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Reverend Doctor John Freese is a Buddhist minister in the Dhamma Vinaya Order. He was a monk for 12 years (1998-2010) with Thich Nhat Hanh at Plum Village and Deer Park monasteries in France and California, and was with two gurus in the Ramana Maharshi lineage in Tiruvannamalai India.
He has just completed his PhD in practical theology from the Claremont School of Theology, where his dissertation compared Buddhist meditation with somatic trauma therapy. Prior to his PhD he completed a Master of Divinity in Buddhist chaplaincy at University of the West. He has a private Buddhist counseling practice and teaches classes in contemplative studies at University of the West and Naropa University.
My conversation with John was inspired by his comparison of Goenka’s Vipassana and Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing. I discovered his paper while researching The Yoga of Mental Illness and was inspired by the detailed comparison of these two modes of healing and their striking similarities, despite forming in distinct cultures and different eras.
As we dance around this structural comparison, we cover pertinent questions from the nature of emotions, the relationship between sensation and thought, implicit and explicit memory, Buddhist psychology, principles of somatic experiencing, Taoist cosmology, maps of the self, expanding awareness, and the nature of trauma from these distinct perspectives. This is a philosophical and practical dialogue with an uplifting message about the ability to get to the root of trauma, heal, and return home to the body.
Resources and References:
- Down with the Dharma Podcast
- Two Maps of the Same Territory? Functional Correlations Between Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S.N. Goenka and Somatic Experiencing