“Ordinary knowledge is like a traveler in the wilderness, always stopping to take its bearings with a compass that points to the poles of the established order. But knowledge that has arrived at self-luminosity needs no more points of reference. The self-transcending wholeness of the heart has been activated. We could put it this way: the heart of the heart is the point of knowledge.”
“Fabricated images centered on dichotomies, they reflect our fantasies of what we wish to be… At the heart of knowledge, ‘transcending’ is transcended. There is no new state to attain and no old state to abandon. There is nothing specific to be done at all, for the light of transformation of knowledge does not depend on doing or going.”
Tarthang Tulku, Enacting Pure Knowledge, Dynamics of Time and Space
Well, I didn’t intend to quote so much from that particular book today, but I just fell in love with the writing, especially the first one, which I flipped to only after the second quote, looking for more to back it up, more to give the reader context. Sometimes it’s just really nice to listen to a spiritual teacher talk about the goal, where things are going. The heart of the heart. That’s really good, I think.
Ironically, I’m quoting stuff about not doing and not going, but then I’m going to talk about a variety of complex things.
Last time I talked about second level time, and ordinary magic. Ordinary magic is something so common that we miss it, usually. It’s also common in terms of culture, one of those “hidden teachings” that’s a cultural truism, and to the point of being a cliche, which makes the irony greater- like the importance of love in love songs, it can make you feel jaded about love, because, at least in my culture(s), you hear about it a lot. And it is a product, in a real and creepy sense.
We’re living in a sacred world, and I think most people who accept an iota of this, who have some spiritual feeling, maybe even nonspiritual types who have heart and aspire to be ethical and helpful, all of those people, which is most people, struggle to acheive this- to acheive sacred world. This is a path is the goal type situation, in that we work to find God or the aliveness of the world, and we’re told constantly by guru and wisdom types that it’s right there.
In any case, there’s a lot of ordinary magic manifesting constantly, subtly and not subtly. The world dances and plays, as masculine and feminine elements, or as knowledge displaying space and time interacting. I am trying to talk about this as ordinary, and trying to work toward expressing it as symbol.
Symbolic reality is something I will have trouble talking about, something that’s present in Tibetan Buddhism, and something that’s present in Time-Space-Knowledge theory, or “vision.”
Second level time is described in two ways, as I see it: a transitional experience from first level time, the latter being conventional, somewhat boxy, rigid, simplistic (and of course, useful, practical, not to be dismissed right away). The other way I see second level time being talked about is a move toward third level time, which is Time at its most spacious, its least linear or masculine. The question of boundaries becoming blurry and time being a flow is less present, because this is a first level interpretation of second level experience.
Let me check in with the actual text, and then try to bring this back to symbolism.
In the TSK book, Tarthang Tulku talks about seeing reality as presentation, with both “things” and “self” being appreciated as part of a given presentation, of time in this case, and not as separate entities. This is describe in very positive terms, too: the symbols are not just symbols, but “inspiring symbols.” There seems to be some sense of joy or enjoyment along with the appreciative experience of this kind of time, of a “presentation.”
“The second phase of this path consists in the concrete presentations or manifestations indicating what is even less prosaic and more dynamic, namely ‘manifesting’ or ‘presenting’.”
Maybe the best description I can muster up of this is that, in moments where the mind and body are synchronized, when thoughts and feelings aren’t bound up or chaotically wild, we can catch glimpses of reality presenting itself. This presentation is vivid and noticeable, seems often to have a sense of humor, and is rarely symbolic in the sense of seeing a nice car, and knowing that you should buy a car tonight.
So, in terms of levels of time, so far, I see it as: linear progression, flow and dynamic, presentation and magic, into time melting into space.
I hope it’s not too cutesy to bring it back to the first part, the quote about the heart of knowledge. We’re approaching third level time, which is Time transforming into Space. As this happens, the initial linear clarity and gridness of time, which supports goals, lists, definitions, this turns into nondoing, space. Time becomes Space, which, according to this teaching, it always was an aspect of. The grammar on that last one is dicey, but I hope the idea is there, somewhat.
Ok, that’s all for today. Happy Chinese New Year!
Quotes used with permission from Dharma Publishing. Books available from Dharma Publishing on Buddhism, TSK and other topics.