Returning again and again to the Texts themselves

Jack mentioned in the last class (week 5, session six) that it was advisable to balance the practice of the exercises with the reading of the texts, and that some people preferred to ‘specialise’ in one or the other, but shied away from engaging both.

Following a suggestion in WIR, I have begun (searching the disc and consulting the books’ indexes) to compile a list of references for Logos and Read out; I have been having a hard time making both terms my own, in the sense of being able to connect with them in any kind of meaningful way.

I have undertaken a practice of regularly copying passages from our set readings which appeal to me, or which strike me as particularly fresh and innovative. Combining, seeing, hearing (in my mind or aloud) and moving is helpful in deepening the transmission.

And…surprise, surprise…the ‘answers’ to my ‘Logos’ and ‘Read-out’ questions suddenly start to jump off the page at me, as though I’ve never seen them before ! Take, for instance LOK 266:

The responses of confusion, fear, lack of interest, and appropriation all claim to be independent of the founding story. In fact, however, they are expressions of the logic that that story insists: a defining ‘logos’ that shapes all possibilities for understanding. Can this logos itself be challenged? The ‘logos’ has its own power, but how much of this power originates in the self’s fear and defensiveness, its incomprehension of a world order which leaves no room for it?’

So – is there a ‘Logos’ without a ‘Self’ to create it, mould it and maintain it?

Incidentally, I am struck by the affinity between the ‘confusion, fear, lack of interest and appropriation’ mentioned above and the classic Buddhist presentation of the three ‘unwholesome roots’ of all emotion – translated clumsily sometimes as greed, hatred and delusion, but more helpfully, I think in more biological terms by a former teacher as ‘the acquisitive, the averse and the confused’ [he used to compare our multi-cellular organism to that of a single-celled amoeba reacting to a) the presence of a piece of plankton, b) being poked by a pin and c) the rapid alternation of a) and b)].

In characteristically brilliant fashion, Tarthang Tulku goes further and says something which never occurred to me before and which is so helpful –

‘True the self is committed to its own existence. But the self is the one that forms an image of what it would mean for the self to come into question. What if that image is mistaken? The self’s flight from non-existence is driven only by the ‘logos’ of the founding story. If that story proves unfounded what becomes of the fear that it generates?

And even an unexpected step further…

Perhaps fear is simply a product of a certain limitation on knowing; if so, fear itself could become a pointer, directing us toward a deeper knowing. (LOK 227)

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3 Responses to Returning again and again to the Texts themselves

  1. Hayward says:

    Dear Caroline
    You seem to take the spirit of inquiry, on the surface of things, very much to heart when asking five question in the short paragraph below. However, all of your questions operate within the logos of “causality”.

    Rinpoche says there are two ways to “see through the logos”. The first is to enter the logos and see through the tunnels of its assumptions. The second way knowing can see through a logos is to challenge the givens of its assumptions. In this case we might examine the assumptions inherent in the logos of causality. It seems the construct of causality assumes the logos of time’s linearity and reads out how that which occurred prior causes that which follows.

    Rinpoche seems to say that all ways of knowing are ways of knowing time and space. It is Knowledge that knows the logos and reads out the logic and rules of appearance.
    To inquiry seems to mean to examine usually unexamined assumptions about the nature of appearance, such as causation.

  2. Hayward says:

    I too had difficulty understanding “logos” and ” read out”. However, over time with repeated exposure, I gradually came to apprehend how they were the logic, or the organizing perceptual rules. They are the template that informs what is possible and impossible; the manual of”how things are” and “how they work”. While slowly appreciating the power of the logos and read out in contouring ordinary experience, I do wish there were a more conventional manner to language the phenomena. For the time being I am settling for “a way of knowing”.

    • Caroline Sherwood says:

      Thank you, Hayward. What sets up the logos; who/what writes ‘the manual’? Is it changeable? By what? It seems to me there are many ‘ways of knowing’. Are you saying that they are all contained within an underlying, more fundamental way of knowing which conditions everything known and/or knowable? It seems the key phrase is ‘in contouring ordinary experience’. Is the logos somehow ‘transcended’ in non-ordinary experience or is a different ‘logos’ then operational?

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