There are many, many ways for the teaching to arise.
—Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
Who is it, this primordial awareness being in human form? Being (Ontos, Sein, Bhava) is the alpha and omega of meaning in religion (religio/yoga/zygon/union), and philosophy (the unity of philo/love and sophia/wisdom), that is to say, of our human ultimate concern.
The truth-functional binary equation—A or not-A, is or is not, sat or asat, eka or shunya, one or zero, existence or non-existence, form or emptiness—expresses the syntactic cognitively contingent bivalence or duality of these perennial Two Truths—ultimate and relative—that constitute semantic and pragmatic meaning for us, our being here in anthropic spacetime. Yes, we live in these two dimensions at once. Balancing these two faces of being is our existential human predicament. But are these realms ultimately separate? Why should we care?
In Heisenberg’s uncertainty relations of the Quantum Field Theory (QFT) this implicit ultimate nonduality of the relative dualistically arising “productions” or manifestations of the ultimate ground or source of reality is expressed through the non-bifurcated superposition state—both “is” and “is not”—of the quantum information bits (qubits/vasana) that constitute the elementary wave/particles (or strings, loops or branes) arising from recent cosmology’s unified quantum vacuum.
This “zero point energy” of physics’ quantum vacuum potential is analogous to, but not reducible to Buddhist alaya, the relative substrate ground with its alaya-vijnana (bhavanga, namkha) substrate consciousness. Alaya-vijnana is said to be the subjective space of emptiness (shunyata) into which the contents of mind descend in deep sleep, and at the moment of death, and from which all of the subjective and objective appearances or productions of mind—human consciousness—arise. This alaya consciousness is not however, on the accord of the masters of the Vajrayana teachings, the perfect subjectivity of the subtlest or “highest” state of human consciousness that recognizes, in due course, then realizes (bodhi, kensho/satori, moksa) the unbounded whole (mahabindu) that is reality-being-itself. This nondual ultimate whole subsumes and embraces the dimension of its relative-conventional reality parts.
In the Vajrayana, this perfectly subjective “absolute space of phenomena” is the basal primordial awareness wisdom consciousness (dharmadhatujnana) ground (kadag, gzhi) that is always, to practitioner and non-practitioner alike, fully present (vidya, rigpa) as the nondual, unbroken, unbounded whole in which (or in whom) this all arises. Professor Anne Carolyn Klein (Rigzin Drolma) reveals the primordial truth of the matter:
Unbounded wholeness is how and what reality is… Open awareness (rigpa), fully present to that state of wholeness, is the knowing of it… Open awareness is uniquely authentic (tshad ma), for it alone is fully aware of its own nature as unbounded wholeness (Klein 2006 pp. 4, 7).
This Tibetan Buddhist view is preceded in historical, cultural space and time by the Hindu “Akashic Record” (manakasha) which is the physical and quasi-physical aetheric cosmos vacuum matrix, analogous to all-embracing Pythagorean kosmos that subsumes the physical, material, mental and “spiritual” (body, mind, spirit) objective and subjective spacetime cosmos, with its many universes, in a prior ontological and epistemological unity. These then are the “two voices” or “two truths”—relative form and ultimate emptiness—that are subsumed in the notion of the one truth, “one taste” that is the interdependent objective/subjective nondual unbounded whole (mahabindu) of matter, mind and spirit.
Lest we interpret this view as merely the new, refreshing panpsychic proto-idealist Neodualism of recent consciousness studies in the Philosophy of Mind—Chalmers, Clark, Strawson, Nagel, Jackson (Boaz 2013, “The Problem and Opportunity of Consciousness”)—let us again recall that the epistemic dualism of these two truths is ultimately subsumed in the ontic nondual “one truth that is invariant across all cognitive frames of reference” (Wallace 2007). How shall we understand this?
We have seen that this here now “always already” present presence of the “one truth”—consciousness-reality-being-itself—that embraces the ontic duality of the two truths, relative and ultimate, is our human ultimate soteriological (liberation, enlightenment) concern. And, lest we presume that we can grasp that (tat) through our various conceptual, causal, material and spiritual seeking strategies, perish the thought. We cannot become that. We can only be that. To be that, or not to be that? That is the question. “This cannot be taught” (Shakumuni Buddha). Yet, the practice of the contemplative injunctions of the masters (kalyanamitra)—those who know—“opens the door” to this great nondual primordial awareness wisdom (gnosis, jnana, yeshe) that flesh is heir to.
