Self, Subject, Desire & Intimacy

Dear Peter, and All,

Jack wrote: “The self is always busy constructing its world: assigning meanings and telling stories. But none of this works if the self is not somehow in charge of reality.” And the text very nicely says, “The dynamic, future-centered interplay of space, time, and knowledge in the world of the self thus differs in fundamental ways from the interaction of object-centered space and time and the corresponding, past-centered descriptive knowledge.”

I’ve been checking out my experience in the light of these two comments. I picked something that seemed simple – listening to music (while doing Ex.30). I could immediately see how the desire to unite with the music created a barrier in the form of the self-images. This desire existed in the cocoon of my self’s time-created world, where being in charge of my experience (and being completely self-referencing) is axiomatic. It actually lowered the energy available for the listening.

Another part of this situation was that desire wanted to enjoy the music in a time-oriented kind of way, as well. This is hard to explain, but I saw the self creating the sense of a ‘narrative’ in short passages of the music, connecting up this passage with the last and carrying the last forward into this. I noticed that this habit  produced a kind of frustration that detracted from the music. (I might add that I wasn’t doing this for some kind of conscious exercise, I noticed that it was a habitual action that went with desiring to listen to the music, and I’m sure that I was witnessing for the first time something that I’ve done thousands of times while listening to music.)

When I got related to the desired object (the music) in my polar world, there the ‘knowledge gap’ arose; there separation was built into the relationship (in the form of the cloud of images called ‘me here’ and the music ‘there’ in ‘interior space’); and there contingency reigned (for example, I didn’t choose the buzz in the speaker). From this angle the ‘shine’ which desire gave the anticipated project was gone. The inherent separation in subject-object and the shortfall in the quality of the experience were actually painful. The object in object-centered space is never a match for the promise of desire. It’s a different ‘object.’

And, when I actually found real intimacy with the music (which was easy while doing LOK Ex.30), then the self and object were not present, so again desire wasn’t relevant to happiness. In fact, desire doesn’t even want to go there, because intimacy is not self-referencing and looks so unpromising!

I remember, too, a time when I was a child (of less than six) when my desire for an ice-cream clashed with the real object in my hand. I looked at it and I saw before having my first bite that it was already finished (by its nature), and immediately my desire was dashed.  I ate it with a sweet taste on my tongue but heart-break in my mind.


About Christopher

I first read TSK in 1978, and have enjoyed exploring Rinpoche's (printed) work ever since. I'm an insight meditation teacher in Sydney, Australia, and I live in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. I'm also a psychotherapist and a Focusing trainer (Gendlin).
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2 Responses to Self, Subject, Desire & Intimacy

  1. Ludwigm says:

    Thank you, Christopher, for your post, and David for your comment. It gives me much to work with.
    My experiences often seem to be similar.
    But. (I often look for “but”s.)
    There are many ways of demands: from hunger, sex to “I like” , I “want”, I am “used” to..
    When I am hungry (not too much) and I think of a good meal, there can be possible an intimacy with the tastes of a meal.
    I like musik and sometimes I feel intimacy with a well known melody, with a piece of musik I know very well, with the unfolding of a melody like the unfolding of a flower, the “bow of tension” (? in german: “Spannungsbogen”)of a melody reading a poem, completing something I wanted to complete, coming home from a pilgrimage around a hill..
    It seems even possible for me to feel the intimacy , the fullness of a desire and going step by step in the direction of the dsired object.
    It seems to me, that past and future can change in direction of Time.

  2. I really appreciated your description, Christopher. It resonated with my experience of music listening, particularly your point about the habit of focusing on what you liked in the music, emphasizing what you valued and deemphasizing what you didn’t, it seems a clear demonstration of your controlling self in action. Also, how that recognition revealed the separation in play between self and objects as a ‘knowledge-gap’.

    For me, there’s also a sense sometimes when relinquishing the control, letting go of the self’s desire for objects, and the experience then becomes less about the ‘things’, specific melodies, rhythms, directionality, or modulation and seems to be more about an event that I am. There’s an opening into what seems like all sounds and space…hard to describe… and going in and out of that space.


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