Today I remembered on part I left out of Space #21, the post that exploded, the one that disappeared- thoughts and qualities.
Thoughts not only seem to have space between them, and movement to them, but a certain charge or force. I think this relates to Buddhist teachings on shenpa. Some thoughts come and go quickly, lightly, others repeat more insistently, and others seem heavy and even poisonous.
This is not to say necessarily that there are bad or good thoughts, or the opposite, that they’re all acceptable; I’m just trying to relate a point made in TSK: that thoughts do seem to have various flavors and qualities to them. If you practice meditation or some kind of discipline that trains the mind, this can pop up.
As far as the book goes, the next part relates largely to TSK meditations or exercises. So I’ll skim over it very briefly. In a less than systematic way, I’d like to address a few points that come up in this discussion of the exercises.
“The usual subject-object polarization of experience includes a fascination with a kind of ‘from-to’ distribution.”
One thing these particular exercises work with is the subject/object distinction. I find this description very nice. The word “fascination” works very well. It’s not that people are bad, or crazy, but they are fascinated, entranced by the glamor of this illusion. There’s an addictive quality to this that I like to think in terms of, but the entranced quality is valid too, and in some ways less threatening or harsh.
In this part of the book, there is also a lot of description of various experiences one might have while practicing, including peace, quiet, liberation. Rinpoche tells us that we may experience some breakthrough, or positive experience, and then it may fade. There can be alternation back and forth between space and discursive mind.
“We can still be assailed by our thoughts in this way…”
And this is often how it feels. It feels like being pummeled by thoughts (or by thoughts and feelings and memories, all of which are lumped in with thoughts in this case- the distinctions may be real, but at the same time, they are all just experiential fodder, or events).
Throughout, the idea of another kind of “knowing” is brought up. This makes a kind of sense in that if thoughts are contrasted with space, the experience of space could be categorized as a kind of thought. If there are spaces between thoughts, then how are those spaces experienced? The idea is that the spaces are not another kind of thought, but an experience that is experienced by a kind of “knowledge”- higher knowledge.
This gets jargony, and perhaps confusing. But the basic idea is clear enough- there are different kinds of perception. The kind we normally use when we think about going to work, or choosing an outfit are “lower.” The kind involved in spiritual work are “higher.” If the lower/higher distinction seems problematic, it at least makes sense to say that it is possible to pick up on different sides of reality by using our minds in various ways. After a vigorous workout, the mind perceives differently. After doing something scary, like a job interview, often things seem more clear- the fear adds an edge of clarity, or cuts away some discursive muck.
“It is Great Knowledge that understands this, and Great Knowledge is not apart from the presence of the self and ‘its’ thoughts.”
Following this quote there is a brilliant paragraph that I’d like to write more about next time. I think what I can say about that quote is:
1. It touches something. It’s not completely original, but this approach has lots of value and power. It speaks to the quality of already-knowing, already having accomplished.
2. Although the self is very problematic, it is itself trapped in wisdom. I guess this follows 1): if there is some awake mind in all of us, then the self can’t escape that.
3. The self and ‘its’ thoughts- I like this a great deal. Thoughts happen, but they are not exactly ‘ours’. This feels liberating to me. We don’t own them, and, in turn, they don’t own us. They’re like natural events, like the weather(which is a traditional analogy).
The title was oh. Maybe this is for the surprise that comes when a teaching hits home in some way, which good teachings tend to do, in my experience. The post was mainly about thoughts, practice, and kinds of perception. Maybe “oh” is the title because the various kinds of experience that grow out of practice are as surprising and also as ordinary as surprise itself, the “oh,” which happens a lot, at least once or twice a day.
Quotes used with permission from Dharma Publishing. Books available from Dharma Publishing. Please do at least look at their website. They have many great titles, online courses, and in-person classes, especially for anyone living in N. California.