“Of course, everyone who plays a game ‘knows’ that it is only a game; pointing this out seems to add nothing to enjoyment of the game or to the understanding of the one who is playing. However, unless the mind goes through a basic shift, this ‘knowing’ in which everyone already participates lacks any meaning or benefit. The player caught up in the game impatiently dismisses any reminder that it is only a game; he is eager to get back- he may miss his turn to play!”
Tarthang Tulku, Inexpressible Wonderment, Love of Knowledge
This is ego’s game: confusion, ignorance, playing dumb. These are tinged with fear and paranoia. The paranoia, I think has to do with the suspicion that ego is dead already, or that ego does not exist the way it wants to. In fact, the game itself is tied up very intimately with the hint of impermanence and nonexistence, I think, so the very information that troubles it is what ego is fighting against. Samsara has been compared to a whirlpool. There is a spinning, not just circular, but dizzyingly circular feeling to it.
Sometimes I try to experience everything as a message, or everything as some form of enlightened wisdom, the universe communicating itself with me. Of course, I’m careful about that; it easily slides into the kind of thinking our culture deems insane, and I’m not at all wise enough to be able to extricate myself from culture on that level. Which is to say I’m nervous about that.
In the same line of thought, sometimes I think that all art is an expression of enlightened mind in some form: mysteries, for example, give a hint of “the” mystery. And the paranoid feeling of some movies, especially horror movies or thrillers, touches on something delightful: the feeling that something is off, that there is some big conspiracy (which is true: not from some government agency, although that does happen, I’m sure, but more importantly, from mind itself). The paranoia of some art is a glimpse of the paranoia of ego itself, which is, of course, a way out.
As I’m rushing to write, and get ready for my other job, I want to return to what I’ve been writing about: space. In the “Mind” chapter, we’re going over what is and is not the origin of appearances, and ideas about the self. These explorations of self are definitely related to the paranoia of ego discussion, but not in a completely direct way. At this point, they’re separate, separate strategies for invading an empire.
Basically, what I said last time was that space has active and allowing components, and that ego cannot be at the center entirely in this view. Also, I touched on the idea of taking any one of the Time/Space/Knowledge trio and using it as a larger perspective.
As the chapter goes on, Rinpoche describes three “transitional views” involved in gaining a kind of knowledge of space, or understanding of space:
1. Objects and interactions as mostly space, space interacting in and with space.
2. Experiencing space that allows and, at the same time, is, interactions between things. This seems to be another approach to “space projecting space into space.”
3. Working with the space involved in and around thoughts, and the mind.
Rinpoche suggests that because (2) is hard to grasp “directly,” (3) can be used to get a handle on (2). Another way to put this: in order to get a more direct experience of space as simultaneously allowing and being, you can practice observing the action of the mind in relation to space “within” the mind.
If the latter sounds bizarre, it is, in a sense, but it’s also pretty straightforward. We’re instructed to look for where thoughts come from, if there are spaces between them, and where they go. This is, in my experience, easy to get a taste of, and very very difficult to get good at.
I will end it there for today. I would like to be able to circle back to the beginning neatly, but I will do something almost as good- ask a question. Is there some relationship between mind’s functioning as space projector, and projection, and the game of ego?
Quotes used with permission from Dharma Publishing. Books available from Dharma Publishing.