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The axiom of Great Responsiveness can be the next great leap in human knowledge, because it encompasses all levels of phenomena, while at the same time restoring the spiritual character of all that is, without imposing an intentionality that would undermine our ability to scientifically understand the phenomena.

There is a structural limitation to human knowledge that leads to incorrect reasoning, especially in the practice of modern Science; but in other fields as well. I have already mentioned a number of times in this book, that modern Science, which is founded upon the idea that to be true, something must be either necessarily true, 1 = 1 for example, or it must be verified to be true, has never verified this foundational idea to be true, nor is it necessarily true. It is, instead, just a “self-evident” truth that is believed, rather than verified.

But as Kurt Gödel, one of the greatest logicians of the Twentieth Century correctly pointed out, something must be true in order to be verified as true, which is to say, truth is not the result of verification, verification is simply the search for what must be primordially true — primordial in the sense of logically prior to being verified. And he proved his point, at least in mathematics, by showing that there are truths within any axiomatic system that cannot be proved within that system, so that any axiomatic system contains necessarily true axioms, axioms that can be shown to be true, and those that are unprovable but held to be true.

But if something must be proven to be true before it can be held to be true, as Verificationism insists, we run into a structural limitation, because to be absolutely verified to be true, every occurrence must be verified, which exceeds our practical limitations in most cases. So a lesser standard of truth, let’s call it semi-verified, is employed. In modern scientific practice, sometimes even a single observation is taken to be proof, and in the case of some theories, like the Multiverse theory, actual evidence is abandoned, being superseded by an aesthetic appreciation of the theory’s elegance, which is a very subjective standard.

I have gone into this problem in some depth elsewhere in this book, so I will not repeat it here, other than to point out that axioms are problematic whenever they are taken to be self-evidently true as Verificationism is.

The Buddhist axiom of Emptiness focuses on what isn’t there in what appears as the phenomenal world. I say “isn’t there” not because it must logically be there and is found to be missing, but because we unquestioningly assume that it is there, but when pressed for specifics, we find ourselves at a loss to say what it is that we actually base our expectation upon.

This axiom is a remedy for what is naively imposed on all experience — a false structure that consists of self and other — so that what we believe is happening is that we are experiencing real things and beings that are separate from our own self. This structure is conceptualized as duality. And this axiom of Emptiness remedies what is found through Buddhist meditative practice to be a naive belief in what is called in philosophy ens, or more commonly, entities. The word entity has the meaning of both to be and to be selfsame — the latter necessarily implying distinct from all others.

So Emptiness is focused on the absence of an intrinsic selfsameness within us, because there is no fixed and unchanging ‘self’ to be found, or which is even definable.

This startling truth is discovered to be the case via a direct meditative insight, which has been reproduced, and thus verified, over thousands of years of Buddhist practice.

However, while I acknowledge that Buddhism’s thousands of years of verifying the truth of Emptiness is still not, and will never be, finally and absolutely proven to be true in every possible case — until every being and thing is examined for this undefined ‘selfhood’, modern Science is impoverished in comparison, having been at work for but a fraction of the time that meditators have been working diligently looking for what is now obviously not findable. So Emptiness is an axiom, and not an unfounded belief or doctrine. It is an axiom that has been verified to be true to an extent that nothing else in modern Science has been, by Buddhists and anyone who is willing to make the effort to follow the prescribed practices that will bring one to a direct experience of the absence of any intrinsic self in anything.

Because Emptiness focuses on what is not there in the phenomena of our experiences — of ourselves and the world — it is merely a teaching tool. There is no need to name the absence of what is not present in each moment unless you have a point to make. Noting the absence of something that is in any case undefinable serves no purpose other than to undermine the belief that something is the case.

However, in the realization of the absence of intrinsic selfhood, Buddhists tend to overlook what is there, in their zeal to share this insight of Emptiness. To wit, all of this phenomenal activity is a continuously manifesting experience of a world of apparent forms, which we realize are empty of independent existence, and thus, there is a logical and necessary requirement for an actualizing naturing of these apparent forms which are variously call Mind, Consciousness, or Awareness. To point out the problem here in brief: because there is no intrinsic self-nature that can be found, and yet, formal appearances cannot be self-actualizing in the absence of a ‘self’, there must be an intrinsic origin of these forms, based upon the simple axiom that nothing can arise from nothing, especially formal order. To think otherwise is magical thinking.

