Just look gently at the looker - Sam Harris Daily Meditation 2022.09.03

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Sam Harris

Look at any object in your field of view. And then very gently, just look for the one who sees (DM 2022.09.03)

This comment is not about the way of looking. It us about the words "just" and "gently". These are words intended to take the effort out, and as you see from the word cloud below, the word "just" is very frequent.

They are about energy management during the meditative process.

Softening terms like "just", "simply" and "gently" reduce the sense of effort, stress and strain. They ease up the mind and reduce tension. They are motivators to let go.

In meditation, it is important for several reasons to control the degree of effort, and the intensity of doing something.

Reducing the sense of Self

Any efforting with conscious attention, any focusing will dial up the sense of an observing Self, that observes an external object.

Now, if one were to make a big mental effort to "look for the one who sees", it will not work. It´s self-defeating because any effort to see the seer (namely the Selfless pure awareness) will, unfortunately, increase the sense of Self and make awareness invisible.

For seeing the seer, only light touch attention will work. Thus, Sam Harris´ repeated, "just gently".

Balancing easing up and tightening

In Mahamudra/Dzogchen meditation, the meditator is asked to maintain a controlled balance between focused attention (which requires energy) and an open, receptive stance.

In the Mahamudra/Dzogchen tradition as taught by the Pointing Out the Great Way foundation by Daniel P Brown, the skill to balance easing and up tightening is foundational.

Mind view and event view

For the beginning meditator, it is initially important to become aware of "the ground", the mind itself, the space of awareness in which all events occur.

The meditator has to learn to intentionally shift meditative focus from the ground/mind. to the appearing events. The result is that

whenever any event occurs, the practitioner becomes aware of both the observable event (mental content at the coarse level and movement at the subtle level) and the point of observation (the mind staying). (D. P. Brown & Thurman, 2006, p. 285)

When one overly focuses on the ground, events may become suppressed.

When one overly lets events (sensations, feelings, thoughts) dominate the meditation, it may lead to getting lost in thought.

Drowsiness and flightiness

TBD: Notice this paragraph may still be wrong

Drowsiness (getting tired, dullness) and flightiness (being distracted, lost in thought) are two of the meditative faults.

The skill of conscious tightening (mind view) and easing up (event view) help with controlling the two faults.

An overly eased-up mind, which allows the flow of events to be perceived, may lead to flightiness (dispersion).

An overly tightened up mind, which efforts at keeping awareness of the ground, may easily get tired.

Easing up and simply recognizing the disappearance of the various perceptual events into darkness eradicates flightiness. (D. P. Brown & Thurman, 2006, p. 255)

Thus, the medicine for drowsiness is easing up, and the medicine for flightiness is tightening.


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


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