Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

chimechodra
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Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by chimechodra » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:23 pm

Hey all,

I was wondering if anyone here had any experience with Daniel P Brown's retreats or community over at Pointing Out Way? http://www.pointingoutway.org/

I've been reading his book, which seems to be universally acclaimed. I've done some searching here and it seems that generally the opinion of him and his book are almost unanimously positive, excluding a couple of posts complaining about his translation and saying he was trying to modernize Mahamudra teachings. However, I haven't seen any dedicated threads or posts that talk more about his community, or experiences with retreats or him as a teacher.

Does anyone have any background with him that could share more? From what I can tell, he and some of his teachers lead the introductory courses, and he brings in bonafide Rinpoches to help lead the more advanced retreats, so there are definitely no questions about the authenticity of the lineage and approach that he is offering, as far as I can tell. I like the very strong and clear emphasis on both practice and a relationship with a qualified teacher, two things that are extremely important to me and the latter being something I've been struggling to find. It seems that follow up calls are quite expensive though, which is a little worrisome, although it doesn't seem to be a rare thing in dharma circles these days, although I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing...

Either way, I'm considering the possibility of attending a Level 1 retreat something next year with them, and I was hoping somebody could share any experiences they have with them.

Thanks!

midwest
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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by midwest » Sun Aug 23, 2015 5:33 am

Hello- I had the same question. Did you ever find an answer. It looks good, and he is certainly experienced and learned, but it's interesting that there is no one talking about their experiences online. Maybe it is just too new?

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by DGA » Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:07 am

Daniel Brown is the author of 15 books including Transformations of Consciousness (with Ken Wilbur & Jack Engler), a 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.
http://www.pointingoutway.org/teachers

I have to say I'm a bit skeptical. He's promoting himself as someone who has written a lot of books, but he's misspelled the name of one of his co-authors--the New Age writer Ken Wilber. More to the point, is he teaching a mix of Wilber's approach and Dzogchen/Mahamudra as he's picked up from these sources that he lists, or...? And who authorized him to teach?

He may be an excellent teacher. I don't know. I'd need more knowledge of him before I'd take instruction from him.

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by Bakmoon » Mon Aug 24, 2015 3:19 am

DGA wrote:I have to say I'm a bit skeptical. He's promoting himself as someone who has written a lot of books, but he's misspelled the name of one of his co-authors--the New Age writer Ken Wilber. More to the point, is he teaching a mix of Wilber's approach and Dzogchen/Mahamudra as he's picked up from these sources that he lists, or...? And who authorized him to teach?

He may be an excellent teacher. I don't know. I'd need more knowledge of him before I'd take instruction from him.
Ken Wilber? Yuck. That would be a huge red flag for me. Ken Wilber's approach to things is to simplify and exaggerate features of different traditions and schools so that he can classify them into little symetrical categories that fit together to form some grand totality of everything crap.

Does anyone know who taught Daniel Brown Mahamudra and if he was authorized to teach it?

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by philji » Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:43 am

There are many other teachers I would prefer to receive such instructions from.

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by fckw » Mon Aug 24, 2015 5:58 pm

I have attended several retreats with Mr. Brown. In my eyes, he is the most capable mediation teacher I have ever met. I have had several different meditation teachers in different traditions (mostly Therevada and Vajrayana). The way he teaches meditation is quite different from all the other teachers I have known. He calls it "pointing out" style. That means, while you sit and meditate he actually gives you the instructions on what to do. Immediately after the meditation session there is a group feedback, where students share their experiences. He then gives advice and guidance and corrects if necessary. In this way you also learn from others' experiences, not only from your own. This is extremely beneficial for participants. I have seen people making progress - in a retreat setting - at a speed that I would not have believed possible.
The retreats are quite lax, though, especially coming from a Vipassana background, I somewhat missed the rigor and dedicated sitting on the pillows. I believe that is because Mr. Brown does not very much believe in the idea of secluded retreats, but definitely favors a setting more close to everyday life.
Furthermore, retreats may be considered expensive, expect to pay roughly 900 USD per one-week retreat plus costs for a B&B or hotel and food depending on the place. (If you find that outrageous be confirmed that Mr. Brown himself leads a quite modest life. Recently, a lot of money from the retreats went directly to Nepal to build facilities.)
Brown himself has teacher authority both in a Therevada tradition (which he does not teach) and Vajrayana. He teaches (Sutra-) Mahamudra and Dzogchen, but for any reason no Tantra. He never teaches alone, but always includes someone else, usually a Tibetan lama is with him in a retreat (except level 1 courses where usually his partner is with him). Retreats are "leveled", you necessarily have to start with the Level 1 retreat (Sutra-Mahamudra), go through Level 2 (somewhere in between Mahamudra and Dzogchen), do at least one of 3a/b/c/d (Trek Chöd; important Dzogchen texts such Garab Dorje's Three Statements, Nangjang, A-Khrid etc.) and finally 4 (Tögel, Six Lamps). I was first quite skeptical concerning these levels, but now I see that they are simply a logical progression of the advancement of meditative progress and the focus of the corresponding meditation instructions concerned by the corresponding root texts he relies on.
He knows enough Sanskrit and Tibetan to read and translate the relevant root texts he teaches himself. He's involved in some translation project for important Bön root texts he received directly from H.H. Menri Trizin that, to my knowledge, so far have not yet been translated.
Professionally he works (or worked) as a psychotherapist, has written a nowadays standard text book on hypno-therapy and lectured at Harvard medical school. Yes, he co-authored at least one book with Ken Wilber (I think they were roommates a long time ago, but I'm not sure) and Jack Engler which was "Transformations of Consciousness".

