After having noticed the term, “knowingness” popping up a lot, I made a note of it- it seemed like something I had to figure out. Then, in the beginning of this chapter of “TSK,” there it is: a long and somewhat confusing discussion of knowingness.

I’ll give it a shot, try to explain what I think this means. Here are some parts of the puzzle:

1. Knowingness “has a quality of perfection.” In this sense, it has to relate to “higher knowledge.”

2. It is not “a content of knowledge,” since it doesn’t involve subject/object duality.

3.  It is all-inclusive, and not a kind of self-absorption. The latter I take to mean that it’s not some kind of spiritual high or state of mind or transcendence.

4. Somehow knowingness is essential to the world’s being knowable “and significant.”

5. “Time is the lifting energy which presents Space to us,” but without knowingness, this play of time and space would not be available to people; it would not be picked up, perceived, tuned into.

“We can immerse ourselves in belief-systems until our time is gone and we are left dissatisfied- both intellectually and emotionally unfulfilled.”

So that’s a start. Before I tackle the descriptions of knowingness, let me put some spin on the part about belief systems. Before that, though, let me say that this particular criticism of systems of belief comes after a discussion (a paragraph) about how we normally look to “acheive knowledge” in an “insentient world,” how our search for knowledge instead of accessing some kind of hidden dimension of knowledge in everyday reality usually consists of building up and accomplishing in a way that is counterproductive.

Whew. I think this can be summarized by saying that wisdom, or the really hearty and satisfying knowledge that is “there” doesn’t necessarily reveal itself by constructing empires and castles, or nice rooms, of knowledge- not even in an academic way, but in the way that experience and philosophy seem to dovetail as you go through life. It’s possible to develop a lot of good ideas and get nowhere.

As for “systems of belief,” this can happen with philosophy, religion, etc., I suppose. I think that’s what Tarthang Tulku is saying. You can follow the rules, study, practice, but this can all go around the outside edge of the heart of the matter.

I have respect for traditions, especially practice traditions across the religions, traditions that emphasize practice (as opposed to emphasizing study). Now, Rinpoche is criticizing this somewhat. But I think I can reconcile what I’m saying, at least somewhat, with what he is saying, by emphasizing that traditions tend to include some element that introduces higher knowledge (often in subtle or covert ways). This is a safeguard.

Back to knowingness. It is perfect, nondual, all-inclusive, not some sort of meditative absorption, and complements the action of time and space.

Once again, the third level/higher level stuff is incorporated into the first level- in talking about ordinary knowledge, Rinpoche brings in wisdom, and the highest kind of wisdom. But what is the distinction between knowingness and “higher knowledge”? Is there one?

Two things:

1. I find it really interesting that somehow knowingness is the quality of knowing, and something that makes the world knowable and significant. It seems like it’s alive out there in the universe, but also something people access all the time when they experience. It seems like it’s both the knowledge people have and develop, and some alive quality or energy out there in the universe. This speaks to it being nondual (although not in a very coherent way- I’m still struggling with this concept).

2. As a word, knowingness- it’s both an action and a quality, a verb and an adjective, I think. Does that make sense? Not sure.

Today’s post was not especially clear. Next time, I’ll stumble through what knowingness is some more.

Quotes used with permission from Dharma Publishing. Books available from Dharma Publishing.


About jakekarlins

Aspiring writer and artist, dharma practitioner, yogi.

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