Category Archives: General TSK Discussions


Photo courtesy of: 'Time' by Kristján Unnar Kristjánsson - Flickr

Photo courtesy of: ‘Time’ by Kristján Unnar Kristjánsson – Flickr

What does it mean to ‘MARK TIME’? What is the event of ‘marking’? Or even a ‘mystical’ way of life? Rinpoche takes an inspiring look at this in ‘Keys of Knowledge’. He points to a ‘pointless-point’ saying:

“Even the unknowable, from the perspective of knowing, is a form of knowing. The form itself becomes the maker.” p. 185

Considering this, we might even say the essence of the time, space, knowledge vision is zero. Since open inquiry is at its heart, the urge to know is engendered by the unknown. From there you might even consider the great value of the TSK vision is that as a model, it has certain presuppositions and intentions as boundaries… but that’s not all. Having ‘open inquiry’ at its heart or essence, it has within it the key to rendering those boundaries transparent… a gateway through the conceptual knots that language and dichotomies of thought erect in mind-space. That key is the ‘unknown’ both conceptual and felt… and not yet experienced… the opening of knowing perhaps. And Rinpoche says in ‘Keys of Knowledge’… “The unknown may be more than, ‘what remains to know’.” He’s pointing openly to opportunity, possibilities, potential…

Regarding marking time, Rinpoche says in the course of our journey through time, at some point we graduate… p. 182-6

“[We] see clearly that the unfolding of linear time, and the sense of progress on a path—aspects of reality that seemed so fundamental, so vital—are in fact only ‘marks’, points imposed on the rhythms of time. The marks do not mark out anything solid. There is no bridge that leads to nirvana, no carrier, no vehicle, and no road.

Marks are conditions imposed on every instant. A mark that is noticed becomes a point, but a mark that opens becomes a rhythm. Yet rhythms too can turn toward the solid. They can take their part in a causal sequence, always heading toward the ‘next’, always participating in the structure of before and after, of beginning, middle, and end. Through such structures, we ‘mark out’ and establish lines, which we name as moments in time…

The mark means that something has formed…We look for the cause, or for the process of arising, or the originating force, or for something that lies beyond… It is through this process that the mark manifests… compiled into a focal setting, perhaps through a combination of the sensory faculties.

We can speak of this as the field, the producer of the waves and rhythms and ripples we identify. It looks like action comes from the center of the field, but in the field, the field is centerless. Still, form manifests and creation takes form. With labels comes completion: now we can mark out the appearance has been formed and founded.

Rinpoche reminds us that with language and concepts comes limits. However, when we think about how we mark time, the meaning of zero, the point of zero, and the other side of zero…

[We] find we are engaging a way of life that could be called mystical. This is the field of our reality, the realm of body, mind, and senses, of energy, waves, and gravity, of space and knowledge…

Looking becomes the mark, and the mark marks out a symbolic gesture. Our thoughts are like that, and mind is like that as well. Waves and gravity, energy and the invisible: all interact through the forms of marks.

Posted in General TSK Discussions, knowledge, models, time, zero(less) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Open Knowing…

Photo courtesy of:  ‘Ruby Soft Cylinder with Drawing Shard and Teal Lip Wrap, 2014’ by Dale Chihuly

Photo courtesy of: ‘Ruby Soft Cylinder with Drawing Shard and Teal Lip Wrap, 2014’ by Dale Chihuly

Interesting thought experiment that becomes a ‘knowing‘ experience… How to open an object of the mind… [An object] can be looked at in and of itself. Or it can be seen as a point in a process. Sitting quietly, breathing, inside and outside interpenetrating, we come up against similar wonderings… like where does one thing end and another begin?

…can we bring mind and senses into balance, so that each supports the other? …Can we let knowledge emerge within language and consciousness, without being owned by the speaker and the knower?

…Suppose that the power of time to allow transitions and the power of space to accommodate appearance introduce knowledge to form and substance, and that knowledge in turn, by giving to space and time their form, lets the world emerge. In this way of looking, what becomes of the limits the self puts in place?

The more knowledge becomes an expression of the time and space in operation, the less we are tempted to put the self at the center… From this perspective, nothing that we do will take us outside time and space and knowledge.
…’Sacred Dimensions of Time and Space,’ Tarthang Tulku, p.172-3

You might imagine the photo above depicting a ‘bottomless‘, soft cylinder, fire-blown glass originating from open space like zero. In doing so the cylinder becomes a ‘cone’… imagine the cone as an outward radiating, circular pattern for the making of meaning in mental space, a subject prehends, and a spinning process is set moving in time… a radiating outward of subject referring to object, picking up additional meanings from memory, fantasy, judgments, intentions, feelings… and relating all back to subject… again and again, as a process building a useful widening, a kind of definitive whole that coheres emerging in mental space.