But in all too many cases, overlooking the logical necessity that the absence of entities means there is no actor anywhere, there is a tendency, due to the vestiges of our old paradigmatic understanding, to mistakenly invoke a Nature that is naturing all of this. But to state the obvious, a Nature is an entity if it is the origin or cause of anything at all, sophist tricks of false reasoning aside.

In any case, we overlook this naturing, in favor of focusing on the absence of any intrinsic self. But what we must do instead, for reasons I will expound below, is to focus on the naturing of these forms of appearance. This is important to do because the conceptual phantasms of ‘Mind’, ‘Consciousness’, and ‘Awareness’, as well as an intrinsic self, obfuscate the truth: these four are all illusory structures that we are imposing upon our experiences, literally extruding them through this misunderstanding, forcing them to take the shape of what we expect to be the case. Thus, in the discovered absence of an intrinsic self, we reformulate the self as Mind, Consciousness, or Awareness.

Modern scientists all too often consider any incoherent observation encountered while studying a certain phenomenon — incoherent to their theory du jour — to be the result of “random interactions that are too complex to calculate.” It is an unfounded — and unverifiable — assertion, and a cheap dodge, because any deviation from a theoretical explanatory system could be the result of a fault of massive proportions. It is worthwhile then, to consider the millennia spent by Buddhists reproducing unvarying results. One of these, which is necessarily inseparable from the Axiom of Emptiness, is the profound insight that is called Great Responsiveness.

Showing its inseparability from Emptiness, the word “great” is used to indicate that the activity that is named Great Responsiveness is empty of an intrinsic self. That is, Great Responsiveness is not a Nature, but is just the activity of responsively naturing everything.

So, Great Responsiveness is not an entity of any form, such as Mind. It is activity, and specifically the activity that ‘we’ experience and call our “life”. But there is no person, and thus, no personal knowledge of, or behind, this activity. There is no entity, therefore there can be no duality. Everything that we once vivisected from the experience of life, such as the abstraction called “Awareness” is a phantasm, or distortion.

This activity — the only real activity there is — is marked by one trait: coherent continuity, and this is responsiveness to contextual conditions. This responsiveness is not something apart from the contextual conditions, but is, rather, unconditional entanglement with what is natured. So coherent continuity is not independent in any way from the contextual conditions already natured, thus the continuity is recognized immediately in each moment we experience. And we vivisect this recognition as the abstract idea of Mind, Consciousness, Awareness, or even a “greater” Self.

And to put this in terms of how it plays out in what actually arises, there is no moral code imposed, no intentional design, no policing, and no primordially set goal. Contextual conditions — and the coherent possibilities they entrain — are the only ‘becauses’. Recognition of what is actualized, one of those contextual conditions, is what we confusingly call Mind, Consciousness, or Awareness; but since it can be nothing other than the activity, this ‘recognition’ is the impersonal actualization of what is natured.

This point is important to understand, as it is here that what we think is intention, and what Buddhists call “karma” is founded. But in the absence of any entity anywhere in this domain of what appears, there can be no personal knowledge, and thus, no “consciousness of,” “awareness of,” nor a Mind that manifests appearances. Imposing an entity upon the activity is dualistic and unfounded.

One question that arises at this point is why? Why is there this activity as Buddhists describe it? To that, I will defer to the Ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides’ goddess who explained to him that there either is, or is not, something. And since there is this world of apparent being — that formally appears — than the alternative, that there is nothing, cannot even be considered without imposing an imaginary structure of a prior cause that put the activity in motion. Since there is this world of appearances, any positing of the possibility of there being nothing is just empty speech, without a shred of logical foundation.

The entrainment of coherent possibilities referred to above is not primordially fixed. It is developed over the course of the coherent continuity of all that appears as a result of the actualizing effect of recognition, as explained above, which gives rise to the genesis of form. Each form entrains a set of possibilities — possible coherent formal ontogenetic change — which are pared down by the contextual limitations arising with each actual contextual state. One could say that the universe of formal order is the storehouse of wisdom, of savoir faire, whereas the impersonal recognition of these forms that appear are knowledge. Knowledge being recognition of what is done — Res Gestae Divi Naturans.

