I’ve been starting with a somewhat random quote, and I’ll include that this time, but I wanted to start with what I was thinking about.
I’m a person with a lot of faults, a lot of them long-running, probably lifettimes in the making, if you buy into rebirth, and if you don’t, then at least for many many years. I’ve also been lucky enough to come into contact with some good teachers and some real dharma, and have been practicing for a few years. So occasionally I feel like I’m reaping the benefits. I also feel like said benefits often include feeling crazier, worse than before I ever started meditating. That’s a big topic, though, no time for that here.
But what I wanted to say is that I do feel like I’m benefitting sometimes from these teachings. Sometimes this takes the form of spontaneity. I can be spontaneous sometimes, and I’m not generally that kind of person. I like routine, I break things down into categories, I like that kind of thing. But I see myself actually being spontaneous sometimes. That’s good, I think. It also feels strange. When you go outside of old behavior it can feel a little bit like going crazy. Imagine if this happened for things that held a lot of cultural meaning? The stigma of insanity would loom even larger. I think freedom is connected with insanity, both for practitioners, and for those watching them, witnessing how they change.
So, freedom and insanity. Maybe if I’m lucky or bold enough I’ll try to write a book with that title someday, or, even more dramatically, “Freedom and Madness.”
On to the quote.
“The dynamic that pulls thoughts toward substance, making them carriers for the field communique, manifests in conventional terms as the interplay of interconnecting stories.”
Tarthang Tulku, Dynamics of Time and Space
The term “field communique” is a bit challenging to jump into, but what I will say is that one of the valuable things about studying TSK for practitioners or meditators is that it describes in detail the thoughts, emotions, experiences that you become more aware of as you practice. You tend to become more aware of the fact that thinking is happening if you start to meditate for even a little bit. Of course, it’s more complicated than that, on one level, and TSK has an arsenal of ways of describing the complexity of our mental play.
Back to the commentary: masculine and feminine, time, the ordinary and the magical. Ordinary magic is considered, as I understand it, a very profound teaching. Experience, life, is both ordinary and magical. The magical is ordinary. Incredible things happen constantly, and we don’t need to make a big deal out of them, because they are so incredible. Practice helps to bring this aspect of reality out, but we can’t force it out of hiding. It appears auspiciously, like the dralas, like the gods, like the disasters and surprises of regular life.
Having a glimpse of ordinary magic is not unusual. It includes the experience of sensations in your body, which is very complicated, seeing animals outside doing what they do, in general experiencing sensory reality in direct way.
I’m going to try an experiment. Can we associate ordinary magic with the masculine, energy and time, and the feminine, space? I think the ordinary magic of the masculine has to do with the way the world seems so full of life and of rhythms. There is always a lot going on, whether or not we’re “conscious,” more or less. This is ordinary, and it’s also amazing. In terms of the feminine, ordinary magic has to do, I think with the sense of nonform and nongraspability. I think both of these happen in a sense of playfulness, what has been called “fickleness,” or even wickedness. That’s the sitcom aspect of life- Al Bundy can’t get a break. It can be so hard to put your pants on without falling over. The moment you think you get it or are getting it, or have a handle on something it sours and the world is laughing at you, or with you, there’s some kind of laughter and constant joke. I see this as an example of the dakini principle.
So, I’ve talked a little about ordinary magic, and how this can be cross referenced or connected with feminine and masculine principles. Let me try to bring this back to time, as that’s what the TSK book is up to, and then maybe symbolism.
Since time is masculine principle, the simple magic of things happening in space, the vivid rhythms of life, second level time, as it’s called in TSK, is some form of this. Second level time has to do with experience and reality. We make a distinction between the two because experience implies a self separate from reality, which is not entirely true. There is a tension or play in 2nd level in terms of the self interpreting time, and a more direct experience of this kind of time.
Again, there, it’s form and emptiness, male and female: direct experience of dynamic and flow and rhythm, and the self within that somehow, and then the complications and ornamentation and filligree the self adds by interpreting and owning that. There is the play of space and form within any one of these levels.
I think that’s enough for now. I’m hungry for my lunch, and I think I’ve said as much as I can without becoming really incoherent. More on symbolism and various topics next time.
Quotes used with permission from Dharma Publishing