Your question is a good one. As to Dzogchen and Advaita Vedanta: it seems to me that these two great soteriologies are, broadly construed, the same in their compassionate Conduct of the Path, and their Result/Fruition—the full bodhi of human “spiritual” liberation/enlightenment. Both are nondual, but they differ a bit in their acausal View. I have chosen here—in the spirit of the Buddhist non-sectarian rime tradition—to emphasize some of their similarities in the context of Buddhist causal Madhyamaka and acausal Dzogchen; then to consider this profound Premodern “logic of the non-conceptual” as it begins to impact our two converging knowledge paradigms—causal objective Science (knowledge, morals, governance), and acausal subjective Spirit/spirituality. An ambitious agenda, to be sure.
These two paths, Dzogchen and Advaita Vedanta, are not of course pragmatically the same to practitioners, like us, who must commit to a single wisdom tradition, a lineage, a qualified master and the sangha community in order for the Path to fully serve. Our committed practice of this Path sustains and protects us as we deconstruct the frightful colossus of self. That said, let’s very briefly engage the all too conventional language game of intertextual Mahayana and Vedanta hermeneutical and doxographical exegesis. And see what happens.
Why is such an engagement effort just now so urgent? As East and West at long last come to meet, and in this fearful face of the utter collapse of our hitherto relatively stable Modern, and then opposing Postmodern cultural meta-narratives, we are witnessing a worldwide moral, political and humanitarian crisis; but auspiciously, also an incipient noetic (matter/mind/spirit unity) revolution in human consciousness. Thus does the Premodern primordial wisdom of our species—within which our relative happiness and ultimate liberation lie sequestered in human ignorance (avidya)—once again become urgent.
The View of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection is, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama tells, founded in the unified Buddhist Madhyamaka View ofShantarakshita’s 8th century Madhyamakakalamkara, the great dialectical causal synthesis of Prasangika Madhyamaka emptiness (rangtong), and the phenomenology of Yogachara Buddha nature (shentong). This auspicious Madhyamaka synthesis is the foundational ground of nondual Dzogchen and Mahamudra wisdom.
However, nondual acausal Dzogchen is as well, a reflexive critique or “correction” of this profound unified Madhyamaka causal View, and indeed of the entire Mahayana Prajnaparamita causal paradigm. The “open awareness” of acausal Dzogchen is rather, the perfect subjectivity of unconditioned, spacious primordial awareness wisdom itself.
As Lopon Professor Anne Carolyn Klein Rigzin Drolma points out in her superb book Unbounded Wholeness (Oxford 2006), the root “organizing principle” of Dzogchen is not the binary duality of the elaborated dialectical Middle Way distinction of a dependently arising Two Truths, relative and ultimate (and by analogy of binary subject/object, mind/matter duality). Dzogchen is rather, a non-sectarian, acausal, trans-conceptual noetic (subject/object unity) paradigm, the nondual great unbounded wholeness (mahabindu, thigle chenpo, Samantabhadra) that “is a oneness that is never disrupted by the infinite particularities of which it is the source.” In the exquisite Dzogchen semde tantra Kunjed Gyalpo, this nondual (subject/object unity, maha ati) primordial ground is the “supreme source” of all arising form. “Not one, not two, but nondual.” The invidious binaries of discursive thought—subject/object, mind/matter, etc.—are subsumed in our Promethean urge to ever-present gnosis of this great whole.
The View and Path of the Great Perfection it is said, are founded, not in forward looking causally based practice toward a future goal to be gained or attained, but in our already present, direct authentic cognition of autonoetic, reflexively self-aware nondual Primordial Wisdom (jnana, yeshe, gnosis) itself. This nondual wisdom knows, then expresses the vast array of unbounded whole that is its very nature. Here, as Buddha’s Heart Sutra told, there is nothing gained, nothing attained. Why? Because the primordial gnosis of this ground is knowledge of both our relative human, and ultimate divine nature from the very beginning. As Garab Dorje told, “It is already accomplished.” This bright gnosis is the knowing, here and now of our selfless “supreme identity”. It pervades and includes everything. Hence, we can in no way ever be separated from it. Yet, paradoxically (to concept-mind) we awaken to this great truth—step by step—through causal dualistic practice of the gradual Path. How shall we understand this?