Now, back to quantum and post-quantum reality. For the “consciousness causes collapse,” and the recent Quantum Bayesianism interpretations of the quantum theory (Quantum Field Theory, QFT, with Feynman’s Quantum Electrodynamics, QED), at the collapse of the problematic quantum wave function during a measurement (or a perception)—the vexing “quantum measurement problem”—quantum uncertainty dissolves, along with the indeterminate wave nature of light. Now, the acausal subjective superposition of the nondual being state that is both A and not-A (the Law of Connection), both being and non-being, both one and zero, collapses into the determinate particle nature of light that is the apparent causal objective duality of either A or not-A (the Law of Excluded Middle), of either being or non-being. The European Logical Intuitionists notwithstanding, Western logic has entirely ignored (avidya, primary dualistic judgment) this unifying Eastern Law of Connection (Boaz 2012, “Post-Quantum Logic: East Meets West,” p. 72).
What’s going on here? At the collapse of Schrödinger’s quantum wave function (the state vector reduction) at the instant of a quantum measurement by an observer, or an observer’s instruments, or by any sentient perception—that is to say a moment of consciousness—is an aperture for the arising of objective quantum qubits (vasana) of appearing physical/mental form, via the quasi-physical quantum vacuum zero point energy potential (analogous to Buddhist alaya) from its nondual trans-physical perfectly subjective basal emptiness/dharmadhatu source-ground. Form/appearance, and emptiness/reality are “not one, not two; but nondual” (Boaz 2013 Ch. II, A, B).
Astonishingly, this cognitive aperture for the arising of form is also a moment-to-moment opening, an opportunity for the ascent and return of a perceiving consciousness to its emptiness ground. Everything that arises and appears in human experience—human consciousness—attractive or aversive, is an opening into this vast expanse of the trans-conceptual, uncontrived “primordial purity” (kadag) of its nondual base (ghzi). Indeed, paradoxically, it is our aversive, negative afflictive emotions (desire, fear/anger/aggression, avarice, pride) that drive and motivate the freeing psycho-spiritual practice (sadhana) that is their very liberation from the ignorance that is, on the Buddhist view, the cause of human suffering. Perhaps then we might focus our attention a bit more upon the deep blue sky background of everything. The foreground shall spontaneously arise for us therein. Thus do we accomplish both at once, moment by moment.
Such non-judgmental cognitive fluency is, conventionally construed, the diametric opposite of avidya, primary and secondary ignorance (subject/object dualism and pursuant reification of a permanent objective reality). Such cognition requires, as with all such “enterprises of great pitch and moment,” a commitment to a little trans-rational mindfulness/insight practice (sheshin) in being fully present to the primordial whole shebang. Here we strike a centrist middle way balance (Madhyamaka) between the absolutist, substantialist, materialist ontology of permanent, objectively existent “form,” and a nihilist idealist ontology of subjective “emptiness.” “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.” Conventionally they are different; ultimately they are the same (nondual). Hence, from the epistemology you choose arises the ontology you deserve (karma). Sublime trans-conceptual cognitive paradox. Can we relate to the ensuing cognitive dissonance? That is the rub.
So, the ontology of relative, “scientific” monistic Physicalism/Materialism necessarily refers us beyond or within, to that ontologically prior ultimate ground or whole—by whatever name—that includes and subsumes it, and in which the dimension of physical/mental spacetime reality arises and partakes. Such an ontology exceeds the syntactic ambulations of the binary truth-functional logic of Aristotle and his Modernist logical heirs, Frege, Russell, and even the brilliant postmodern ontological relativity of Quine and Rorty (Boaz 2012, “Toward a Post-Quantum Logic: West Meets East”). Indeed, it utterly transcends the limited capacity (medpa) of human concept-mind. This is the dimension of the “logic of the non-conceptual” (Klein).
This ultimate unbroken whole—the very nature of mind (citatta, sems nyid)—embraces and is altogether greater than the sum of its parts, and our conceptual idols of it (cf. Francis Bacon, Novum Organum on the “idols of the mind”). Yet, astoundingly, this great whole is relative-conventionally instantiated in our human consciousness as the perceived particulars of everyday spacetime reality. Such a centrist ontology thus bestows upon us the ultimately unified Two Truths of our conventionally split objective scientific, and subjective spiritual paradigms. Well then, “who is it” that unifies these two truths of our being here in this beautiful brightness of space and time?
David Paul Boaz Posted 6.17.13