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Home Forums Other (non-Buddhist) teachings by Tarthang Tulku INITIAL SENSE IMPRESSIONS GIVE RISE TO SHAPE AND FORM

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    • #934
      David Filippone


        Photo:  ‘Initial Sense Impressions’ by Simon Berger -Pixabay



        I am a long-time student of TSK, and as such I try to inquire into my experience.  Among other teachings, I also study the path of ‘Revelations of Mind’, [RoM] as written by Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche. Though they are distinctly ‘separate paths’ to greater awareness, I find RoM compliments and opens a deeper understanding of TSK, and vice versa.  Both these paths help me focus on the point of awareness where or when, “initial sense impressions give rise to shape and form.”  And this is where Time enters the picture… Here are some pertinent quotes:

        PAGE 133, FRONTISPIECE [Revelations of Mind]: Why are we interested in understanding time? The simple response is: “Because the regime of mind as it now operates limits our freedom and leads inexorably to suffering.” That regime has become unnecessarily confining, a product of an earlier age that the dynamic power of time may have rendered obsolete. Since the model that sustains the present regime developed from mind’s interaction with time—the unit of experience that allows perception to take place—we begin by looking more closely at the relationship of mind and time.

        “The first section of Revelations, concerns the construction of perception; the second section takes as its topic how to stabilize ‘the mind’ so it can become a good vehicle for self-observation. This third section begins to use the tool of self-observation to try and penetrate the act of perception as it occurs—of course, in time. The intention is to bring our focus of attention to the moment of initial sense contact, the point where mind interacts with time.”

        “All this language can be misleading, in that it implies that time itself is some sort of entity. But clearly, mind is interacting, somewhere, and that ‘somewhere’ has a ‘sometime’. That ‘sometime’ is what is being considered.

        PAGE 134, PARAGRAPH 1 [Revelations of Mind]: Perceptions, thoughts, and feelings are all aspects of a complex process that determines the nature of our experience and contributes to our sense of self, reality, and time. Since each aspect of this process powerfully influences the nature of our experience, it is important that we understand more precisely how this process works. Although mind moves too quickly for us to track these operations as they unfold, if we could focus at the point where perception begins, we could become more aware of the role of each element as sensory impulses give rise to shape and form. With practice, we might become able to see the entire process at once: the ground of perception, how mind develops it, and how mind’s operations interact to construct our sense of reality.

        Initial sense impressions give rise to shape and form… We are interested in how… initial sense impressions, underlie feeling, and then perception, and then volition. How does that happen? How is the inference of the world being constructed from our perceptual processes?”

        “Now, this is really important. If we could inhabit that moment of contact, where sense impression first arises, we would solve all our cognitive problems at once, because every single event in our lives begins with that moment. If you can get to the origin, you would see everything that follows it, no matter what it is. And this is true of both internal and external phenomena—it doesn’t matter whether the impetus is coming from within or without.”
        ….’Searcher Reaches Land’s Limits’, Volume I, by Richard Dixey, p. 307-9 [Emphasis in bold added]

        Seems to me, Revelations points to when, “initial sense impressions give rise to shape and form,” as the point where the readout process begins. [When the regime of mind begins to operate to narrow down, to discard and exclude while fine-tuning and honing-in, on some aspect of the initial sense impression].  Likewise, TSK also points to the readout process proceeding from that zero-point of initial sense impressions. The readout includes any sense of knowing that is “coming from” some generative, fundamental source – whether you label that source the ‘self’, ‘I’, ‘mind’, ‘brain’, ‘the Divine’, or even ‘Great Knowledge’. In any of these cases, knowing will be restricted to a certain set of spatial and temporal rules on how knowing operates. [TSK, paraphrasing p. 235-8]

        Both TSK and RoM use language to point to ‘something’ that is not a thing, which is prior to the initial sense impressions… TSK might use the term the ‘zero-less’ for the not-known that informs the zero-point of the readout.  RoM might use the term Understanding with a capital ‘U’ to point to the not-known that informs the known.

        What I find fascinating about studying RoM is the path of engaging this ‘not-known’ by means of heartfelt intent, as well as open inquiry, as how to ‘invite’ the not-known.  Something like planting an intention, like a time-seed in fertile mind now, in the hope and trust that something helpful in an open future will arise from that not-known…  The arising of knowing informed NOT by the already known, but by the source of knowing.




      • #937
        Michael Gray

          This morning, working with TSK exercise 9 (mind, body, thought, emotion interaction while attending to the observer/participant), I was wondering what it would feel like to really enter into the space between each of these recognizable facits of my experience.  Then I wondered what it will be like to lose my body when I die.  Will there still be something like a mind that thinks and feels emotions?  Will there be an observer who can participate in whatever kind of experienc may survive the loss of my body?

          I realize that I can’t affect what may replace my present embodiment, if anything does in fact arise,  which might be comparible to my present experience.  But I keep thinking that I would like to do whatever is possible now, to strengthen the possibility that I can leave here with some confidence that I have done what I am meant to do here.


          • This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by Michael Gray.
        • #940
          David Filippone

            Hi Michael,

            Appreciate your thoughtful response.  I like TSK Ex. 9 too.  It involves opening up everything that presents… even the ‘wondering ideas’ relating to what it would be like to lose your body after you die.  Because all the referential thoughts ‘about something’ are part of the readout process.  The exercise further invites us to: “Exclude nothing from this process—even ‘opening up’, ‘translucence’, and ‘space’ are to be opened up until they are gone.  Then, even ‘being gone’ should be treated in this way.”  If you could pause right there, before continuing with the readout and thoughts ‘about’ what might, or might not, come next… what is that?  Rinpoche suggests: “We may… be able to discover another way of viewing our reality, aside from perceived linear development and interactions between items within a standard world order.

            This [other] way of viewing our reality that Rinpoche seems to be bringing up out of ‘opening’, is mysterious.  It doesn’t seem to arise out of, “perceived linear development and interactions between items within a standard world order.”  Like our standard world of thoughts and ideas.  This is where my inquiry has been focusing.

            Regarding your second paragraph, your hope that you are in fact doing what you’re meant to do as a human being.  And I assume that means living ‘into’ your essential potential.  As a bystander, seems to me you’re well on your way.  Everyone suffers.  We know that from personal experience.  Rypoche writes:

            “Compassion is a healthy psychological attitude, because it does not involve expectations or demands.

            Even if we are not able to accomplish very much on a physical level, at least we can have the desire to be a loving person with a compassionate heart—the wish to help others, spontaneously, with no reservations.

            This attitude automatically opens our hearts and develops our compassion.

            Then we can sincerely say to ourselves, ‘If there is any way I can learn to increase my compassion or understanding of humanity, then I wish to receive that teaching—wherever it exists—and take the responsibility to use that knowledge to help others.’”

            Tibetan Meditation, by Tarthang Tulku

            Seems to me, you’ve spent decades helping others.  You launched a non-profit, Friends in Time, which has for years provided free services to people with MS and ALS.  Also, your work with Pathways Academy, a school for kids with Autism and other learning issues.  These are just a couple of your endeavors.  I think you should have confidence you are living into your compassionate potential. 🙂

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