Exercises in the Time, Space, and Knowledge book
The TSK Exercises
PART ONE: SPACE
Exercise 1: The Giant Body ... 21
Exercise 2: Internal Details... 23
Exercise 3: The Microlevel .. 24
Exercise 4: Just Interactions and Shining Outlines ... 26
Exercise 5: Released to Space ... 28
Exercise 6: Opacity versus Translucency ... 30
Exercise 7: Body-Mind-Thought Interplay .... 35
Exercise 8: The Translucent Person ... 36
Exercise 9: Participation as Observer; Participation as Embodied Person .... 36
Exercise 10: Participation and Space .... 38
Exercise 11: The Source of Thoughts .... 51
Exercise 12: Space Between Thoughts .... 58
Exercise 13: Thoughts as Space .... 60
Exercise 14: A New Focus on Space .... 67
Exercise 15: A Mountain Retreat ... 94
Exercise 16: Space-Time-Knowledge on the Conventional Level .... 108
PART TWO: TIME
Exercise 17: The Object and Its Glow .... 172
Exercise 18: Past and Future Projections ..... 174
Exercise 19: Past, Present, Future of Each Moment .... 174
Exercise 20: Reversing Temporal Structure.... 175
Exercise 21: A More Subtle Structural Reversal .... 176
Exercise 22: Diving into Time .... 177
Exercise 23: Going without Going ... 185
Exercise 24: A Marriage of Sound and Breath.... 187
Exercise 25: Intimacy ... 189
Exercise 26: Transcendence of Pointings ... 205
PART THREE: KNOWLEDGE
Exercise 27: A Stream of Memories .... 256
Exercise 28: A Cycle of Seeing ... 257
Exercise 29: Awareness as a Reflective Surface.... 257
Exercise 30: A Subject-Object Reversal ... 258
Exercise 31: Not-Knowing as Knowing ... 260
Exercise 32: A Unifying Clarity .... 271
Exercise 33: Self-Transcending Appearance ... 274
Exercise 34: The Embodiment of Knowledge .... 275
Exercise 35: An Evocation of Knowledge .... 277
Expanding and Condensing
“Expanding and Condensing” is a TSK exercise that is not described or even mentioned in the Time, Space, and Knowledge book, though it was originally intended to be a lead-in exercise for the Giant Body visualizations. Its purpose could be said to be to clear a space so that the Giant Body exercises might be done more easily and effectively. However, it has also been found by many TSK students to be a very good practice even after years of working with the TSK vision.
In the description of the exercise the term focal setting is used, so this term should be introduced. ‘Outside TSK’ the term is most commonly used in referring to the adjustment of a camera lens. The scene or view that a photographer wishes to represent on film is selected from the infinity of views available by changing the focal setting so that the object or scene of interest stands out.
Focal setting is also used in the TSK book, but the usual photographic meaning has been extended in a certain way. In TSK, focal setting refers not to the setting of a lens that selects one view of ‘the world’, but to a particular world-view, perspective, or way of viewing. Furthermore, the view is considered to include not only what is on the ‘other side’ of the lens, or the side away from the photographer—it includes the photographer as well. Although the photographer is not conventionally considered a part of a focal setting (even though the setting exists only because of his action), in TSK the viewer or self is simply another aspect of the focal setting, even though the observer may feel himself to be outside of the focal setting. (This feeling is another part of the setting.)
In a further extension of the concept, the TSK type of focal setting includes all of one's experience, not just one's visual experience. Feelings, thoughts, sensations, and intuitions—all types of experience are included within the setting.
Another difference from the photographic notion of focal setting is that with TSK a focal setting does not imply a view of just part of ‘the world’. Instead, our feelings and thoughts about being inside a larger spatially-extended physical universe are themselves aspects of an all-encompassing focal setting; they do not need to point to a reality outside the focal setting. From a nonconventional point of view, we might even say ‘the world’ is within certain focal settings; focal settings are not inside ‘the world’. Nothing need be presumed or felt to be ‘outside of’ or apart from the focal setting that contains it. And focal settings themselves do not stand on or presuppose any more basic or fundamental aspect of reality.
TSK's idea of focal setting is close to the commonly used term frame of mind, which indicates a certain mood or state that we are in. According to our usual 'realistic' point of view, we would not think that we were actually in a frame of mind, because we ordinarily think that we ‘have minds’ and states of mind. But our common use of phrases such as "When I am in that frame of mind . . . " may be pointing to a more encompassing focal setting that is available, one in which the self or experiencer does not seem outside the experience, observing, directing, and owning it—self appears within it as an integral part.
Another term close to focal setting is space. We might hear someone say, "I was in a really strange space yesterday." In this sense, the word is used as slang for a mood or frame of mind, with the connotation of a subtle, higher dimension being involved in the experience indicated. The higher dimension is pointed to by the use of the word in.
Now for a description of “Expanding and Condensing.” This exercise, like all space exercises, is initially best done in a light, open setting that is free of distraction. Attend to the focal setting or space that ‘you are in’. Allow the space to expand or move outward in all directions. (If these instructions still don't make any sense, just imagine that the space you are in is expanding.) Continue to follow the expansion, simply noticing what is happening.