I think that pretty much sums it all up. Build your own opinion. Brown's website: http://www.pointingoutway.org/.

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by Malcolm » Mon Aug 24, 2015 6:08 pm

fckw wrote: He knows enough Sanskrit and Tibetan to read and translate the relevant root texts he teaches himself. He's involved in some translation project for important Bön root texts he received directly from H.H. Menri Trizin that, to my knowledge, so far have not yet been translated.
All the Bonpo texts he is working on have already been translated at least once. [A Khrid, Six Lamps]
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by DGA » Mon Aug 24, 2015 6:59 pm

fckw wrote:I have attended several retreats with Mr. Brown. In my eyes, he is the most capable mediation teacher I have ever met. I have had several different meditation teachers in different traditions (mostly Therevada and Vajrayana). The way he teaches meditation is quite different from all the other teachers I have known. He calls it "pointing out" style. That means, while you sit and meditate he actually gives you the instructions on what to do. Immediately after the meditation session there is a group feedback, where students share their experiences. He then gives advice and guidance and corrects if necessary. In this way you also learn from others' experiences, not only from your own. This is extremely beneficial for participants. I have seen people making progress - in a retreat setting - at a speed that I would not have believed possible.
The retreats are quite lax, though, especially coming from a Vipassana background, I somewhat missed the rigor and dedicated sitting on the pillows. I believe that is because Mr. Brown does not very much believe in the idea of secluded retreats, but definitely favors a setting more close to everyday life.
Furthermore, retreats may be considered expensive, expect to pay roughly 900 USD per one-week retreat plus costs for a B&B or hotel and food depending on the place. (If you find that outrageous be confirmed that Mr. Brown himself leads a quite modest life. Recently, a lot of money from the retreats went directly to Nepal to build facilities.)
Brown himself has teacher authority both in a Therevada tradition (which he does not teach) and Vajrayana. He teaches (Sutra-) Mahamudra and Dzogchen, but for any reason no Tantra. He never teaches alone, but always includes someone else, usually a Tibetan lama is with him in a retreat (except level 1 courses where usually his partner is with him). Retreats are "leveled", you necessarily have to start with the Level 1 retreat (Sutra-Mahamudra), go through Level 2 (somewhere in between Mahamudra and Dzogchen), do at least one of 3a/b/c/d (Trek Chöd; important Dzogchen texts such Garab Dorje's Three Statements, Nangjang, A-Khrid etc.) and finally 4 (Tögel, Six Lamps). I was first quite skeptical concerning these levels, but now I see that they are simply a logical progression of the advancement of meditative progress and the focus of the corresponding meditation instructions concerned by the corresponding root texts he relies on.
He knows enough Sanskrit and Tibetan to read and translate the relevant root texts he teaches himself. He's involved in some translation project for important Bön root texts he received directly from H.H. Menri Trizin that, to my knowledge, so far have not yet been translated.
Professionally he works (or worked) as a psychotherapist, has written a nowadays standard text book on hypno-therapy and lectured at Harvard medical school. Yes, he co-authored at least one book with Ken Wilber (I think they were roommates a long time ago, but I'm not sure) and Jack Engler which was "Transformations of Consciousness".

I think that pretty much sums it all up. Build your own opinion. Brown's website: http://www.pointingoutway.org/.
There's a difference between meditation practice, and Dharma practice.