In imagining this, would you recognize the movement of time in space of the knowing process?

Posted in arising, General TSK Discussions, imagination, inquiry, language, mindfulness, opening, space, time | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perfect Ease…

Photo courtesy of: 'maple leaf' by Samuel Grado - Flickr

Photo courtesy of: ‘maple leaf’ by Samuel Grado – Flickr

Rinpoche reveals something important about the ‘ease‘ that lets ‘knowing expand beyond its perimeters’ in ‘Keys of Knowledge’…

Perfect ease is not an ordinary part of our mindset; it may take some practice. Until we fully understand ourselves. We may have a feeling we are not enough—not strong enough, not good enough, not whole within ourselves. This can lead us to turn outside ourselves for ways to manage this feeling of being inadequate or incomplete. We may look for leisure time, companionship, possessions or accomplishments in order to support ourselves.

As long as we sense a lack, we will need to respond to this need within ourselves with kindness, and deliberately cultivate our confidence and self-esteem. This is work we can do right now, without needing to wait for deep insight into ourselves: all it requires is a shift in emphasis from getting things to cultivating the beauty of our juncture, our unique moment in time.

If we know how to take care of ourselves, then there is a chance we can open to others. Then caring could carry on, spread widely into the world, so that others, too, could make themselves at ease.” p.142-3

In cultivating our unique moment in time… it’s possible for the clarity of morning light to hit like a thunderbolt… color and form striking the heart sudden and direct. What was a narrow focus on experience instantaneously opens to the bursting, brimming, suffused, expanse… the heart of time and space… fully known…

By Ken McKeon

The maple we call Birthday,
Light and dripping,
Slivered with raindrops,
Later morning mist sheathed,
Its burgundy, the felt

Coloring we know,
The many stranded leaf play,
The parted fingerings,
Why they’re branch bound somewhere,

It’s quite hard to see exactly,
One would have to ease, to fall
Into the leaf walled,
The air born,
Spacious caverned
Shadowed open blooms
Of open morning light itself,

Why there in the clear moist particles,
The stilled brush of living light bequeaths
Ease to the eye, the heart,
And one knows
The sky’s loom,
The breath and being held here,
Roofed, ceilinged, cupped within

A halved wooden cask,
This deeply lilting tree,
The cello played as silence,

Now heard on the deck,
Late morning, mid April,
The stately gifting presence
Of this Springtime day.

Posted in being, expanding, General TSK Discussions, opening, poetry, presence | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Access to Zero…

Photo courtesy of: 'Into The Mist' by Mikko Lagerstedt

Photo courtesy of: ‘Into The Mist’ by Mikko Lagerstedt

Space moves within us, and we ourselves move within space. We are always opening to space, and space is always open for us. If we understand this much about space, time manifests differently, with a more allowing rhythm, offering knowledge new points of access. We open to the ratio, to form without edge or character, and discover a rich vitality that is like living forever. We fall in love with space.
…..’Sacred Dimensions of Time and Space,’ Tarthang Tulku, p. 63

This quote by Rinpoche reminds me of an exercise we TSK students often work with. It is one of my favorites for the FEEL and ‘in-touchness’ with a Zero-point… the non-occupancy of space, the formless openness of that foundational feeling… TSK Exercise 10, ‘Space Arising’, invites us to access space saying:

“…a richness that is available to be explored: a quality or feeling linked to the quality inherent in being alive, or simply the quality of being. Within the continuum of stillness, cultivate a transparent quality, as though you were preparing the silence to receive light. As you continue with this practice, you will develop the ability to dwell within the silence in a way that allows for a light and clear awareness. It is like activating a silent witness, whose steady presence we might consider ‘nowness’.

Eventually this presence can become a ‘place’ that you can identify and enter with ease, even though it still has no specific identity or qualities. We might call it the womb of space. Some people may find it fruitful to spend long hours there, familiarizing themselves with the spacious silence it offers, deepening their contact.

As you come to know this foundational ‘place’, you can see how ordinary experience arises out of it. A sense of being becomes ‘being here’; from this arises ‘being here in time’. Presence becomes presence ‘of’ something, which is then established and felt to exist. Existence becomes ‘I am’, which is felt to be identical with the original sense of being.”
….. ‘Dynamics of Time and Space’, Tarthang Tulku, p.281

For me, this cone of knowing, the FEEL of layers of meaning in the process of expanding… is what? Is an expanding, widening focal awareness, ‘space awareness’… it’s the movement of knowing… radiating outward…

Posted in awareness, being, General TSK Discussions, opening, space, zero(less) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Zero Speaks…