Professor Klein goes on to say, “Dzogchen privileges a single, central principle”, namely, the vast expanse (longchen) of “unbounded wholeness” that transcends yet embraces and includes the exoteric, conventional Nalanda scholastic dialectical duality of the Madhyamaka Two Truths, relative and ultimate. On this account, acausal Dzogchen is the Nyingma pinnacle of our profound but causally theory-laden Causal Vehicle. Here it is said that in this Buddhist Dialectical Vehicle the causal/conceptual dualities of subject and object, matter and mind, science and spirit, space, time, causality and the rest are discursively, rather too much. Such concepts are not deracinated, as we might expect, but it seems, dualistically preserved.
In contrast, this “single central principle” of the innermost esoteric unbounded wholeness of the Dzogchen Fruitional Vehicle is acausal, non-propositional (binary logical syntax of language), non-prescriptive (morals) primordial reality itself (dharmata, chos ku/dharmakaya, emptiness, basic space of dharmadhatu, etc.). Definitely not for the metaphysically squeamish.
To be sure, such direct knowing is not available to our human concept-mind. Nevertheless, as you well know, this immaculate, “open awareness”—rigpa/vidya—is the direct (pratyaksa), non-discursive knowing of it; the in-dwelling presence of it, at the spiritual heart (hridyam) that inexorably pervades the conventional duality of conceptual rational and trans-rational (and often irrational) contemplative human consciousness. Indeed, obstructed relative-conventional human consciousness with its many “concealer truths” (samvriti satya) is not essentially other than the great unconditioned whole, primordial consciousness-being-itself. Does this not mean that human beings are an exoteric instantiation of, and esoterically identical with the heart essence of that very unbounded vast expanse itself (longchen nyingthig) (Boaz, “The Problem and Opportunity of Consciousness,” 2013)? Professor Klein continues:
Open awareness 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… The reflexively self-aware primordial wisdom (rang rig yeshe) is itself open awareness (rigpa), inalienably one with unbounded wholeness… Reflexively authentic open awareness (rang gi rig pa’i tshad ma) is itself a union of the clear and empty…the base, the authentic state…the inseparability of subject and object, a state of spontaneous and hence effortless meditation… Openness is not a consciousness and does not have an object relative to which it is a subject.
Such primordial wisdom cognition is, we are told by the masters of the three times—past, present future—utterly free of “spiritual” effort and conceptual elaboration. It is the pristine, primordially pure Buddha cognition of the samadhi of sameness (samata) of all arising appearances “always already” embraced in the reflexive knowing of this vast wholeness (samatajnana). Thus have we heard, this primordial wisdom is the utter inseparability of Ground/Base and Fruition/Result, primordial Buddha mind itself. Is not this prior unity of human cognition with meta-cognitive primordial emptiness—“emptiness of any shred of intrinsic self-existence” (Nagarjuna)—the happiness miracle of this gift of arising reality-being-itself.
It seems to me that this enlightened triad: great unbounded wholeness (mahabindu), open awareness (rigpa/vidya), and reflexive primordial awareness wisdom (rang rig) bespeaks “one essence,” an ontologically prior unity of the Yogachara positive luminous clarity of clearlight mind, with the Prasangika Madhyamaka negative emptiness/shunyata of the primordial state of the Base (gzhi, kungzhi). This acausal essential unity abides beyond any concept or question of the epistemic “inferential valid cognition” (anumana pramana) found in unified causal Madhyamaka, or in the logic of the Pramana (Dignaga and Dharmakirti) literature.
So it is this “central axiom” of primordial unbroken wholeness that fruitional Dzogchen View and praxis utilizes to “correct the error” of the causal binaries of the learned dialectics of unified Madhyamikas, and of the “contrived,” theory-laden causality of the Two Truths View and Path of the “lower vehicles;” and of the two dualistic Vedanta schools, for that matter.
A gnoseological caveat regarding such seeking strategies: Dōgen Zenji advises, “Cease to concern yourself with the dialectics of being, and instead look into your own mind” (Fukan Zenji). Thus do we timorously proceed in the exploration of the nature of this beautiful mind.
