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Understanding with a capital ‘U’

Home Forums Other (non-Buddhist) teachings by Tarthang Tulku Understanding with a capital ‘U’

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      David Filippone

        Photo:  ‘Open Source’ by eberhard grossgasteiger -Pexels

        I’ve been studying Tarthang Tulku’s book ‘Revelations of Mind’, through the use of Richard Dixey’s two volume, inclusive commentary on that book entitled, ‘Searcher Reaches Land’s Limits.’  Here are some interesting quotes, plus a personal example of inviting Understanding to inform presence quoted from my student practice notes:

        THE QUOTES from ‘Searcher Reaches Land’s Limits’
        “There is no separation between being and knowing. Recognizing that is to become familiar with the nonconceptual foundation of experience. We are not inviting a state of blank ignorance on the one hand, or a state of outright prejudice on the other. It’s possible to avoid these two extremes by engaging directly with experience, understanding that experience itself is a form of knowledge because experience has knowledge-ability.…”

        “As we come to the end of this long journey, becoming aware of the Regime of Mind and how its associative mechanism works, we find in this word knowledgeability a tacit recognition of this other way of knowing. But we can make this tacit recognition overt. It’s not as if there’s some other way of being we have to discover which we haven’t experienced yet. The difference now is where we choose to place our attention. Once we recognize the basis for our ordinary cognition, we’ll find a foundation of knowingness.”

        “We can know concepts but cannot know what’s nonconceptual. Yet the nonconceptual calls forth knowledge. Our actual state is one in which knowing and being are merged, a state that is inherently non-dual. We cannot witness this state because we are this state. Forever beyond conceptual knowledge, it is experience itself.” p. 300-1

        “Conceptualization itself is simultaneously a contraction—a closing down—and a claim of ownership and possession. However, we can’t actually own anything; the idea of ownership is simply a convention, a label…”

        PAGE 338, PARAGRAPH 1 [From ‘Revelations of Mind’]:  Understanding is not our possession or our property. It is completely open, above, below, and within. It surrounds and encompasses everything. Nothing is excluded. p. 274

        PAGE 338, PARAGRAPH 2 [From ‘Revelations of Mind’]:  From the start, it is important that we appreciate understanding and allow it to extend itself naturally, without attempting to own it. If we treat understanding as our property, if we make it our understanding, or grasp it as a tool we can use to solve our problems, we will freeze it. If we think of it as ‘my knowledge’, or ‘my understanding’, we will confine it within the realm of self-orientation, where it can only operate within the limitations of mind’s regime. Imprisoned in this way, understanding becomes dogma. p. 275

        “Once we make demand of Understanding we can rest there and allow it to develop naturally. Problems and entanglements begin to open as our pristine cognition relates to arising phenomena.”  p. 275


        I was given a name by my Director, who wanted to contact this person to obtain permission to publish a piece he wrote.  All I had to go on was a name, essentially a label.  The name meant nothing to me.  I wasn’t sure why I was even asked.  I drew a blank.  Emotionally I felt confusion, but also a desire not to let my Director down. The desire to help seemed to emanate physically from the area around my solar plexus.  So, I just sat quietly for a while with the name, and stopped the conceptualizing. I invited Understanding.  A question arose from nowhere-space, “Was this a fellow-student I had shared a class?”  From that not-knowing came an inkling, perhaps so.

        Faster than lightning bolts, unrefined flashes came to mind, flickering impressions of a vague face on a computer screen?  It seemed like raw data, like percepts pollinating a fog of space. I wasn’t sure.  I just kept sitting relaxed and open, wondering.  Was there something about this name and undefined, vague facial image?  A location perhaps?  From this open source arose thoughts of Canada and South Africa that seemed to float around a bit and, then dissipate… then Australia came up as an open question.  Australia seemed to linger in space, not just as a name, but an image of the continent from space.  I wasn’t sure why.

        Then… like a sunrise, knowing dawned and a luminous conceptualization formed, “Why not do an internet search of his name for Australia?”  And so I did, and his contact information was revealed.  This felt like an example of inviting Understanding to inform the present… How the non-conceptual informs the conceptual, and revealed meaning prior to the label, prior to naming.

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