Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby asunthatneversets » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:19 pm

Andrew108 wrote:Those who adopt Buddhist views of the pre-eminence of mind (and I have done this), are not able to let go of subtle concepts regarding mind. Since they cannot let go of these subtle concepts regarding mind, they are not able to progress. That is the long and short of it. If you understand consciousness is located in the brain then go with that. The sooner you are able to have a direct experience of reality not mediated through concepts then the better you'll be.


Those who adopt materialist views of the pre-eminence of the brain (and you have done this), are not able to let go of subtle concepts regarding mind. Since they cannot let go of these subtle concepts regarding mind, they are not able to progress. That is the long and short of it. If you understand consciousness is merely conventional, and its location is likewise conventional, then go with that. The sooner you are able to have a direct experience of reality (which is also a mere convention) not mediated through concepts (like the mind being located in the brain) then the better you'll be.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby tobes » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:07 am

Andrew108 wrote:
tobes wrote:The issue of controversy here seems to be something like: is it possible to establish a materialist view (in this case, about the nature of mind or consciousness) without making any discursive/conceptual imputations?


I don't think that is the controversy. To establish any view requires concepts. The issue is should we use Buddhists ones or the ones we are familiar with? If we use Buddhist ones we can get a bit stuck. Especially through the adoption of Buddhist cosmology. If we use materialist ones we can relax. We understand evolution and don't have to substitute a Buddhist concept. We understand that causality is not always personal. We understand that objects obey laws that weren't made by beings. We understand that there is a past and a future. There is space/time. Light from the sun takes millions of years to get to the surface of the sun and when it does it takes a mere 8 minutes to get to us on Earth. All of these things are readily accepted. That is a blessing. We don't need to change things around. We can let go of our concepts much sooner than those who take the mind to be the source of everything. Or who have the idea that the essence of mind is emptiness.

What Thigle has been saying is that non-fixation is a fact. Or needs to be a fact. It needs to be absolutely obvious. The sooner concepts are dropped regarding mind, then the sooner the factual status of non-fixation can come about. Milarepa sang that appearances were his texts. This is an extraordinarily important point. But if we hold to a Buddhist view regarding the primacy of mind, it is very hard to see appearances as texts. We are always adding to the appearances rather than just letting them be in their own nature whilst we are also in that nature.

The Mahamudra instruction regarding locating the mind (in this case mental consciousness) is not really weakened by saying that mental consciousness is in the brain. After all, the brain is pervaded with space as well as all of the 'stuff' of the universe and it obeys natural laws too. One might say that naturally the brain is not fixated. Not in a state of conceptual definitiveness - reality isn't in a state of conceptual definitiveness either. But even without applying concepts to reality, reality has it's characteristics - it is definite. You needn't do anything but still something happens. This 'happening', even without an agent doing something, is for some people a display of inherent ignorance. I couldn't disagree with this more. I think instead that this is what wisdom is.

But we'll know how this all pans out when we come to die. Regarding death, nature tells me that it is normal and somewhat necessary. Without my death there would be no room for other life. And that since billions of people have died, then it's a fact that I will also have to make way for life. That's in my future. Some may say that death doesn't happen - it's all in the mind. Yes that is true to an extent. There is no actual point of death. It seems to be a process. But I wonder if it doesn't help more to see the experience of death as absolutely natural and then without concepts relax into that. Or should we see death as something going on in the mind that we may have some control over? You see how a conceptual residue can remain with those who haven't accepted that death, like life, is entirely natural and valuable to itself. That death should be overcome.

Those who adopt Buddhist views of the pre-eminence of mind (and I have done this), are not able to let go of subtle concepts regarding mind. Since they cannot let go of these subtle concepts regarding mind, they are not able to progress. That is the long and short of it. If you understand consciousness is located in the brain then go with that. The sooner you are able to have a direct experience of reality not mediated through concepts then the better you'll be.


You're involved in a very strange kind of argument here. I take your point that Buddhists may hold on to a subtle conception of mind/consciousness if they pursue studies of Buddhist philosophy/cosmology without breaking through into a direct experience. No one is going to deny that.

However, it simply doesn't follow that breaking through into a direct experience is tantamount to a philosophical realism/materialism.

If we say that X is having a conceptual view of something (it could be 'the mind is emptiness' or 'consciousness is reducible to brain') and Y is the direct experience of reality free from concepts, everything you have written is immutably X. But you are trying to convince us that X is Y.

I don't have any issue with you running with a nuanced materialism, if that is the philosophical view that you have established for yourself as true. There are some compelling reasons to support that, albeit ones that I personally do not find convincing. The issue I have is that you are blind to the pre-Kantian suppositions that underpin your arguments. Both the Buddhist dialectical tradition and contemporary philosophy of science/metaphysics are very alert to the way that we can only speak, reason, theorise, make claims etc about phenomena, in lieu of the cognitive frameworks we share. i.e. Everyone knows about imputation. To think that one is free from imputation whilst making imputations is far closer to what Jeeprs called the first stage, than the second, third.

