Finger-snap awakening - Sam Harris Daily meditation 2022.08.24

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Sam Harris (Daily Meditation 24. August 2022)

Look for what's looking. Very briefly, at the duration of a finger snap. [Sam Harris snaps finger, then pause for a few seconds ] [Snap, pause] [Snap, pause]

Sam Harris´ suggestion to do a search operation "for the duration of a finger snap" has an old tradition.

The explanation for "search operation": is the attempt by the meditator to find something in their mind, e.g. the location of the Self.  Or, the Self.

In general, it is better to do it short and precise. And this is also the advice for other areas of practice such as playing the piano.

In Sam Harris´s meditation, this instruction goes along with the suggestion to repeatedly "punctuate the day" with awareness. Do it whenever there is a state change, eg when leaving a car, or entering a shop, or meeting a friend.

One can also see the finger-snap as a moment of micro-awakening. (Gebel, 2022f)

The Royal Seal of Mahamudra, Vol One

The finger snap duration is mentioned in two contexts:

The superiority of meditation over the conceptual study

First, it is better to meditate (to sit in meditation, doing the actual practice) for a finger snap duration than doing other things for a long time, such as studying the theory.

In the Sutra of Entering the Sublime it is said: The merit of a bodhisattva practitioner of yoga who practiced samadhi for just the duration of a finger snap is greater than the merit accrued by providing the necessities of life to all the beings in the three worlds for as long as they live. (R. Khamtrul & Abboud, 2015, p. 13)

Quality over quantity

In Mahamudra, it´s not about the length of meditation. On the contrary: trying to go for long meditations can be a meditation fault.

To rest evenly in the presence of self-knowing awareness for one session, or even for the duration of a finger snap, has boundless, immeasurable merit. (R. Khamtrul & Abboud, 2015, p. 18)

Lord Takpo Rinpoche said: Do not chase after the past or anticipate the future. Rest persistently in the perfect original cognizance of nowness. Not to pursue the past means that our thoughts should not follow after what has passed. Not to anticipate the future means our thoughts should not encounter beforehand what is yet to come. To make sure to rest in natural cognizance of nowness means to not have any focus at all in the present moment. As it is said, “When the mind is not modified, it becomes clear. When water is not agitated, it becomes limpid.” Therefore, rest casually and persistently in the continuity of nonmodification. Resting thus, there will be a clarity without thoughts, immaculate and open, which may last for but the duration of a finger snap or for as long as it takes to milk a cow, etc. Meditate without regarding a long duration of that state as a virtue or a short duration as a fault. (R. Khamtrul & Abboud, 2015, p. 51)


Gebel, T. (2022f, July 29). ‘Awakening’ in Buddhism, Cognitive Science and AI. Till Gebel.

Gebel, T. (2022b, May 24). Practicing meditation like the piano: Short, frequently, perfect. Till Gebel.

Khamtrul, R., & Abboud, G. (2015). The Royal Seal of Mahamudra, Volume One: A Guidebook for the Realization of Coemergence. Snow Lion.

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