Fresh Perspectives on Problems (Part 4)

in What's New

Tarthang Tulku’s Dimensions of Mind is a captivating journey that explores the self and the structures of mind. Divided into four parts, the book presents a series of questions and exercises that delve into a wide range of topics, from discussions on the four immeasurables and the significance of joy as the foundation of the path, to the nonduality of subject and object. Here, we are invited to engage with the profound teachings as if participating in a transformative conversation, offering the potential to shift perspectives and grapple with challenging questions.

For a taste of what’s in store, follow Ralph McFall on page 123 of Dimensions of Mind for a dialog on why language and labeling can give rise to problems.

Buy Dimensions of Mind Here

“It’s like starting out on a journey, a journey that is all about asking questions we have not asked before. We need to proceed on our own, and we need to be ready to follow our own inquiry wherever it takes us,” (Dimensions of Mind, p. 105).

“We find ourselves depending on the meaning of each word. That sets up limits. It cripples our ability to understand at a different level. We need to develop a different way,” (Dimensions of Mind, p. 125).

Language and Labeling

The mental process involved in recognizing, and even attempting to solve, problems inherently establishes limits. This is because, during this process, we are actively constructing a narrative to try and figure out how to explain the situation to ourselves and others.

When a problem arises, we first enter a phase of recognition. We attempt to construct a tangible identity for a given situation based on past experiences and preferences. Once identified, we freeze the scenario into a specific shape. Once in this frozen state, a scenario then enters the process of labeling. Every element of the story we have constructed is given a name, or a label, that helps us recall a definition at a moment’s notice. While it’s convenient for the purposes of telling the story, creating labels limits the elements of a problem to a single definition with very little flexibility in interpretation. As a result, the story we construct, based on these labels, will be resistant to change. We unintentionally limit ourselves from being able to easily re-evaluate or reorient ourselves to truly understand what has happened or how we operate within the story, making us the center of a fixed problem.

How do we deal with this?

Asking how to deal with a problem is a challenging question because it automatically puts the responsibility on “us” to find a solution. We are once again oriented in a situation where the “I” must tell a story and explain what is happening, keeping us inside a bubble that contains the perceived problems, our orientation in the problem, and the sense of self trying to solve the problem.

So, what’s the alternative?

Next time you encounter a problem, stop and take a breath. Give yourself the space and time to not understand the situation. Give yourself permission not to know how to explain every part of what is happening or your role in relation to the problem. As much as possible, step away from the desire to create labels. Who were you trying to explain it to, anyway? For what purpose? Instead, let the situation float in a space that you do not have to grasp onto. When you find yourself coming up with labels to try and create a narrative, acknowledge their presence but do your best to let them slip by.



For Further Study - (Advanced Notice) Deepening Dimensions of Mind

Through a 9-month online international program beginning in September, dive into Dimensions of Mind and its guide to activating a means of questioning your mind and the structures that condition the cycles of suffering.

Nyingma Institute [Online]
September 2024 - May 2025: “Dimensions of Mind”
Learn More Here


Upcoming Retreat - The Wordless Way: A Mindfulness & Writing Retreat

This five-day retreat at Ratna Ling Retreat Center is designed to help participants deepen awareness and utilize language to express their most authentic selves. Writing will act as a contemplative practice for relaxation, expansion, and the expression of your inner life. Come and learn more about the writing craft and how to engage with the natural environment, bringing your journey to a new level of growth.

Ratna Ling Retreat Center
June 18 - 23, 2024: “The Wordless Way”
Learn More Here



Customer Reviews

Priceless: “To call it ‘life-changing’ sounds appropriate. It answers so many thorny questions that even my sincere dharma practice struggles sometimes to address” (Liv Life).


May you enjoy this book as much as we are by sharing it.

Supporting Our Mission

With your Generous Support 
Dharma Publishing has kept its titles in print for over 45 years
Thank you!