“Space should accomodate, be open to, and make room for things. But in our ordinary space, ‘making room’ has become ‘making a room’- lower space is like a walled enclosure. If these walls could somehow be rendered transparent without thereby setting up new walls and points of view, the notion of inside and outside is thus deactivated, and the experience of internal collisions and interactions ceases.” Tarthang Tulku, Time, Space, and Knowledge
This paints a picture of what TSK sets out to do, what the path sets out to do, and the problem that happens constantly as you work with ego: we’re constantly positioning, or taking on a spiritual persona.
Is it just taking on a persona, or taking on a spiritual persona? I think it’s pretty safe to say that if we are among those who consider themselves “on a path,” then we have some kind of spiritual persona: whether it’s lively, restrained, monkish, nunnish, wild, or whatever, we have some kind of spiritual personality garb we’ve adopted.
That’s problematic in that it is not entirely genuine, and genuineness is important. It is a byproduct, I think, of the way we identify ourselves as a person. This process is important to practice, and unavoidable.
What it means to make the walls transparent in this case has to do with more flexibility and openmindedness. In this case, there’s an emphasis on this kind of approach without it being a new perspective or posture or style. I interpret this to mean that this can happen when one is genuine, and somewhat open, and reflects on things.
TSK is big on reflection, asking questions, contemplating. So I think that has to be part of the picture. Rinpoche is talking about space as open mindedness, so the inquiry is supposed to be openminded, but without an “open personality.” The latter is easier than the former. In general, I think putting on a personality is easier than actually practicing something.
Next, in the book, there is a paragraph or so about Great Space. So, it is possible, through transparentizing, through a process of opening without taking on a heavily open persona, to go beyond lower space, beyond a sense of closedness or restrictedness. This, then, this trasnparency, is similar to Great Space.
But the restriction and walls fought against aren’t a problem or concern in Great Space. I guess this is something like working on a problem in your mind, planning, worrying, and then taking action and finding the whole thing wasn’t such a big deal. Before I was married, that’s sort of like what asking someone out on a date felt like. Lots of concerns, and worrying, and then if you do it, it’s not so bad (at least the asking, even if the date itself is excruciating). And there is often a sense of opening and freedom- you actually did it! It wasn’t so bad.
I’ll end with some ways Rinpoche describes Great Space:
-although it seems different from our normal way of life, those considerations don’t exist in Great Space
– at the same time, concepts and distinctions are not barred from Great Space or excluded from it
– it is not a condition, it is not a thing, and it is not separate from lower space
Hearing this kind of description, the nearness of that sort of being, tends to make me feel good. I’m not sure why.
Quotes used with permission from Dharma Publications. Books available from Dharma Publications.