Neuroscience research

May – June 2013, I took a Coursera MOOC (Massive Open Online Course ) in Medical Neuroscience, with Professor Leonard E. White, neuroscientist and professor at the Duke University School of Medicine and Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. The medical school level course was designed to equip students in the health professions for interpreting impairments of sensation, action and cognition that accompany neurological injury, disease or dysfunction. Students currently pursuing advanced studies in the brain sciences will benefit from this course by learning the fundamentals of functional human neuroanatomy and how neuroscience discovery translates to clinical practice. Almost 45,000 people enrolled. 1226 of us made it through the final exams and completed the course. Whew!!

I was so inspired by the mindfulness and sense-of-self aspects of the course that I gave a dharma talk based what I’ve been learning: Buddha’s Neuroscience pt1 ,  Buddha’s Neurology 2Q&A .The talk followed a guided meditation given by Bikkho Analayo during a dharma talk at Spirit Rock in Oct. 2011 – Mindfulness According to Early Buddhist Sources . The meditation begins at 41:55 and is excerpted here in 3 sections (which plays smoothly in iTunes):      Analayo posture intro , Analayo 4Sati breath middle , Analayo 4Sati breath end.   Notes: The reference to the meditation on sound was to a man and his friend’s young son talking loudly outside the door. The heater came on twice in the background – noisy fan sound. Owen Flanagan is the Duke University philosopher (  Daniel Siegel’s hand model of the brain:

Resources from other dharma talks/presentations: install the good Rick Hanson and   objection without contraction .  “There is a world behind the world we see that is the same world but more open, more transparent.”  — Gary Snyder

The Objection without Contraction practice reminds me of Molly Ivins’ story of the boys in the hen house who got so scared by a harmless chicken snake that they banged into each other running for the door: “some things’ll scare you so bad you’ll hurt yourself”. Molly observes: “We think we can make ourselves safer by making ourselves less free. . . . When you make yourself less free, all that happens is that you are less free…you are not safer. This has both personal and political implications.” .
And the Dana Fauld’s poem Awakening Now
Why wait for your awakening?
Do you value your reasons for staying small
more than the light shining through the open door?
Forgive yourself,
Forgive yourself.
Now is the only time you have to be whole.
Now is the sole moment that exists to live in the light of your true nature.
Perfection is not a prerequisite for anything but pain.
Perfection is not a prerequisite for anything but pain.
Please, oh please, don’t continue to believe
in your stories of deficiency and failure.
This is the day of your awakening.