Shambhala Sun Home Free Gift with Order Current Issue Subscribe & Save Half Give a Gift Renew Current Text
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer spacer

spacer






spacer spacer
Print


They are supposed to be the same "one intelligence" but they don't look the same. These scientific and philosophical teachings of the West seem to be examples of relative truth that were not discovered in Asia. You obviously believe that the Asians were the world's experts on finding or identifying the mind that cognizes Emptiness. But how can we reconcile this if there is only one intelligence? Put succinctly, why didn't rigpa discover calculus or quantum physics or human DNA?


Because there is not simply one intelligence, not the way you mean it. Remember, even in the Madhyamika, where we have the Two Truths doctrine, there is a corresponding Two Modes of Knowing-samvritti, which is responsible for the relative truths of science and philosophy, and paramartha, or the recognition of pure Emptiness.

It's true that the nondual tantras radically identified relative and absolute, but the point is, that identity is radical. Emptiness does not affect the phenomenal stream at all because it is the emptiness of everything in that stream. There is no part of Emptiness separate from the manifest world to push or pull it. Emptiness is not a phenomenon over there, which we grasp or understand, and which understanding changes other phenomenon.

Emptiness changes nothing whatsoever, for the simple reason that it is not one item among other items but the nature of all items, with no exceptions. Emptiness leaves everything exactly as it finds it, because it is already the suchness of everything exactly as it is.

So Emptiness will do no work at all. You cannot use it to agree with one position and disagree with another, because it is the suchness of all positions. It has no preferences. It is not one thing among others; it is simply the opening or clearing in which all things arise, equally. If calculus arises, it arises in Emptiness. If calculus doesn't arise, still Emptiness. Emptiness doesn't pick one or the other, and it has no hand in one or the other, because it is not here versus there.

Likewise, rigpa is a flashing (or seeing or recognizing) this primordial purity; if physics arises in that purity, then it arises; if it doesn't, it doesn't. Whatever relative manifestation there is, it is illumined or lit by rigpa, as the one intelligence in the entire universe, which is true enough. But within that absolute space of Emptiness/rigpa, there arise all sorts of relative truths and relative objects and relative knowledge, and Emptiness/rigpa lights them all equally. It does not choose sides, it doesn't "push" anything. It doesn't push against anything because nothing is outside it.

So there is one intelligence or not?

One intelligence that flashes in many different forms. As the Christian mystics put it, we have the eye of flesh, the eye of mind, and the eye of contemplation-all of which are ultimately lit by rigpa, or one intelligence, or Big Mind, but each of which nonetheless has its own domain, its own truths, its own knowing. And, most important, mastering one eye does not necessarily mean you master the others. As we were saying, these are relatively independent streams.

So the eye of contemplation is capable of disclosing absolute truth or Emptiness, whereas the eye of mind and the eye of flesh can disclose only relative truth and conventional realities.


Yes, I think that is a fair summary of what are after all some very complex issues.
The traditional analogy is the ocean and its waves, which is a really boring analogy, but bear with me. The wetness of the water is suchness. All waves are equally wet. One wave isn't wetter than another. And thus, if I discover the wetness of any wave, I have discovered the wetness of all. When I directly recognize Suchness or Emptiness, or the wetness of my own being, right here, right now, then I have discovered the ultimate truth of all other waves as well. Emptiness is not a Really Big Wave set apart from little waves, but is the wetness equally present in all waves, high or low, big or small, sacred or profane-which is why Emptiness cannot be used to prefer one wave over another.

Enlightenment is thus not catching a really big wave, but noticing the already present wetness of whatever wave I'm on. Moreover, I am then radically liberated from the narrow identification with this little wave called me, because I am fundamentally one with all other waves-no wetness is outside of me. I am literally one taste with the entire ocean and all its waves. And that taste is wetness, suchness, Emptiness, the utter transparency of the Great Perfection.

At the same time, I do not know all the details of all the other waves-their height, their weight, the number of them, and so on. These relative truths I will have to discover wave by wave, endlessly. No Sutra of Wetness will tell about that, nor could it. And no Tantra of the Soggy will clue me in on this.

That's why I earlier said that Buddhist contemplation is sufficient for ultimate truth: it will directly show you the wetness of all waves, the radical suchness of all phenomena, the Emptiness in the heart of the Kosmos itself, the primordial purity that is your own intrinsic awareness in this moment, and this moment, and this. But meditation will not, and really cannot, tell you about all the details of all the various waves that nevertheless arise as the ceaseless play of Emptiness and spontaneous luminosity. As you say, it will not automatically give you calculus, or the human genome, or quantum physics. And historically, it definitely did not, which should tell us something right there.

I have a question about the Great Chain of Being, and it dawned on me that the Great Chain might be related to what you are saying about manifestation and relative truth.


Yes, they are very similar notions. In other words, the Great Chain theorists-from Yogachara and Vedanta in the East to Neoplatonism and Kabbalah in the West-maintain that Emptiness (or the "One," meaning the nondual) manifests as a series of dimensions, or levels, or koshas, or vijnanas-or "waves"-a spectrum of being and consciousness. The spectrum of levels is the relative or manifest truth, and the vast expanse in which the spectrum appears is Emptiness, or absolute truth. Ultimately the absolute and the relative are "not two" or nondual, because Emptiness is not a thing apart from other things but the suchness of all things, the wetness of all waves. And rigpa is the flash, the recognition, of that nondual isness, the simplicity of your present, clear, ordinary awareness-the opening or clearing in which the entire universe arises, just so.

But of course that is not merely an abstract concept. "One taste" is a simple, direct, clear recognition in which it becomes perfectly obvious that you do not see the sky, you are the sky. You do not touch the earth, you are the earth. The wind does not blow on you, it blows within you. In this simple one taste, you can drink the Pacific Ocean in a single gulp, and swallow the universe whole. Supernovas are born and die all within your heart, and galaxies swirling endlessly where you thought your head was, and it is all as simple as the sound of a robin singing on a crystal clear dawn.



spacer
spacer
spacer
Subscribe | Current Issue | Search Archives | Contact Us | Spotlight | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Employment
© 2008 Shambhala Sun | Email: magazine@shambhalasun.com | Tel: 902.422.8404 | Published by Shambhala Sun Foundation