Spiritual effort—Suzuki Roshi’s “gaining idea”—is always causal/conceptual. Indeed, does not the whole dynamic display of mind arise dualistically—prior to the initial non-conceptual purity of direct yogic (yogi-pratyaksa), and of reflexive (rang rig/svasamvedana-pratyaksa) perception—as the delusory, syntactic binaries of language? If this is so, does this not point to the intrinsic cognitive limit of dualistic, discursive conceptual thinking—the Modernist “false idol” of reason and objectivity—with its unexamined, preconscious cultural cognitive “web of belief” (Quine), or “form of life” (Wittgenstein) in which we live?
Now a brief critical excursus. In the West and in the East the apogee of both the idealist Hegelian, and Middle Way realist Madhyamaka dialectical trajectory of human reason is, reason reflecting upon itself and thus, in due course, upon its own conceptual limit. This objective limit precludes an understanding of the perfect subjectivity of the very nature of mind, the nondual unbounded whole shebang that is ultimate reality itself, our non-essential being here.
It’s true that the more sagacious members of our Postmodern high culture thinking classes no longer believe the Modernist/Enlightenment dogma—the cult of objectivity—that the grand cognitive estate of human subjective exoteric religious and esoteric spiritual experience is conceptually reducible to the Cartesian cogito (self, ego), or to Kantian pure reason. Yet astonishingly, recent physics, philosophy and social theory and practice (apparently embodied by non-sagacious thinkers) is still conspicuously reductionist; that is, our scientific and spiritual discourse, and subjective even spiritual experience are reduced to mere mono-causal “empirical” sense experience, and to physical electro-chemical reactions in brain matter.
Such “scientific” reductionism is Quine’s second dogma in his seminal “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” (1951), required reading for scientists, philosophers and religious studies folks. Both the epistemological/methodological, and the ontological reductionism of the prevailing objectivist Modernist “scientific” realism/materialism metaphysic represents a refusal to engage such reflexive thinking. Oracular metaphysical pronouncements—scientific or religious—deserve a most stringent, non-dogmatic skeptical response; don’t you think?
Thankfully, the concept/theory-dependent view—reality is dependent upon or relative to our concepts and beliefs—of “ontological relativity” (Wittgenstein, Quine), and of the Buddhas and mahasiddhas of our great wisdom tradition all radically engage such reflexive thinking. Here, an absolutely existing separate real world out there (“RWOT) is not assumed, nor is it denied. Philosophers of physics have at last acknowledged that the Standard Model of particles and fields is an inadequate ontology. Physics is now focused on relations among particles/fields and forces. “Ontic Structural Realism” believes that we must abandon our 2500 year old grail quest for Cartesian absolute objective certainty regarding the existence of things, and realize that appearing reality is but a network of interdependent cognitive relationships.
Unlike material objects, such meta-theoretical structural relationships are invariant across historical theory paradigms, e.g. sub-atomic particles are not classical Newtonian nor Einsteinian entities, but non-classical quantum bundles of relational properties—mass, charge and spin—historically streaming into the emerging post-quantum, integral noetic paradigm.
So this dance of geometry, for both physics and Buddhism, is undecidable and indefinite, which with the uncertainty relations of quantum field theory constitutes an urgent step-function in the incipient 21st century paradigm shift toward an integral, holistic wisdom view of noetic conceptual uncertainty; that is, of “the logic of the non-conceptual” which is, ironically, none other than our Premodern contemplative knowledge paradigm, e.g. Dzogchen.
This vital Postmodern “ontological relativity” is then, plainly construed, the epistemic and ontic view that our exoteric objective material and esoteric subjective and even spiritual realities (including by analogy, our “other” anthropomorphic God and gods) are fabricated, then reified from prior “theory-laden,” deep culture-loaded assumptions, namely, our prevailing materialist massmind “web of belief.” Such assumptions are concept/theory-independent, that is, being itself is relative to, and exists independently of our objective realist/materialist concepts, and of our subjective religious beliefs about it. Here, there’s a separate real world out there, it’s only physical, God created it, and this all exists independently of any perceiving consciousness. O hubris, that our human concept-mind should have such sway. But so what?
