Merge formal practice with life. Even with anger and women! - Sam Harris Daily Meditation 2022.09.26

Comments and expansion


This quote addresses the eventual transition of meditation into daily life, and implicitly, even the letting go of meditation in "the meditation of non-meditation".


Sam Harris

I wish you the best of luck merging formal practice with the rest of life. Give up all your efforts. Stop meditating .

Sam Harris suggests to "stop meditating". By this he means to stop seeing meditation as a separate activity from life. Instead, the meditator carries a "meditative view" into daily life. That's the non-dual view that Sam Harris trains in most of his Daily Meditations. In the end, "The View is the Meditation". "Holding the view" is all there is to do.


Sam Harris uses the term "merging". In the literature, most often the term "mixing" is used, e.g. by Daniel P Brown.


There are two ways in which the concept of "mixing" is relevant in the Tibetan meditation tradition:


  • During meditation as a technique to experience non-duality: this is one of several techniques of mixing outer and inner (e.g. through mixing space and awareness)

  • As a stage in the development of meditation. In this context, meditation (the meditative view) is "mixed" into everyday life, so that eventual meditation stops and life becomes meditation.


Transiting from meditation to life

Sam Harris seems to make this transition from meditation into life easy. "Just do it". One instruction suffices.


However, in the traditional literature, due to its difficulty, this is a multi-stage process.


The problem/challenge is this: as soon as one gets up from formal meditation, one is very easily drawn back into a dualistic view and "forgets" the spacious awareness that one just had experienced.


One feels an emotion such as anger, attaches to it, "becomes angry", and poof - the meditative view is gone!



In the meditative view, all mental events were clearly recognised, in real-time, AS a mind-stream emerging from (or in Sam Harris language, "articulating") consciousness itself, being consciousness itself. This meditative view allowed to stay in equanimity, and therefore, calmness. However, as soon as the energy of an emotion sweeps one away, one is back in struggle!


This transition of meditation into life, in traditional literature, is therefore taught as a gradual process.


Here is a typical sequence :


First, the meditator exposes themselves to simple situations, like slow walking, while they keep the meditative "inseparable pair" view of space and objects, or awareness and events.


Then, more strenuous activities are added, like running.


Then, the meditator undertakes activities that tend to distract, such as cooking etc. Daniel P Brown used to talk about his own training, where he was asked to converse with waiting visitors for his teacher, or while working with a computer ("thinking"). Meditating while thinking, or "meditating with the thoughts", is quite demanding!


Then, the meditator adds uncomfortable ("afflictive") emotions, such as anger, envy, fear, greed etc.


Eventually, the meditator will be able to keep the meditative view even in stressful social or relational situations, such as a conflict with the partner or colleagues. This is called "Taking afflictive emotions as the path". Here is an example from an old text how the meditator should deal with anger (anger is in this tradition subsumed under the heading of "conceptual thought").





And then, the (male! ) meditator expose themselves to the hardest challenge imaginable....



The hardest challenge: women

Practice like this when standing - standing in a crowd of evil beings, or even standing in a crowd of women ( Brown, Daniel P. (1981), p 214)

That was back then. Today, I would add, a single woman is enough of a challenge . Or, to generalise, a single partner...


Which is why Daniel P Brown was of the opinion, that today, "partnership is the path", as opposed to avoiding relationship conflicts through sitting in a cave.


Resources


Brown, Daniel P. (1981). Mahamudra Meditation-Stages and Contemporary Cognitive Psychology (Dissertation). http://abhidharma.ru/A/Tantra/Content/Raznoe/0028.pdf

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:

https://catalog.lib.uchicago.edu/vufind/Record/470630


Gyaltsen, S. T. (2022). Self-Arising Three-fold Embodiment of Enlightenment: [of Bon Dzogchen Meditation] (English Edition). In G. S. Gurung & D. P. Brown (Trans.), No Title (2nd ed.). Mustang Bon Foundation. https://www.amazon.com/-/de/dp/1732157944/


Yungdrung, D. G. (2022). The Pith Instructions for the Stages of the Practice Sessions of the A-Tri (A Khrid) System of Bon Dzogchen Meditation (G. Sonam Gurung & D. P. Brown, Trans.). Mustang Bon Foundation. https://www.amazon.com/-/de/dp/1732157987

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