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fieldstone stupa at BCBS Upcoming Courses

December 6, 2014 full moon

Mapping the Mind

A presentation by Andrew Olendzki

blue sky pushes dark clouds away from stupa at BCBS

For the last couple of years I have been participating in and contributing to the Mind & Life Institute’s Mapping the Mind initiative. Among scientific researchers this topic primarily involves mapping out the wiring and firing of various neural networks in the brain, and indeed for those with strong materialist inclinations (which includes most scientists) mapping the mind can only really mean mapping the brain.

For practitioners of Buddhist meditation, however, the situation is entirely reversed. Meditation involves giving careful attention to the detailed and nuanced investigation of experience as it unfolds moment by moment. Mind is seen to consist of episodes of awareness arising and passing away one after another, and when engaged in the process of observing these closely, the notion of a brain is only a conceptual abstraction.

Standing at the intersection of these two world views, I have been working on the building of bridges. On the one hand I am trying to understand the classical Buddhist teachings in a naturalized if not secular way, looking for compatibilities between ancient and contemporary ideas. The subject at hand, the human experience of mind and body, is presumably universal, so the third-person standpoint of modern science and the first-person perspective of ancient contemplative practices should be ultimately complementary rather than antithetical.

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snow-covered BCBS stupa seen through branches of Japanese maple

November 6, 2014
Wise Attention
A conversation with Sayadaw U Jagara

October 8, 2014
Secular mindfulness: potential & pitfalls
By Jenny Wilks

September 8, 2014
Some (mostly secular) thoughts on Emptiness
By Gay Watson

August 10, 2014
Neuro-Bhavana: The Mindful Cultivation of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom
A video series with Rick Hanson

July 12, 2014
The Evolving Sangha
Talking with Jay Michaelson

June 13, 2014
Awareness of Thinking: Recollective Awareness Practice
Talking with Jason Siff

May 14, 2014
Jhāna Practice and True Happiness
Talking with Shaila Catherine

April 15, 2014
Natural Buddhism
By Gil Fronsdal

March 16, 2014
How is the Medium Changing the Message?
By Ken McLeod

February 14, 2014
Buddhist Roots & Ethics
Talking with Lynn Monteiro & Frank Musten

January 15, 2014
Silent Illumination
By Guo Gu

December 17, 2013
New Horizons: Talking with Andrew Olendzki

November 17, 2013
Not Knowing, Bearing Witness, & Compassionate Action
Robert Chodo Campbell and Koshin Paley Ellison

October 18, 2013
Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening
a conversation with Joseph Goldstein

September 19, 2013
MIT Meets the Monastery
a conversation with Rajesh Kashturirangan

August 20, 2013
Secular Buddhism: New vision or yet another of the myths it claims to cure?
By Akincano Weber

July 22, 2013
The Essence of Dhamma
By Ajaan Thanissaro

June 23, 2013
Seeing the Āsavas
By Gloria Taraniya Ambrosia

May 25, 2013
Meeting your thoughts at a resting place
By Jason Siff

April 25, 2013
New rivers, new rafts
By Chris Talbott

March 27, 2013
Wheels of Fire: The Buddha’s Radical Teaching on Process
By Kate Lila Wheeler

February 25, 2013
True & False: Dharma After the Western Enlightenment
Talking with Rita Gross

January 26, 2013
Honoring a Life & Legacy in the Dhamma
Talking with Mirka Knaster about Munindra

See Archive page for some older editions.