What is often missed in philosophical and religious discourse in the Western Tradition—”a series of footnotes to Plato” (Whitehead)—is that the reach of human knowledge far exceeds our mere logical, discursive conceptual grasp. Indeed, trans-rational contemplative/meditative knowing, as demonstrated by the lives of the wisdom masters East and West, is the cognitive aperture that opens a way out of our 2500 year old knowledge aporia—the result of the ubiquitous idol of human reason—to the wisdom light above, to use the Platonic allegory. Such a recognition changes everything. Our undecidable metaphysical conundrums: God, the mind-body problem of consciousness, other minds, personal identity, free will, causality, the much misunderstood Buddhist dilemma—who is it that is liberated if there is “no-self” to be liberated?—and the rest are all deracinated by the lights of this urgent noetic “logic of the non-conceptual”.
We human beings are the cognitive product of our cultural history. The Postmodern epithet “reflexive historicity” suggests the wise use of diachronic, reflexive rationality, the idol annihilating “hermeneutics of suspicion” (Ricoeur) regarding our culturally received metaphysical absolutes—reason, scientific materialism, foundational realism, and theistic God. These absolutes are embedded in our intersubjective deep cultural background (Platonist/Cartesian) assumptions and beliefs about the nature of being here, relative and ultimate. This pre-consious “web of belief” through which we fund our experience with meaning denies, suppresses, represses, pathologizes, even demonizes our inherent, luminous subjectivity, leaving humanity out in the “scientific” objectivist/materialist cosmic cold. How do we get back in?
The “masters of suspicion,” Nietzsche, Feuerbach, Marx, Freud, engaged in a mighty “struggle against idols” (Ricoeur)—Bacon’s engagement with the “Idols of the Mind”—an atheism of the “false consciousness” of these primary cultural idols, absolute reason and habitually reasoned theistic creator-God (not to be confused with non-theistic, nondual godhead).
Such Postmodern auspicious suspicion relativized these totemic absolutes of our Western Greek/Hebrew cultural legacy, and offered a reflexive, historically self-critical, perspectival/anti-realist pragmatic breath of fresh air. It was this refreshing, if naively relativist Postmodern cognitive space, with its radical conceptual openness (often resulting in a nasty nihilism) which nurtures our still emerging syncretic, pragmatic reconstruction (Rorty and the Neopragmatists; Chalmers and the panpsychic Neodualists; and the Madhyamikas) that is nothing less than a new, integral socio-cultural knowledge paradigm. I have elsewhere referred to this epic Kuhnian “paradigm shift” as the Noetic Revolution in science, religion and culture (Boaz, Being the Whole: Toward the Emerging Noetic Revolution, (Draft) 2013, www.davidpaulboaz.org).
This reasonable, if not always reasoned reflexive awareness enables us to see, as knowing human subjects, that these Two Truths, objective relative and subjective ultimate are at once the penetrating causal, epistemic interdependence (pratitya samutpada), and numinous ontic prior emptiness unity of our (intensional and extensional) objects known. What a relief!
Indeed, as the multiplicity of parts or manifestations of the involution of this great unbounded whole (mahabindu) evolve consciousness, then dualistic self-awareness, then nondual enlightened awareness, it becomes brilliantly clear that not only the physical cosmos, but the entire physical/mental/social/spiritual kosmos is itself reflexively self-aware. In short, the whole shebang in which, or in whom this all arises is merely the vast expanse of trans-conceptual, nondual primordial awareness itself. And wonder of wonders, as the Vedic tradition reveals, Tat Tvam Asi, That I Am! Our selfless, “supreme identity.” Ultimately, That is who we actually are!
Be that as it may, we must discursively, conceptually unpack, then repack both our culturally received ideas, and our ordinary direct subjective experience, including spiritual experience. And the heuristics of reason, along with trans-rational contemplative/meditative experience (shamatha, vipashyana) are our requisite cognitive modalities for such self-reflection. I believe that our integral noetic knowledge imperative is the pragmatic utilization of both of these cognitive modalities—objective and subjective. As Wittgenstein told, “Light dawns gradually over the whole”.
