“We react in terms of love and hate, friends and enemies, right and wrong, true and false, good and bad, and similar distinctions. Whatever happens, our involvement is assured. The whole of this structure has an organic unity. Each story encompasses the range of stories, referring back to all that has come before…” Tarthang Tulku, “Dynamics of Time and Space”
This reminds me of a fractal. Every part represents or mirrors the whole. I think a similar idea is found in magical traditions and folk traditions of various kinds (the idea that a part is connected essentially to the whole, and that like influences like). Now, this is not what Rinpoche is writing about. He is writing more about the action of ego, the tendency of the personality to interpret everything in certain paranoid ways. Have you ever been accused of thinking you’re “the center of the universe”? I sure have. Maybe I’m more arrogant than most. Still, I think everyone does, at least to some extent (and in some senses, it’s true- individuals are important). But that’s also a description of ego at work- everything confirms that you are, in fact, the greatest thing ever, or maybe the most significant thing ever. This kind of paranoia is laced throughout the stories that jumble the mind. It’s like ego-blindedness is a spice, and it’s gotten mixed into every dish that you eat. By you, I’m including myself. I think that’s a fair description of the kinds of interlocking and mirroring stories Rinpoche is talking about. Each moment, according to some teachings, has lots of potentials within it (both good and bad, I think). That’s something like what Tarthang Tulku writes about.
There’s something definitely awe-inspiring about just how complex and vast the mind is, whether it’s ego-based or more awake. “There is no need to rush or worry; there are no pressing obligations. We have plenty of Space and Time.” This, from “TSK,” is part of a section in which the author talks about how we can interact with the world in any way we like. Life is “friendly.” I would be interested to see how an audience would react to this kind of logic, especially people with stressful, busy lives, or people with space issues (working in a city, driving a lot, living in small spaces). I do, generally, agree. I don’t want to set up counterarguments and work it out, here it would seem a little unreal to me. But I would love to try to teach this material to people who are busy, and feel there’s some need for that (family, work obligations, and so on).
Personally, I’ve been able to have a lot of space and time recently, and do what I like, and I really wonder what other people would do when faced with that possibility.
It would be too easy, and a little unfair for me to say “Don’t be busy,” to someone with a house to pay for, or children to feed. Of course, I suspect that everyone could cut out a little entertainment in favor of quiet time, but who knows? “We are completely free, from the outset.” This section is very “ultimate.” You get some sense of this from the quotes. I always find it intriguing and a little frustrating to read teachings like this: I want to understand, but I feel like this kind of idea means that practice and progression are unneccessary and I’ve spent so much time and energy on them. “Everything provides an opportunity for a profound learning experience.” This is, in a way, the other side of the interlocking stories: unlimited “natural teachings.” (All the time.)
I think this can be very helpful, especially when things get rough, but needs to be balanced by more concrete teachings (on ethics, compassion, etc.)
“The knowingness which we seek to expose is rather subtle…”
So we’re back to knowingness. There are various exercises in this chapter, which I won’t go into. It is good to remember that this idea of knowingness is important, especially for this part of the book.
I will cut things short here, partly because I have a work obligation right now (early).
“there are no dead spots…”
This is the idea of awareness pervading everything (or knowningness being available in not-knowing and confusion). This ends the chapter. Let me leave with this: it seems possible, through just observing one’s own emotions, thoughts, moods, and the world around, to uncover some of this knowingness (or, flavors and shapes of awareness previously unknown). I think the fear of chaos and insanity also enters in there, somewhat (at least for me). In that regard, it’s good to go slowly, be careful, have a solid practice, and be able to work with chaos (without it taking over entirely).
Quotes used with permission from Dharma Publishing. Books available from Dharma Publishing.