Is there a hearer in addition to the fact of hearing?

Breaking down one of the most commonly used phrases used in Waking Up.

I’ve been using Sam Harris’ meditation app for a while now, and over time have noticed there are a few phrases he uses more than others. I hope to write about them all one day, but for now I’m going to mostly focus on just one:

Is there a hearer in addition to the fact of hearing?

It’s arguably the phrase he uses most, and I believe it’s related to at least two others:

  1. “Everything we know is a modification of knowing.”

  2. “Everything is made of consciousness.”

The way I see it, the goal of all three is to point out that ultimately our minds are only ever in one state, and that state is repeatedly being influenced by whatever thought happens to be on our mind at that moment. Sometimes that thought is self-identifying — or about, “the hearer” — other times it’s abstract — or about, “the fact of hearing”.

No matter which of the two categories any one thought falls into, though, the state our mind is in between each passing thought is uninfluenced, and therefore exactly the same.

I believe the word “everything” in those last two quotes above is referencing this in-between state our minds are always switching in and out of. Sam sometimes refers to this state as “thought-free awareness,” and will encourage us to “Rest in the space prior to thought.”

I’ll try to explain what I think is gained by heeding that advice in the next post.

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