This board is about Dharma practice. Meditation is one aspect of Dharma practice--one means to the end, as it were. When you say "meditation teacher," do you mean that Brown is only teaching a meditation technique, and not a Dharma path? Or are you saying that, to your mind or Brown's, that meditation is the path?

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by DGA » Mon Aug 24, 2015 7:03 pm

Bakmoon wrote:
DGA wrote:I have to say I'm a bit skeptical. He's promoting himself as someone who has written a lot of books, but he's misspelled the name of one of his co-authors--the New Age writer Ken Wilber. More to the point, is he teaching a mix of Wilber's approach and Dzogchen/Mahamudra as he's picked up from these sources that he lists, or...? And who authorized him to teach?

He may be an excellent teacher. I don't know. I'd need more knowledge of him before I'd take instruction from him.
Ken Wilber? Yuck. That would be a huge red flag for me. Ken Wilber's approach to things is to simplify and exaggerate features of different traditions and schools so that he can classify them into little symetrical categories that fit together to form some grand totality of everything crap.

Does anyone know who taught Daniel Brown Mahamudra and if he was authorized to teach it?
Many people have participated in dialogues or co-authorings with Wilber without agreeing with him. Wilber's a prolific author (one reason why his books and lectures contain so many contradictions) and he likes to associate himself with people who seem like spiritual teachers. Anyway I don't go in for the guilt-by-association thing. It's possible to be friends with the man without being his disciple or whatever. I think it's an open question, though, just what sort of path Brown is teaching, and who authorized him to teach that path.

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by Bakmoon » Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:42 pm

DGA wrote:Many people have participated in dialogues or co-authorings with Wilber without agreeing with him. Wilber's a prolific author (one reason why his books and lectures contain so many contradictions) and he likes to associate himself with people who seem like spiritual teachers. Anyway I don't go in for the guilt-by-association thing. It's possible to be friends with the man without being his disciple or whatever. I think it's an open question, though, just what sort of path Brown is teaching, and who authorized him to teach that path.
I'm not saying the Kenneth Wilbur association automatically disqualifies him, but I do think it indicates a need to be cautions, particularly in terms of whether or not he has authorization to teach. If he does have authorization to teach and has been adequately trained in Mahamudra I won't have a problem with it, but I've looked online and I can't find that kind of information about his lineage yet.

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:43 pm

DGA wrote:
Bakmoon wrote:
DGA wrote:I have to say I'm a bit skeptical. He's promoting himself as someone who has written a lot of books, but he's misspelled the name of one of his co-authors--the New Age writer Ken Wilber. More to the point, is he teaching a mix of Wilber's approach and Dzogchen/Mahamudra as he's picked up from these sources that he lists, or...? And who authorized him to teach?

He may be an excellent teacher. I don't know. I'd need more knowledge of him before I'd take instruction from him.
Ken Wilber? Yuck. That would be a huge red flag for me. Ken Wilber's approach to things is to simplify and exaggerate features of different traditions and schools so that he can classify them into little symetrical categories that fit together to form some grand totality of everything crap.

Does anyone know who taught Daniel Brown Mahamudra and if he was authorized to teach it?
Many people have participated in dialogues or co-authorings with Wilber without agreeing with him. Wilber's a prolific author (one reason why his books and lectures contain so many contradictions) and he likes to associate himself with people who seem like spiritual teachers. Anyway I don't go in for the guilt-by-association thing. It's possible to be friends with the man without being his disciple or whatever. I think it's an open question, though, just what sort of path Brown is teaching, and who authorized him to teach that path.

I'm pretty sure i've read a book by Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche with a forward by Wilbur.
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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by Malcolm » Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:50 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:

I'm pretty sure i've read a book by Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche with a forward by Wilbur.
They way that works is that Publisher X agrees to publish Author Y's book, and then the Publisher goes out and asks someone they think is influential in the target audience to write a forward. It does not mean that the author necessarily condones the person who wrote the forward, or vice versa, as crazy as that sounds.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by fckw » Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:52 pm

Malcolm wrote:
fckw wrote: He knows enough Sanskrit and Tibetan to read and translate the relevant root texts he teaches himself. He's involved in some translation project for important Bön root texts he received directly from H.H. Menri Trizin that, to my knowledge, so far have not yet been translated.
All the Bonpo texts he is working on have already been translated at least once. [A Khrid, Six Lamps]
I'm aware of that, to the best of my knowledge he was in contact with JLA and Reynolds. He mentioned working on different texts, but did not specifically name them. If you're interested, you will have to contact him.

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by fckw » Mon Aug 24, 2015 9:00 pm

DGA wrote: There's a difference between meditation practice, and Dharma practice.

