Unfortunately, this post is based on my previous one from today, which got accidentally erased by the internet, or my computer. So it’ll lose some zing; I always like to write these posts off the top off my head, and doing one from memory/notes will lose something.
Time before last, my last full post, was about the masculine and feminine principles, and their relation to TSK. As I see it, Time is the masculine principle, Space, the feminine principle. Since I don’t want to just rehash what I wrote earlier today, I will try to summarize briefly: the masculine principle is energetic and active, while the feminine principle is more open and receptive. This is grossly oversimple, but it’s a summary.
Although I’ll try to write more about this idea, for now I’ll say that the feminine is considered more important, and primary. Space exists as a background. Things exist in space. Of course, it’s not just a background, space in this model is active and powerful in various ways. I think one reason that Space/feminine principle is important in Buddhism and TSK is that no matter what kind of culture we grew up in, whether rational materialist, Christian, Buddhist, animist, whatever, people do tend to make things more concrete than they are. Things are more spacious and fluid, and less “thing”y than we imagine. So it’s important to work with the feminine principle, and not as some sort of concession to feminism, but as way of learning and practicing.
Ok, back to the book. In what I wrote earlier today, I commented on a short section from the Time part. Tarthang Tulku writes about how conventional thought, whether scientific or not, tends to obscure the nature of things as they are. We “lose accuracy” because our understanding consists often of “summary terms,” or a “frozen presentation” of the way things are.
That seems pretty clear, I think. Seeing things as solid is a matter of summary in that things are constantly shifting, decaying, growing, etc. And they’re pretty complex. So normal perceptions are summary. These perceptions are usually frozen in that it’s easy to freeze space into things, thinking things are clear or simple in a certain oversimple way.
Tarthang writes that paradoxes can be sign that “lower time” is in effect. The idea of different levels of Time, Space, and Knowledge is something I’ll come to in a second.
How is that paradoxes are problematic? I’m not sure about this one. Maybe it means that it can be easy to see a paradox, find something “deep” about the coexistence of disparate concepts, and stop there, without investigating further. Not sure, though.
Before this, however, Rinpoche writes about problems as chances for deepening understanding or breaking from limitations:
“Problems of this sort in our science, living, and thinking can encourage us to use thinking and observing in new ways, to break through the partitions defining ‘things’. In this way, thinking can evoke ‘time’s’ penetrating evocation of Great Space, along with (as is more common) its obscuring rush of meanings.”
There is so much to talk about in just this short excerpt. I’ll do so very briefly. Among other things, this paragraph is a lot about penetration, which Rinpoche defines as Time. This is also the masculine principle. Not only this, but Time as evoking Space. In TSK, space comes first, then time. Time is an evocation of space. I think this is because everything can be found to spacious or unfixed in some way, including time. It’s interesting that, although in my experience time so often means boundaries and partitions, here it encourages the breaking down of said boundaries and partitions. Is it possible that the very problem of boundaries existing as solid things and around solid things is an evocation or invocation of space- the boundaries are not entirely real, so they call for their own destruction, meaning space?
If space is destruction, then is time creation? Interestingly, if space is the feminine, then earth is the masculine. This is counter to how these things are often presented, where earth, and earthiness, is feminine.
Well, I tried to write a different post about the stuff of my previous lost post, and I succeeded. I don’t know if it makes a lot of sense, but I did it. Next, in the book, Rinpoche writes about the different levels of Time.
This seems pretty important for TSK. There are three basic levels to Time, Space, and Knowledge. For each one, the first level corresponds to a pretty conventional, and thus limited, view and experience of each one. So, first level time is conventional time. I’ll go into the more detailed descriptions of the levels of Time next time.
All excerpts used with the permission of Dharma Publishing. Books available from Dharma Publishing.