X Marks the Vision…

On the Coattails of the Flying Moment

A vision isn’t the same as the momentum of the life we are living. When we are actually living a vision (of what life is about and who we aspire to be), then there is no felt need to fashion an image of a higher way, a finer potential, a guiding principle, a hidden meaning, or a light beckoning us forward in the darkness and confusion. No more than we need to define happiness when we are already smiling.

The first TSK book was titled: “Time, Space, Knowledge: A New Vision of Reality”. The presence of the word ‘vision’ in the title points both ways: toward our mind’s construction of a ‘reality, and toward the presence of a dynamic time, open spaciousness, and human affinity for knowing.

I can’t fully account for why I keep returning to this vision, or why it remains in the vicinity of my restless mind. But the passages I read each morning never disappoint. For instance, this morning I read:

“Not-knowing might carry a ‘knowledge’ that can encompass both knowing and not-knowing …” Tarthang Tulku, “Knowledge of Time and Space”, p267

At that point, I put the book down, as my mind found its contents realigning. I realized that a similar connection, between what is present (known) and what is absent (not known) is explored in the TSK vision–not just for knowledge, but–also for time and space.

I would like to say more about this, but two reservations present themselves:

1/ The people with whom I would most like to communicate have probably never peered inside a TSK book so that even the words ‘time’, ‘space, and ‘knowledge’ may carry little weight for them;
2/ it’s difficult to capture any insight in a fresh and useful way.

X Marks the Spot.

In the passage quoted above, I realized that this relationship–where a fundamental version of an all-encompassing knowledge underlies the familiar pair of the known and unknown–is like a deeper kind of space that underlies the linked pair of substance and emptiness, which makes both possible; and also like a deeper kind of time that underlies the linked pair of the present and an absent past and future. In each case something held to be absent is defined in terms of something held to exist.

And in each case, the TSK vision proposes that something greater underlies the limited, self referring definitions that set such divisions up. The vision invokes: a greater TIME, whose dynamic aliveness is curtailed when we treat our minuscule perch in a fleeting moment as our only home in time; a greater KNOWLEDGE whose fundamental knowing underlies what we know and what we don’t know; and a fundamental SPACE that is open to whatever appears—both the objects that interest us and the emptiness that separates them.

Perhaps the TSK invocation of a fuller presence within our divided consciousness may resonate even with others who have their own different guiding lights and touchstones of meaning and purpose.

We are all inhabitants of a realm characterized by division, polarization and walled off terrains, so that a vision which allows us to see behind such structures feels especially relevant at this time.

It is not just time, space, and knowledge that get corralled into two camps. The self and its world are also a familiar pair, in which the self perceives itself as the one who knows, the one who is here (not anywhere else), and the one who occupies a platform of time poised between an inaccessible past and future. Could there also be a fundamental Being from which not only our individual being draws its aliveness, but which founds our world?

Religions project familiar, mutually defining, pairs: secular and sacred, temporal and eternal, sin and redemption. But could there be a fundamental wholeness that connects both our present life (with all its flawed groping in uncertainty and disappointment) and the shining alternative which we have such difficulty embodying: a wholeness that underlies the very aliveness that expresses itself in both the actual and the possible?

In algebra, the variable “X” stands in a formula (which maps the known) as the infinite variability of the unknown, thereby providing a portal through which infinite possibilities can flow into the terrain the formula formulates.

As such the variable “X”–joining unknown and known–is a good metaphor for how every particular problem, limit, and obstacle is a good place to look for the “not knowing” which opens into a deeper knowing.

About Michael Gray

I first started studying TSK in the mid 1980's and have since attended a number of retreats and workshops at the Nyingma Institute, in both TSK and Buddhist themes. I participated in the life-changing Human Development Training Program in 1991, and upon returning to Albuquerque co-founded an organization, Friends in Time (with a friend who has Lou Gehrig's Disease), which continues to serve people with similiar disabilities. I contributed an essay to "A New Way of Being"--the last one in the book--in which I describe how learning to honor who I have been has broadened and deepened my openness to present experience. I live in New Mexico with my wife and two sons.
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