Looking for THE SPACE BETWEEN THOUGHTS… well… just how might I observe that space, or transition between, when my mind is humming along, spinning its web of stories threaded with previously accepted assumptions, and beliefs sprinkled with desires and anxieties that narrow my choices to the familiar and repeatable ones? As Michael Gray suggested in his popular post, ‘BE THE SPIDER’:
“It may well be that when we confine ourselves to moving right or left on a pre-established web of meanings, woven around us by our assumptions and reflexive reactions, our idea of freedom will amount to the freedom to choose A over B. Not only are our choices limited but with every choice of one thread over another–every time we chose to follow one well-beaten path instead of another–we further authenticate the pre-established options available to us.
Like a spider who constantly spins a web behind itself, we are constantly spinning a network of threads which themselves prevent us from stepping out of the enclosure that we are thereby constructing.”
Rinpoche tells us in, ‘Time, Space, and Knowledge’:
“To find a ‘space’ that can be completely open, not exhausted or contradicted by the presence of discrete things, we need to deactivate the self-centered ‘knowing’ involved in the ordinary world view… [p.39] [And recognize how mental] objects, are only lower level SUMMARIES of the ongoing tendency toward freezing and screening out the full openness of ‘space’. [p.34]
It helps me to take a look at language… how I speak and think to myself… how I mine for meaning. The world has to make sense to me or I’ll feel adrift in chaos, out of control. I’ll be unsupported, disappear and dissolve… lost. Language gives me NOUNS, objects to fix and label, and hold on to. Language bestows VERBS that let me relate object-nouns to ACTION… they give me movement, time… to project future actions, and remember past ones. Language gives me tools to think, to connect things, make time-lines, predict what may come… based on past experience. Language allows me to explain ‘things’ to myself, over time, to accumulate, gather and bundle, to FEEL more like a substantial self… Ah, but there’s the rub!
Language is also the filament of the web… the stories I think that self-incarcerate… creating the boundaries I become used to, I build a self that cocoons itself in the very web I weave. I come to think I am my thoughts… that my thoughts are solid, so I am more substantial for all the more I can claim to know. I depend on the tangled web I wove.
And the echo of Rinpoche’s words… that mental objects “are only lower level SUMMARIES of the ongoing tendency toward freezing and screening out the full openness of ‘space’.” Summaries are how I condense my experience… but summaries are never the ‘thing’ itself, they’re just a useful enfolding of experience that isn’t solid.
“If we want to change how we know, we need to question these kinds of structures… The more we see, the closer we get to being free. When we release ourselves of having to follow our past ways of thinking, we can look at the transition between thoughts, and we can make choices. It all starts with questions.”
.…’Challenging Journey, Creative Journey,’ by Tarthang Tulku, p. 69-80