Four kinds of awareness
This morning I listened to a conversation between Sam Harris and Diana Winston, a meditation teacher.
Like Sam, Diana traveled to Asia to study with meditation masters. Like Sam, Diana went on long retreats and put in many hours to attain enlightenment. Like Sam, Diana encountered Dzogchen teaching and found it transformative.
Unlike Sam, Diana’s encounter was through a book—“The Tibetan book of living and dying”—and not a teacher.
She says: “That book changed my life. I read it, and it was like my whole mind opened to what I am calling ‘natural awareness,’ this shift in consciousness.
“There’s nowhere to go. There’s nothing to get. You’re here. The mind is already innately pure, luminous, bright.
“Here it is.”
Diana teaches four different styles of meditation, corresponding to four different approaches to awareness.
The first is “focused awareness.” Put your attention on an object. If your mind wanders, as it will, then when you become aware that your mind has wandered, bring it back to your object of attention.
The second she calls “investigative awareness.” When your attention moves, notice what it’s chosen. Pay attention to that thing. Examine it. Then gently return attention to your anchor object.
The third is “choiceless awareness.” Here you let go of your meditation anchor. You don’t try to control or direct anything. You just let your mind do what it does, and you make yourself aware of what’s happening.
The last is “natural awareness,” which comes from the Dzogchen practice. The goal is to realize that your mind is already “pure, luminous, bright.” Your mind is a wide-open space. Instead of paying attention to the clouds, you see the sky.
So here I am, now, doing my own practice.
I see the sky.