There are many, many ways for the teaching to arise.
—Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
Thus it is, the ostensibly incommensurable paradigms of Science (form) and Spirit/Spirituality (emptiness/boundlessness) are, in a non-relative ultimate view, enfolded in an intertextual ontological and epistemological prior unity, two truths, two views, two voices of a trans-rational vast, open, basal kosmic wholeness/emptiness awareness ground of reality itself that arises and unfolds as the energy of spacetime form. This bright primordial awareness ground of everything may be auspiciously approached conceptually, and known and realized contemplatively. Yet, this “supreme source” is not a “thing”. How shall we understand this?
The dimensions of our objective and subjective understanding of this nondual (“not one, not two”) basal ground of all of the experience of mind are an ontic processional of appearance arising from or through its primordial emptiness base: 1) objective/exoteric/outer forms, 2) subjective/esoteric/inner forms, and 3) nondual innermost esoteric experience. This third dimension or aspect of awareness, this innate wakefulness or clearlight/buddha mind is the final psycho-spiritual realization of the unity of our objective and subjective being here.
Paradoxically, this natural state of the mind is “always already” inherently present at the human heart (hridyam), yet it is pragmatically accomplished through the “spiritually empirical” praxis of the “spiritual” path (marga), liberated step by step from self-full attachment to our concept/belief metaphysical presuppositions as to the nature of reality (“Scientific” Materialism/Scientism, and fundamentalist religious provincialism), and from our narcissistic quest for material happiness.
This liberated result, ultimately, is the gift (euangelion, grace, jin lab) of awakening/liberation (bodhi) from ignorance (avidya) of our “supreme identity” with this numinous emptiness base. The receiving of this gift is the antidote to human emotional, mental and even physical suffering. From this “innermost secret” wisdom of emptiness spontaneously, effortlessly arises kind compassionate conduct toward other beings. And this is at once the antidote to human alienation and evil; and is both relative and ultimate cause of human happiness. “The only cause of human happiness is love” (Garchen Rinpoche). So it is told by the masters of the primordial wisdom traditions of our species.
We have seen that the “wild horse of the mind” must be pragmatically tamed and integrated through the anti-essentialist ontological relativity (our realities are relative to our deep cultural background linguistic constructions) of Bohr, Heisenberg, Quine, the Neopragmatists, and Buddhist Prasangika Madhyamaka epistemology. This centrist middle way is considered in the Vajrayana to be the foundation for the ontology of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection (the unity of dharmadhatu, emptiness,and buddha nature). Such a middle way avoids the philosophical extremes of Western existential absolute Materialist/Substantialist Realism, and Eastern nihilistic Idealism. Truly, from the epistemology one chooses, arises the metaphysical reality one deserves. Perhaps as good a description of karma as any.
For pragmatic middle way Madhyamaka the particulars of dualistic, relatively arising and appearing spacetime reality are not objectively independently real, but interdependently, inter-subjectively real (pratitya samutpada). This epistemically centrist middle way integrates our perennial “Two Truths”—appearing relative phenomena and their ultimate aboriginal primordial awareness ground.
These two views—form and emptiness, appearance and reality—are relatively and conventionally, conceptually separate, but not ultimately separate. Relative particulars arise in and participate as relative-conventional spacetime objective physical/mental human consciousness instantiations of the perfect subjectivity that is this vast, unbounded whole (mahabindu)—the very nature or essence of mind in whom this all arises. What to do?
So our human condition is this: we live in these two worlds—objective matter and subjective spirit—at once. Our cognitive paradigms of objective Science and subjective Spirit are two faces, two voices of this same nondual unbounded whole that is the primordial ultimate ground of consciousness reality-being itself.
On the accord of our wisdom traditions, we actually are that reality, our “supreme identity”—clearlight mind, the very nature of mind—by whatever name. “The clearlight mind, which lies dormant in human beings, is the great hope of humankind” (His Holiness The Dalai Lama). And our breath is the divine wind upon which this bright clearlight mind rides (lungta). Thus do we ride the wind of attention through shamatha mindfulness practice, and through vipashyana insight practice.
Just so, as the unbounded whole subsumes its parts, these two truths—form/matter and emptiness/spirit—are not separate, or separable. Once more, these two reality dimensions are, ultimately, an ontologically prior primordial unity. The destiny of human beings is to recognize, then realize in body/mind/spirit the ultimate non-separateness of that. Yes, this great whole, that boundless primordial emptiness ground is who and what we actually are, the very nature of all that arises and appears in mind. The knowing and feeling awareness presence of our being that, untainted and “primordially pure” and perfect from the very beginning, is, in the Indo-Tibetan spiritual traditions, vidya/rigpa. Therefore, Tat Tvam Ami. Tat Tvam Asi. That I Am. That we are.