Photo courtesy of:  'Round My Hometown' by Chris Padgett - Flickr

Photo courtesy of: ‘Round My Hometown’ by Chris Padgett – Flickr

We might think of zero as a remark by space, a saying that expresses an allowing. Space shows itself in zero… As the symbol of form, the place-holder, zero speaks in all language and in each connection. As the voice of space, it is knowledge communicating with time and space, making the meanings. Knowledge draws the circle that gives zero shape, and zero in turn communicates what knowledge chooses to shape. Zero makes possible the ‘what’ of ‘where’, the form that holds meaning, the moving from point to point.
…’Sacred Dimensions of Time and Space,’ Tarthang Tulku, p. 50-2

The quote from Rinpoche reminded me of an exercise we did for a class last year, in which we inquired within… “How do you appreciate space?” In this practice I noticed ‘zero’ spoke in the language of the senses… opening a deeper knowing, invoking an encomium from the heart…

Also note, the photo above could represent… a definitive kind of wholeness that coheres… if you click on the photo and inquire into it you may discern it is composed of many circles that ‘cohere’, they hold meaning; color, tone, shade, texture, local time, and more… communicating space and allowing knowing to make meaning… you can dwell for a time in this knowing before moving on…

Posted in art, awareness, being, General TSK Discussions, inquiry, presence, space, zero(less) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Subject-Object Circling…

Photo courtesy of:  'Circle Packing Artifacts' by Jer Thorp - Flickr

Photo courtesy of: ‘Circle Packing Artifacts’ by Jer Thorp – Flickr

Sometimes I feel I’m going in circles… the mind has me in a set way of thinking, tracks that lead me into repeating behaviors… habits… familiar ‘mind-sets‘ and biases. Problems I address using the same parameters, the same myopic perspective, the same value system that I’ve presumed as operating in this particular situation, even though it may not… It’s difficult to see passed the limits set up by my own way of looking at the problem. Someone said the definition of ‘crazy‘ is: “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Often the way IN to the problem is relaxing the internal tension of it, letting go of its perceived borders, and seeing it as a ‘circle‘… held together by the internal tensions of the assumptions and feelings that compose it, and also held unvarying through time by the centrifugal spinning of the attention I give to it through repetition. I love what Rinpoche has to say about ‘circles’, because it applies to mind-space so sagaciously. Rinpoche says…

If we focus on the shape of zero, we find a line in the shape of a circle, a curving edge that connects only to itself. Inside the line is space, and outside the line is space: the edge is the edge between space and space, and so it is not an edge at all. This ‘edge that is no edge’ is the fitting symbol of space. From that perspective, every line that defines and gives shape is a symbol—space within, space without: an edge without substance. Every line, every shape returns to zero as the symbol of space. Every beginning, every ending, even every existent!
..….’Sacred Dimensions of Time and Space,’ Tarthang Tulku, p. 50

…suppose that you were able to journey to the edge of the universe and then return back home. As you told the tale of this journey, the question would come, “But what is beyond the edge?” If you answer that you do not know—that you reached the edge but could not go beyond—it is natural to ask, “Then how do you know it was really the edge?” The best available answer appears to be circular: “I know it was the edge because I could go no further.” That is how it is with reality. Beyond what we can measure, there may be axioms or speculations, but there is nothing to be known.

We could compare the absoluteness of this boundary to the nature of zero. Zero is not just something infinitesimally small; it is nothing at all. It is the unknown, the ‘x’ of experience, wholly unrelated to any physical occupancy.

Yet this way of putting the matter raises a difficult question. Though zero is separate from the physical, it must also somehow share a border with the physical. The whole idea of ‘different from’ or ‘separate’ actually presupposes some form of connection. Without such connection, ‘zero’ would simply be meaningless, and in that case ‘not-zero’ would be meaningless as well.
This same interplay operates in distinguishing matter from space.

….’Dynamics of Time and Space’, Tarthang Tulku, p. 268

Posted in expanding, experience, General TSK Discussions, inquiry, opening, thought, zero(less) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Depths of Feeling…

Photo courtesy of: 'Pussy willow' by adab8ca - Flickr

Photo courtesy of: ‘Pussy willow’ by adab8ca – Flickr

The planet has a way of catching you by surprise… if you allow it…and are open to its seductive pull. Spring tends to entice, by color, light, kindly temperatures, scented breezes… certain flowers spawn tranquil feelings… like pussy willows… They seem to induce positive responses, an underlying appreciation, and a sense of wonder… an ‘at homeness’ within. I found this quote today…

Our ability to open the depths of feeling gets stronger as we practice… We are not observers: we’re participants. As we contemplate, we also conduct light – the thoughts ‘shine’, the rhythm’s ‘shown’, informing space’s magical play… As we journey, cresting wave after wave, towards the heart of time… This unity is the natural birthplace of compassion… time is our teacher.
Keys of Knowledge’, Tarthang Tulku, p.101-2

