No edges, no boundaries: Sam Harris Daily Meditation 2022.09.29

Comments and expansion


Sam Harris gives a rudimentary instruction to experience limitlessness, but no instruction to represent timelessness.


Sam Harris

There's no indication of the size or the scope of awareness. There's no edge to your visual field. There's no boundary that defines the energy of your body.

Again, this is an exercise to practice an experiential recognition of what in Tibetan Buddhism is called "the vast expanse". That is the "ground" aspect, or, as Sam Harris prefers to call it, the "condition" in which every mental event occurs. It is the equivalent of the ocean in the "Ocean and Wave" metaphor.


In Mahamudra teachings, the "vast expanse"

  • must be experienced and not only conceptually understood

  • is without limits

  • is without time and change.

In this meditation, Sam Harris provides a rudimentary instruction to represent limitlessness, and no instruction to represent timelessness.


Instruction to represent limitlessness


Daniel P Brown describes the systematic reason why limitlessness must be "fully experienced" here. He uses the traditional analogy of pouring awareness into awareness, space into awareness etc - basically, mixing space with awareness.

Pointing out limitlessness serves as the basis for the realisation of enlightenment. In order to fully experience limitlessness, it is important to see if the ordinary mind has imposed any mental constructions of edges or boundaries upon limitless space . If so, the practitioner "opens" ... his or her awareness directly into any edges or boundaries, like pouring space into space, until the edges dissolve like mist into the atmosphere. The practitioner continues this process until all residual impositions of edges and boundaries disappear and there is a direct experience of genuinely limitless empty awareness/space (Daniel P Brown in intro to Gyaltsen et al., 2022, p 117)

Without this experience, the meditator will also not be able to isolate all events from the background space and to develop a truly non-dual simultaneous view of "the inseparable pair" of ground and events.


However, Sam Harris´s instruction is pretty simplistic, it is a one-liner. In the "Pointing Out the Great Way" meditations, the student receives a lot more support to build in the inside experience of infinite, boundless, timeless, changeless space.


As a more worked out example, here the transformation of the above theoretical text into a pointing out instruction:


Now investigate if this field of knowing awareness-space extends in all of the directions, like an infinite vast expanse. Boundless. If the ordinary mind imposes any edges and boundaries on this awareness, you can move right into the boundaries or edges with your awareness. When you move into the boundaries with your awareness, limits immediately dissolve like mist dissolving into the atmosphere. Just keep moving into all the edges and boundaries. It is like pouring space into space, pouring awareness into awareness. If the ordinary mind imposes edges and boundaries somewhere further out, just keep moving into those edges and boundaries with your awareness, until it is perfectly obvious to you that this awareness is boundless, edgeless. This field of knowing awareness space is timeless and changeless on one hand, and boundless, edgeless on the other hand, like a vast ocean of changeless, boundless awareness (Pointing Out the Great Way - Retreat Levels, 2022)

Furthermore, the teacher will repeat the terms "boundless", "limitless" many times during the meditation. This way they constantly "refresh" the imagination in a hypnotic manner.


No instruction to represent timelessness

Also, in Sam Harris meditations, so far he has not given any instructions to also represent the timeless and changeless aspect of this space.

To me this is so far unexplicable, since having an approximate experience of timelessness helps to represent the space as a "field of awareness which doesn´t change but within which everything else appears".


Resources


Gebel, T. (2022, May 29). Be ocean 1: meditation and contemplative neuroscience. till-gebel.de. https://www.till-gebel.com/post/becoming-ocean-1-meditation-neuroscience


Gebel, Till. (2022b). The inseparable pair (2). Till Gebel. Retrieved 29 September 2022, from https://www.till-gebel.com/post/sam-harris-daily-meditation-2022-09-27-the-inseparable-pair-2-simultaneity


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/






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