Walkabout – Session 11, Week 3 – Exploring not-knowing

Photo: ‘Formulating’ – Pixabay

“See if you can get in touch with the ‘feel of the field’ at a time when you are already feeling negative… let the feeling lead you into an exploration of the not-knowing hidden within the ‘witness’ knowing… remember that what you feel is based on the claims of the witness, and those claims are not solid, even when they seem most convincing.” The instructions also said, “In doing this practice, we may not know how to proceed.” And of course, that’s just where to look.

I had just returned from a trip… lots to catch up with on my computer, hadn’t done a back-up in a while either, settled down, turned on the computer, and got nothing… ‘blank’ blue-screen. Actually felt the blank like a hollow void in the pit of my stomach, ‘sinking’, all familiar boundaries of my plans and intentions collapsed into chaos. The mind raced, panic storylines flashed in my brain, “All is lost! All my work and recent photos. All my TSK class work and Projects, hours and weeks of labor, all ‘MY’ content gone!” I felt a painful void in my center, what perhaps A. H. Almaas might label as ‘deficient emptiness’, an unsupported feeling of being lost and helpless.

After a few moments of this discomfort and anxiety, I realized this feeling was not unfamiliar, in fact, it was in a way a certain basic feel I’ve known since childhood underlying many of my feelings of being unsure, of realizing I didn’t know how or what to do, of not measuring up, of not belonging, it also underpinned fears around storylines of impending failure, it was also a feeling that seemed to link to my body ‘felts‘ and senses.

I remembered the class reading in which it says:

“When we welcome not-knowing, something deep within us relaxes. We do not have to push not-knowing away, do not have to fear it or cover it up or disguise it.” ‘Visions of Knowledge,’ p.159

So I decided to relax my tight stance, this contracted, anxious, gravity-laden mindset, and just loosen and let go of the tension. Like a bubble held together by its surface tension, I just let go of my ‘self‘ concerns and became calm and more open. When that happened I reassessed my situation. That calm reassessment allowed a recognition that I had not properly shutdown the computer to begin with. In that flash of new knowledge a solution presented and I resolved the problem… by properly shutting down and restarting.

Looking back, I also realized that fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear of failure, fear of pain, fear of imagined consequences, and so on, comes from this same bubble of surface tension, this contraction of the self to ward-off a more basic contraction within the not-known. Boundaries that I ‘habitually’ construct and set in place are a fairly basic defense mechanism. Understanding that allows for further relaxing, allowing more space for new, more encompassing knowing.

In seeing this, I can feel into the notion that knowing comes from beyond the testimony of the witness, that knowing emerges from not-knowing, something like the feel of a sound emerging from a felt silence. Or in this case, there was a murky-misty whirl of thoughts and emotions, and suddenly a dawning clarity. Fascinating!

About David Filippone

David Filippone has been a student of Tarthang Tulku’s Time, Space, Knowledge (TSK) vision for over twenty-five years. For the past twelve years, he has studied TSK and Full Presence Mindfulness with Jack Petranker, director of the Center for Creative Inquiry (CCI). He also participated in programs offered by Carolyn Pasternak of the Odiyan Center. For the past several years, David has curated the CCI Facebook page, which is often TSK-focused, and he serves on the CCI Board of Directors. The CCI Facebook page can be found at the following link... https://www.facebook.com/CenterforCreativeInquiry/
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1 Response to Walkabout – Session 11, Week 3 – Exploring not-knowing

  1. michaelg says:

    David, this is fascinating: both that all-too familiar fear that we have lost our recent life’s work, and the experience of stepping back and allowing the moment to take another beat. And lo and behold, a melody returns, knitting together and building a bridge across the imagined rip in the fabric of time.

    I wonder if the image of a “read-out” can help comprehend this kind of experience. First there is the read-out” of business as usual, then there is a readout of “the sky is falling, my life is over as I know it”, then a readout of “take a breath, appreciate life whatever it brings”, then a readout of “Ah, ha, maybe this is a normal malfunction from which I can recover”, then a readout of “Thank God, it’s back–think I’ll write about it on the CCI website” . . .

    If we could remember that each experience is sufficient unto itself, I wonder if that could help us to remain calm in the face of appearances that threaten our equanimity. After all, like in a dream, I just have to wake up and the next read-out will be different . . .

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