In this second part of my interview with Dr. Daniel P. Brown, we explore the second stage of training in Mahamudra Pointing Out The Great Way.
In part 1, we explored the Elephant Path of concentration and meditation, which is the first stage of training in Mahamudra Pointing Out The Great Way.
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Part 2 – The Neuroscience of Awakening
In this episode, Dan talks about the how the Elephant Path of concentration crosses over into the Tibetan mahamudra training. Here are a few of the questions we explore:
- What are the challenges that emerge at the higher stages of concentration and meditation and how do you deal with the issues that come up and challenge our concentration?
- Development of self-sense as central organizing principle
- The Heart Sutra
- Judson Brewer’s work on the Neuroscience of Awakening supported by the Fetzer Foundation.
- What is simultaneous mind and the cosmic database. These are the awakened state that the sutras are written in.
- How do we tap into the Cosmic Database?
- What Is Mind only and what does it stand for?
- What are the three maps of awareness according to Mahamudra?
- What transformation has Dan seen in his students over time? Along what timeline?
- What is metacognition and why is it so important? How does metacognition help you to avoid getting lost in meditation? How does the teacher help create that space of metacognition for the student in the pointing out way?
- How does metacognition relate to Western psychology?
Dan is an Associate Clinical Professor at Harvard Medical School, a world-renowned Forensic Law & Western psychology expert as well as a Senior Meditation Master in Indo-Tibetan Bon & Buddhism.
Dan has gained more than 50 years of research by synthesizing Western psychotherapy and positive psychology with Eastern contemplative traditions.
Dr. Brown studied meditation practice for 47 years, including Patanjali’s Yogasutras and its commentaries in the original Sanskrit with the great historian of religion, Mircea Eliade and as a direct meditation practice with Dr. Arwind Vasavada. He studied Burmese mindfulness meditation in Burma with its originator, Mahasi Sayadaw and other masters like Tungpalu Sayadaw and Acchan Cha.
He studied Indo-Tibetan concentration and insight meditation with the root teacher, Geshe Wangyal, and then with Denmo Loncho Rinpoche and Yeshe Tapgyay, and learned Mahamudra meditation from numerous Tibetan lamas. He spent 46 years translating meditation texts from Tibetan and Sanskrit .
As a Western psychologist he spent 10 years conducting outcomes research on beginning and advanced meditators, with an emphasis on researching the effects of intensive concentration meditation and on the nature of the awakened mind. He has taught intensive meditation retreats internationally for 32 years, alone and in collaboration with a number of Tibetan meditation masters.
His recent interest is in meditations designed to stabilize awakening in everyday life and to bring about the flourishing of positive qualities of mind, such as the Great Completion (Dzogschen) meditations.
He is the author of 4 books on meditation including Transformations of Consciousness and Pointing Out the Great Way. He translated the Pith Instructions on the A Khrid rDzogs Chen [Great Completion] meditation, and an extensive collection of the most advanced cave and hermitage yogi practices, The Self-Arising Three-fold Embodiment of Enlightenment.
Dr. Brown’s background in both Western psychology and Eastern meditation traditions offers a unique integration of the contemporary Western research on peak performance and positive psychology and the classical Buddhist meditation lineage traditions. He has the only scientific study identifying the neurocircuitry of the meditative experience of awakened mind.