Regarding that inward tranquility… I came across these words from my friend Ken…

Excerpt from the poem…
By Ken McKeon

A line up of pussy willows
They casually convene
In a tidal seepage swamp spread,
By a railroad track,
Oily ties,
Crumbly granite bed,
A big boulder sea wall,
A lunar modulated strip of sand,
That keeps changing,
Silver sweeps of bubbly spreading flows,

They take my breath away,
I’d follow them anywhere,
Near break, further break, nearly final break,

Then the full throated hollow building crashing outside break,
High spill of tubular rolling tight fisted surf unleashed,
That’s where the play is,
Always the midnight towering wave lift,
The spilling crush of life’s wave,
It is my heart, the right here, the everywhere,
And it opens out to the dark vast sea,
Westward moving,
This continuous stillness,
It murmurs, it seethes,

It is the soul’s hearth,
And it is my home.

Posted in being, General TSK Discussions, nature, poetry, senses | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Focused Sensing…

Photo courtesy of:  'Sky high' by Jo River - Flickr

Photo courtesy of: ‘Sky high’ by Jo River – Flickr

Living TSK, we often open moments like unwrapping a surprise gift… we are invited to open the gift-box, delight in the offering, welcome the discovery, stay in the center of its depth, and then lucubrate

Focused Sensing is a wonderful event…it can start from a slender space like a taste, a ‘simple sip’ that sets the tongue alive, buds atwitter, flavor space opens like a billowing sail… mind expands further, floods awareness with euphoric whole-body feelings. We open from the narrow to the uncondensed. Even listening can take us far beyond boundaries of our little bodies… momentarily free-flying, beyond the trees, off in the clouds and farther… experience soars in the moment of feeling…over and above… expanding time and space…

By Ken McKeon

A scattering of raindrops,
The silences between them,
Too quickly gone to note,

But the broad pulse
Of a vast plane flying overhead,
One can touch that,
Can ride it,
Like a lifting wave
That calms fully as it lips the sky
And steadies out forever to become
The cradling of a living body borne
By the drenching air,
And as still as the dawn is,
The moving edge of light that is first breath,
The caress known fully
Before the plunging ecstasy of love.

Posted in General TSK Discussions, opening, poetry, senses | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Sharing the Humble Moment…

Photo courtesy of: ‘Morning Focus 3-22-17’ by David Filippone

Photo courtesy of: ‘Morning Focus 3-22-17’ by David Filippone

Morning Focus…As the author of ‘Focusing’, Eugine Gendlin has said, “A body isn’t only an is; it is an is and implies further.” Lilies caught by the light…catch the light within me, and I am lit up… in touch, knit together… and we ‘intimate’ further…

My friend Ken ‘implies further’…

By Ken McKeon

Green stemmed flowers lift
From a truly old
Cut glass water pitcher,

The stems cut within the week,
The pitcher in Ireland
Over a century ago,

Its ringing melodic formal design,
Caught by the just light,
Its lilt and life held, just so,

And the stems rise too, rise quietly,
Though they strike one as stillness so rarely does,
As an ever deepening source
Of lovely living sound,

But the many deeply burnished pinkish blooms,
Are that sound itself, they display such gracefulness,
Such a ribbony playful rush of light,
That they ensnare, they please, the eye,

Much as a Mozart quintet does so please the ear.

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A Widening Perspective.

Photo courtesy of:  'Open Freedom' by Peter S. Quinn - Flickr

Photo courtesy of: ‘Open Freedom’ by Peter S. Quinn – Flickr

Like water flowing from far-off mountains, the lyrical flow of Longchenpa’s “Kindly Bent to Ease Us” laps at the edges of my awareness and I imagine myself being carried along by inner calm and wider perspective.

Then I realize that—although I am interested and moved—I am not actually on the Developing and Fulfillment Paths, and far from grappling with the supreme challenges that such paths prescribe.

But something happened in the 1980’s when two books came into my life: “Skillful Means” and “Time, Space, Knowledge”.

Looking back, I realize that I had stumbled on an awareness of “Unique Occasion and Right Juncture”,  penetrating my helpless way of living at that time. I also see in a new light how this could not have happened without the presence of Nyingma in America and the untiring efforts of a group of people who are working to preserve the teachings and to translate them into a form that I am capable of understanding.

One of the most surprising of those translations has been the Time, Space, Knowledge vision, in which the reach and range of pristine cognition shines forth for minds such as mine, awakening a desire to be afloat in time and space, buoyed by and bobbing in a knowing that has been forever present.

Wearied and weakened by the fictitious being in which I have wandered since time beyond reckoning, I drink with gratitude at the edges of a shoreline, where knowing bestows refreshing glimpses of a time and space that have always been my life.

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