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Recognizing & Dwelling in ‘Knowingness’

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      David Filippone

        Image:  Lady Bug bejeweled by the morning dew


        “Each of us has the potential to create peace and beauty in the universe.”
        …….‘Skillful Means’  by Tarthang Tulku


        Our TSK Study Group has been meeting once a week for almost a year and a half.  We’ve gone through several of the TSK books: ‘Time, Space, and Knowledge,’ ‘Dynamics of Time and Space,’ and we’ve almost completed, ‘Sacred Dimensions of Time and Space,’ (SDTS).

        Throughout our study of the sections of the book SDTS, we seem to keep returning to the theme of how important it is to first, recognize ‘Knowingness’, and second to develop the ability to relax and dwell in ‘Knowingness’.  [This importance is mentioned in the original TSK book on p. 256]

        The ‘knowingness’ which we seek to expose is rather subtle, and is initially difficult to distill from the rigid structures of ordinary experience. Exercises can help break up these structures, allowing ‘knowingness’ to shine through; but we must also have a way of recogniz­ing ‘knowingness’ when it is exposed momentarily… If you examine such an emergent facet, it might seem to be a balanced encompassing of the whole situation—not simply tied to your ‘mind’ or to the perceiver looking out over a perceived field.  Attending to it further, you might find that this clarity or ‘understanding’ is not even tied to the one situation, but is a kind of door that is itself neutral—it can open in the direction of the situation at hand or it can open to other horizons. The subject-object unification and the doorway aspect of such an ‘under­standing’ may be what constitute its delightful feeling of incisiveness and sensitivity. ‘Knowingness’ is somewhat similar to this experience and can be discovered initially in a similar way.”

        In Study Group we talked about noticing the seemingly simple, humble moments, and the importance of appreciating them, as a way into that ability to dwell in knowingness.  Below is a section from the book, ‘Keys of Knowledge’, in which Rinpoche points out How.  It is a simple, but profound pointing out. from Chapter 4, p. 96-99, [paperback. emphasis added]

        Awareness alone is not enough. Awareness by itself drags its object along, like a can tied to a dog’s tail. To open awareness, we’ll have to become aware of how we become aware.

        Sometimes this process is effortless; sometimes it requires staying awake. We remain friendly toward the present moment, toward objects and objections; we let them be our partners. Gradually, the awareness operating at the instant of presented being opens up, elaborates.

        And time’s character. . . changes.

        What could be going on here? Could time be this lovely? Awareness in the past has always had an edge about it, its objects jostling for its attention, too many things in too short a span.

        But maybe awareness and the time-instant can learn to cooperate; and maybe our senses can help us experience this union. If we could breathe; if we could feel. . .

        If we could notice.

        We can start with any sense we like, any sense we already know how to love and respect. We’ll grow it, train it, the way we train a climbing rose. Colors open up and show us more colors, colors we’ve never seen before.

        A beetle’s wing may appear to us at first, sparking out against the dust on the path, its luminous green as marked as a thumbprint. But that green may open as the light plays. And even as the path emerges—how could we ever have thought it was dusty? It’s perfectly clear—the green wing loses nothing: its beauty grows in concert with the path, the forest, the blue sky, the scene, the seer, the seen.

        We can practice this kind of being and seeing; it really is a method we can learn. We can discover how to expand our sense-impressions, let them linger, fragrances and fragments of song, glimpses of colored light. Each one has its own story, its own manifold play.

        Being with being, we can let it expand.

        The juncture opens its potentials; our senses grow more acute. A bird standing on a wire, a flag flapping—these are not just little moments, little incidents that go in our notes. They are great symphonies conducted by time.

        This noticing does not only apply to sense perceptions or subtle feelings; we can address our thoughts, our ideas, our concepts, all the workings of mind with the same rapt attention, the same gentle deliberation. Concepts, too, are capable of opening up.

        There is no special genre of experience that conducts us to awakening. Whatever we can point to in experience will open up if we can cultivate direct concentration, direct knowingness.

        We breathe; we feel.

        We notice.

        We are not noticing anything in particular, not picking objects out of a background. We are just noticing; just relaxing. Notice, then relax; then notice some more, and relax some more. Maybe this is less complicated than we think, and less conceptual; maybe there is no point that could not be opened, if we are gentle and patient enough.

        We are so certain that experiences have distinctive characters, and we shuttle between their pros and cons—between illness and health, between confidence and fear. But these characters only show up in retrospect, in the rear-view mirror.

        And at the moment of being, of feeling? Of perceiving, or thinking? Surely that moment is making our experiences possible. But what goes on? Are we doing being, feeling, or thinking?

        Can we give ourselves the chance to find out?

        Perhaps in this union with time, we can learn a more enfolding, encompassing sense of what it means to ‘be’.”

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