Growing up in Ohio in the 1970’s I experienced the oil price shocks of 1973 and 1979 and reflected on the sheer inefficiency that exists in the production of energy. Interested in addressing that inefficiency, I obtained my college degree in Chemical Engineering and in a short time co-led the first enhanced oil recovery project in the Alaskan Prudhoe Bay Oil Field. My ordinary life took me to San Fransico and Alaska where I was exposed to a variety of spiritual practices and the wonders of nature. Though on reflection I clearly see where the opportunities existed to pursue the ancient teachings, my path lead through the sublime presence of being in nature and usually in a physically challenging activity such as skiing, climbing, sailing etc. These peak experiences took me, if only temporarily, to a state beyond myself and encouraged me to come back for more.
Along the way, I balanced life with adventure. In the late 1980’s I made a transition from a pure engineering career to a career focused on the economics of energy. I obtained an advanced degree from Stanford and then traveled the world for a year which was to that point my most significant education. Traveling on a budget put me very close to the host culture and I was fascinated to see the different types of conditioning that led to one cultural view point versus another. It is often easier to see the cultural conditioning in others, but after a year, my biggest culture shock was returning to the consumerism of the United States.
For the next 30 years I combined my knowledge of the energy extraction industry and international relations and worked in the identification and execution of exploration and production projects in more that 30 countries. I eventually led a major oil company’s activity as country manager in Ecuador and then in Russia. I far preferred Ecuador for its warm and outgoing culture.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, in 2008 I suffered a rather severe concussion in a ski accident and experienced moderate traumatic brain injury. I also developed a serious case of sciatica. As life would unfold, these two injuries set the stage for a committed yoga practice to address the sciatica and an unrefined meditation practice, as I went to an ashram in the Bahamas which led me to an undeniable meditative experience that bordered on bliss. Through Hatha Yoga and meta and mindfulness meditation, I developed without much specific intent, a rather strong ability to concentrate. It seemed to be the perfect self arising practice to address both my sciatica and traumatic brain injury. At that point I described my practice as self medication through meditation. It worked while I was on the pillow but it only had a half live of several hours. I think that had I not been introduced to the natural state of the mind by Dan Brown, I would have been stuck in a bliss mindfulness mediative practice for years.
The Pointing Out Way meditative practice that Dan has tailored for the western practitioner enables direct introduction to the natural state of the mind. Dan’s transmission of the Bonpo/Dzogchen teachings also helps one refine his or her practice. Dan and Geshe Sonam, at the direction of His Holiness Menri Trizin the 33rd, have translated a number of the Bonpo Dzogchen practices and I truly hope these practices will prove very beneficial to the many westerners who are drawn to the teachings.