Look—within ordinary experience—for the quality of aliveness

Out of the Darkness Comes Light by Compound Eye - Flickr

I find this a fascinating inquiry as my teacher, Jack Petranker, asks us to “look—within ordinary experience—for the quality of aliveness“.

I am curious about darkness and color… looking inward, whether associated with mental images, and the space that accompanies them, or the appearing of insight like a light out of an inward darkness. I am as fascinated by the dark space as I am with what appears in the light.

I remember from one of Jack’s classes a year or two ago called ‘The Feel of Sensing’, in which he discussed how redness arises in the act of our seeing an apple. While red seems like it’s so basic and fundamental, but in fact it’s not there in the apple, but a kind of abstracting through an act or operation of our way of seeing.

I’ve learned from science that black is what you see when a surface absorbs all light hitting it. White is what you see when a surface ‘reflects‘ all light hitting it. So when you look at a surface, the color you see is the light that is reflected. For example, a red apple absorbs all light but the color red, which it reflects. We see the reflected light and it registers in our memory as what we have previously associated and labeled as red apple.

Inwardly, I’ve noticed a memory of some event in my life is often not crystal clear, not all the light of knowing of that remembered moment is with me now, so I see shadows and dark areas in my inward looking. If I sat with the memory over a period of time, hours or days, more of the memory would appear from the dimness, but not all of it, because a memory is just that, a dim recalling of a summary of the actual event. The memory involves what I have through process constructed it to be, what I conducted over time, as I review it now in the same mental space it was originally formulated.

So I look to the present as ‘things‘ arrive out of the dark horizon into the inward light. Just observing is calming, it slows breathing and calms all the appearances down to a trickle, and I seem to shift to what Jack describes in his Orientation for Week 6 as, “a deeper knowing, an at-homeness in the dynamic flow of time“. With this deeper knowing, there appears to be illumination, but not off the surface of things so much, also there is still darkness that I can’t seem to penetrate. Perhaps this is near the spark of life, near the zero-point prior to conducting light and darkness, in which sometimes a sense or feel of me is present, and in another moment that ‘me-sense’ is forgotten. It feels like there is a knowing/feeling of the capacity to know. Emerging from this calmness feels refreshing, the feeling of something fundamental has occurred. I am happy to be alive.

This may sound odd, but the past weeks have actually been a sad time for me, my wife passed away about a month ago, but I rely on TSK and practice to nourish and help me through this difficult time. Beneath the normal day to day living, even the sadness, there is the spark of aliveness that is always available. Tapping in to that aliveness is enormously helpful.


About David Filippone

For more than 25 years I’ve been a 'student' of the Time, Space, Knowledge vision (TSK), not a teacher. And I write from an inquiring student's perspective neither proclaiming nor declaring. I figuratively sit in awe at the feet of a master, Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche. For the past 12 years, my personal TSK guide has been Jack Petranker, Director of the Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages, and the Center for Creative Inquiry (CCI), past dean of the "Tibetan Nyingma Institute", and author of "When It Rains Does Space Get Wet?", "Inside Knowledge", and other TSK related books and articles... I've also received TSK instruction from the late, Carolyn Pasternak of the Odiyan Retreat Center... As a volunteer for the past several years, I've been curating the often TSK focused, CCI Facebook page at... https://tinyurl.com/ybyfolcf
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5 Responses to Look—within ordinary experience—for the quality of aliveness

  1. I just came across this entry from 2008 that seems to me to be intimately related to my post above:



  2. Soudabeh says:

    I am sorry about your loss…
    Thank you for sharing your prespectives ….
    I value it and appreciate it always…
    Many blessings

  3. Thank you Hayward, Peter and Soudabeh for your kind thoughts.

    It’s what TSK is all about, isn’t it? It’s why, when I first encountered TSK some 15 or more years ago, it was love at first sight. Suddenly TSK provided me with tools and language to use to explore inward. I could tell myself to me.

    Beneath the normal day to day living, tapping in to that aliveness is nourishing: A moment arises and its newness is supportive of flowering, an object appears and it glows as it blossoms, the knowing or awareness of what unfolds reveals illumined space as well as a dim or unknown beyond. It fills me with wonder and appreciation for the grand mystery.

  4. Peter says:

    Thank you, David, for your trustful, valuable post.
    The dark horizon of desertedness seems to be very painful. I know it by my memory – but by the years it changed. Dark horizon, black, shadows, dark areas, dimness, more or less mixed with emotions, all different qualities.. there is much to look at.
    For your heart I wish many of your sparks of aliveness.

  5. Hayward says:

    I am sorry to hear of your loss.
    It does not sound odd that TSK is of comfort.
    I too have experienced this.

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