The space between sensation and awareness

I think the space between sensory perception (pure perception?) and awareness is clear light emptiness (rigpa?) At least it feels that way to me.

Too bad that space is only 250 ms long. :slightly_smiling_face:


Perhaps that can be “slowed down” in meditation or through the use of psychotropics?

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I’m thinking that we create that space during zhiné meditation when we “calm the surface of the pond” so we can see to the bottom.

Just knowing that this space exists is helping my daytime practice. Even though I know I’ll be reacting dualistically the next time someone steps into my office, I also know that I can dial that back a bit more each time with practice.

Here’s a cool article I just found:


I’d say yes, it can be slowed down as ones meditation practice deepens.

I barely scratched the surface at meditation when at my ‘best’, my mind has never passed the “coarse” stage I’m sure. But I have an example.

"Capacity of awareness in attention " - a phrase Ken McLeod uses a lot. I had all his recorded retreat talks playing during my first 2 years of “trying to meditate”. :wink: It was basically how I was able to pull the meat out of “fluffy poetic teachings.” He explains exactly what’s going on, rather than hinting at it. Big dog, daily walks, I got in lots of Audiobook etc hours!

I’d add - clearer peripheral vision too. [1]

We walked in natural-ish canal the city stopped using, so down inside a tree lined dug-out trail basically. And lots of other growing stuff. Open space in the middle of the city basically. Packs of coyotes my pup harassed, sometimes deer, owls.

While walking along I caught a whiff of something foul and the way I experienced it was:

1 - smell perception (however fast a nose translates air particles into neuron electricity… )
2 - recoil
3 - awareness of 1 & 2

The lizard brain is fast! My interpretation is some senses are biologically wired to bypass the conscious brain of thought, as an evolutionary survival mechanism. Can’t find the words…

Also had realization that aversion is VERY DEEP and SUBTLE! Pre-thought. Capacity in awareness needs to be larger than the most primitive parts of the brain to get at the reaction to “aggression” - of the 3 poisons.

Ignorance is the most pervasive.

I hear passion is the last to go? Why sex practices in buddhism and daoism are like the last ones taught. Because the intent is to transform (transmute?) a biological drive into energy and use that energy as “turbo-power” to break through…oh, I guess ignorance! To wake up and stay woke?

I’m just going to asserting here - without getting explicit - that Buddhist teachings and the “path” is like pharmaceuticals. Made by men, tested on men (birth control pill was tested on male prisoners), and dosages are determined for men. Then they are prescribed to women.

  • Think…biological drive.

  • Also language used to describe hell realms - women don’t have enough testosterone to experience anywhere NEAR that level of anger. (been learning how truly different the sexes are as a little project).

  • Another McLeod ref: his recorded voice said he taught a class on compassion. At the end, men unanimously said “I had no idea this entire other world of experience existed!” Women’s response was, “NOW how can I ever say no?!”

Totally random.
But worth noting, advanced folks!


What have you learned?

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It was in context to “Why Men Lie” - they fear the wrath of their female partner, assuming it is as extreme as his. Alison Armstrong. She basically interviews men to learn how they think and operate (20 yrs now she says), realized it was completely different from the way women do, and found her life’s work. To teach couples how to understand each other and bring out the best in each other, not the worst.


There’s a cultural aspect to this that I believe is another vector circle in this puzzle.


Hey Steve,
very interesting question.
How do you experience this state during first sensory perception up to the point at which the mind interprets the sensory impulse?
And what happens after the mind has started to interpret?
What type of Zhine do you practice?
Best regards


Blockquote[quote=“Steve_Gleason, post:1, topic:680, full:true”]
I think the space between sensory perception (pure perception?) and awareness is clear light emptiness (rigpa?) At least it feels that way to me.

Too bad that space is only 250 ms long. :slightly_smiling_face:

Are you practicing Dzogchen? In the stage of Trekchod one practices to maintain Rigpa longer over time.

I missed this. I am a loose practitioner of Dzogchen so I am not familiar with Trekchod. I definitely work at maintaining Rigpa at odd times and for longer durations during the day.

EDIT: I have familiarized myself with Trekchod and I see it as a valuable practice for lucid dreaming/dream yoga…purposefully cutting through samsaric images in such a way as to maintain that connection with the open and spacious ground from which those images arise.

Not sure if I have that right. :slightly_smiling_face:


I’d have to say that I do not often experience this state during first sensory perception as that time period is just too short. The moments when someone pops a balloon behind you or jumps out at you as you walk around a corner are clear light moments.
I used to try to get my Aikido students to abide in this kind of presence during multiple attack scenarios.

My mind is filled with editing tools as a result of a life of karmic conditioning. That editing software kicks in immediately and my perception is formed by editing what has been purely revealed into what I expect to see.

I have a few objects in my studio that I will concentrate on without blinking or letting my thoughts waver. I also will pick a spot in the air and attempt to hold that purely in my perception.
Of late I have been practicing a form of Zhine that I call “Stop The Flow”. In this exercise I say those words during the day at odd times and then concentrate on whatever I am looking at for as long as possible, examining every minute detail of it.

I apologize for the late response to your posts @KyungMar as I greatly value this kind of dialog. Thank you.



That‘s interesting; I also only had these moments only a very few times, since they are so short. One time, I was driving and an object at the roadside caught my attention which I did not immediately identify, so I felt a mental vertigo/emptiness. Like being stunned/awed. This moment seemed to dilate although it was only a split second. By the way, the object was a road sign :slight_smile:
The second instance was when I was allowed to enter an airplane’s cockpit during a flight many years ago. The door opened and I was immediately struck by the breath taking beauty of a sunset to be seen from the cockpit window. I basically stopped thinking since I was again in a sort of mental vertigo - feeling stunned. That lasted for about a second, after the pilot asked me a question and „pulled“ me out. haha

That’s also very interesting. When you do Zhine with an object, are you scanning details of the object or rather like aiming at a target with bow and arrow, or trying to thread a needle.
The reason why I‘m asking is because those where the instructions once given to me me by Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung (i.e. aiming at a target, threading a needle). Additional advice was, that one should slowly increase the session duration, let the tears run, and drop any thoughts and expectations.

I asked him about how tense or relaxed one should be. He answered along the lines that yes, there is an amount of effort to focus at first, but one should also relax into it.

I actually am currently in my Ngöndro training of which Zhine is a part. For some unknown reason though, I have discontinued the Zhine training a while ago after reaching first stable states.
This discussion and also listening to Alan Wallace‘s interview inspires me to pick it up again.

I have heard the metaphor of threading a needle in one of the videos that I like to watch with Dr, Nida Chenagtsang. Dr. Nida uses the metaphor when he speaks of concentrating on the red “A” at the throat chakra during pre-dream noctural meditation.

I like that image a lot and it really does describe my Zhine practice. And you are right on as well about the intensity of the practice until tears come from from not blinking.

I have always read that Zhine is a very basic exercise and yet it is so powerful. At any moment during the day, in any place, I find myself taking a few moments to concentrate on something. But during prolonged Zhine I find that form begins to become formless as the object begins to waver and change.

I find that sustained Zhine on an object will, after some time, bring about some really wild visual effects, cascading/rippling tunnels of light, like extremely strong hypnogogia.

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