I’ve changed the title and format of the blog, but the content will remain the same. For now it’s Time, Space and Knowledge, maybe in the future I’ll work on more traditional Buddhist dharma. Here’s the top-of-the-page quote:
“Time stage three: This is Great Time… Great Time is not a thing or process… It is not conditioned by anything nor does in condition anything… The clinging to a reality, a cosmic truth, or principle- something that ‘is’ and is ‘out there’ to be realized, grasped, or reconciled with- is not relevant to the Great Time vision.”
Tarthang Tulku, Time, Space, and Knowledge
So, finally, I’m starting to talk about third stage time. Last post I talked about second level time, intimacy, intensity. I talked about second level experience as a transition to third level experience (the feel of interconnection, intimacy, I’d say any kind of taste of groundlessness). In TSK, the second level offers, according to my source, a huge variety of exceptional experiences. These relate to ‘progress’ along a spiritual path, including meditational experiences.
The third level undercuts this. To me, it seems like the main way it does so is by pointing out the conceptual nature of second level stuff. Any experience based on practice, or study, is somewhat conceptual. Otherwise it wouldn’t be an experience. Experience necessarily involves a self and objects. An experience of interconnection could be a minor ‘highlight’, like noticing how you talk like your parents sometimes, or a major ‘breakthrough’ of some sort, but they’re still experiences.
I’ve never had one of those giant ‘peak experiences’ that people have sometimes, that sometimes lead to someone becoming a spiritual teacher. Maybe that classifies as a sort of exception; I think the argument there would be that a peak experience of that strength would technically not be an experience (it would be ‘something else’ and would lead to irreversible change). The latter is maybe the main point- usually breakthroughs don’t lead to lasting change, or they lead to subtle or incremental change. A real breakthrough would lead to something more dramatic and stable.
Anyway, that’s mostly speculation on my part. Getting back to third level time, it cuts through the concepts of second level time. It’s also described as Great Time, and as the partner of Great Space (which is, incidentally, third level space).
I haven’t mentioned this in a while, but this is, also, the play of masculine and feminine principles. At the third level, I think it is this play at its most subtle, confounding, and space-related (feminine). This could be why the feminine is considered the more important of the feminine and masculine principles. As you go ‘deeper’ in exploring those principles, they become more space, more groundless, less conceptual, all of which are feminine.
This interplay is described as intimacy.
I think intimacy in TSK theory has a number of meanings. On first and second levels, I think it manifests as openness, appreciation, and mindfulness. This is not an exhaustive list. On the third level, this intimacy is different. It is the very interaction of feminine and masculine elements in reality.
“”The unrestrained fulfillment of the interplay of Great Space and Time is an intimacy that is complete and uncontrived… It is the shattering- and yet natural- surfacing of our real Being.” (italics not added)
Space and time, emptiness and form, light and perfection, interact in daily life. Everything can be analyzed in terms of those sides. The description of the intimacy of these things emphasizes depth and intensity of interaction.
Going back for a moment to my discussion of language, each level works with language in a more and more refined way. Not that I’m able to express that well, but the models available in each level are more and more refined. At the third level, the contradictions and juxtapositions people experience are brought to a new height of definition.
So when Tarthang Tulku writes about the shattering/surfacing of Being, or third level time as ‘Universal Bearer’ that doesn’t bear anything, the line between distinctions is being opened. This is the hard thing about TSK, and one thing I like about it: mental puzzling. Life is full of contradictions and odd juxtapositions, like images of mythical beasts in mythology, part human, part animal, or all something other.