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Particularising, pattern recognition in reverse - Sam Harris Daily Meditation 2022.08.24

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Quote: And let your visual field appear as a totality, just as an expanse of colour and shadow.

Sam Harris

And let your visual field appear as a totality, just as an expanse of colour and shadow

This instruction directs the listener to stop the tendency of the mind to identify individual objects and attributes within the sphere of perception, and instead to perceive it as an expanse, of field of sensory impressions.

In this meditation, he uses the visual sense, and uses color and shadow as examples of more elementary sense perceptions.

In other meditations, Sam Harris uses the kinesthetic sense, and instructs the listener to "let the body dissolve into a field of energy, of pressure, temperature, etc".

"Expanse" and "field" or "cloud" are terms used preferentially by Sam Harris to name the "unbounded field of awareness" thus created.

Daniel P Brown - Partialising and the bias of Information Processing

The process of isolating individual objects within the sphere of sense impressions is called "to partialise". The term "to partialise" is not used by Sam Harris; it is a term used often by Daniel P Brown.

Daniel P Brown has equated "particularising" to the fundamental act of the brains bias for "information processing" as the "last cloud". In his book "Pointing out the Great Way - the Stages of Mahamudra Meditation" he describes it like this.

The habitual tendency of the mind is to construct rudimentary sensory information into patterns with particular attributes, which take shape in the inner mind as well as in the outer world (Brown 2006, p 315)

This process of pattern-creation interferes with the perception of the "unbounded wholeness"

"Unbounded wholeness can’t be perceived by partializing:

– Thought partializes by delineating

– Directed attention partializes

– Particularizing partializes

• The tendency of the mind toward something the

outcome of which is something particular

• Particularizing as prestimulus-perception"

He places the overcoming of particularisation into the last state of meditation, when he describes the stages of emptiness in which the student is trained:

– "Ordinary

• Self

• Phenomena (thought; emotion; perception)

• Time

– Extraordinary

• Duality

• Limiting schemas

• Information-processing bias"

( both quotes Pointing Out the Great Way, 2020)

Pattern recognition in reverse

In his dissertation, Dan Brown describes therefore the learning of meditation as as process of pattern recognition in reverse (Brown 1981).


Brown, D. P. (1981). Mahamudra Meditation-Stages and Contemporary Cognitive Psychology (Dissertation).

This dissertation is a free download. It is a massive, highly technical volume that nevertheless gives an unparalleled insight into the education of a yogi. It draws on the knowledge of cognitive science as of the late 1970s, so it is not the newest in this regard. As compensation, Daniel P Brown gives some insight into the experiments with tachiscopy. to which he still referred in his retreats in 2021. The University of Chicago library entry:

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

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

Wilber, K., Brown, D. P., & Engler, J. (1986). Transformations of Consciousness: Conventional and Contemplative Perspectives on Development (New Science Library) (1st ed.). Shambhala.

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