On the Nonduality of Wisdom and Ignorance

One of the ways one might think about the nonduality of wisdom and ignorance (that there is ultimately no basis for differentiation between the two) is how awe in sublimity can express itself as either wonder or terror.

When we’re genuinely in awe of the sublime, we are directly apprehending qualities which would otherwise be quantitatively and qualitatively in excess beyond what the ordinary functioning of cognition can meaningfully and coherently represent in time, before new information has to be accounted for. In order to fully comprehend the sublime in its totality, cognition must be made to malfunction (or never function in the first place) such that its ordinary filtering process completely ceases in order to make space to take in what is present indiscriminately.

If the malfunction was unintended, then terror likely follows because this would mean that the mind was not in anticipation of the following disruption of their ordinary cognitive functioning, which would register as a dissonance with their preceding flow of experiences.
If the malfunction was intended, then wonder likely follows because this means that the mind was in anticipation of its following disruption of cognition, knowing that what likely follows will be in concordance with the preceding flows.

Affectively, the wonder or terror of sublimity register exactly the same, since they both entail a complete surrender of the ordinary process by which cognition represents its experience indirectly as a denumerable set of finite objects and relations, in order to directly intimate the nondenumerable infinite multiplicity of the sublime.

Rationally, wonder or terror of sublimity follow from their different bases, which are wisdom and ignorance, respectively. When the mind is able to anticipate what follows in advance, we call this wisdom. When the mind is unable to anticipate what follows in advance, we call this ignorance.

So there is no difference whatsoever between the actual experiences of wonder or terror of the sublime. It does, however, make a difference as to which mode you experience it, since that would condition the nature of your subsequent experiences.

So similarly, there is no real difference between wisdom and ignorance, between the mind of Buddhas and the mind of ordinary beings, but it does make a difference as to which mode you embody, in terms of the subsequent development of your experience, which would determine whether or not you are in fact an ordinary sentient being or an awakened Buddha.



Notice that the misrecognition of the cessation of cognition results in terror and that part of this misrecognition is not recognizing that terror follows from misrecognition (because if part of this misrecognition included the recognition that terror follows from misrecognition, then it wouldn’t be a misrecognition in the first place since by nature we shrink from terror).
Likewise, the recognition of the cessation of cognition results in wonder and that part of this recognition is recognizing that wonder follows from recognizing (curiously, unlike with misrecognition, recognition does not necessarily need to know that wonder follows from recognition though it may be lured by it).

So both experience based in either recognition or misrecognition (of the cessation of cognition in awe of the sublime) circularly determine the subsequent course of experience to be of a similar nature. Homologically, wisdom and ignorance circularly produce the conditions for their own continuous renewal. Since the natural inclination is to shrink from terror and to be lured by wonder, then it would be natural to expect that wisdom will eventually be established permanently.

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