“We invite light as source by sinking ‘beneath’ the contents of mind, turning to inward illumination… Eventually there is another shift, and we become light- a ‘vastness light’ without words or names.”
Tarthang Tulku, Darkness into Light, Dynamics of Time and Space
I wanted to include some material on light, since, thinking back to my reading, this is a significant part of Time Space Knowledge vision.
Although models can be limiting, especially the ones I think up on the fly, there also useful. At the very least, they’re useful if they’re off- they show their own limitations. In the case of light, I think it fits into a certain framework. Within TSK, there’s the order of Time, Space, and Knowledge (obviously). In that vision, or system, which in its presentation is ‘fruitional’ in my opinion, showing an example of enlightened being, there are three aspects of fruition:
1. Time (light)
2. Space (perfection)
3. Knowledge (play)
These are aspects of the fruition of this vision, both as they appear in reality, and as they might appear to an awakened person. These things are synonymous: the way things really are, and the way a Buddha experiences them. Space as perfection has to do with seeing things happening as fluid, different from normal conceptions, and that this different way is actually ever-present. Knowledge as play has to do with seeing ideas and experience arising in beautiful and interesting and true ways. So much of the language in the TSK books is creative and playful, unlike a lot of metaphysical or philosophical writing. Is this better? That is a point worth thinking about, and I’ll try to come back to that. Finally, time as light is about things happening as nonconstrictive. In that sense it’s very similar to space, but the angle of approach feels very different: the emphasis is on things happening, not on the openness of things.
Now, I have been trying to write about Time in the first TSK book, but I’ve distracted myself with various ideas. Before I get back to Time, I want to mention one other thing from the quotes at the top of the page. Tarthang Tulku writes that eventually, there’s a change, and we ‘become light’. On one hand this sounds good, if you’re interested in spiritual growth, I guess. On the other, it could sound like New Age jargon, or maybe Eastern mysticism, or just too vague. All this aside, is it helpful to present the end product this way? I think a lot of folks, myself included, have some idea of wanting to become better or grow- to become wiser, more powerful, kinder, calmer. But in my experience, this doesn’t happen in a linear way, and it can be easy to get off track, if there is such a thing: doing things you think will make you calmer doesn’t always work out that way. I think one danger there is ‘spiritual materialism’: going after and clinging to spiritual goals. I think that’s a danger with any approach, so this is not a critique of TSK per se.
Back to Time. I was writing about second level time. I was writing about practicality, timing, and unity.
Maybe this is oversimplifying, but through TSK, you try to become aware of experience, which at its ‘heart’ is described as unity. This kind of transcendent experience is not unusual to read about. You need practical means to do this, and to evaluate progress. Something has to happen. Timing in this case is both ground and path: awareness of timing reveals a different side of experience, somehow rhythmic, and practice involves working with this rhythm in various ways. Standard mindfulness-awareness meditation does this, I think: you tune into the rhythm of breaths and thoughts. You do this simply, ‘identifying’ with the process, and something usually happens as you practice, over time, although it’s very hard to quantify.
In the TSK book, Rinpoche writes about typical obstacles practitioners encounter, whether doing yoga, meditating, or whatnot. He writes that even if you have ‘results’ they are often limited because the perspectives of first or second level time are also limited. Rinpoche describes religious approaches as ‘attempts at intimacy’, and physical disciplines as indirect ways of working with time. I think these are two significant points: he is saying that the goal of religious practice is ‘intimacy’ of some kind, and that physical disciplines like yoga ‘work’ by helping connect with an aspect of time (‘flexing apparently solid… structures… time itself is their immediacy, their incandescent, malleable aspect.’)
I know this post was very inconclusive, but I’ve written a lot. Next time more about second level time, obstacles, and practice as interfacing with time.
Quotes used with permission from Dharma Publishing.