The Pointing Out Way Mahamudra Level 1 Retreat with Dan Brown, PhD
The pointing out style is an ancient way of teaching meditation that is firmly grounded in the teacher-student relationship.
In the early essence traditions of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, like the Great Seal (phyags chen; Mahamudra) and the Great Perfection (dzogs chen) meditation traditions, students were literally sung into awakening by their teachers using pithy poem-songs called dohas. The Tibetan word, ngo sprod pa means “to point out” or “to introduce". The teacher offers detailed explanation of the typical meditation experiences, way to practice, and common problems that arise at each stage of meditation practice. The student describes meditation experience in sufficient detail while the teacher carefully monitors the student’s meditation progress. When the student has developed the practice so as to make the mind "fit" the teacher points out the real nature of the mind and the protected practices that enable the student to awaken to the mind’s real nature. Pointing out refers to a style of teaching meditation that is firmly relationally-based.
Dan describes the pointing out style of teaching for the student as similar to working with a tour guide:
"I once engaged a guide to see the recent excavation of the West Wall under the Arab market in old Jerusalem. The tour guide pointed out the underground arches of the Roman bridges, the still intact entrance to the holy Second Temple, the 800 ton corner stone of the second temple along with the chisel marks where Roman soldiers had tried to destroy it, and the chariot tracks grooved into the original stone path to the temple. Had I walked the path underground alone, I would have seen simply dirt and stone. The relationship with the tour guide helped me to really see the arches, entrance way, and chariot tracks that I would otherwise not have seen. What the tour guide pointed out opened up an entire rich world that was now obvious to me."
The ancient Indo-Tibetan pointing out style of teaching helps you to see the "chariot tracks" at each step as you walk the path of meditation. The pointing out instructions deepen concentration meditation, enable the student to gain insight into how the mind constructs ordinary experience, and make the mind fit for awakening. Such instructions are remarkably simple, but not at all obvious without the right explanation or introduction.
This retreat is intensive. You will get a complete, detailed set of instructions for every stage of meditation practice in the retreat, hopefully in a form that is easy to implement. All the meditations are guided, and students are followed carefully. Therefore, retreat enrollment numbers are limited. After the initial retreat we offer to follow serious students on a regular basis as part of an on-going relationship. We do not offer silent retreats, because we give live instructions during the meditations to keep you on track, and we emphasize maintaining the realizations off the meditation pillow more than on it.
This sesshin will be co-led by Gretchen Nelson.
Base cost for teaching: $500 (ZCO members $400)
Room and board: $300 (ZCO members $200)
$50 non-refundable deposit required to reserve your space - balance due on arrival.
Mail to Registrar, P.O. Box 188, Clatskanie, Oregon 97016
Daniel Brown, PhD
Daniel Brown, PhD is the Directot of The Center for Integrative Psychotherapy in Newton, MA, and an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School. He has studied meditation practice for 38 years. Most of his 38 years of meditation experience has been squarely centered within the Indo-Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist tradition. He lived with his Tibetan root lama, the Venerable Geshe Wangyal summers between school for about a 10-year period.
Dr. Brown first learned Indo-Tibetan concentration and insight meditation with Geshe Wangyal, and then years later co-taught concentration and insight meditation with Denmo Locho Rinpoche and Yeshe Tapkay at Geshe Wangyal’s retreat house over a 15-year period. Dr. Brown learned Mahamudra from numerous Tibetan lamas mainly in the Tilopa/Marpa tradition and its subsidiary traditions, such as the Dwags-po/Karma or ‘Seat’ lineage, the Bri gung or ‘Five Parts’ lineage, and the Drug pa or ‘One Taste’ lineage, and also from the ecumenical Rime movement wherein Mahamudra and Gelukpa emptiness practices were integrated and Mahamudra and Great Completion practices were integrated.
Dr. Brown spent 10 years translating meditation texts from Tibetan and Sanskrit, including translating Tashi Namgyal’s great commentary on the Mahamudra, Moon Beams, as well as translating most of the important Mahamudra meditation practice texts found in Jamgon Kongtrul’s great collection of meditation texts, The Treasury of Instructions. As a Western psychologist he spent 10 years translating conducting outcomes research on beginning and advanced meditators. He has taught meditation retreats for 20 years.
He is the author of 14 books including Transformations of Consciousness (with Ken Wilbur & Jack Engler), and a new book on Mahamudra, Pointing Out the Great Way: The Mahamudra Tradition of Tibetan Meditation-Stages (Wisdom Publications), and two books on public dialogues with H.H. The Dalai Lama.