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Mirror mind - Sam Harris Daily Meditation 2022.08.31

Sam Harris

Let your mind be like a mirror. Which needn't incline toward what it knows. The moment something is brought before it, it´s reflected. (DM, 2022.08.31)

The mirror metaphor has a deep emotional and intellectual significance for me: one day in an Ayahuasca ceremony, on the outside of the Durch barn, the world had in one instant turned into a giant mirror - of a "Self" that did not exist any longer, because it also WAS what that mirror reflected. Still 4 years later, it inspires me for meditation, since I know that this metaphor can be experienced as reality.

It was a wondrous and sacred moment. It´s odd to say it: my entire meditation effort is somehow dedicated to fully recreate this moment in my ongoing experience. I have not succeeded to get back to that realistic mirror moment, but it is like a reference point that has jump-started me into meditation and in particular, Mahamudra.

I have described the phenomenology of this "mirror mind experience" in detail here. Since then, I had no more desire for further psychedelic experiences. May they will come back, but then most likely for explorative purposes around the questions of consciousness.

The mirror in meditation teaching

Sensitised as I was, I then detected the mirror metaphor everywhere. in Mahamudra and Dzogchen. This is no wonder: Daniel P Brown (D. P. Brown, 1981) in his dissertation on traditional Mahamudra meditation stages says that

The yogi is trained, from the start, to see reality not as a collection of external objects, but as an inner reflection, as mirror of mind itself.

The mirror is a core metaphor in Tibetan Mahamudra and and Dzogchen

"The mirror of Kun tu bZang Po... is an extraordinary place, the main place that the gods and humans, eternal boddhisatvas, mahasattvas and dakinis aspire to...This is the initial metaphor of all metaphors for pointing out" (T. S. Gyaltsen et al., 2022, p. 985)

Here you find more passages describing deep meditation as mirror-like.

Sam Harris uses the mirror metaphor in various ways, for example here:

Your awareness is not on one side, reaching out again, it's more like a mirror, everything instantly appears right on a surface.

Be like a mirror reflecting everything that comes in front of it, without moving

The mirror is "instant"

In Sam Harris´s words, the mirror is "instant". This is not meant purely symbolically.

The property of instantaneousness is probably best explained through the neuroscience-based approach of Culadasa.

In this theory, awareness is perceived as "instantaneous", as the reaction time of the awareness-subsystem is multiples faster than the slower attentional system. Attention reacts with a delay.

TBD;: ass figures here.

The mirror is stainless

This property is harder to explain. It does not correspond to a property that has its counterpart in neuroscience of cognitive science. The fact that it is "stainless" means that it is without concepts, thoughts etc - it it is what remains when everything else is subtracted. It is a property that can be represented in the mind of the meditator.

It also means that the mirror reflects every phenomenon "just as it is" appearing. It does not distort it. If one wants to have a real-life comparison to such a mirror, it is perhaps comparable to the mirror produced by Zeiss for chip-manufacturing machines. This is the astonishing description.

If you took a mirror ca 1 meter diameter, and blew it up to the size of the US, any bump on the surface would only have the size of a millimeter.

This precision is also necessary for large scale telescopes!

Few things in science appear to be as delicate or precarious as the giant mirrors at the hearts of modern telescopes. These mirrors — doughnuts of glass meters in diameter, weighing tons and costing millions of dollars — are polished within a fraction of a wavelength of visible light into the precise concavity required to gather and focus starlight from the other end of the universe.


Daniel P Brown (Meditation Stages)

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 unparallelled 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 Universits of Chicago library entry:

Till Gebel (Ayahuasca Mirror)

Gebel, T. (2020b, June 4). My core mystic experiences with psychedelics and in meditation. Till Gebel.

Gyaltsen (The Precious Treasury)

Gyaltsen, T. S., Brown, D. P., & Gurung, G. S. (2022). The Precious Treasury of the Expanse and Awakened Awareness: The Ornaments of the Definitive Secret (English Edition) (2nd ed.). Mustang Bon Foundation.

Various, [CNBC]. (2022, August 30). How ASML, TSMC And Intel Dominate The Chip Market | CNBC Marathon [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved 21 September 2022, from

Overbye, D. (2023, April 18). From Bullets to ‘Bird Residue,’ the Many Trials of Telescopes. The New York Times.


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