Our great human Primordial Wisdom Tradition (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Shamanism) teaches that practical, goal directed, exoteric and esoteric contemplative/meditative practice is an antidote to the unruliness of human reason, to the inherent confusion, contradiction, paradox, distraction and suffering that is the production of the semiotic, binary, conceptual, self-absorbed egoic-self “wild horse of the mind.”
What I have elsewhere termed the Integral Noetic Imperative requires that scientists, philosophers, intellectual historians and those in the teaching, helping and correctional professions (and most urgently, their clients) become familiar with the bare rudiments of esoteric wisdom “spirituality” and soteriology (about liberation or ultimate happiness)—Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Kabbalah, Sufi, the nondual Christian Gnostics Theodus (disciple of Paul) and his heartson Valentinus—and perhaps even a bit of exoteric philosophy of physics, philosophy of religion, religious philosophy, theology and neurotheology. It is here that the pre-modern perennial, primordial wisdom (gnosis, jnana, yeshe) foundation of our species mind is revealed.
Sadly, through our adventitious ignorance (avidya) this urgent wisdom has been largely forgotten, or ignored. Through the practice of such wisdom—freed from unexamined popular science and other metaphysical presuppositions—it is recognized (kensho,satori), realized (samadhi/moksa) and stabilized (fruition/result), then expressed spontaneously in the everyday lifeworld as kind, compassionate conduct. OK. That’s a tall order. But let’s, at the very least, do a bit of reading, and some mind taming mindfulness training.
Such an Integral Noetic (prior matter/mind/spirit unity) Imperative requires that this profound esoteric and nondual (subject/object unity) primeval knowledge be intertextually integrated with the epistemic exoteric dualism of Modern and Postmodern scientific worldviews. Without this wisdom depth our cognition is relegated to a mélange of mere pop-science mass-mind discursive conceptual information and theory—much of it patently incorrect—with no internal wisdom compass, no foundational knowledge, no primary wisdom infrastructure or base. The result is not only theoretical confusion, but alienation and separation from our ultimately subjective source, our primordial home—by whatever name—with the subsequent suffering of human and other beings.
Let us then begin by considering—if we have not already done so—the possibility that there is indeed, such a trans-conceptual primordial wisdom consciousness ground that is somehow instantiated in and through our human being. The direct non-conceptual experience of, and then conceptual unpacking of this inherent unity of meaning for us will, of course, be as diverse as our Great Wisdom Tradition itself. But is there not an essential sameness or unity in all of this arising habitual conceptual difference? Is it not that primordial unity in whom we all arise?
Further, in most cases, practical, here now, quiescent, non-transcendent, “mindfulness training”—sectarian or non-sectarian—is requisite to such a holistic reality view. This is as well an antidote to our unreflective mass-mind conditioned common sense pseudo-scientific reality assumptions, and to prideful “correctional” therapeutic and pedagogic paternalism, and to both exoteric and esoteric scholarly pretentiousness (perhaps not unlike this thesis of mine).
Suzuki Roshi, in his classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, tells us that ninety-five percent of our thinking is in service of the self, the ego-I. Woody Allen quipped that “eighty percent of life is showing up.” Since most of our lives are spent in an atavistic obsessive colloquy of past and future ego-self—here/now mindfulness practice, not transcendence—enables us to “show up” for, and to be fully present to the selfless, timeless, peaceful and quiescent now of our own being here, even in the seeming chaos of the conventional world of the commonplaces of everyday spacetime “Relative Truth” (Boaz, “Being the Whole: Toward the Emerging Noetic Revolution”, p 70 ff., www.davidpaulboaz.org.)
As the seeming duality of knowing subject and perceived object, self and other, matter (science) and spirit/spirituality is here at least somewhat “bracketed” (shoshin, epoche) or placed in cognitive abeyance, basal ”self-arising primordial wisdom” (gnosis, jnana, yeshe) with its kind, compassionate lifeworld activity naturally and spontaneously arise together, we better accept and manage the primal fear and denial of our (gasp!) impermanence (with its flip-side angry aggressive projections), the suffering of beings—human and otherwise, including our precious spaceship mother earth—is reduced, and relative happiness increases, just as our pre-modern wisdom traditions have told for millennia.
Indeed, recent research in neuroscience, neurobiology and neurotheology (the neuroscience of spirituality) has shown that human evolution has “hardwired” us, not for an adversarial “survival of the fittest” lifeworld, but for cooperation, kindness and compassion. Basic human kindness, which is necessarily grounded in Love, is extremely attractive, and powerful.
Cognitive scientists tell us that the “neuroplasticity of the happiness circuit,” that is to say, the compassion generating upper left prefrontal cortex (gamma brain waves) modulates and tames the fear/anger/stress generating amygdala (beta brain waves) during mindfulness (shamatha-alpha/theta brain waves) and penetrating or contemplative insight (vipashyana/-alpha brain waves) compassion and quiescence meditation (well documented in B. Alan Wallace, Hidden Dimensions, 2007, Sharon Begley, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, 2007, and H.H. the Dalai Lama’s prodigious mindfulness research programs (Mind and Life Institute).
The consciousness states, then pursuant personality traits of both relative and ultimate human happiness are, in large part the outcome of acquired skill in these various mindfulness meditative/contemplative compassion practices (H.H. the Dalai Lama, The Middle Way, 2009; Begley 2007, Newberg, Principles of Neurotheology, 2011). The 21st century mindfulness revolution is now.
In short, there is an evolutionary advantage in kind, compassionate lifeworld mindfulness practice, whether secular or non-secular. Therefore, we must learn to mind the wild horse of the mind. Such “meditation” or mind training in “being here now” is indeed imperative. And assuredly, such meditative-contemplative cognition is not what we think.
Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together, that they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of life.
David Paul Boaz, Dechen Wangdu, 2013