Interest - Sam Harris Daily Meditation 2022.10.16

Sam Harris

Whatever that tension, that frustration feels like, it too is a perfectly fit object of awareness. Become interested in it as an appearance.

I have selected this quote for the term "interest".

Interest is an everyday term here. In Mahamudra/DzogChen, interest has a special significance.

Interest as a necessary precondition

It is one of the mental states that the meditation teacher has to generate in the student in order for them to take up and stay with meditation.

The term interest is taken from perceptual psychology. It is first in a series of five mental factors that make an object certain (yul nges lnga). These five factors are seen along a continuum of intensity, where interest is the first in the continuum. ...Interest is defined as a mental factor that gets involved with an object so as to highlight its particular qualities. It sets the foundation for further exploration of the object. P 76-77

The full list of factors is

  • interest

  • admiration

  • respect

  • admiration-respect, and finally,

  • faith.

Admiration and respect belong to the sphere of guru-yoga, where the person of the teacher has an enormous importance for the progress of the student.

Scope of interest can be wide or small

Like attention, interest can have different scopes:

Micro-interest in concentration-meditation (getting familiar with)

During concentration meditation, the scope of interest is the meditation-object (the "intended object"). The focus will be more staying and more complete, the more interest the meditator can develop in the most tiny characteristics of the object. E.g. one can become interested in exactly how the in-breath feels at the tip of the nose at the very moment when the in-breath starts. This is sometimes also called "becoming familiar with".

Macro-interest in Buddhism/meditation/awakening

Here, the scope of interest is the entire process of becoming a meditator (and, in Tibetan Buddhism) awakening.

A thought on...