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Mind view and event view as meditation tool - Daniel P Brown and Sam Harris

In meditation, one can take two distinct perspectives (views) while the stream of mental events is flowing through awareness: mind view and event view. For the general definition of "view", see here.

The mind- and the event views are not exclusive; instead, they denote what is in the background and what is in the foreground of awareness/attention.

Perspective / view



Mind view

​Awareness itself, "space", "emptiness"

Mental events (sensations, thoughts, emotions), "form"

​Event view

Mental events (sensations, thoughts, emotions), "form"

​Awareness itself, "space", "emptiness"

The event view should be done with full clarity and sensory precision.

Below is an illustration from "The Mind Illuminated". The illustration shows how attention follows the stream of mental events (sights, sounds, feelings, thoughts) in our everyday life.

The mind view would be a clear perception of the "space" in which all of these events occur, e.g. the area surrounding everything.

Culadasa, The Mind Illuminated

(note that this illustration rests on a wider mind model, which I do not explain here. The "non-perceiving moments" are a part of that).

Mind view and event view in the meditations of Daniel P Brown

In the retreat meditations of Daniel P Brown given through the (now possibly defunct) "Pointing Out the Great Way" (POGW) foundation, the purpose of working with the two views is to help the meditator to arrive at a non-dual view. "Non-dual" in this context means, that the distinction between ground/awareness on the one side, and mental events on the other side collapses (Daniel DiPerna).

In the POGW retreats, the "event view / mind view switch" consists in something like a mental gym exercise. The meditator is instructed to rapidly switch between those two perspectives. This is described in more detail in this post.

What remains is an experiential unity between ground and events, between background and foreground, between awareness and objects of awareness. Or, between emptiness and form....

This is akin to the famous and well-researched teaching metaphor of the ocean and its waves. The meditator "becomes" the ocean watching its own waves. And the waves are nothing but the ocean itself. This is a very old metaphor, also used in the Lankavaraara Sutra.

Mind view and event view in the meditations of Sam Harris

In Sam Harris´ Daily Meditations of the "Waking Up" app, mind view and event view are not explicitly named as such. Instead, the distinction and the alternation between them in meditation is implicit in the overall structure and phasing of most of Sam Harris Daily Meditations.

The general structure of such a meditation may look like this. He builds up a panorama of events (sensations, feelings, thoughts) and then orients to perceiving them as appearances in awareness.

​View type

Phase/Step (as instruction)

​Take meditation position

​Event view

​Become aware of some sensory phenomenon, eg breath

​Event view

​In addition, become aware of more sensory phenomena, eg add body feelings

​Event view

In addition, become aware of thoughts and emotions

​Mind view

​Focus on the "space" in which all those events (eg breath, body, thoughts and emotions) occur as a modification of awareness itself. Sam Harris will usually reference the "space" as "condition".

Event view

Become aware of one or more sensory phenomena

Thus, the more complex and difficult mind view is usually framed between one more event views. The "switching" is implicit in the structure if the meditation, rather than an explicit "isolation exercise" as in the POGW method.


Blaschke, B. A. (2017). Consciousness of god as god is: Phenomenology of Christian Centering Prayer. XXX. Retrieved March 31, 2023, from

Brown, D. P., & Thurman, R. (2006). Pointing Out the Great Way: The Stages of Meditation in the Mahamudra Tradition (Annotated). Wisdom Publications.

Yates (Culadasa), J., & Immergut, M. (2017). The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness. Hay House Uk.

DiPerna, D. (2013). Differentiating phenomena from identity in religious and meditative experience [Dissertation]. Harvard.

Only available at the university library for normal users,contains,Dustin%20diPerna&offset=0

Gebel, T. (2023f, March 14). Daniel P Brown teaches non-duality: three approaches. Till Gebel.

Gebel, T. (2022i, May 29). Be ocean 1: meditation and contemplative neuroscience.

Gebel, T. (2022m, August 1). The view is the meditation. Till Gebel.

Harris, S. (2022). Waking Up - A New Operating System for Your Mind.

Notes 1 - Culadasa - to be integrated

To be done: add Culadasa´s view

Notes 2: Blaschke - to be integrated

In Blaschke (2017), I found a useful summary for the explanation of mind view and event view in Daniel P Brown´s system. The text refers to two basic works : Brown (2006), and his student Daniel P Brown´s dissertation (DiPerna 2013)

In Pointing Out the Great Way, Brown put forward a framework to describe and analyse stages of meditation that accounts for the subject- and object-side of experience.

This framework is also used in instruction protocols of Pointing Out Way Mahamudra practices. In “Differentiating Phenomena from Identity in Religious and Meditative Experience,” Brown’s student Dustin DiPerna extended this framework to religious experiences in general. Brown inherited his conceptual framework from Denmo Locho Rinpoche, once abbot of Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala, India, and later head of the dGe Lugs pa lineage (the Dalai Lama's lineage).The framework differentiates the subject-side from the object-side of experience. Although this is no news to classic phenomenology, its application to describing and analysing contemplative states of consciousness is new. Specifically, it was then novel for scholarship to undertake subject- and object-side type analyses of contemplative states that is sensitive to those states operating at different levels of awareness (I discuss “levels” below) and specific to different stages of meditation, and this still remains a rare (though effective) analytical strategy today.

Brown translated the framework he received into English and used the term “mind-perspective” to refer to the subject-side and “event-perspective” to refer to the object-side.

Most Pointing Out Way Mahamudra practitioners and teachers today refer to the subject-side of experience as the “awareness-perspective”; they use the term “awareness” rather than “mind” because they deem the former less metaphysically laden and more faithful to experience.

Overall, Mahamudra practitioners and teachers who have extensive practice backgrounds in other traditions view this framework as highly effective for the purpose of describing their experience.

For example, Patricia, a teacher of Pointing Out Way, told me:" [Pointing Out Way] is much clearer how it works [because you] have an awareness-perspective and an event-perspective: I found it very helpful, and the idea of levels of awareness was very helpful. It was as though it gave a context for a lot of what I had already experienced, but hadn’t had a way of conceptualising, which hadn’t stopped it from being meaningful, but it was harder to communicate to others. I was teaching [Theravada] and I didn’t find it easy to teach in a way that helped others… When I got to understand the [Pointing Out Way] system, I found that it was pretty easy to teach. The people that I taught seemed to do well"


DiPerna suggests that awareness-perspective describes “the subjective sense of where awareness is coming from”. Brown describes it as the “observational perspective”, “point of observation” or “vantage point”. DiPerna adds the terms “sense of self” (as in self-as-subject), “identity” and “awareness” to refer to this “locus of awareness” that “observes the events of religious and/or meditative experience”.

Brown describes the event-perspective as the “appearances”, “objects” or “mental continuum’s content”. He also speaks of “activity”, “movement” and “cognitions” that pertain to various types of content that changes at different levels of awareness.

DiPerna refers to the correlation of specific types of content with respective levels of awareness as “changes in phenomena” or “changes in the field of experience”. Both phrases refer to the object-side of experience or event-perspective. They indicate how things, objects and the field of experience appear to the subject (awareness-perspective).