“If you want to locate Space, Time and Knowledge in relation to the usual ‘knowing self’ picture, let all objects be ‘space’, the observing subject be ‘knowledge’ and the presentations of subject-object interactions be ‘time’.”Time, Space, and Knowledge, Page 109.
Reading this passage this morning, my mind harkened back to my ‘self’, huffing and puffing as I worked at moving a lamp from the bookcase in the living room to the sunroom, where I am now sitting in the mornings.
Recalling the stubborn weight of the bookcase full of books, as I moved it away from the wall and tried to free the lamp cord from the split particleboard behind, I realized that nothing felt very spacious or accommodating.
The weight of the bookcase, the grasping persistence of the split particleboard, the inconvenient positioning of the furniture adjacent to the bookcase—as I tried to reach behind it in order to extract the cord pinched in the split backing–everything seemed persistently substantial, far from being the ‘open, spacious, accommodating medium’ I was being invited to view in place of the usual “objects” of this realm.
In an effort to work with those ‘solid’ objects, I brought to mind images which the physical sciences have given us of electrons racing around their atomic nuclei with vast tracts of energized space separating them, where each of those ‘particles’ are themselves nothing but electrical charges.
But that picture of trillions and trillions of atoms making up that bookcase didn’t seem very relevant to my immediate experience. And, similarly, as one human being among all the billions of us it’s hard to feel confident that we individually count for much.
Then I recalled the experience of holding a spinning gyroscope in both hands and how difficult it was to move it. And I wondered about that mysterious force which makes such a small object, with its rapidly spinning disk, as resistant to movement as my bookcase was?
It occurred to me that the spinning gyroscope is itself composed of trillions of spinning ‘atomic’ gyroscopes, and each—in its own sphere at its own scale—has a strong inclination to stay exactly wherever it happens to be. Perhaps, like me, they are all creatures of habit, feeling at home in their neighborhoods, and that each spinning electron contributes to an electrical current in a gathering harmonic vibration.
Perhaps something comparable is happening in my own body and mind: electrical currents embarking on their journeys, which I interpret as intentional actions being carried out. And so I’m pushing my pen across the yellow pad of paper not noticing that my pen is already scribbling in harmony with the electrons spinning in my cortex.
An image remains with me of a handprint in the stone wall of a cave where Padmasambhava (the second Buddha for Tibetans) had meditated. A woman I know saw that indentation with her own eyes.
Perhaps we’re all stuck in our own orbits, spinning in place, and have forgotten that we are waiting for a Padmasambhava or some other spiritual friend to notice us and call us back into community with all the trees and rivers, with the Sun and the Moon, and with all the living beings with whom we share this planet as it spins in the vastness of space.