Gravity Behaving Badly: Problem and Opportunity
David Paul Boaz
Gravity—John Wheeler’s murky “great smoky dragon”—is the primordial entropic creator and destroyer of worlds. What/who is it? With any such cognitive challenge there is a consciousness processional of at least four inherent cognitive dimensions or voices of knowing/understanding/wisdom: 1) outer, exoteric, objective, conceptual; 2) inner, esoteric, intuitive, subjective, quasi-conceptual; 3) trans-conceptual, transpersonal, contemplative; 4) trans-conceptual/trans-rational, innermost esoteric/nondual.
These four strata of experience are always potentially present to human cognition as an ontologically relative, prior meta-cognitive epistemic unity, invariant through all appearing physical/mental form as it arises, unbidden, from its basal primordial unbounded whole, zero point energy (ZPE) alaya emptiness (shunyata, dharmakaya) ground. So, let us here honor Wheeler’s anthropic “participatory principle”, and his “staircase of transcendence”—ever more inclusive noema of both objective and subjective awareness of this vast many dimensional whole—in a brief note on great gravity.
As to our exoteric and esoteric understanding, Roger Penrose, at the end of his noble epic, The Road To Reality, poignantly laments this profound gravity mystery: “Our theories are powerless to describe it…we shall need…a radical conceptual renewal…a subtle change in perspective—something that we all have missed” (Penrose 2004, p. 1045).
Perhaps what “we all have missed” through our cognitively biased metaphysical presumption that is the exoteric objectivist, observer-independent realist-materialist knowledge paradigm—with its taboo of subjectivity—is the “radical conceptual renewal” provided by our inchoate, centrist, ontologically relative, observer-dependent middle way epistemology of nonlocal, “post-materialist” physics. This 21st century post-quantum scientific and cultural revolution is now upon us.
Is this not what the subjective indeterminacy of the uncertainty relations and entangled non-locality of quantum theory has pointed to all along? Both Quantum Field Theory (QFT) and General Relativity Theory (GRT) are incomplete at extreme Planck scales and require unifying post-ideological methodologies to tame the triumphal wild horse of parochial proto-theistic, obsessively objective Scientific Realism/Materialism (Boaz 2020).
The Three Great Problems of Physics, Cosmology, and Consciousness. They are, respectively: the “measurement problem”, the “time problem” and the “hard problem” (Wallace 2007a p.87). Intelligent solutions augur both first and third person investigative strategies. Thus do we strike a meta-cognitive balance between our perfectly subjective (trans-conceptual subject-object unity), and objective conceptual voices—Suzuki Roshi’s “Big Mind” (Ultimate Truth/paramartha satya) dimension), and his “Small Mind” (world of Relative Truth/samvriti satya) truth arising herein). It is this noetic doublet that is the prior epistemic and ontic unity of our variegated human nature, and our knowledge of it.
Who am I? Are we not all primordial consciousness ground becoming conscious of itself—present awareness instantiations of the omniscient mind of real, trans-conceptual, nondual panpsychic godhead—boundless whole itself? Tat Tvam Asi. I Am That I Am.
Perhaps the purpose of pragmatic, instrumental scientific knowledge is not mere atomistic objective facts about a separate RWOT, but rather, a relational, holistic, transpersonal, even contemplative wisdom understanding of our beautiful, interdependent, self-reflexive participation in this vast unbounded whole itself.
Who is it that shines through the mind and abides at the heart, always liberated, and fully awake? Such an integral noetic project requires Dōgen’s shoshin—post-conceptual, post-empirical, post-theistic Socratic aporia of belief—our innate, selfless, open “beginner’s mind”. Yes, our Zen mind Wisdom Mind. It’s like coming home. This “poetry begins in delight, and ends in wisdom” (Sir Philip Sidney).
A billion stars spin through the night,
blazing high above your head.
Deep within us is the presence that will be,
when all the stars are dead”.
—Rainer Maria Rilke