Tripping Over Zero – A Walkabout Practice

Photo: ‘Edge of the Future’ – Pixabay
https://tinyurl.com/y6p7wwjo

I’ve had fun this week with our walk about practice, the one where we ‘look for openness in time’s hidden occupancy, feel it as a “luminous energy…like the glow of a living being at rest”. We are told to “Look for it in moments of beauty, of intimacy, or of love—moment’s when identity loses its hold.”

I spent most of my initial time looking for it, like a lost thing, as if I couldn’t find one of my missing socks. I rummaged around my mind like a cluttered attic. I knew it was here, after all it was here before I cluttered up this space with all this stuff. This prior of each conscious moment – this “‘zero’ is fundamental: the state or circumstance from which we depart.” KTS 95

And then I remembered how often during the day there was a break in my stream of consciousness, my mental ‘worlding’ away of time when it just stopped, the continuum of my expectations abruptly halted, because I was distracted from mental-circling — thunder-struck by beauty — like how the sun set on the horizon backlighting the trees in silhouette turning the clouds into colorful jewels. Or at another time while attempting to navigate a knotty problem in which I was engrossed, an answer suddenly ‘dawned’, and I felt that open clarity, that rising feeling of energetic fullness and vitality.

In an article in the Buddhist magazine ‘trycicle’ entitled, “The Game of Go”, it explained the game was much older than Buddhism, but that it was quickly recognized by Buddhists as a useful tool for Buddhist practice.

https://tricycle.org/magazine/the-game-go/
One quote caught my eye as it related to my search for the ‘zero-point’:

“Emptiness, in Buddhism as well as in ordinary language, does not refer to an absolute lack of everything. Thus, the earlier translation of sunyata as “void” was very misleading. Emptiness refers to the absence of something that, for some reason, one expects to find—as when we say a glass, normally used to hold liquids, is empty even though it is full of air. The point is not that there is nothing there at all, but rather that what is there differs from your expectations. The emptiness that Buddhism affirms is very similar to that in Go. The Buddhist point is that potentiality precedes actuality. There are no ultimate limits on the possibilities of being. Reality is open-ended in an absolute sense…”

I thought, well there it is, I’ve been spending my time slipping over zero-points as if they were banana peels. My mind is so constrained by what I expect I just slip right by these points. But when I am confronted with what I DON’T expect (and I’m not threatened) my ‘minding’, my constant ‘worlding’ skips a beat, and I am aware of my Being, presence as full-open vitality, and love of life…there unexpectedly, at the edge of the future… the luxurious taste of zero… ever new beginning…

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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2 Responses to Tripping Over Zero – A Walkabout Practice

  1. David Filippone says:

    Ha, ha, Michael!
    Yes! Looking for zero, that ever-absent character, doesn’t have to be like ‘waiting for Godot’!

    Well, where are we headed in this search for zero, we might ask? Seems to me, it’s not really a search FOR, but a wider awareness OF zero, which includes a less narrow structuring of the knowing that follows.

    Recently, our teacher, Jack Petranker, wrote an article on mindfulness in ‘tricycle’ at the following link. I highly recommend reading the entire article…

    https://tricycle.org/magazine/present-moment/

    In the article he describes ways to be present, one of which is “‘Joyful Presence’…to cultivate full appreciation of the rich experience available in each moment.” That is part of the kind of TSK zero-point I was describing in my post. But it is also a mindful presence, which he goes on to explain:

    “… as human beings, we do not live in a point-instant present, even if experience does change from one moment to the next. Instead, we live in a present that draws on the past and the future. We understand our own experience in terms of ongoing stories that we use to make sense of the way things are. Our sense of having or being a self, for instance, is such a story. My present experience only makes sense in terms of who I am, where I come from and where I am headed; my plans and projects, my history and circumstances.”

    He goes on to describe another level of presence called ‘active presence’, and I believe this is the kind of presence our TSK training is preparing us for.

    “Active presence—choosing how to act in this moment—takes mindfulness out of the range of sitting meditation and inserts it into daily life… Active presence has the potential to go further, for it invites an open-ended engagement with experience. When I am actively present, I choose the whole: what values I will enact, what commitments I will make, what understanding I will bring to bear. Potentially, it makes available for questioning each and every ordinary, taken-for-granted structure of my experience. It puts everything into play. What is my relationship to the objects I encounter in the world, or to other beings? How do my moods and emotions affect the ways I engage the world? What happens when thought carries me away from direct experience? Can I be attentive within thought? Each and every dimension of experience is available; nothing is presupposed. Each position I take is more a provisional positioning than a fixed structure.”

    Do I hear the echo of TSK in these words? A zero point for a new knowing?

  2. michaelg says:

    David,
    I’m glad one of us has been having fun.

    But, reading your post, I have to say you seem to have become open to the fullness of an unforclosed, unanticipated connection to your surrondings. (The problem with “a glass is half-empty” view of life is that the other half is full of our expectations?) And when we notice a shortfall in something that we desire then our wanting intensifies to the point that we can’t appreciate the jug of life pouring forth. Intensify, indensify, make mine a double, bar keep.

    If I remember the game of Go (from 40+ years ago) there was a holistic kind of awareness called for. Unlike in chess where a knight or a rook has capacities for movement that–together with their position in a phalanx–determinesd their power in a game; in Go, the only power a piece has is its contribution to the whole. Kind of like a TSK field in which all the components become part of an overall awareness.
    And lets not forget: In November 1984, Skynet becomes self-aware . . .

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