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Nuclear Time and the Not-Not-Not

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      David Filippone

      Image:  Dawning by Laura Thistle, Cape May NJ,  Aug 2018


      Nuclear Time and the Not-Not-Not

      At a recent online TSK Study Group, Erick conducted a modified Kum Nye practice to begin the meeting.  His guided instruction included inviting us to sit comfortably and relax breathing.  We then focused on slowly moving our heads from side to side, feeling the neck and shoulder muscles stretching.  Also moving the head slowly backwards and forward and feeling the stretch. We noticed the body feeling, the energies of the tensing and relaxing residues.  We did this nine times.  Then with eyes open, we practiced noticing our peripheral vision, including everything, then narrowing that wide-angle view to a focused one, without naming the objects seen.  We repeated this several times getting the feel of modulating the view from narrow to open, exclusive to inclusive.  Then, we were invited to extend our peripheral vision 360 degrees to include what was behind us, without moving our heads.  This involved adding memory and imagination to our vision, to experience a new openness.  It was as if an invisible boundary-bubble that excluded what was not previously in the forward field of vision, suddenly opened to include mind’s-eye insight.

      For me, this ‘conducting time’ practice included noticing, not so much the focused pursuit of the content of the moment, but the ‘movement’… the subtle shifting of feelings in the body, the energy in the shoulder muscles, the eye muscles pulling as focus was relaxed.  Out the surrounding windows, the wind was rustling the fall-colored leaves, the sun lit them in different areas, as yellow and crimson leaves were dropping from above. While I may describe this now, afterwards, at the time there was almost no describing, almost no thinking ‘about’ what was happening in time.  There was mostly just being the continuum, a kaleidoscope of forms and colors; ocular, auditory, and sensory.  After the practice we discussed what we experienced with a sense of awe at the 360 degree residual feel of openness.  After some discussion we read from the book, ‘Dynamics of Time and Space,’ by Tarthang Tulku:

      “Let us tell the story of conducting once again, aware that our telling can be a conducting and our conducting a part of the dance: a potential path of power and gateway to knowledge not bound by claims of ‘true’ or ‘false’.  Time ‘allows itself’ to be conducted, and so allows every kind of conducting as well.” p. 148

      Conductor and conducting come together with no separate act of joining, no evocation of ‘from’ and ‘to’.

      The time that allows such conducting is conducted in turn. Not bound by any order, it is not a straight line, not a circle, not a spiral. At the outset of conducting, it is a single point; in the course of conducting, the dynamic intrinsic to that zero-point unfolds as a time available to be measured out. But in the prior of conducting, before the zero, the qualities of time are very different. Let us call this differently dimensioned timing ‘nuclear time’.

      Nuclear time is not one-pointed in the conventional sense. It is not originating time or founding time, though this is how it may appear from within the conducted order. Nuclear time moves, and in its movement includes past and present and future, death and life; includes us all. Without participating in the identities of what is included or has been conducted, it does not negate, nor does it negate negating. Operating before each measured-out move, prior to directionality, it is the not-not-not.

      ‘Gradually’ the nuclear point becomes a round unique—unique in quality, unique in dimensions. But still there is neither exclusion nor derivation…  [DTS p.149, Emphasis added]

      I realized the experience of the opening practice of conducting time that Erick invited seemed close to what Rinpoche is describing about ‘nuclear time’: “Without participating in the identities of what is included or has been conducted, it does not negate, nor does it negate negating. Operating before each measured-out move, prior to directionality, it is the not-not-not.”  My understanding of this is that with language we ordinarily assert something as we speak unless we negate it.  If we use a double-negative we are then asserting a positive.  Were we to triple negate, that is negate both the positive AND the negative, then we are confronted with something new, something completely open and inclusive at the same instance.  I came across this quote from the book that reminds me of TSK’s ‘nuclear time’ description in ‘Searcher Reaches Land’s Limits,’ by Richard Dixey that seems to echo or parallel this…

      “PAGE 282, PARAGRAPH 1[Revelations of Mind]: Understanding eliminates all obstacles and takes care of whatever has not been understood.”

      “That’s an extraordinary statement. It implies that Understanding is omniscient; and indeed it is if we rely on it. It pervades all problems and in its sweep these problems are seen in a new context.”

      “PAGE 282, PARAGRAPH 1, [Revelations of Mind] CONT’D: It opens a new frontier, where everything is understandable and there is something to understand. When we perceive that there is something to understand, even that glimmer of understanding can ease distress. Now we can pay attention to what has been misunderstood and take care of it.”

      “There is a well-known Cabalistic saying, “When you’re faced with two choices, choose the third.” Relying on Understanding is a bit like that. It’s the third that is always present in every moment of perception. We tend to assume that we have problems to solve and once they are solved our lives will be fine, but we forget that the problems and solutions our conceptual mind comes up with create the ground for more problems to arise. In choosing the third, alternatives become possible which are not apparent in our normal way of operating. By choosing the third we have the possibility of real change.”  [‘Searcher’, Chap. 52, p. 170, Emphasis added]

      The not-not-not, the nuclear time experience at the edge of the zero-point… could that be where Understanding emerges?  Rinpoche writes, about inward conducting from the zeroless to the zero-point:

      “Yet within this unique conducting—the best that we are capable of saying—there remains something imperfect. The conducting is flawless, but the pattern itself is flawed. Everywhere there is misfortune, negativity, opposition; ignorance, mistakes, and obstacles. Most fundamental of all, there is conducting carried out in the service of not-knowing. As the opening into what is flawless, such imperfections are the precious source of knowledge. We can find and honor within them the dynamic through which knowledge improves and expands. We can enact a dynamic that refuses to accept the truth of what we conduct, insisting instead on the perfection of conducting. It is not-knowing itself that signals the possibility of conducting the perfection of the knowledge dynamic. Not-knowing allows for qualities to develop: ‘tasty’ and ‘colorful’, bigger, deeper, vaster, broader. The dance is about to begin:  Knowledge extends the invitation; acknowledgement provides the room, flaws and imperfection offer the opportunity…” DTS p.152

      In the dynamic of this inward improvised conducting, there are no dimensions of distance. Past’s perfectedness interacts effortlessly with the unstructured idea of the future and the conditions of the present. Knowledge expands without having to move into some new domain. The more we ‘advance’, the more knowledge develops with ease. As the qualities of inward time emerge from the nuclear, knowledge develops past experience, present conditions, and future expectations in increasingly subtle and sophisticated ways. In this dance of transition, there is no specific movement; no distance that can be measured in terms comparable to space. If we have to think in terms of movement, we can imagine a quality of depth that is not physical. Perhaps it is better simply to say ‘immeasurable’. The inward ‘non-dimensioning’ of the dance transforms the misunderstandings that seem so fundamental in human experience.” DTS p.153

      After reading these passages mind returns to the memory of Erick’s practice at the start of our group meeting, the feel of alternating between recognizing patterns displaying as experience, without grasping or dimensioning what arose, at least for those few glimpses of near 360 degree opening, the not-not-not newness… that we seemed to feel in the group. There was awe and wonder, and gratitude.

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