We have seen as well that the recognition (samadhi) of this revealing truth (aletheia) of the very nature of mind—this nonlocal vast expanse that is the nondual ultimate truth (paramartha satya) of our being here—is the wisdom of the whole, vast spacious open emptiness (dharmadhatu, dharmakaya, kadag). It spontaneously expresses itself in material form (nirmanakaya) as loving, kind compassionate conduct in the chaos of this all too real world of dualistic relative-conventional truth (samvriti satya). We’ve seen that this union of love/compassion and the wisdom of emptiness is, on the accord of The Buddhist Mahayana tradition, the cause of both relative and ultimate human happiness.
It is this noetic (matter, mind, spirit unity) reality of the here now inseparability of matter and spirit, form and emptiness, relative Science and its ultimate reality ground that is now abroad in the brave new world of post-quantum science, culture and spirituality. Is not this prior ontic unity of our objective and subjective voices the urgent, radical recognition for human beings? What do you think?
Contemplative mindfulness (shamatha) and insight (vipashyana) practice (secular or non-secular)—gradually bestows this continuity of meaning recognition that is the potential moment-to-moment realization of a trans-rational but not spacetime transcendent cognitive state of knowing this luminous, always present presence, here and now.
Such knowing is non-propositional (trans-rational) and non-prescriptive (not dependent upon moral rules), nondual open awareness presence (vidya, rigpa, shekina, epinoia). The on-going practice of this knowing awareness may result ultimately in the “meditative stabilization” (yogi-pratyaksa/samadhi/satori/moksha) of our now present ultimate primordial awareness wisdom (gnosis, jnana, yeshe) right here in the beauty and the chaos of relative-conventional spacetime reality; here now, but not elsewhere.
Recall that all of this adventitious Postmodern difference is at once an “always already” present sameness (samata), an auspicious interdependent (pratitya samatpada/tendrel), natural and ontologically necessary primordial unity. And wonder of wonders, “it is already accomplished” (Garab Dorje), deep within us. Yet we must open (vidya, rigpa) and see it, then be it through our everyday lifeworld conduct. Be the change you wish to see.
Such is the resolution of the really “hard problem of consciousness”—the problem of soteriology (psycho-spiritual awakening/enlightenment/liberation)—an Archimedean point of balance between this bifurcated reality that is our two paradigmatic worlds of objective form and subjective emptiness, objective science and the perfect subjectivity that is nondual spirit in whom it all arises.
The continuity of remembrance of, and identification with this unbounded unified whole is the paradox of non-seeking, non-goal directed “non-meditation”. As this unity is who we actually are, our “supreme identity” with the bright spacious whole—dharmadhātu, dharmakaya, mahabindu—we learn, with gradualist, and spontaneous non-gradualist practice, how to abide in it each moment now; timeless continuity of being here now. Truly, this desideratum devoutly to be wished is not elsewhere. It abides always, deep within the human heart.
Well, lest this all seem utterly Panglossian, let us remember, it is told that such cognitive psycho-spiritual stabilization takes a lifetime—or many lifetimes—of practice under the guidance of qualified masters in the context of the spiritual community. Yet, as that presence is “always already” present we can glimpse it almost at will, when we listen; when we pay attention. Non-gaining, relaxed but assiduous “spiritual” practice is the vector that makes it so. And it all begins with the utter simplicity of this conventionally dualistic, yet nondual ultimate View. Again, the natural result is, on the accord of the wisdom traditions, happiness itself.
Hence, from the continuity of practice of this nondual wholeness/emptiness feeling cognition—“the wisdom of emptiness”—spontaneously arises degrees of the compassionate lifeworld conduct that translates self-centeredness into other-centeredness. This spontaneous surrender of self to others is our perennial moral imperative par excellence. Is this not the great secret of human happiness? The Upanishads, Buddha, Jesus, Shankara, Fichte, Hegel and Levinas have told it. From such an ethic of selflessness, gradually, spontaneously arises our individual surrender—selfless non-action, wu-wei—to the good of the whole. This is being the whole. And that, on the accord of the wisdom traditions, is our moment-to-moment choice of this ultimate happiness (eudaemonia, beatitudo, paramananda, mahasuka), the happiness that cannot be lost.
Here then, ultimately, there is nothing left to do, so that everything we do is open, authentic and kind. And this is the noetic ultimate meta-cognitive ground through which we must—step-by-step—address our all too human problems of knowledge, morals and governance. Is this not the integral noetic imperative for all of us who presume to help?
Hence, this inherent always present numinous presence of unbounded wholeness is the conceptually ineffable, but not contemplatively ineffable nondual “one truth,” invariant across all cognitive reference frames—objective and subjective, scientific and spiritual, exoteric and esoteric, egocentric, and theocentric—whose recognition makes us happy, and whose realization sets us free.
From such an epistemologically pragmatic and pluralistic, yet ontologically nondual monistic understanding arises the meta-cognitive basis of Toynbee’s “rising culture,” a latter day post-Postmodern plurality of voices that defines a new cultural/historical perspective, a noetic meta-narrative of human body/mind/spirit evolution—our emerging integral noetic revolution.
Excerpted from the “Conclusion” of Being the Whole: Toward the Emerging Noetic Revolution, 2013, David Paul Boaz, www.davidpaulboaz.org