I’ve long had a fascination with internal space, it progressed from youthful wonder to a gradual fixation or goal as I grew older, a search for spiritual depth. Reminds me of when I was a boy looking over the side of the canoe trying to see into the deep to the bottom of Maine’s Crystal Lake. The reflective curiosity has always remained. So Dynamics of Time and Space, Ex. 10 – Space Arising, along with exercise 9 are two of my favorites for plumbing the depths to fathom what may appear.
I often make a ‘thing‘ out of space, in such a way that if I become so calm that thoughts and images dwindle and space abounds, left with what seems like nothing, I focus on it, wondering about this empty awareness, and the moment I wonder about ‘it’ – space – becomes objectified, a minding-thing. But other times, certain levels of calmness and unbounded space, releases energy that was throttled down by myopic concerns. Emerging from the nurturing ‘womb of space’ coloring what arises in the sense that there is less ‘throttling down’ and more lightness to what presents. Connections, meanings, and conclusions are delicate or diaphanous, less fixed or heavy, not so anchored by a separate self that has distanced itself. My centrifugal contextualization’s don’t have the gravitational pull they usually do, the repetitions and referrals are not tethered to what seems like solid objects from a solid subject. Subject and object are active but not dominant, space is even more active in my narratives. As Rinpoche says:
“The ground of undifferentiated appearance radiates outward, reading in the specific qualities that we identify as existing.” LOK 283
“Mind becomes more like open space, and perceptions become more like the ripples in a still and silent pool of water.” LOK 284
When I was a boy I lived in routine fear of a father with a fierce temper who tended to hit those he loved when he drank alcohol. Not feeling completely safe, I grew accustomed to living in a strategic way, planning my moves, wary of what came next. There isn’t much room for space when you live like this, you don’t even know that space can be soothing. And while over the years I have discovered many ‘things’, TSK has shown me how space can nurture, how time presents anew, and knowledge unfolds in fascinating and mysterious ways.
Here’s a post from a few years back of my previous work with DTS Ex. 9 – Generating Space
While sitting under the trees on a sunny afternoon, I focused on the intervening distance between me and the tree line at the end of a field. That space opened to the blue sky above, while peripheral vision provided opening to surrounding space. While holding this awareness of spaciousness, I noticed smaller spaces, such as gaps between leaves, tree trunks, and branches, the spaces of light and shadow playing off a multiplicity of forms.
While aware of those openings I noticed the colorings of sound in the listening sense field; vehicles passing near and further away expanded that space. That space was accommodating, allowing bird songs, leaves rustling in the breeze, even an underlying ringing in my ear. To these spaces I added the tactile field and what was being felt; the chair beneath me, the cool air on my arms, my extremities, my breath, and all tactile awareness. I noticed how the visual spaces overlapped with the field of touch, and how that felt as an expanding of mental space.
Next, I looked to mental space and to thoughts. I had a thought, ‘I want more tea’. I glanced and reached for the glass to my right, lifted it and took a sip, tasting the sweetness and feeling the coldness, noting the opening space of those sensations. I looked into the thought ‘I want more tea‘. It was lightning fast. I asked how this thought was ‘dressed’, and how far could it be traced? It seemed to arise while I was looking in space for a thought to explore, but nothing was appearing, there was little defined, just the complex sense feelings of ‘I am,‘ and the spaciousness of overlapping sense fields. When the thought arose (perhaps out of a habit of filling space) it was as if I narrowed my focus on spaciousness, like a laps of attentiveness, a ‘coming-out‘ or a collapsing into a specific position and idea — the arising assertion of ‘I’ projecting ‘tea‘ measured out by the intensity of desire for it.
Subject, object, the desire and intent were all the ‘thought characters‘ in my stage play. If there was a residue of the thought, it was the memory of its content, but also the knowing of the process of its arising and dissolving; recognizing the content was based on positioning and asserting of the self, and both content and process were appearances of aware spaciousness. There was something about how noticing the space of my physical surroundings easily transitioned into that same allowing in the sense fields, and to the knowing of knowing space — they all seemed to partake of the same space, the same glowing or luminous knowingness.
As I continued to examine thoughts in space, some were ‘dressed’ in or ‘charged’ with varying degrees of emotional energy. For instance, in a previous exercise a future thought of becoming an invalid [because of a recent knee operation], was charged with the energy of ‘anxiety’ or fear. A memory of the loss of a loved one was charged with ‘sorrow’ that was physically connected to the gut. However, examined in spaciousness, looking into the feeling of these emotional dressings or connectors to thoughts led to an underlying spaciousness and flow of feeling that at different times felt simply open and clear, to happy, to even exquisite.