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The inseparable pair: mind and events (2) - Sam Harris Daily Meditation 2022.09.27

Sam Harris

Turn attention back on itself even while noticing the next appearance in consciousness.

In this quote, the particle "even while" has a special significance: it denotes simultaneity, or "co-emergence".

After having learned to recognize and distinguish between "the ground" (consciousness) and the arising mental events (thoughts, sensations etc), the meditator then learns to experience both simultaneously.

The meditator can then hold in awareness the container (sometimes called emptiness) AND the arising events in a balanced way, neither overfocusing on the container (and thus suppressing thought) nor becoming lost in thought.

Tibetan Buddhism: the inseparable pair

In "Pointing out the Great Way", Daniel P Brown explains that the direct realization of this non-duality is a prerequisite for awakening.

The mind’s awareness and the events of ordinary consciousness form an inseparable pair, and... the perception of a duality is erroneous. Direct realization of the mind’s nonduality is an essential prerequisite to awakening the mind. (Brown & Thurman, 2006, p. 43)

Or, in the translation of "Self-Arising Threefold Embodiment of Awakening":

It is best to understand awakened awareness in terms of the view of the inseparable pair - the vast expanse and the liveliness of what arises within it. (Mtshn et al., 2022, p. 114, Intro by Daniel P Brown)

See also about the related post on the unity of consciousness and its contents.

This view is also called "Lion´s view" , and this metaphor is a favorite teaching metaphor.

Another term used to describe this "coemergence" :

The coemergence of mind and its thoughts and appearances is like the sun and its rays or sandalwood and its fragrance. Mind, thoughts and appearances have grown together since the beginning of time and are completely inseparable (Barth 2017,

An exercise for experiencing the inseparable pair

The following example is from Peter Barth's boog.

BODY: RELAX INTO a basic posture. The breath: Let the breath be as it is. Mind: In a calm and clear expanse of mind, relax into the unity uof its luminous openness of mind. Relax the mind in its natural state. Eliminate all dullness and relax all restlessness of mind. Drop all expectations and fears. Now look at the mind with the mind and realize that all thoughts have completely quieted down. Maintain this and look at the mind with the mind. Now let a vivid emotional thought arise, either positive or negative. Look directly at the appearance of the thought itself. When you look at the thought itself, you see nothing. This is the experience of the clash of thoughts. • One sees the unity of the liveliness of the thought with its emptiness. It cannot be described, and yet this experience, as it is, is alive and permeated with a consciousness of certainty.


Barth, P. (2017). A Guide For Mahamudra Meditation - Kindle edition by Barth, Peter. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @

Brown, D.P., & Thurman, R. (2006). Pointing Out the Great Way: The Stages of Meditation in the Mahamudra Tradition. In No Title (Annotated). Wisdom Publications.

Deida versus Soma: femininity and spirituality (). (2021, June 6). Till Gebel. Retrieved 7 September 2022, from

Mtshan, S.R.B.S.R., Brown, D. P., & Gurung, S. G. (2022, January 14). Self-Arising Three-fold Embodiment of Enlightenment [of Bon Dzogchen Meditation]. Mustang Bon Foundation.


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