Back to Buddhist hermeneutics. The unified Yogachara/Madhyamaka causal Path and its practice is ostensibly binary, dualistic. As Nagarjuna reminds us, we accomplish ultimate truth (liberation) solely through reliance upon relative truth (dualistic practice). Good counsel indeed. We live in these two worlds—objective and subjective at once! Our perennially vexed human condition seems to be a question of balance, of engaging a causal, pragmatic middle way between substantialist, eternalist existence (form), and nihilistic non-existence (emptiness), these two modalities of our being here. Well and good.
However, for the acausal, nondual fruitional Great Perfection, it is not so. Here, the tripartite taxonomy of Ground/Base, Path, and Fruit/Result are a phenomenological, epistemic and ontic prior (a priori) unity. We are told that this quintessential, innermost secret heart essence Path “is itself complete,” is “primordial realization itself,” the very nondual perfection of the gradual, effortful, causally fabricated paths of the “lower” Vehicles, namely the sutras and tantras that abide “below” definitive Ati Yoga/Dzogchen in the Nyingma Nine Vehicle hierarchical firmament. (What then shall we do with the Buddha’s nondual Heart Sutra?) On this account, the eight lower vehicles are all dependent upon the nomic formalism of causal law, the truth-functional logical law of cause and effect (Leibniz’s Principle of Sufficient Reason—every event has a cause) to explicate the sutra and tantra dialectics of Ground, Path and Result. Nondual Dzogchen (and Essence Mahamudra, and Madhyamaka of the Definitive Meaning, and Saijojo Zen) transcend, yet embrace such causal necessity. Once again, we must see the inseparability, the prior unity of primordial Ground and perfectFruition. As Lama Rinpoche told, “The fruit is no different at the pinnacle of enlightenment, than it is at the primordial base” (Santa Fe NM retreat, 2002).
Alas, to human concept-mind’s exoteric conventional dimension of everyday causal, relative spacetime reality this inherently (sahaja) perfect subjectivity, our already present presence—our actual primordial condition of ultimate perfection—is adventitiously cloaked or veiled (avidya maya) by overlays or superimpositions (vikshepa, samaropa, mistaking Nagarjuna’s authentic rope for the delusory snake) of our infernal grasping at self (ego-I) that results in afflictive negative thinking and emotion (fear/anger and desire/attachment, and of the skandhas and of karma). It is said that such counter-evolutionary mindstates are based in self-full, neurotic cognitive compulsion that is the ignorance (avidya/marigpa/ajnana/hamartia/sin) of our all too human bipolar emotional tendency toward “attraction” and “aversion”. Indeed, herein lies the problem, and the resolution, of human alienation and evil.
What to do? Well, paradoxically, we make a bit of dualistic effort/discipline (yoga, religio) and simply sit in the trans-conceptual primordial silence. “Just sit,” as Dōgen Zenji reminds us. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s admonition, “Make the goal the path” is here especially apropos. What else? Oh yes, we heed the precious “words of our perfect teacher”.
Just how shall we understand this radical “logic of the nonconceptual”? Professor Klein points out that to reflexively argue for such profound here now contemplative trans-conceptual, non-logocentric, nondual unbounded wholeness by utilizing the dualistic, semiotic (syntax, semantics, pragmatics) modal reticulum of language may initially seem quite problematic. It is difficult to conceive of that which is inherently inconceivable. As if such a conceptual, either/or two-valued logic were the only cognitive modality for comprehending our realities, relative and ultimate. Perhaps then we should here augment our precious gift of reason by heeding Wittgenstein’s advice: “That whereof one cannot speak, one must remain silent.” Hard to do when one is nearly always thinking and talking. Talking and thinking.
