“When fully appreciated, Great Time is seen to be a kind of perfectly liquid, lubricious dimension- it is quintessentially ‘slippery’. For this reason- although there seem to be movement and separate places to move to on the first level, and still more open, fluid possibilities on the second level- on the third level there is no ‘going’ and no separate places… So, from a third level point of view, an eternity of ‘straying’ still leaves us very much ‘at home’, intimately united.” TSK
If the perfection of reality were strayable, if we could leave it, it would not be perfect. It is my understanding that seeing this, in a small way, and working on our real world flaws and addictions and ways of harming, creates a kind of feedback loop— Everything is perfect beyond understanding, and yet I’m still so messed up, and somehow I can work towards that perfection that can’t be approached… Somehow that cognitive dissonance works for our benefit, maybe creating what is called the intoxication of mind. In my experience this is utterly different from the highs of drugs, the highs of ego, and is also very different from a ‘quiet mind.’” Intro to TSK
Second level- the awakening of magical world, the glimpses, stepping out of the cocoon
Third level- fruition, waking up, realizing the journey need not have been made at all
A lot of people don’t even go past the first level, really, because their lives are pretty comfortable. On the other hand, if your life is hellish, or completely full of addiction, pain, or illness, you might not get past the first level because you’ve given up. It’s not even worth trying.
In the Buddhist tradition, we say you need the right balance of suffering and happiness to even take up the path. I think that applies to both converts, and people born into the Buddhist tradition. It’s obviously possible to be brought up in a tradition and just follow some rituals and customs, claim some beliefs, but never really enter the path.
The second level I think happens if you get past the first level. Realizing that suffering exists and that living in the rat race is not going to cut it tends to lead to other realizations- and often not a total breakthrough, but that you’ve already been experiencing a lot of magic and “miracles” and have just been ignoring them or forgetting them or blocking them out- experiences of atmosphere, energy, feelings a little beyond the ordinary, and so forth. Go into a New Age bookstore, and you might think that you need to buy some crystals or an expensive DVD, or the right incense to get in touch with these experiences, but in fact they’ve been there all the time. (That’s been my experience to an extent, and is something I have faith in.)
Then there’s the third level, when you’ve gone far enough into the sacred world, and have gone through “some changes,” as one acquaintance said I would, in a sort of ominous way; you come out on the other side, transformed, but at the same time, “completely ordinary.” They say when you get to that point, you realize that things are as they should be, and the whole path was not even such a big deal (in spite of all of the transformations, experiences, and small to large breakthroughs).
So that’s one take on the three levels. This triad exists in other ways in Buddhism, although I am not knowledgeable enough at this point to expound on that in a coherent way, really. The trio does seem significant, existing not just in Buddhism, but in many traditions. I won’t get too far out there, though. I won’t claim to be any expert on world religions- just bumbling through some TSK and Tibetan Buddhism is enough for me.
Good teachings do various things. I think the idea of feedback loop is wonderful- logic is neither the best way, nor a mistake. Logic can be used, though, to make the mind do some really great stuff. It can play tricks (enlightened tricks) on the mind (and body). Waking up is tricky and twisty, in my experience. Skillful means often involve trickery, and seem to expand over time. A teacher says something, and it resonates, for years and years, fermenting, creating a good brew to intoxicate conceptual mind. For better or worse, conceptual mind is the path, and conceptual mind is too clever to be handled by mere logic.