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The Heart Sutra as Daniel P Brown´s model for teaching Mahamudra in stages

Heart sutra version 1 and version 2.

How the Heart Sutra is used by Daniel P Brown to explain the stages of Mahamudra meditation.

The Heart Sutra, Chinese calligraphy (Source: Wikipedia)

(You will find here transcriptions of some relevant passages from Youtube videos).

The Heart Sutra describes a 4-step process

The Heart Sutra describes a 4-step process to awakening. This 4-step process involves a learnable sequence of particular mental operations, or meditative views, or perspectives, or "bases of operation".

Each view overcomes an additional limitation of the mind, or metaphorically a layer of cloud that obscures the mind´s awareness.


​Main means to overcome


​Concentration meditation, isolating awareness from thought

​The illusory Self

​Emptiness of Self meditation

​The illusion of time and space

​Various pointing out instructions to eliminate the idea of time and of spatial boundaries

​Localisation of consciousness

​Ocean and Wave meditation

The Heart Sutra concluding verse

The culminating verse of the Heart Sutra

Listen to the verses (this link does not start in the beginning of the Heart Sutra but at the above verse)

Translation by Daniel P Brown

Gone, Gone, Gone Way Beyond, Gone Way Way Beyond: Uh what a Realisation!

Going beyond in 4 steps

Essentially, the content and sequencing of the retreat mirrored the 4 steps of "going beyond". These 4 steps represent the underlying structure of progressive levels of awareness, and specific views, that Daniel P Brown has distilled from many of the Buddhist traditions.

As a metaphor, there are layers of clouds.

In order to see the sun in the sky above (the so-called natural mind which is free of all distortions as pure awareness-love), when coming from the ground, one has to remove one cloud layer after another. The layers of clouds are expressed as levels of "gone" in the table below.


I get caught up in thought

I g​o beyond thought through learning how to use awareness. In the POGW retreats, this corresponds to 1 day of concentration training following the 9 stages of the Elephant Path.


I get caught up in Self

​I go beyond Self through realising the emptiness of Self. In the POGW retreats, this corresponds to the Emptiness of Self meditation sections.

​Gone way beyond

​I get caught up in space and time

​I go beyond space and time through realising space and time as fabrications

Gone way way beyond

​I get caught up in localisation and consciousness

I go beyond that. And now I am operating out of this limitless huge boundless bright awareness