Who is it that shines through the mind and abides at the heart of all beings, always liberated and fully awake?
—David Paul Boaz
As to paradigmatic unification of Science and Spirit, “All dharmas are ultimate reality” (Shakamuni Buddha). The dimension of spacetime Relative-Conventional Truth (samvriti satya), with its many seemingly separate conceptual “concealer truths”—all of these dharmas—are, in the absence of a discursive separate self ego-I, merely ultimate reality (paramartha satya), the all-embracing dimension of “Ultimate Truth.” There is a relative-conventional difference. There is no ultimate difference. Ultimately, as wave mechanics quantum pioneer Irwin Schrödinger expressed, “subject and object are only one.” Subject and object are one and the same (samata) nondual all-embracing cognitive contemplative, trans-conceptual one truth. Who is it? Wonder of wonders, Tat Tvam Ami, That I Am! “It is already accomplished.” Yet, as Dōgen told, shashaku jushaku, “continue in error,” until you know the truth of it. Practice is the vector that makes it so. From the epistemology you choose arises the ontology you deserve.
But the greatest wonder, as told by our primordial wisdom tradition’s masters and mahasiddhas of thethree times—past, present and future—is that we may glimpse the immediate numinous presence of this primordial wisdom truth, not in some future time after years, or lifetimes of purifying practice, but here and now, “on this very seat,” at the human spiritual heart (hridyam). Paradoxically, practice under the guidance of a qualified master (kalyanamitra) is the relative-conventional vehicle that provides the liberating continuity of such glimpses. So for now, “just open the door,” and enter in to relationship.
Recall, echoing Shakyamuni Buddha’s nondual wisdom of emptiness as expressed in his Heart Sutra—”All dharmas are emptiness…there is no path, no wisdom, no enlightenment and no non-enlightenment…”—there is only present non-conceptual Prajnaparamita, primordial wisdom (dharmadhatujnana) unity of the three times. So there is no ignorance. Thus there is no fear, or false hope. Thus do we accept our body-mind impermanence, and tolerate the cognitive dissonance inherent in balancing these pragmatically useful two knowledge paradigms, relative science, and ultimate spirit. For example, there can be no false hope of future happiness. Why? Because our future has not arisen. So there is nothing to seek. There exists only our compassionate practice now, our conduct today, each moment here now. Thus do we “make the path the goal.”
Just so, the perennial conventional dualism of these paradigmatic Two Truths—relative objective spacetime form and formless, perfectly subjective emptiness (shunyata, boundlessness)—represents the continuum of ontological dialectic between the absolutist/substantialist Realism/Materialism of Western Science, and the nihilism of the various brands of absolute and transcendental Idealism of Eastern (and Western) ontology and spirituality. The pragmatic middle way that is Prasangika Madhyamaka represents the profound and delicate relative balance between these Two Truths as they causally, dependently arise unseparate from their ultimate emptiness “groundless ground”, unbounded whole (mahabindu) pervading everything.
Hence, through both conceptual and trans-conceptual contemplative mindfulness practice we negate any inherent or intrinsic existence in arising objective and subjective phenomena—things and thoughts. But, as Tsongkhapa reminds us, we must correctly identify the negandum, for if we negate too much we depart the Madhyamaka middle way and fall into a dark nihilism (ucchedavada) wherein we lose the motivation to practice the compassionate ethical conduct inherent in the wisdom of emptiness. Conversely, if we negate too little we fall from the middle way into the opposite extreme of permanence (substantialism, absolutism, eternalism), reifying then clinging to a self (rangtong), and to its arising perceived phenomena (shentong), resulting in failure of recognition, then realization of the two branches of Buddhist teaching, this ultimate unity of compassionate conduct and the wisdom and emptiness.
Once more, the Buddha told it in the nondual wisdom of his Heart Sutra: “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form…” There is a relative-conventional difference. There is no ultimate difference. And this is the difference that makes all the difference.
There is here as well, an auspicious, pragmatic, conventional methodological dialectical tension between orthodoxy and heresy, theistic and non-theistic view, rationalism and empiricism, empiricism and Realism, Realism and anti-Realism in both Science and Spirituality. It may be useful not to attach to, nor defend, any pole of these relentless dilemmas.
The invidious split between knowing subject and perceived object—between objective and subjective knowing—is utterly deracinated in the prior unity of radically empirical, liberating, trans-rational, post-transcendental, post-materialist, non-logocentric, ultimate “great emptiness” (mahashunyata). Thisemptiness ground, in whom human consciousness is an instantiation, is none other thanthe vast expanse of unbounded wholeness, dharmadhatu, dharmakaya, nonlocal, nondual consciousness-reality-being-itself, just as it arises and appears now to our ordinary direct perception. This arising of things is prior to our concept/belief reification of it. Let us here remember that emptiness, as with form, is itself empty of any shred of intrinsic existence. “All emptiness is emptiness of something.” Indeed, a most amazing paradox.
Buddhist emptiness then is not an existent thing, entity, or some vast ultimate substrate or ground of arising spacetime reality. Emptiness is merely the nondual ultimate nature of our dualistic confusion as to all of our objective and subjective realities. H. H. The Dalai Lama has termed this relationship the “emptiness of emptiness.” We are that “self of selflessness” of this vast spacious matrix (dharmadhatu) of boundless emptiness (mahashunyata). Yet, astonishingly, this profound negation that is emptiness is full of the light that fills all the worlds, and the luminous things of this, our really real world. Who is it? All That I am. Is there not sublime beauty in it?
This great truth of the compassionate wisdom of emptiness is then, the profoundly simple trans-conceptual indwelling presence (vidya, rigpa), at the Heart (hridyam), of thenondual one truth, the always here now present truth that is invariant across all our cognitive reference frames: science and spirit; objective and subjective; preconscious, conscious and supraconscious; egocentric, ethnocentric, worldcentric, and theocentric; exoteric, esoteric, innermost esoteric and nondual; the “yes” and the “no” of our experience, altogether now. Great joy!
—David Paul Boaz, posted 6/18/2013