Subject-Object Reversal (TSK Ex. 30)

The instructions operate by osmosis, bypassing intellect and discursive thinking. Like drinking a benignly potent medicine which is instantly absorbed by tongue, digestive system and bloodstream, whose essence immediately merges with the cells.

I set out to attempt the exercises freshly, without reference to previous meditation or practise times – just trying to notice what is actually occurring.

Subject: spacious, open, empty and feeling ; sensations, alive.

Object: substantial, colourful; somehow occurring in subject as well as being away from.

Although there is distance, everything is at the same time ‘in here’, though each object has a different colour, shape, texture, size – each creates a feeling ‘in here’ as well.

There is body seen as object (e.g. looking down at body seated in chair; observing hand holding pen moving across page). But there is also body as changing field of sensations that is ‘in here’ but also ‘over there’ (slightly distanced) from what is observing it.

Dominance of emotional state, intense chemistry – that is also at some distance from what is observing it whilst being more substantial in feeling, (though not solid) than the observed external objects.

What is seeing/knowing/observing/sensing all of this is of a different quality from all of it; a quality of open, receptive space.

There is a sense with this exercise of not knowing how to do it, a suspicion that something crucial is being overlooked. Tracing suspicion: a sense of almost panic, then wanting to fall asleep, then wanting to give up TSK forever. Overwhelming sense of profound unknowingness.

I experiment with actually being the wardrobe looking at me (like drama exercises I did at school), contrasted with being the observed object of the wardrobe as subject.

Becoming comfortable with being at the receiving end of the attention of all the furniture in the room: a new kind of intimacy.

 * * *

The sweet and encompassing sky


upon the conglomeration of patterns

gathered in the chair beneath


a new kind of kindness

to be born


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2 Responses to Subject-Object Reversal (TSK Ex. 30)

  1. Bruce says:

    Very beautiful, Caroline — finely observed and expressed. I appreciated how you named, stayed with, and moved in and through the not-knowing and frustration that this ‘not-doing’ or ‘un-doing’ practice evoked. Your phenomenological description of the various ‘gaps’ or distances that showed up at various levels, subtle and more gross, was very clear and resonant with my own experience of this practice. When you’ve sensed the gap that shows up even when the object is very ‘near’ and internal to you, have you practiced the subject-object reversal with that as well?

    Best wishes,


    • csherwood says:

      Ah! Thank you – no I haven’t practiced s-o reversal with the gap when the object is very ‘near’ and internal. Is this similar to/the same as what is recommended in TSK Ex.30 B (page 258) or are you suggesting something new/different?
      I sense, just in reading what you’re recommending, that in doing this, the gap will disappear…?


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