“We can do more than criticize ‘lower knowledge’. We can come to see it as ‘lower knowledge’. This simple shift in emphasis to the knowledge side has great importance.” – Tarthang Tulku, “Time, Space, and Knowledge”
What follows is a description of how, in general terms, to access Great Knowledge. Maybe this is a slight exaggeration; what follows the quote I started with is a hint as to the connection between the two. To summarize: all experience is inseparable from knowledge and some sort of self. It’s in this sense that a chair is knowledge. Is this a leap, a logical stretch that is used in some sort of complex argument?
Obviously not according to the author of these books, and not according to the views of this body of teachings, TSK. Personally, I don’t go around most of the time thinking “This rice is knowledge. That spoon is knowledge.” As I understand it, this is one way of turning lived experience in a different angle, a way of putting the self in perspective, and a way of talking about how experience happens. That’s my take on it. The writing in “TSK” is more audacious than that. I hope that my take on the matter isn’t too far off the mark, or doesn’t misrepresent the author’s intentions.
But back to the continuum of knowledge. This is how Rinpoche talks about it. By somehow recognizing lower knowledge at play, putting the emphasis on knowledge, we can access a dimension or quality of knowledge. This is part of a “continuum,” of which, obviously, Great Knowledge is part.
This is somewhat similar, not the same, but similar, to drawing your attention to awareness. Everyone has it. Maybe everything has it. You are aware of feelings and thoughts. You can put your mind on a thought, sort of, so you have awareness and the object of awareness. This awareness seems to go throughout life. It seems likely that this awareness could be a link to something bigger, something more than just noticing the thought “I want to go eat my rice now,” or the feeling of the chair I’m sitting on.
Why would that be? Well, it seems very flexible. I can be aware of almost anything. It’s a big part of life, yet it’s so subtle in some sense, invisible. Is it me? Part of me? What percentage. And so forth.
There is, quite literally, a pot of rice on my table, which I want to go eat. So I’ll keep it brief.
This section of the book touches on the failure of lower knowledge to even satisfy its own demands, the knowledge emphasis and continuum, and transcendence.
I would be really really interested to talk to someone who uses a term like “transcendence” in ordinary conversation a lot.
The problem with transcendence is that it can be part of a setup involving lots of separate parts, and a self. These “isolates” can’t really be reconciled (at least not easily). Run away into another realm, and they’re still there, even in absence; they’re over there.
My body is calling. It’s time to take care of business. Today is not too busy workwise, so I’ll probably post again later.
Quotes used with permission from Dharma Publishing. Books available from Dharma Publishing.