This board is about Dharma practice. Meditation is one aspect of Dharma practice--one means to the end, as it were. When you say "meditation teacher," do you mean that Brown is only teaching a meditation technique, and not a Dharma path? Or are you saying that, to your mind or Brown's, that meditation is the path?
Well, I have no idea how you use these terms - dharma vs. meditation practice. You will have to ask him or attend to his retreats, if you want to know more about this specific topic. Maybe what you mean is this: Indeed during retreats he puts much more emphasis on meditation practice than on other aspects of the dharma such as metaphysics, rhetorics, astrology, or medicine, to name a few ones.

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by DGA » Mon Aug 24, 2015 9:05 pm

OK, I'll put it my question differently. You've said that you've attended his teachings. What does he teach when he teaches?

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by fckw » Mon Aug 24, 2015 9:14 pm

DGA wrote: Does anyone know who taught Daniel Brown Mahamudra and if he was authorized to teach it?
When it comes to the question of authorization and lineage, you'll have to send him an email to get the details. I don't know exactly who all his teachers are. However, it's worth mentioning that all the text empowerments given out to students are not given by him directly, but only by the Tibetan/Nepali guest teachers listed on the website, for example by Chongtul Rinpoche or Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. I have never seen Brown giving an empowerment to anyone. (He does teach the Sutra-Mahamudra level 1 course without a Tibetan/Nepali guest teacher, however you might argue that this indeed is a Sutra-based system and as such does not require an empowerment. You might also disagree with this point of view. In both cases he deserves credit for his Mahamudra book.)

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by fckw » Mon Aug 24, 2015 9:31 pm

DGA wrote:OK, I'll put it my question differently. You've said that you've attended his teachings. What does he teach when he teaches?
Meditation mainly. Sutra-Mahamudra in level 1, Dzogchen in level 3 (Trek Chöd) and 4 (Tögel), and a mix in level 2. His teaching style is very traditional actually. In my personal view, he is more traditional even than many Tibetan lamas teaching in the West. His Sutra-Mahamudra teachings are, to my knowledge, informed a lot by Kagyu-teachings, his Dzogchen teachings are both from Nyingma and Bön schools (but no mix, each retreat focusing on a specific text). He has a very high opinion of the Rimé idea.

Concerning Wilber, I think they have been friends for a very long time now knowing each other already since the 70ties. If you're skeptical about the book "Transformations of Consciousness" then have a short look in there. The chapters provided by Brown are of exceptional quality. The chapters of Wilber are, well, Wilber. Those written by Engler are not bad neither. It was actually the quality of his writing that originally made me want to attend one of the retreats. Very scientific, very precise. I thought I should give it a try. And so far I did not regret it at all.

But, as I said above, feel free to disagree. I have no intentions of convincing anyone out there or advertise him in any way. There's many things that I could criticize about Mr. Brown, but then again, nobody's perfect. Well, and as I said, in my eyes he is simply the most capable meditation teacher I've ever come across. So, feel free to give it a try. Or feel free not to, whichever you prefer.

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Aug 24, 2015 10:39 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:

I'm pretty sure i've read a book by Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche with a forward by Wilbur.
They way that works is that Publisher X agrees to publish Author Y's book, and then the Publisher goes out and asks someone they think is influential in the target audience to write a forward. It does not mean that the author necessarily condones the person who wrote the forward, or vice versa, as crazy as that sounds.

That's exactly what I mean...Wilbur crops up in the works of respected Dharma teachers regularly, I am pretty sure I have seen more than the one book where he writes a forward, is thanked, or something. So it's obvious that the authors aren't endorsing his views really, at the same time, guilt by association with the guy makes no sense.
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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by Malcolm » Mon Aug 24, 2015 10:48 pm

fckw wrote:
DGA wrote:OK, I'll put it my question differently. You've said that you've attended his teachings. What does he teach when he teaches?
Meditation mainly. Sutra-Mahamudra in level 1, Dzogchen in level 3 (Trek Chöd) and 4 (Tögel), and a mix in level 2. His teaching style is very traditional actually.
So, he is giving direct introduction in level 2?
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Daniel P Brown - Pointing Out Way?

Post by Malcolm » Mon Aug 24, 2015 11:01 pm

fckw wrote:His teaching style is very traditional actually.
His stated goals are to cherry pick Tibetan traditions for practices he deems suitable for western culture and to rework scholarly translations into practice oriented language.

This may appeal to some, but not to me.

For one, if you are a practitioner translator, you are already doing this. The idea of adapting Dzogchen to the West is more than a little hubristic.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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