Two more posts two go on this section. I’m going to push right ahead.
Rinpoche writes, first, that feelings that seem positive can have negative elements and consequences. This seems true. Later on, he talks about negative emotions having positive elements as well.
Then there’s the part that really caught my eye: he writes that to every emotion there are three levels: surface, deeper, and deepest/neutral.
In the case of love, he says that on the surface it seems very positive, but the problematic elements of grasping, and so on, that can go along with this feeling go on just below the surface. Below that, there is a neutral force or energy that allows for both to exist.
This is really interesting for a few reasons. First, this is reminiscent of the three level setup explored already (first, second, third level time, and so on). It also sounds a lot like a passage in one of Rinpoche’s “Kum Nye” books. Kum Nye is an old Tibetan practice somewhat like yoga. In this book, near the beginning, Tarthang Tulku writes about every experience of energy having an an initial quality, a blocked quality below that, and finally an experience of nonduality, energy without subject or object.
So it seems like Rinpoche is working with a model that describes feeling and energy in terms of those three levels. These descriptions, kum nye and TSK, are not exactly the same. But they’re intriguingly similar.
Next, the author writes that these three layers of positive, negative and neutral make up all emotions, and the personality itself (as a mixture or “stratification”). Then, he writes, these are all still Time-Space-Knowledge.
There is still “perfect knowingness” within these less than integrated pieces of the self. This means that emotions and problematic parts of the personality can be useful. I’m not sure if Rinpoche is saying that these emotions and parts of the self can be transformed, or that they are already good. If I were to guess, I would say both.
The self labels, and this labeling is problematic. Experiences that are threatening or hard to manage or categorize are labeled in certain ways, and cut off. This creates a “realm of ice,” with those strong energies flowing underneath.
“This invigorating energy is not actually in the deeps or below conventional below conventional surfaces, but that is perhaps the simplest way to envision it initially.”
Tarthang Tulku writes that the way to get more in touch with this invigoration is through a kind of “natural alchemy” of the emotions. By being in the energy of emotions, we can remedy the state of being frozen or cut off.
“Such a ‘transformation’ need effect no changes, but is simply a matter of being in the energies which we are.”
Rinpoche writes about therapy, in a general way, saying that (Western) therapy can work in that it can allow for contact with the knowingness within trauma or emotions. Contact with this element, it seems, is healing in itself. Then there’s another part that piques my interest. Having found this healing quality in experience, and stayed with it, for even a few minutes
“we can use knowingness to expand time, so that we can enjoy this positive situation as long as we like.”
Next, there is some discussion of love. Of course, the self’s perspective and its “consolidating tendency” is problematic. I’m going to skip over this section. It’s not that it’s unimportant, but I don’t think I have much to say about it of any substance. The chapter then concludes with a number of meditations and a summary.
On to the next chapter. It begins by talking about “open-ended clarity.” So, apparently, this is an important element of the exercises- finding this, and starting to understand it. How possible is it to understand this part of TSK without doing the exercises? I hope it is possible.
In a slightly vague way, it’s safe to say that any experience has some quality of awareness to it. That is a kind of clarity. This can be heightened. As far as being “open-ended” I’m not as sure.
I’m going to forge on through the chapter, and hope that this kind of clarity will become easier to describe. Tarthang Tulku writes that knowingness can be found within anything, and is not limited by any perspective. It does not emanate from any sort of center (as we normally experience the self as this center).
This is not something I can claim to understand or have experienced.
That is problematic, although it might be useful as a guidepost- it is possible, at least according to one teacher, to have experiences of this sort.
Quotes used with permission from Dharma Publishing. Books available from Dharma Publishing.