Indeed, as the precious lives of the rigzin/vidyadhara—the buddhas and mahasiddhas of our entire nondual primordial wisdom tradition have demonstrated—it is through the profundity of this Deep, this contemplative silence, that the prepared mind may trans-conceptually, mythopoetically, directly experience and know with an “indefinite” certainty (yogi-pratyaksa, rang rig pratyaksa, kensho-satori, open vidya/rigpa) this unbounded whole (mahabindu) that is its own ontic prior unseparate state, our basal primordial source/ground (gzhi). Is this not our originary human home? Is not such a recognition, then moment to moment realization—with its spontaneous effortless expression of human kindness—the grand desideratum of both relative human flourishing (Aristotle’s eudaemonia) and of ultimate happiness itself (Buddhist mahasuka, Vedic/Vedanta paramananda, Christian beatitudo)? Might not such a happy denouement obtain in any loca, in any world system that has evolved self-aware beings? For all such beings this happiness begins with a qualified teacher, and the practice of the Path.
As I suggested above, the Advaita Vedanta of Adi Shankara, and of his Neo-Vedanta heirs, Sri Ramakrishna and his heart-son Sri Vivekananda, then Sri Aurobindo and Sri Ramana Maharshi might be roughly construed as an analog of the Dzogchen View, Meditation, Conduct, and Fruition/Result. We have seen that the View of both, while not identical, is acausal and nondual. The Conduct of both is compassionate service to human and other beings. The Path follows the traditional lineage-guru-disciple relationship. The Path’s Fruition/Result is, by grace (jin lab, grace), lifeworld moksha/bodhi awakening from the ignorance/avidya that is the cause of human suffering; and of this dreadful cycle of continuous rebirth into such calamity.
It’s worth noting here, that while Shakyamuni Buddha rejected Upanishadic monism and its separate creator-God monotheism with its metaphysic of a substantial, permanent, eternal, separate and other Atman-Self, he retained Vedic causality through its doctrines of karma, and moksha/libertaion. Indeed, these honored conventions are, as we have seen, the foundation of Nagarjuna’s apophatic via negativa (Vedic neti, neti), the Prasangika Madhyamaka, the very essence of the profundity of the Mahayana Causal Vehicle that is the conventional causal foundation of the acausal, nondual ultimate wisdom of both Dzogchen and Essence Mahamudra. (Perhaps then, we need not throw out the acausal, ultimate primordial wisdom baby with the causal, relative-conventional bathwater.)
The binary duality of Shankara’s (8th century) conceptual Two Truths (which he inherited from Nalanda’s Nagarjuna, 2nd century) is subsumed, not in the causal theism of separate, relative vidya maya that is Suguna Brahman, but in the wholeness of ultimate, acausal nondual Nirguna (empty of attributes) Brahman, or even of the final “fourth state”, Turiya. Just so, the causal Two Truths of Madhyamaka—relative and ultimate—are subsumed, transcended yet embraced in the acausal paradigm of nondual Dzogchen, the Great Perfection.
So let us now inquire, ultimately considered is there actually any practical, non-sectarian essential difference in the causal Veda/Vedanta Atman-Self, and the causal Mahayana anatman or no-self? After all, the ultimate nature of the Atman is not, ultimately viewed, a separate, permanent “self” at all, but is experienced and realized by acausal nondual cognition of innermost esoteric Advaita Vedanta View and practice to be one with, and exoterically (numerically) and esoterically (spiritually) identical to nondual Nirguna Brahman, Kham Brahm, “The Bright” trans-rational primordial reality itself. We may elaborate the relative differences. But, in the Buddhist ecumenical rime spirit is there not here an ontological ultimate sameness?
I have come to believe that the causal heuristics of the Two Truths of both Shantarakshita’s unified Yogachara/Madhyamaka (his Madhyamakalamkara) and the Upanishadic monism of the Sanatanadharma are pragmatically useful dualistic epistemic tools, but must ultimately be surrendered (wu-wei, apatheia) to the acausal theme of nondual view and praxis of the Great Perfection, or of Advaita Vedanta, or of the nondual “Tao that is beyond heaven and earth”, or of the heart essence of the “very subtle” innermost secret teaching of our occasional primordial wisdom traditions—in whatever loca—that have evolved such nondual cognition.
Happiness caveat: the rub for such blissful conceptually idealized ecumenical pluralism lies in failure to utterly commit to practice the View and Path of just one of them. The spiritual dilettante and the pre-contemplative scholar have not yet understood this. What do you think?
