Exercises in the Love of Knowledge book
Working with the Exercises
The exercises in Love of Knowledge evoke a more global knowing, a more active temporality, and a more accommodating space. They can help to heal the frustration and pain that arise through our ordinary ways of being and knowing. Varied in content and approach, they can be explored in different ways.
The early exercises are intended primarily to initiate a process of opening to the possibilities implicit within Time, Space, and Knowledge. Later exercises tend to complement the reading more closely. Although the exercises do build on one another, they need not be practiced in the order they are presented. Each exercise is assigned to a series, and could also be practiced effectively in conjunction with others in the series. Working out the interrelationships between text and exercises and among exercises would be one way to engage text and exercises alike.
It is generally best at the start to practice in tranquil settings situated higher than their surroundings. Spring and autumn, or other times of the year when the weather is mild, offer good opportunities for extended practice. Once a firm basis in the practice of an exercise has been established, it can be illuminating to experiment with carrying out the same exercise in crowded, noisy, distracted environments. With heightened sensitivity, the insights and ways of seeing stimulated by the exercise can be available under any circumstances.
A good approach is to set aside a two-hour period in which to practice an exercise, and to practice at least twice a week. If it seems too difficult to sustain attention for this length of time, other alternatives would be to practice several related exercises in one two-hour session, or to combine practice with reading and reflection, or with the keeping of a journal. Another approach is to resolve to set aside time at regular intervals, without making a commitment to specific periods of time. The exercises can also be dealt with more casually, though their benefit may be reduced accordingly.
Keeping a journal can be a valuable adjunct to reflecting on the ideas and exercises presented in Love of Knowledge. Insights can be shared with others who are engaged with the TSK vision, and journal entries can also offer useful personal feedback. Comparing entries over time may reveal signs of 'progress' in understanding that can encourage continuing inquiry and also suggest new avenues for exploration. [These activities are supported by the exercise blogs on this website, such as the LOK Exercises blog.]
Some of the exercises that call for visualization or intense imaginative activity depend on first developing strong concentration. A good preparation, which could be used at the start of each period of practice, would be to relax the body and mind. The exercises in Kum Nye Relaxation, available through Dharma Publishing, can lead to a deep and also energizing relaxation; other well-known relaxation techniques could serve a similar purpose. Once a basic relaxation has stabilized, three factors should be synchronized: alertness, calm, and deepening. When these factors have all been activated, visualization and imagination can quickly lead to clarity and insight.
The exercises offered here may help give access to the TSK vision for those studying it independently. Other exercises require personal supervision, as well as strong personal interest on the part of the student, and I have chosen not to present them here. Topics explored in such exercises include the unity of space without borders or edges, order and the open mind, the direct understanding of time, integrating levels of knowledge, knowledge without objects, 'knowingness' without subject-object polarity, and opening emotional blockages.
The basis for this decision perhaps requires further comment. In writing this book, I have been keenly aware that language is an imperfect tool for instruction, and in its written form in particular offers endless opportunities for miscommunication. Though the voice may be ready to speak, it is the mind that determines what will be said and what will be heard. If the mind is bound by specific identities and definitions operating 'beneath’ the conscious level, communication will be intrinsically limited. In writing, there is no opportunity to counteract such tendencies through more immediate contact.
The exercises in Love of Knowledge can help clarify the structures that shape inquiry, but there are other aspects of the search for knowledge that cannot be as readily presented through the medium of words and concepts. If more is to be communicated through language, it is better done in a setting where communication need not rely on words alone.
None of this means that the insight available through careful, independent study and investigation of the TSK vision is in some way intrinsically limited, whether or not the exercises are practiced. There is nothing about the 'process' of insight initiated through investigation that sets any limits whatsoever. The reader who engages the vision carefully, reflecting, observing, and questioning, will find that understanding deepens in accord with a momentum of its own. The text has been written in such a way that the reader can structure his or her own inquiry, finding new connections and deeper meanings. Not every topic will appeal to everyone, but each reader can find aspects of the vision that inspire inquiry.
Love of Knowledge can be understood as an invitation to know presented by knowledge itself. Yet this invitation can only be communicated in ways that perpetuate subtle limitations. When these limitations come to the fore, leaving the reader discouraged or frustrated, it may be useful to recall that it is the nature of this presentation that is limited, not access to knowledge itself. What can be placed within the pages ofa book does not fully reflect the intimacy of Being. (p. xxxi, Tarthang Tulku, LOK)
Guide to the Exercises
10. Manifesting Space, Time, and Knowledge 81
11. Situational Positioning 87
12. Patterns in Space and Time 95
20. Calming Body, Mind, and Senses 167
27. Field of Space 229
28. Sound Within Sound 237
30. Observing Hearing 255
31. Resonating Sound 261
37. Founding Receptivity 311
1. Drawing on the Past 9
13. Inventing the Past 107
18. Projecting the Future 153
25. Building the Past 209
2. Layers of Mind 15
4. Feeling Thoughts 31
6. Thoughts in Conflict 49
7. Background of Thoughts 55
8. Gravity of Thinking 65
9. Expanding and Contracting Thought 73
21. Protecting and Projecting 177
39. Sameness in Difference 327
40. Space of Mind 335
43. Essence of Thought 355
45. Mind Without Images 369
3. Dissolving Tension in Time 23
5. Disowning Tension 41
24. Locating Tension in Space 199
38. Embodied Energy 317
19. Object of Desire 161
29. Inviting Awareness 247
34. Inviting Being 285
17. Field of Awareness 145
35. Exchanging Feelings 295
36. Visualizing Feelings 303
44. Accumulating Feelings 361
14. Moments Between Moments 119
16. Cloud of Knowing 135
22. Point of Transition 183
23. Observing Without Owning 191
15. Reversing Time 127
26. Reversing Momentum 221
32. Playing with Momentum 267
33. Glowing Journey in Time 277
41. Field of Feeling 341
42. ‘Ness’ of ‘Ness’ 349
46. Alternatives to Mind 377
47. Symbolic Interplay of Action 385
48. Exploring Space, Time, and Knowledge 393
49. Symbols of Being 401
50. Adventure of Being 411