Appearing "as" - Sam Harris' Daily Meditations: 2022.08.27

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The particle "as" has a special significance in the way Sam Harris teaches meditation. For example, in the phrases "to rest as" and "to appear as".


Resting as ...

The "rest as.."instruction is an old teaching device, used to instruct the meditator to adopt a particular view, or way of looking, or perspective, or "base of operation".


It requests from the meditator´s mind to "become" the thing "as" which they rest, or look. etc. For example, the meditator "rests as" the context in which everything appears.


The mental operation to achieve this is to somehow fully identify with, or merge the individual consciousness with the suggested object.


The term "resting" encourages the non-doing aspect of adopting a view, because in Dzogchen the view is the meditation - there is no more "doing" like strategising or aiming at something.


Appearing as ...

This is a typical formulation by Sam Harris:

"everything appears as a modification of consciousness".

This "appearing" aspect has two sides to it:


  • The objective appearance of something that wasn´t there before, and now is. This is the "arise, stay, and cease" aspect: everything appears and then disappears again. There is no permanence. Appearing implies disappearing.


  • The fact that something appears TO someone perceiver.


The mental operation required by the meditator, when hearing this instruction, is to somehow drop the subtle boundary between perceiver and perceived in a two-step operation:


First, consciousness itself must have become the object of awareness.


Then, every mental event (sensation, perception, feeling, thought) must be represented as being of "one substance" with consciousness. Thus, one must have an inner representation of "one substance".


To the modern listener, this cannot be an entirely strange idea. After all, modern physics somehow says the same: there was the big bang, one single "point", and then it unfolded into particles, atoms, molecules, clouds of molecules, stars, galaxies, and eventually the meditator itself. Thus, the modern meditator should be able imagine this "one substance" thought supported by science.

A thought on...