Eventually, some kind of condensation will occur. You may feel your self coming out of an expanded space, or the space may be felt to shrink somewhat, or the expansion may be held back by a relatively dense or heavy or opaque aspect of the experience, for example a pain in the leg. Follow the condensation in whatever direction it goes. This motion inward may be trusted, even though the self may be unaccustomed to thinking of condensation as being wholesome or 'growth-oriented.' Eventually the momentum of condensation will probably reach a natural turning point where expansion will occur.
Let the movement of expanding and condensing continue as it will. Over time, less effort and concentration may be necessary. Elements of the experience in the movement might become less distinguished, or separate, as attention spreads evenly over all. The feeling of self—often felt as doer at a central position in the exercise—can open up as a deep sense of relaxation pervades the exercise. Eventually it may feel as though no one is doing the exercise—there is just relaxation, clarity, and energy.
When doing this exercise, or any other TSK exercise, there is no way to do it 'wrong' or incorrectly. Any ideas and feelings about not doing it correctly are themselves part of the exercise. Their energy may seem to point to some better way of doing the exercise, but rather than presenting goals toward which experience ‘should be funneled’, this energy can be ‘fed back’ into the expanding and condensing so that the exercise can continue and deepen.
Finally, especially after some experience with the exercise, it may be started by expanding any aspect of experience—a sensation, emotion, thought, and so on—not just the space or focal setting. With such an apparently small part of reality as a starting point, the significance of the following may become clear:
When a single feather and a thousand worlds
Are equally this Space,
Who can say which contains which?
(p. xli, Time, Space, and Knowledge)
Summary of the Exercises
Exercises 1 through 6: In these 'giant body' exercises, spend enough time on the initial ‘opening’ and 'transparentizing’ approach so that you actually encounter a very deep and expansive space. Then go on, in Exercise 6, to a more subtle and inclusive sort of space. This 'space' will later be developed in Exercise 10.
Exercises 7 and 8: These exercises involve the investigation of the body-mind-thought interplay constituting a human being, and the relation of this interplay to a 'space' dimension. Both exercises need to be done in various contexts and situations. They will then facilitate the emergence of a 'knowingness' which places us in touch with the total phenomenon of human embodiment, and they also begin to reveal this embodiment as a presence within ‘space', 'presenced' by 'time'. Given such an insight, we can cultivate a more balanced, healthy, and fluid understanding of the experience of being 'embodied'.
Exercises 9 and 10: Attention to the presence of the observer (and the embodied self) will continue the process of embracing a more balanced and comprehensive approach to the givenness of appearance. It exposes a new, more active type of 'space' while transcending the static 'thing' view of reality. It also reveals more of 'timing'—as being an embodying process which leads to our restrictive conventional reality in which subject and object, things and 'space' are seen as different. Such an insight into timing allows us to comprehend the presence of a truly comprehensive 'space', one which is not set in contrast to solid, opaque 'things'. Appreciation of this 'space' is essential, since in practicing the Space-Time-Knowledge vision we are not trying to escape somewhere or achieve some special transworldly condition.
Once the exercises up to this point have been practiced successfully with regard to the body, the 'transparentizing' approach of Exercises 1 through 5 may be employed with any object one wishes to investigate.
Exercises 11 through 13: In dealing with the mind and thoughts in the way suggested by these exercises, experience will gradually become less fragmented—and will thus no longer perpetuate the psychological 'hunger' which occurs when experience leads us from one thing to the next through ordinary space. Through these exercises, the usual psycho-physical and physiological models of consciousness are challenged. Both thoughts and their felt physiological basis are seen to emerge concomitantly from within a 'space' dimension. Ordinarily all thoughts carry the conviction of there being independent things—subject as observer, mind, body, thought, referent of thought, and external world. This conviction is shaken by insight into the field or 'space' which accommodates this multi-faceted presence.
Exercise 14: By practicing this exercise, all mental cloudiness, restlessness, and confusion can be transcended in favor of a more self-nurturing and confident approach to experience. Such transcendence is made possible by opening up beyond the hesitant or anxious self or 'doubter'.
Exercise 15: The practice of this mountain exercise opens us to the limitless energy which is always available. Previ ous exercises showed how to de-emphasize the 'watching' or ‘looking' orientation. The mountain exercise both depends on this process—in attending to the 'space' of the blue sky—and also helps to implement it in a more profoundly nourishing way.
Exercise 16: This exercise helps bring 'time', 'space', and 'knowledge' into an initial felt relationship with ordinary experience. On a more subtle level, it also lets us appreciate the texture of experience itself as being 'space', the sustaining power of experience as 'time', and the 'gravity' which preserves its centeredness and continuity as 'knowledge'. Similarly, we can learn to see the same correspondences reflected in more overtly physical parallels.
