughts have never begun, have never
existed, and have never ceased.
This is the nondual view of Ultimate Truth (paramartha satya). In the view of spacetime conventional Relative Truth (samvriti satya) thoughts and negative emotions are all too real. Hence, as we stabilize our minds in the subtler more peaceful ultimate view, thought and negative emotion filled distractions always arise, but need not trouble us. They are but the display, and are not other than innate awareness-consciousness itself, their primordial “supreme source” or ground. They simply arise, abide and dissolve into the luminous space of that nondual “groundless ground” in which, or in whom this all arises—utterly selfless and absent or “empty of any shred of intrinsic existence” (Nagarjuna). Again, the Wisdom Mind of Khyentse Rinpoche:
The mind is free of any true inherent reality…
To recognize the ultimate Nature of Mind
is to recognize its selfless emptiness…
This is a realization that occurs in the realm
of direct experience. It cannot be expressed
Indeed, this quiescent peaceful mind state is utterly conceptually ineffable nondual wisdom itself. Yet it may be known and experienced trans-conceptually, contemplatively by our innate, always present Wisdom Mind. Such consciousness exploration is not for the metaphysically timid. It altogether transcends, yet embraces conceptual scientific, philosophical and even contemplative metaphysics.
Wisdom Mind. The Ultimate Nature of Mind—since by definition it subsumes and embraces everything arising in the relative dimension of space and time—is the ground and “supreme source” of relative conventional mind. It is changeless and “primordially pure from the very beginning”, and before. It is not imbued with ignorance in the beginning. It is not improved by the accumulation of wisdom at the end of the path.
In the clear words of Gautama Buddha, “Let it be as it is and rest your weary mind; all things are perfect exactly as they are”. Such is the nondual formless dimension of Ultimate Truth that transcends but includes the dimension of spacetime form, or Relative Truth in which it arises. Thus, Buddha’s great wisdom pith, “Form is empty; emptiness is form”. These are the primordial Two Truths—ultimate and relative—of our Great Wisdom Tradition.
Well, which of these Two Truths is the true one—perfectly subjective boundless emptiness of Ultimate Truth, or objective spacetime Relative Truth? Choose one or the other. Dualistic relative “scientific” mind and its “common sense” servant have chosen to reduce the subjectivity of Ultimate Truth to the not altogether comfy ideology of Scientific Materialism/Physicalism—in its fundamentalist raiment, Scientism (Appendix E). This is the clear choice of the prevailing cultural ideology of Western (Greek) Materialism. But have we here created a false dichotomy?
Does truth require that we choose one or the other? Isn’t there both objective and subjective truth present in either pole of this bogus dilemma? Perhaps Truth is a middle way complementarity that includes both. Quantum pioneer Niels Bohr, creator of the quantum Principle of Complementarity and student of Taoism thought so. So do the Middle Way Mahayana Buddhists.
In short, is there a middle way available to us? Of course there is; and it has been assiduously developed over the past 25 centuries by Buddhist and Vedic masters. It is known respectively as Buddhist Middle Way Madhyamaka Prasangika, and Advaita Vedanta.
If only the busy minds of physical and social scientists, not to mention philosophers and theologians were not quite so averse to exploring it.
This wisdom is readily available in hundreds of popular books on Buddhist philosophy; and dozens of popular books on the relation of science, particularly quantum physics to Buddhist Middle Way teaching. I have written one of them (Boaz 2019). H.H. the Dalai Lama has published dozens of introductory level books on Middle Way Buddhist philosophy, mindfulness meditation, and the very popular topic of Buddhism and Science, several of them New York Times best sellers. Alan Wallace and Ken Wilber have both contributed many important books on the matter, some of them of the highest possible excellence.
Well, how shall we utilize objective study and subjective contemplative exploration of our innate Wisdom Mind in order to set us free from suffering?
In mindfulness practice we allow thoughts to arise and dissolve by themselves, leaving no trace, like the flight of a bird in the space of sky. Thoughts and difficult emotions will dissolve spontaneously into the vast spacious emptiness of the Nature of Mind—if we leave them alone and let them do so. Mindfulness practice provides that basic space between our thoughts, that we may see clearly what is, and what is not.
Thoughts “self-liberated” at the instant of their arising have no impact, an so leave no karmic trace (Ch. 12). So, there is nothing to fear from our negative thoughts; and nothing to hope for from our positive thoughts. Grasping clinging attraction, and fearful aversion are like illusive rainbows in the sky. There is no ultimate reality here to grasp at, nor to cling to, nor to reject. Although relatively, it sure seems so. Our negative and positive thinking has no more substance than a rainbow, or a cloud in the vast empty sky.
Recognizing this truth begins the path to its ultimate realization—beyond all hope and fear of self-ego-I—Happiness Itself. This then is the ultimate view. Wisdom Mind is the objective/subjective knowing of it. No problem at all.
So, the ultimate essence of the relative conceptual human mind is 1) boundless emptiness (shunyata, dharmakaya, kadag, mahabindu), full of all the stuff of relative spacetime reality (E = mc²); 2) its nature is luminous clarity; 3) Its expression is love—wise, kind, compassionate conduct toward other beings. These three are already a prior yet always present inseparable unity, here and now, beyond the obsessive grasping and aversion of relative self-ego-I that is discursive thinking mind.
But, this is all just concepts, and more concepts about concepts, and concepts about no concepts. How does one abide such a concept-mind? One trains such a “monkey mind” to settle into, and rest in its own true nature, the very Nature of Mind that transcends yet gently embraces it. What is this prodigious method? Mindfulness.
How does it end? As the mind learns to rest in its own luminous peaceful nature—innate intrinsic awareness—there is no more meditation; no more learning, only “empty awake mind”, beyond the duality of judgment, existence and non-existence, past and future, attraction and aversion; enlightenment and ignorance. “‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished” (Hamlet).
As with any endeavor, mastery takes some practice. Yet, quite astonishingly, the benefits of clarity of mind, peace and subtle bliss are present from the very beginning.
Excerpted from “Being Here: 36 Seconds to Bliss” by David Paul Boaz