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"Dynamics of Time and Space" from the Whole Earth Review
Magazine: Whole Earth Review
Issue: Summer 1995
Title: Dynamics of Time and Space
Metaphysics is always hard. Sometimes itUs hard because metaphysicians
are in love with their own words. Other times itUs hard because its ideas
donUt fit well into ordinary language.
Dynamics of Time and Space is difficult for the second reason. Tibetan
lama Tarthang Tulku presents his vision not as a series of rarefied
intellectual concepts, but as a means of opening up the cracks in our
perceptions. Time and space are revealed not as absolutes, but as
curtains behind which we can peer.
Despite its lucidity, this book is challenging. At times I felt lost in
it. At other moments, even if I wasnUt sure IUd grasped the authorUs
meaning, I felt small bursts of illumination, as if something in his mind
had spoken to something deep and wise in mine. --Richard Smoley
Sitting quietly, let the mind involve itself in the stories that flow
through consciousness. Notice the dynamic that powers each story: the
concerns and desires, worries and distractions. As you become more
familiar with these patterns, look for second-level stories that support
the stories on the surface; for instance, stories about who you are and
what you stand for, or stories that make sense of longstanding patterns
or conditions. Notice which stories refer more to the past and which to
the future. How does the TobjectiveU time that measures out events and
sequences figure in the stories you tell? Is it a minor character? Does
it have a role to play at all? . . .
As you become familiar with the stories you typically tell, you will
notice how many of them express a characteristic negativity. There are
stories that explain inaction or justify distraction, that feed daydreams
of escape, excuse failures, and calm fears. There are other stories that
fuel anxiety and intensify concern. Pay close attention to the patterns
of the stories that you typically tell, looking for those that
consistently repeat themselves. Can you touch the energy bound up in
those stories? Can you release it?
There seems to be no way to identify the present moment without pointing
to its content. Yet in taking this stand, we are actually turning away
from the TpresentnessU of the moment. In the moment that we specify the
present, we turn it into the past.
Our inquiry thus leads to a surprising result. Starting from our chosen
point of reference at the beginning of time, we stretch ourselves out
along the extending length of time, seeking the moment that is ours: the
present moment There and now.U But whenever we reach out to identify and
investigate a candidate, all that we find is more recorded moments of
past time -- one after another, stretching out farther than we can ever
extend our reach.
We can frame the conclusion of this analysis as follows: If time consists
of moments that arise in succession, each specified by the lineage of
moments that have preceded it, each recorded in turn, then all of time is
past time. Time in the dynamic of its arising is unavailable -- gone from
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