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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Gwenn Dana » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:48 am

Stage - stage - stage - stage - stage. An interesting mantra to pronounce.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Malcolm » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:08 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:
Those who adopt materialist views of the pre-eminence of the brain...


A108 has been waffling on about the brain since he got here, if you recall....
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:21 pm

Anyway, more to the point of the thread, I have found a 130 page talk on the Aspiration Prayer of Mahamudra by Tai Situpa Rinpoche, here (in PDF format). I have been reading this commentary over the last six months or so, and getting a lot from it. Tai Situpa Rinpoche's presentation, given as lectures and transcribed here, is deeply insightful but also quite humourous. Well worth the effort of reading in my view.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby philji » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:30 pm

Jeeprs...thanks for pointing us to a realised master rather than to yet another deluded beings concept.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby ngodrup » Tue Apr 29, 2014 5:27 pm

Try finding "the object of negation" sometime. ;)
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby 5heaps » Sun May 11, 2014 1:24 am

Andrew108 wrote:
jeeprs wrote:Again you are imagining mind as a thing which contains representations. A thing which is non-locatable. If it is non-locatable why do you give it so much importance? Why see it as a source?


the function of the mind is not a concept

if you drop all concepts, hammers can still hit nails, youll still not be able to cut a qualia in half, and mind will continue functioning as a momentary object

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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Andrew108 » Sun May 11, 2014 8:27 am

5heaps wrote:the function of the mind is not a concept

if you drop all concepts, hammers can still hit nails, youll still not be able to cut a qualia in half, and mind will continue functioning as a momentary object.


What point are you making here? I don't quite understand what you are trying to say.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby 5heaps » Mon May 12, 2014 11:33 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
5heaps wrote:the function of the mind is not a concept

if you drop all concepts, hammers can still hit nails, youll still not be able to cut a qualia in half, and mind will continue functioning as a momentary object.


What point are you making here? I don't quite understand what you are trying to say.


youre trying to explain that any notion of mind in a location is a concept, that the definitions commonly used are concepts, and that we should drop all concepts and just rely on reality which is moving particles emerging into experience.

im saying that when you drop all concepts what you have is a functioning momentary mind. as literally as when youve dropped all concepts a physical object (hammer) can still interact with another physical object (nail), the machinations of the mind are interacting also, though they are without spatial extension, mass, form, etc.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Andrew108 » Wed May 14, 2014 1:45 pm

5heaps wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:
5heaps wrote:the function of the mind is not a concept

if you drop all concepts, hammers can still hit nails, youll still not be able to cut a qualia in half, and mind will continue functioning as a momentary object.


What point are you making here? I don't quite understand what you are trying to say.


youre trying to explain that any notion of mind in a location is a concept, that the definitions commonly used are concepts, and that we should drop all concepts and just rely on reality which is moving particles emerging into experience.

im saying that when you drop all concepts what you have is a functioning momentary mind. as literally as when youve dropped all concepts a physical object (hammer) can still interact with another physical object (nail), the machinations of the mind are interacting also, though they are without spatial extension, mass, form, etc.


Sorry I didn't see your reply. Yes you still have something after dropping concepts. In other posts I have said that the location of cognition is the brain and that all ideas about the mind are concepts. If you drop concepts concerning the mind there is still cognition. Cognition has a location, it is functioning, but mind (as a concept) can't have a location and doesn't have a function that can lead to a recognition of itself. So you still have functioning cognition but you don't have a functioning momentary mind unless you bring it into existence (through having a concept about it).

But then I added that it is important how we see cognition. What it is and how it is. That is more important than holding to concepts about the mind. To understand the nature of mind in the classic Mahamudra sense is really the understanding of the nature of cognition. The use of the term 'mind' is just a convention.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby conebeckham » Wed May 14, 2014 4:22 pm

Andrew108 wrote:But then I added that it is important how we see cognition. What it is and how it is. That is more important than holding to concepts about the mind. To understand the nature of mind in the classic Mahamudra sense is really the understanding of the nature of cognition. The use of the term 'mind' is just a convention.


I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say.
If cognition is the term you're using for the mental consciousness, for thinking, processing, "having" experiences in a conscious way--are you saying that is equivalent to the "Nature of Mind" as discussed in Mahamudra? Are you equating the Mental Consciousness with what Mahamudra calls "Ordinary Mind?"
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Andrew108 » Wed May 14, 2014 4:39 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:But then I added that it is important how we see cognition. What it is and how it is. That is more important than holding to concepts about the mind. To understand the nature of mind in the classic Mahamudra sense is really the understanding of the nature of cognition. The use of the term 'mind' is just a convention.


I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say.
If cognition is the term you're using for the mental consciousness, for thinking, processing, "having" experiences in a conscious way--are you saying that is equivalent to the "Nature of Mind" as discussed in Mahamudra? Are you equating the Mental Consciousness with what Mahamudra calls "Ordinary Mind?"


