Totality of experience as sphere - Sam Harris Daily Meditation 2022.10.10.



Sam Harris

See if you can let the totality of your experience resolve itself into a single sphere of appearances

If you ask me: following this pointing-out instruction is quite an advanced mental gymnastics operation. Here I will deconstruct it, for your fun. Perhaps.


It implies the ability to do at least five mental abilities to "settle into this view":


  1. to be aware of all senses simultaneously (sight, sound, hearing, touch, thinking)

  2. to experience perceptions as being appearances on some reflective medium or screen (eg mirror or movie), or in a space

  3. to represent this medium as some kind of sphere

  4. to represent experience as happening "to" something or someone within this sphere (that´s my assumption - see below)

  5. to do all of that at the same time.


Note that I make an assumption here: that the "sphere of appearances" is not imagined to be experienced from the outside (where one side of the sphere, like the distant side of the moon, would not be visible).


I make the assumption that the best way is to represent it as a sphere where the meditator is in the centre. But this is open to interpretation, and it is still dualistic (with a localised perceiver) which shows that the instruction might have to be optimised.


Now, this was just the beginning. In reality, the advanced meditator by default also


  1. holds his body in an alert position

  2. has sufficient meta-cognitive awareness to know what he is doing (either at every moment, or in check-in time intervals), and course-correct if necessary.


So, perhaps Sam Harris asks the listener to represent themselves in the centre of a sphere, the inside if which is a projector screen, on which a multi-media show is projected, and perceive every point of the inside of the sphere simultaneously.


I just tried this. Here´s the thing: when one represents experience as happening within the sphere, it could happen in two ways:


  1. Either as happening "to me" as center of experience (a dual view with a perceiver, the perceived and the perceiving)

  2. or as "being" everything that happens as experience within this sphere (a non-dual view)


But whatever here´s a challenge. The sphere as a ball has limits. It is not infinite, but there are boundaries. So, the experience within this sphere is somehow limited by those imposed boundaries.


In other meditations, for example here, Sam Harris gives the pointing out instructions to dissolve those imposed boundaries of the imagined space.


Thus, really, in order for a full non-dual view, one has to expand the circumference of the sphere into infinite :-)


Have fun with the infinite sphere of appearances of all senses :-)





My Ayahuasca experience

What´s interesting here is that my Ayahuasca experience that brought me to meditation


  1. I was in the centre of a giant sphere

  2. the inside of which was a reflective surface

  3. on which the visual content of awareness was "projected"

  4. and there was no individual "me" but somehow "I was seeing myself" in all appearances.


However, I had to turn my whole body to "see" the projections outside of my field of view which was panoramic but not 360 degree.


Some more thoughts... I want to focus on two points: multi-sensory awareness, and perception of experience as appearance.


Multi-sensory awareness

This can be described in two ways:


  1. As using the ability of open non-focused awareness (as opposed to focused attention)

  2. As focused attention with an infinite scope, so that the distinction focused attention and awareness falls away (this is how Culadasa describes it at one point in his "The Mind Illuminated")


Experiencing experience as being a reflection / mirror

This sounds easy, but the fact that Sam Harris tries to let the student make an experience of this in nearly all Daily Meditations, shows how difficult it is to "objectivise" experience as reflection within awareness without being grabbed by it and "falling out of the view".


Resources


Gebel, Till. (2022m, October 1). Metacognitive awareness - Sam Harris Daily Meditation 2022.09.02. Till Gebel. Retrieved 10 October 2022, from https://www.till-gebel.com/post/sam-harris-daily-meditation-2022-09-02-knowing-that-you-are-thinking-metacognitive-awareness


Gebel, Till. (2020a, May 24). Mirror Mind in a Meditation Retreat. Till Gebel. https://www.till-gebel.com/post/mirror-mind-mahamudra-experience-daniel-p-brown


Gebel, Till. (2022g, August 1). The view is the meditation. Till Gebel. https://www.till-gebel.com/post/view-meditation-significance

A thought on...