A New Way of Being by Jack Petranker

Jack Petranker, ed. A New Way of Being: Encounters, Engagements, Explorations, Applications. Berkeley, Calif.: Dharma Publishing, 2004. Paperback, xviii + 296 pages.

Like its companion volume A New Kind of Knowledge (reviewed separately), the present anthology is part of the excellent Perspectives in Time Space and Knowledge series. It contains 27 contributions organized into four sections, each with its own introduction. They all share in and illustrate the TSK (Time, Space, Knowledge) methodology first enunciated by Tarthang Tulku.

If you are interested in breaking free from thinking that is bound to linear time, limited space, and dogmatic knowledge, the essays in this volume will give you a head start. Each contributor to this compilation has found his or her own way of utilizing the TSK approach in order to arrive at conceptual understanding of a given topic. Others applying the same methodology might gain somewhat different understanding relative to the same subject matter. All insights, however, have in common an openness and a quality of transcendence that is rarely found in inquiries that follow a linear, bounded pathway.

It may seem curious that the TSK approach should have been developed by a member of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, which is rich in doctrinal formulations, fixed in its ritualism, and essentially hierarchical at the sociocultural level. Yet, while this impression is not altogether incorrect, the same tradition also includes practical spiritual approaches like mahamudra/dzogchen and philosophical approaches like Nagarjuna’s multivalue logic. In other words, the Tibetan Buddhists are quite familiar with the concept of openness in its various aspects.

From reading the various essays, I would have only one concern, which is that some contributors talk about the TSK method in a way that almost sounds as if it were an ideology, which it is not intended to be. But this may be just my impression from a distance. Certainly, as a form of philosophical inquiry, which can be directed at anything whatsoever, the TSK approach seems in keeping with both the mahamudra-dzogchen realization and sound, impartial reasoning.

Like its companion volume, this anthology can serve as a guide to good thinking and also as an introduction to the creative and vital writings of Tarthang Tulku.

(See also my review of A New Kind of Knowledge.)

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