But this process is not mechanical, because, in all actual manifesting phenomena, there is a spontaneity that is not determined by contextual conditions. This is evident at all levels of phenomena, from the micro to the macro, and it is characterized by Modern Science as stochastic behavior, meaning seemingly random, but showing a bell-curve-like ‘preference’. However this characterization is based on a physical paradigm that is completely undermined by the axiom of Emptiness.

The spontaneity that is present in this activity is both the driver of the naturing — which is the actualizing of some coherent subset of possibilities entrained by the current context — and is the recognition of what is being done. This means that the impersonal recognition of what has been actualized has a felt quality — that the recognition is visceral — as is clear from every moment of our lives. And the feeling of recognition can be positive, neutral, or negative, and from this, and this only, arises the misunderstanding of intention. But still, there is wiggle-room which is evidenced by the non-random, but rather preferential, spontaneity, in that which appears, and because the naturing of what appears is unconditionally entangled within the appearing forms, this naturing is given the characterization of concern for what happens, even a self-less love of what arises — which is necessarily divine, in the sense of being beyond the intelligible naturing of the world.

Most humans, it seems, do not accept the possibility that there is a divine source of all that exists. This divine source is expressly not some thing existing in the world, but rather, is beyond worldly being. The meaning of “beyond” is given various imaginative meanings, only one of which — that it is beyond our ability to know — is necessarily true. So in place of sure knowledge they demand proof, and by that they mean a show of power that is magical in character — Hollywood style. But if that is their standard, then they are already lost, because what lays within, around, and beyond them is the greatest show of power imaginable. All they have to do is open their eyes.

Scientists in their professional role insist upon proof — in such a case of asserted divine intervention — in the form of irreproachable meta-physical activity that is not already encompassed within the current paradigmatic physical laws and forces. These demands are interesting because all you need to do is engage in competent meditation for some time to see for yourself all the illusory activity in your very own existence, and thus the need for a different burden of proof becomes obvious. But there is no need for proof once you have seen through those illusions. The reality that is laid bare by attaining these well confirmed spiritual insights is beyond the need for the kind of proof scientists look for, which in every case is contingent upon the very reality that the proof for is being sought. The truth is radiantly clear even before scientists have voted.

Recognition of this Great Responsiveness, rather than just the recognition of the activity and what is presented in each moment — and what is not, is Enlightenment. Thus, enlightenment is visceral, and it is nothing other than Great Responsiveness, so it is impersonal. In Tibetan Dzogchen, called the Great Perfection, this meta-recognition is labeled Rigpa, and is confusingly translated as “Awareness,” although that may be conventionally useful in the interim between the attainment of the insight of Emptiness, and the more important and “life-affirming” recognition of Great Responsiveness, which carries with it, the understanding of an absence of any entity.

So, “Emptiness,” the teaching about what isn’t there in what is manifested, should be replaced by “Great Responsiveness” because that is a recognition of what is truly there — and recognizing this to be so, is the only veridical knowledge. And the axiom of Great Responsiveness can be the next great leap in human knowledge, because it encompasses all levels of phenomena, while at the same time restoring the divine character of all of what is, without imposing an intentionality that would undermine our ability to scientifically understand the phenomena.

Having once been spellbound by Sir James Jeans when he asked:

Is this, then, all that life amounts to — to stumble, almost by mistake, into a universe which, to all appearances, is either totally indifferent or definitely hostile to it, to stay clinging onto a fragment of a grain of sand until we are frozen off, to strut our tiny hour on our tiny stage with the knowledge that our aspirations are all doomed to final frustration, and that our achievements must perish with our race, leaving the universe as though we had never been?⁠¹

I now feel confident that the direct insight of Great Responsiveness shows that there is a positive way forward, and that his lamentation, based on the imposed absence of meaning in anything, imposed by the current paradigmatic understanding of Physicalism, and its offshoots and derivatives, is unfounded and unnecessary.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།
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Footnotes:

¹ “The Mysterious Universe,” Sir James Jeans, 1930, Cambridge University Press, pg 13

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