Exercise 17: With the practice of this object-glow exercise, everything can be seen as a shimmering 'time' which evokes 'space'. This stage marks a shift in our 'knowingness' to a 'vitalizing of appearance'. The metaphor of a glowing desert flower not only describes the 'given together' aspect of 'timing' but also suggests a new view of all objects and all appearance.
Exercises 18 through 22: Through showing us how to ‘know' 'time', the practice of these exercises bring many benefits. We can learn to view both positive and negative situations as 'time'; and as such, we can transform them, or even appreciate them as a fulfilling ‘sameness’. We can work with 'time' any way we like, and can even directly experience times that would conventionally be designated as being in the past or the future (and therefore not ordinarily accessible).
We can develop a better understanding of the locatedness of the knowing self in our limited temporal structure.
Living within such a limited time, we are insensitive to many inspiring forces or dimensions, and are thus subject to life as being an extremely pressing and compelling process. By learning to 'know' 'time' better, we can counteract this general trend and can open to an infinity of 'time' for fulfillment.
Once all temporal partitions are down, and 'time' is at the disposal of 'knowingness', we can be released from all fear, anxiety, and strain. Even the fear of death can be transcended, since in this more comprehensive view of 'time', there is no death. An infinity of directions are open to us—even the direction which leads to our personal death is seen as leading to no real death or 'ending' of anything intrinsic to our 'being'. Space, Time, and Knowledge have none of these arbitrary and egocentric boundaries; and we, through 'knowledge', have access to the unqualifiedly positive and all-inclusive character of Space and Time.
We ordinarily relate to life as a stream of transactions and are always 'on the move'. As a result, we are confronted with a realm pervaded by transitoriness, continual shifting and collapse. Death serves as an overall summary of our limited approach to life as involving a restless leaping from thought to thought, moment to moment. By opening each thought and presentation to Space-Time-Knowledge, the linear cause-effect and transaction view gives way to an appreciation of the vastness of Being within and as each thing. The transitory is then itself not transitory. The moment of death does not involve a real 'passing away'.
This message of 'infinite Being' and of 'no death' might seem to be proposing a condition of 'eternal life', life as quantitatively infinite duration. But this interpretation is not at all in accord with the significance of 'infinite Being or ‘no death', for these are injunctions meant to open us beyond all self-orientation. The message of 'no death' is a message of openness and balance which relieves us of the fundamental sorrow of human existence.
Exercise 23: The walking exercise helps to implement a new appreciation of 'time' on very concrete, physical and sensory levels. The ordinary feeling of movement is an excellent teacher of the subtle 'motion' of 'time'—which transcends all going and reveals the immediate 'availability' of Space and Time.
Exercise 24: Simultaneous attention to the throat center and to sounds helps to transmit the 'timing dimension with its communicative partitioning aspect. This process leads to a 'knowingness' which is undeceived by meanings and partitions. Consequently, it also leads to a much more healthy and fulfilling subject-object interaction.
Exercise 25: This exercise will also help to uncover a new and more intimate subject-object interaction. And by counteracting the common dependence on 'outside-standers', we can develop more confidence, strength, and sufficiency within the abiding intimacy of Time and Knowledge.
Exercise 26: This is not so much an exercise as the very ‘presenting' of our reality. Seen as a 'presenting', reality is always challenging itself on all the levels conventionally attributed to it; all structures and structuring, whether physical or psychological are self-liberating.
Exercise 27 and 28: Both of these exercises serve to counteract the limitations usually placed upon our 'knowingness'—the most restricting of such limitations being our insistence on indexing knowingness into a tiny 'knowing self' or 'mind', and our preoccupation with being 'aware of' finite and terminating 'objects of knowledge'. With sufficient practice, these exercises show that infinite Knowledge has always been available both to support our conventional and limited approach, and to allow us to 'know' in a more open-ended way.
Exercises 29 through 31: By working with 'appearance', these exercises continue the exposure of a more comprehensive 'knowing' continuum. We can find everything to be clear and fulfilling, and can see that there are no isolated packets of nourishment or knowledge to be grasped at in an anxious or a 'venturing out' manner. The fulfilling character of experience is unbroken, undisturbed, unexceptionable. This appreciation of appearance is entirely 'present' and 'down to earth'.
Exercises 32 through 35: These exercises complete the process of switching over to Great Knowledge as being primary. We can begin to see that all appearance and embodied presence bears an unshakable mastery and an infinity of higher realizations.
A simple and enjoyable way of deepening your understanding of the flexibility and triple-faceted character of this vision is to contemplate various ways of rearranging the words constituting the title of this book. Many of the possible arrangements show juxtapositions which have considerable significance in light of the overall vision.
In practicing the first sixteen 'space' exercises, it is initially important to first consider location and physical environment. The 'giant body' series should be performed outdoors in a room that is either 'spacious' or particularly neat and free from disturbances.
The mountain practice is the only exercise that needs to be done outdoors. Any high spot is suitable, as long as it has a wide horizon and an unobstructed view. It is, however, important that the light be soft, diffuse, and with little glare.
The 'knowledge' exercises can be done in a quiet, formal practice context, but they also should be done in the midst of all general activities.