Attention on attention - Lion´s View - Sam Harris Daily Meditation 2022.09.11

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Sam Harris

Turn attention upon itself

This is (in principle) the kernel of "becoming conscious" in 4 words: the turning around of the mind towards itself. The mind watching itself. The watcher watching the watcher. There are many ways to say it. One older Tibetan metaphor is "A mirror held up against a mirror so that it can see itself" (Source unknown).

It encapsulates what Peter Barth (2007) says "is at the heart of both Mahamudra and Dzogchen". Barth formulates it like this: "Looking with awareness at awareness is at the heart of both Mahamudra and Dzogchen". He uses awareness instead of attention, but it means the same.

The terminological difference ("attention" vs "awareness") is an example of the deplorable, imprecise and varied use and definitions of these terms. This is also the case in Sam Harris´s meditations. Culadasa (2017) provides an extensive discussion of the differences between (focused) attention and (general) awareness based on cognitive science.

The Lion´s view

The thought is for example, beautifully expressed in the "Lion´s view" metaphor.

When you run after your thoughts, you are like a dog chasing a stick: every time a stick is thrown, you run after it. Instead, be like a lion who, rather than chasing after the stick, turns to face the thrower. One only throws a stick at a lion once. (Milarepa, 2021)

This is a wonderful metaphor for "awakening": once one has had a glimpse of this "awareness showing itself to awareness" at a deep level, one will never forget.

Daniel P Brown, in the intro the Tapihritsa´s work "The Six Lamps", describes the Lion´s view like this:

This view...entails taking the limitless, timeless field of awareness itself as the object of meditation, holding the view of the non-dual unbounded wholeness uninterruptedly, moment-by-moment, without looking at anything in particular. In this way, any tendency of the mind to pick out anything in particular is viewed as the activity of the unbounded wholeness itself, in such a way that the view no longer interferes with the direct recognition of the unbounded wholeness that is always right here. (Tapihritsa et al., 2022, p. 4)


Barth, P. (2007). A Meditation Guide for Mahamudra [PDF]. Mahamudra Meditation Center, Petaluma, USA. (Original work published 1998)

Note: This book is not for sale in the trade.

Yates (Culadasa), J., & Immergut, M. (2017). The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness. Hay House Uk.

Milarepa. (2021b, July 20). Milarepa: “When you run after your thoughts, you are like a dog chasing a stick.” Wildmind. Retrieved 11 September 2022, from

Samaneri Jayasara [Samaneri Jayasāra - Wisdom of the Masters], & Milarepa. (2021, January 25). Milarepa (1) - Selected Pointers and Teachings for Meditation - Tibetan Buddhism - Kagyu [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved 11 September 2022, from

The clip with the Lion´s view from the above Youtube video

Tapihritsa. (2022, May 3). The Six Lamps: According to the Zhang Zhung Oral Transmission Lineage of Bon Dzogchen (Daniel P Brown & G. Sonam Gurung, Trans.). Mustang Bon Foundation.

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