Reading the above rather obtuse prose, I am reminded of a very practical cognitive caveat from Lama Rinpoche, which Anne Klein Rigzin Drolma translated as “Too many words conceal the meaning”. Self-full, concept-mind seeking strategies for knowledge and happiness—including my above polemical no-self help—are indeed a conceptual sticky wicket. We cannot become happy. We can only be happy, here and now.
Perhaps then we might now choose to surrender, to relax—”brief moments, many times”—into this trans-conceptual, bright, numinous, inherently selfless, all-pervading primordial silence that “always already” embraces us, whether we presently feel it, or know it, or not. Indeed, construed from an intertextual, liberal rime view, is this Dzogchen intrinsic “presence” not our Vedic “supreme identity”? Who is it, this “I” that I am? Once again, on the accord of the innermost esoteric nondual teaching of the primary traditions of our Great Wisdom Tradition, That (tat) is who we actually are now. Is not That, so far from our original sin, our original goodness? Perhaps we might even consider That to bea logically indefinite, yet essential definition of Goodness, Beauty and Truth for human beings. Then again, perhaps this is not just now sufficiently relative for the waning Postmodern, post-quantum mind.
Yes, the profundity of expression of this acausal one great truth—unbounded wholeness, openness—that arises for us through the cardinal distinction of the causal Two Truths duality of our wisdom traditions, and then in the acausal nondual Dzogchen tantras, is sublime. Buddha tells us that “this cannot be taught”; nor conceptually learned, nor revealed. This one inclusive truth, invariant through all cognitive states, is rather, a gift of remembrance, recognition and realization. Plato called it anamnesis. As this truth is who we are now, it is vain and futile to seek it elsewhere, in the past or future, or in religion or philosophy, or even (gasp!) in financial independence. As this View begins to stabilize, our Path, Conduct and happiness flourish.
And yes, this one great truth emerges gradually—step by step—even though it is always already present at the Heart. And then, wonder of wonders, suddenly, through the banality of our seeking—our dualistic lifeworld practice—then through the devotional bright mirror of the mindstream of the master, the very embodiment of the lineage, we see and know it, just for a moment, with a conceptually indefinite luminous clarity that subsumes the causal speculation of all our happiness/liberation seeking strategies. And this difficult, joyous perplexity of the practice of the Path is the cognitive vector that makes it so. If that is, we can abide the cognitive dissonance.
So these “scientific” dualistic causal, and “spiritual” nondual acausal views are not incommensurable. They are complementary. From before the beginning there is only the unity of the spacious, vast expanse. This basal primordial Ground and the liberated Result of the Path are the same. “We are Buddha from the beginning” (Hui Neng). “It is already accomplished” (Garab Dorje), deep within us. It’s good to know this. Failing such understanding we may be left with the notion that Buddhahood has a cause. Ju Mipham told it well: “The Path illumines primordial Buddhahood, but does not cause it”. And through all of it, this impetuous brightness.
Clearly, the above aboriginal wisdom meta-narrative that is so perspicuously displayed in the epistemic unity of causal Middle Way Buddhist Prasangika Madhyamaka, and in ontic acausal Dzogchen View and praxis has much to offer our emerging 21st century “paradigm shift” toward an integral, noetic understanding of our arising realities, relative and ultimate. It is this happy, profound commensurability of our two knowledge paradigms—causal objective Science and acausal subjective Spirituality—that is the Noetic Revolution in science, religion, spirituality and culture that is now upon us (Boaz, The Noetic Revolution: Toward an Integral Science of Matter, Mind and Spirit, Draft, 2013, www.davidpaulboaz.org). Perhaps then our reflexive noetic knowledge imperative is a judicious amalgam of causal effort, and acausal selfless opening to this great unbounded wholeness in which, or in whom everything and everyone arises and participates; without a single exception. Such is the logic of the non-conceptual. As Chogyal Namkhai Norbu told, “There are many, many ways for the teaching to arise.” Madhyamaka, Dzogchen, and Advaita Vedanta are cases in point.
Kuntazangpo, All Good
David Paul Boaz Dechen Wangdu · Posted 10.10.13