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Mixing space with awareness: experience of non-duality

TBD. This post is still a mess. It needs to be merged with two others

  • How to use imagination to generate a meditative experience of collapsed borders between inner awareness and outer world (without substance)

  • Using a traditional "mixing" imagery, involving sight and breath,, a mixing instruction as described below.

The essential point of the mind is to focus as if dissolving the mind in the midst of the external expanse of the empty sky( Gyaltsen 2022, p 876)

This post talks about space as metaphor for mind in Buddhist meditation teaching.

Let's start with Bernard Kastrup, a contemporary philosopher who sounds like a 13th century Buddhist:

In fact, Kastrup is talking about what the Buddhists called the "inseparable pair" of the vast expanse and lively awareness.

For me, the initial quote ("the essential point...") it is one of the most beautiful and poetic renderings of pointing out instructions of the "mixing" type.

A pointing out instruction is a special type of detailed guidance on how to do certain meditative activities.

The mixing type of pointing out instruction aims to induce a non-dual experience (rather than a conceptual understanding only) It achieves this through a physical activity such as looking or breathing in specific ways, where one mixes, or blends, inner and outer. For example, one blends mind and space.

In fact, this very exercise is the root of Dzogchen.

The mixing or blending or unification of consciousness and space is a key practice of Dzogchen. In fact, it is the root of Dzogchen practice. (Barth, 1998/2007).

In the following text , "looking directly into" means an experiential awareness.

Awareness is most likely to be recognized once positively free of conceptual thought elaborations. The lion´s gaze and mixing awareness and the sky are the special instructions to look directly into the face of awareness so as to recognize the lucidity brightness, intensity and awakeness of awakened awareness that is always right here in the immediate experience of one's mind. (Yungdrung, 2022)

Note: the "Lion´s gaze" is a metaphor where awareness looks at itself. You find an explanation and example here.

What is a non-dual experience?

In a non-dual experience, the felt border between Inner/Outer, Awareness/Outer or Self/Outer dissolves partially or entirely.

The meditator has no more the perception of being a separate independent Self that is observing an outer independent reality. There is only the seeing process itself.

The mixing instruction quoted above lets the meditator imagine an intermingling of two "substances", namely space and awareness. Awareness is poured into space, and space is poured into awareness.

  • Substance 1 is awareness/ consciousness/ Self.

  • Substance 2 is the outer visual space, or, the sky which represents the space.

Substance 1 and substance 2 are mixed together: awareness is poured into space, and space is mixed into awareness. The end-result is one single surrounding and field of awareness-space that permeates everything.

Initially, there is a crucial difference between awareness and space: awareness is "knowing," whereas space is not.

Then, when one "mixes awareness with space", the quality of knowing is transferred into the space surrounding the meditator. In the meditator´s mind, the space in front of him acquires the same kind of "liveliness" as the inner awareness.

There are several versions of this meditation/visualization. One of them uses only the visual system, the other includes the breath. Below, I have stripped down both versions to their essentials. The original texts are somewhat longer.

When I meditate, using any of these two approaches, occasionally the space in front of me obtains a kind of vibrational liveliness.

Non-dual experience from a science point of view

Around minute 30

"For the first time, a model of non-dual awareness..."

"The space is the space of the entire predictive Bayesianmodel"

(Taft and Chandaria, 2022, December)

The predictive model and the phenomenon of "gripping" (or grab, in Dan Brown´s language)

"The gripping seems to take place at the higher levels, more at the level of concepts" (min 29), rather than at the lower sensory perceptions.

Mixing space with awareness

The supreme method here to realize the nature of mind, is to unite space and awareness. When thus mixing space and awareness, you spontaneously purify all fixed notions. Such as a reality and characteristics, negating and establishing, And you abide in the truth of suchness, dharmata, Free from dualistic subject-object cognition. (Aryadeva, 2022)

In the retreat, the corresponding space yoga instruction was

look into the space in front of you, and mix that space with awareness. Mix awareness with space.


Mix the space into your awareness so that it's one field of knowing awareness-space saturating everything.

The effect on me

It turned out, that for me, doing this old Mahamudra technique was one of the most useful instructions. Both in terms of meditation progress, as in dealing with everyday life "afflictive emotions".

Viewing space as permeated with "my" awareness reconstituted aspects of the tone of the psychedelic mystic I have described elsewhere. It shifts my conscious into a mode, where I begin to realise objects as constituted / fabricated / constructed by my own mind, and as appearing in the container of awareness.

In addition, my perceptual field becomes infused with what appears like subtle vibratory energy. Lastly, it seems to prepare and support the view described as "awareness showing itself by itself through itself to awareness".

So, here they are stripped down to the bare essentials.

Example: Tilopa Space Meditation

The original Tilopa Space Meditation consists of two basic simple instructions.

  1. Look into the space in front of you

  2. Mix your awareness with space.

This is more or less the version used by POGW

Example: Sam Harris Space Meditation