So why give any thought to TSK, the TSK style of presentation? The pragmatic point of view is prevalent and very useful, and in the background a lot of the time.
The argument for TSK is made most directly by appealing to the stress and constriction of normal functioning, the daily grind, etc. As Tarthang Tulku puts it, we tend to see things as a checklist or grid, and assume that as items are checked off we get closer to happiness. This is, he states, “shockingly limited way” of pursuing life. I think this is true. Not that the basic elements of family, job, community have to be done away with or are problematic necessarily, but that typical ways of viewing them can be problematic.
This is not very different from the Buddhist idea of the four noble truths, and the idea of renunciation. I see a lot of crossover between Buddhism and TSK, which makes sense, considering the creator of TSK is a Buddhist.
So maybe the daily grind argument works- the checklist view of happiness is obviously limited, and finding ways out of that is promising. But maybe this isn’t enough. TSK also helps enter the reader into other aspects of reality.
Such as? Such as perceiving that space and time have textures and flavors we sometimes ignore or cover up. We can become aware of this. Today when I went to do some shopping with my wife, I noticed that the atmosphere outside and the way people were behaving seemed disturbed, stressed, confused. I had felt this change in our apartment, but not as strongly. In the mall, it became much more palpable. People crossed paths, bumped, seemed distracted, couldn’t form lines to check out. The air seemed charged, the people flighty. Just noticing this is something, not credentials, but something, and from this point, I could make some decisions about how I acted. I wasn’t just entirely swept along in the atmosphere.
So there is atmosphere, and however you understand this, TSK can help explore this experience. It is complex, and worth exploring. This is, in brief, the other argument I see for TSK- as a way of exploring aspects of reality often forgotten or missed. The two arguments here, escaping the grid, and experiencing more fully, are also not mutually exclusive. They work together. The process of going off the grid, and of experiencing more fully go hand in hand, not in a simple or pleasant way, but as a process of growth.
So maybe that would be a natural and good place to end this post, but I can’t resist including some final random thoughts, so that I don’t forget them:
1. Different cultures and people seem to have different concepts of time, space and knowledge. I have noticed this especially with space recently. Individuals’ concepts of personal space, the space they move through, where they live, the way objects can be arranged in a space, tend to be different.
2. Convenience and speed are often seen as given expectations today, at least in my experience. Living where I do, in a place where things tend to move more slowly than in the US, where I grew up, I notice that even in “high speed” environments, such as a busy checkout line at a convenience store, people tend to move more slowly. Sometimes I think, “This culture is a slower one, with more time. The slow cashier is giving us the gift of more time.” By this I mean that even though things move more slowly here, I don’t find myself running out of time.