The Self in Question
Perhaps the immobility of the things that surround us
is forced upon them by our conviction that they
are themselves, and not anything else,
and by the immobility of our conceptions of them.
Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way
Our world is shaped by space, time, and knowledge. Events happen in time, the reality we know appears in space, and our ability to experience is shaped by the kinds of knowledge available to us.
Usually, we think of space, time, and knowledge as factors we cannot change—larger and more powerful than we are. But when we look with care and appreciation, we realize that space, time, and knowledge are fluid and alive. The only reason they seem so limiting is that we see them through the eyes of the self—the actor we put at the center of what we do and what we encounter, the unquestionable owner of experience.
In this program, we will call the self into question. Following a path of inquiry laid down in Rinpoche’s Love of Knowledge, we will look at the stories we use to make sense of experience, the positions we adopt that close down alternatives, and the limits we impose when we claim that knowledge is what the self knows.
Jack Petranker (he/him) is the founder of CCI and regularly offers courses and retreats. He is the author of When It Rains, Does Space Get Wet? (Dharma Publishing 2006), and has written numerous academic articles in consciousness studies, organizational change, political transformation, and the value of work as a spiritual practice. Jack holds an MA in political theory from UC Berkeley, and a JD from Yale Law School. He is also the Director of Mangalam Research Center in Berkeley, CA.