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Re:Theosophy and Postmodernism

Dec 22, 1996 09:16 PM
by Maxim Osinovsky

Jerry Hejka-Ekins:

> The idea of tolerating and celebrating all perspective is in my
> opinion the very strength and weakness of postmodernism. I have
> always personally questioned whether being devoid of value laden
> viewpoints is even possible.

You may wish to know there is a guy who believes that it IS
possible.  His name is Tarthang Tulku, he is an accomplished
Tibetan lama who wrote several non-Buddhist books on philosophy
and psychology.

Here are some quotes from his "Time, Space, and Knowledge: A New
Vision of Reality" (Dharma Publishing, 1977):

> Before "actual transcendence of the body-mind-thought closed
> circuit <...> is possible, we need to first become more free of
> the tendency to structure appearance in terms of both static
> objects and the inner-outer dichotomy.  We also need to challenge
> the presupposition of a highly ordered world as the independent
> and containing background for all things, meanings, and
> observations.
> The 'mind' can be challenged _philosophically_ without great
> difficulty, and it has become possible for us to ground that
> challenge experientially.  But when we begin to challenge the
> 'body', we must be prepared to abandon all half-measures, and
> must include the 'workd order', the fundament and the touchstone
> of reality, in our deliberations.  (p71)
> Because a relaxation or transcending of the presuppositions and
> structures of our realm can lead to a disorientation or a failure
> to cope, it is ordinarily discouraged.  But this psychological
> disorientation is not due to the relaxation of the
> presuppositions per se, but to a failure to let go of the
> particularly strong conceptions that the 'world' is 'out
> there'--an accomplished fact once and for all--and that the self
> is basic.  When such concepts are not 'opened up', whatever other
> 'opening' that is done is unbalanced and incomplete.  It is still
> tied to the world and done _by_ the self, and these hold-outs
> tend to conflict in a disorienting way with new visions.
> (p76-77)
> By challenging and opening up the output of the setting, working
> with one aspect or another of this output, we can begin to change
> the focal setting itself.  Strictly speaking, the output is a
> unitary thing, like a complex image seen through a lens or
> peep-hole.  Everything constituting a particular situation--the
> output--is 'given together', although usually we only see
> selected details.  (p86)
> Such a methodology [i.e.  continuing self-challenge] would
> ordinarily seem impossible.  Even those who have considered the
> possibility of calling into doubt the underlying assumptions of
> our reality have attempted to do so by appeal to some
> unchallengeable touchstone.  (p200)
> The unshakable clarity of Great Knowledge comes only _after_ we
> see that the inflexible awareness and claims to reality of a
> particular realm of experience are actually a play of 'time', and
> not an absolute.  This requirement and challenging character are
> natural processes which are intrinsic to the path (Time) to Great
> Knowledge.
> It is therefore important, both for accuracy _within_ our realm
> and also in regard to appreciating the infinity of Space and
> Time, to continually examine the truths and evidence we
> encounter.  And we have to be careful not to prematurely cease
> this investigation.  This is especially important for religious
> and meditative aspirants.
> Sometimes incomplete experience of the read-out insight leads
> meditators to think that 'everything is just illusion', only
> 'experience', 'mind', or 'subjective'.  But that is stopping too
> soon.  There is no solid, unchallengeable nature to any of these
> foundations either, if 'time' is appreciated with respect to
> them.  There is also no 'everything' to _be_ 'just experience'.
> (p202-3)

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