Limitations

If we consider lower space as a chamber, then meanings might be thought of as echoes which sound out its walls. But in fact the echoes not only sound out, but actually define those walls.” Time, Space, and Knowledge, 102.

We might well ask whether there is an alternative to this kind of echo-location ‘reality’. Or are we bound to a landscape that we map out through the propagation of meanings each of which define themselves in terms of other meanings. Are we even capable of replacing this meaning-bound life with a more open kind of experience?
Two collaborating aspects of our predicament are identified: “We are not able to get outside ourselves for a good look, and we do not want to.”
The TSK vision not only exposes the limitations of our ordinary way of living, but provides an alternative perspective which in itself can alter that experience. The TSK vision does not urge us to discard the ego’s echo chamber of mutually-referring meanings, nor the web it weaves as its domicile. The TSK strategy is never one of direct confrontation. Instead we discover that we can view our experience from both inside and outside. Like a spider who notices that it can see through its web into the open realm beyond, we can continue spinning in space while appreciating the time that makes this possible. Instead of replacing our existing habits with more enlightened ones, we can look through the familiar into a larger world.
We don’t have to throw out the bathwater–with our baby-ego clinging onto the basin for dear life. We can splash water over our face while gazing through the bathroom ceiling at the stars.
This is a familiar spiritual theme: we can penetrate the boundaries of our ordinary reality and discover that—just as it is—a wider, deeper, more open realm shines through. Knowledge can open up the time and space needed to develop a healthy relationship with our life, just as it is.
The TSK vision is empowering because it helps soften the conviction that our lives are irredeemably hemmed in by invincible limitations. We usually only see—from inside–the echo-chamber that has defined these walls, and we therefore inhabit a world confined to that interior. But if we view our lives from both sides of those walls, as the TSK vision allows us to do, then the one who seems to be “trapped” inside becomes free to step out into a wider, more open world.

2 comments to “Limitations”
  1. I really appreciate what you’ve put down here Michael, and the way the TSK vision deals with opening the mind. You know, we may sail along in our journey taken up completely with our plans and actions, and how everything that is relevant to us revolves within those plans and actions. All meanings relate to them, and all plans and actions are guided by those meanings. It can become like living within an egg, a cosmic-egg of closed-mind, though we may think we are being open, because our actions are out there in our imagined future…but they still follow what we’ve already planned.

    I like how in the book ‘Dynamics of Time and Space’, Rinpoche says:

    “Generally we hold that whatever appears has a defining and protecting border within which it is contained, like the shell of an egg or the skin of the human body. Each entity depends on three interacting elements—its substance, the defining border, and the surrounding environment or space. Without these elements, nothing can take form. For example there can be no water in a bottomless lake.” [DTS 5]

    I like how you put it, “Instead of replacing our existing habits with more enlightened ones, we can look through the familiar into a larger world.” We don’t have to ‘crack the cosmic egg’ of plans and actions we constructed around ourselves, we can see through them. Seeing through the constructed nature of our meanings, it becomes apparent…it is self-liberating. And as there is no water in a bottomless lake, is there any binding substance to a stream of consciousness?

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for continuing the discussion. I wonder if I will addres the substance, sit on the fence, or be out there in space. If every entity relies on those three elements, perhaps seeing through boundaries will help connect the inside and the outside of whatever appears in our experience. Perhaps empathy is an example: feeling what another feels goes some way to melting the boundary between us?

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