Through a series of guided meditations and discussion, this course will explore the nature of mind and consciousness. By combining descriptions of the mind from the Abhidhamma, the Lankavatara Sutra, and modern neuroscience, we will arrive at a straightforward and coherent model of the mind. When applied in meditation, this model reveals through direct experience the nature of consciousness itself, and how interactions between consciousness and the unconscious cause the mind to behave as it does. This, in turn, allows for a better understanding of how and why various meditation systems work, thus greatly enhancing our practice of any of them. In particular, we will examine the importance of stable attention and strong introspective awareness, clarify exactly what mindfulness is, and see how cultivating stable attention and mindfulness give rise to Insight and Awakening. The conceptual model will be supported throughout by experiential practices. This integration recognizes that the Abhidhamma and Lankavatara models are based on the experiences of highly skilled meditators, and those same experiences are available to every meditator. This integration builds upon the contribution of neuroscience and modern psychology to expand into a more thoroughgoing framework for our own time and place.
To understand, and appreciate through direct experience, the two distinct physiological modes of conscious perception corresponding to attention and awareness, and their relationship to each other as samadhi and sati; understand, and personally experience in meditation, the cultivation of stable attention and powerful introspective awareness as the practice of samma samadhi and samma sati as described in the Eight-fold Path leading to Insight and Awakening; understand, and experientially verify, the true nature of consciousness as an information exchange process between different and discreet unconscious mental processes; understand, and verify through personal experience, the illusory nature of the Self as a singular, self-existent entity responsible for agency, intention, observation and experience; and understand, and also possibly achieve, direct experience of the underlying process by which working memory, episodic memory, and autobiographical memory give rise to the experience of subjectivity, which in turn becomes elaborated into the illusion of an egoic Self who experiences continuity of existence over the course of a lifetime.
Suitable for both beginning and experienced practitioners.
Lottery closes April 15, 2019