The instruction concerning locating mind (or having the experience of not being able to locate it) is referring to cognition/mental consciousness. When we understand and directly experience how cognition is (awareness/clarity/movement) then we also have an understanding of nature of mind as it is discussed in Mahamudra.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby conebeckham » Wed May 14, 2014 4:54 pm

Andrew108 wrote:The instruction concerning locating mind (or having the experience of not being able to locate it) is referring to cognition/mental consciousness. When we understand and directly experience how cognition is (awareness/clarity/movement) then we also have an understanding of nature of mind as it is discussed in Mahamudra.


Okay. You work with the mental consciousness, to try to locate the mental consciousness, and the result of that search can reveal things about Ordinary Mind, or even induce a direct experience. But, tell me, how does this square with your assertion that cognition is located in the brain? Can you give the original poster some advice about how "locating cognition in the brain" does not actually answer the question of mind's location?
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Andrew108 » Wed May 14, 2014 5:08 pm

conebeckham wrote: Can you give the original poster some advice about how "locating cognition in the brain" does not actually answer the question of mind's location?


Could you rephrase the question? I'm sorry but I don't understand it.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby conebeckham » Wed May 14, 2014 6:52 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
conebeckham wrote: Can you give the original poster some advice about how "locating cognition in the brain" does not actually answer the question of mind's location?


Could you rephrase the question? I'm sorry but I don't understand it.


Well, you previously said that cognition resides in the brain? Correct? The original poster was asking about locating the mind, and the problem, as I understood it, was that the prevalent idea those educated in the West have is that the mind (that which cognizes, the mental consciousness) is in the brain.....therefore, if this is the case, the question is answered--the "mind" is found, and there's an end of it.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Andrew108 » Wed May 14, 2014 7:12 pm

conebeckham wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:
conebeckham wrote: Can you give the original poster some advice about how "locating cognition in the brain" does not actually answer the question of mind's location?


Could you rephrase the question? I'm sorry but I don't understand it.


Well, you previously said that cognition resides in the brain? Correct? The original poster was asking about locating the mind, and the problem, as I understood it, was that the prevalent idea those educated in the West have is that the mind (that which cognizes, the mental consciousness) is in the brain.....therefore, if this is the case, the question is answered--the "mind" is found, and there's an end of it.


Oh o.k. Now I understand. Yes you can find cognition - in the sense that you can understand and recognise it's characteristics. You can't find it as a thing by itself. Understanding it's characteristics is just the beginning. It's not like recognizing it means that you reach an end point.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 14, 2014 7:17 pm

Andrew108 wrote:Oh o.k. Now I understand. Yes you can find cognition - in the sense that you can understand and recognise it's characteristics. You can't find it as a thing by itself. Understanding it's characteristics is just the beginning. It's not like recognizing it means that you reach an end point.


No, that's the end point, i.e. "Mind is in the brain", boom!

In reality, your solution, the physicalist one, runs "There mind cannot be found in terms of color, shape or form because there is no mind. What we call "mind" is an epiphenomena of information processes that reside in the brain", end of story.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Andrew108 » Wed May 14, 2014 7:30 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:Oh o.k. Now I understand. Yes you can find cognition - in the sense that you can understand and recognise it's characteristics. You can't find it as a thing by itself. Understanding it's characteristics is just the beginning. It's not like recognizing it means that you reach an end point.


No, that's the end point, i.e. "Mind is in the brain", boom!

In reality, your solution, the physicalist one, runs "There mind cannot be found in terms of color, shape or form because there is no mind. What we call "mind" is an epiphenomena of information processes that reside in the brain", end of story.


It's not the end of the story because even though mind/cognition resides in the brain there are still the characteristics of awareness/clarity/movement. Realization comes from that knowledge/experience playing itself out regardless of where these characteristics are nominally located.

We can take the negative emotion of pride as an example. We see clearly that fundamentally pride is also awareness/clarity/movement. Knowing this doesn't mean that it is O.K. to become proud or think that we can now use pride to dominate other people. That it doesn't matter if we are proud. If we hold this view then we are denying movement. Movement is natural non-fixation. Denying natural non-fixation is grasping. Grasping is..... and so on. But none of this praxis is effected by the idea that cognition is in the brain.

Which ever path we follow the direct experience of the mind or cognition is the same. What is uncovered is the same. It is only when our beliefs get in the way (path beliefs) that there is a problem. We don't trust our direct experience. We think we need to adopt a belief system to chase mind out of hiding. We need a teacher of course. That is a fact. But we needn't accept everything the teacher says. What we need to accept are the methods he gives us for getting this direct experience of mind/cognition. But that is another issue entirely.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 14, 2014 8:00 pm

Andrew108 wrote:What we need to accept are the methods he gives us for getting this direct experience of mind/cognition. But that is another issue entirely.


As long as you think that cognition is in the brain, for that long you will not be able to have a direct experience of your own cognition.
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http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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