Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby muni » Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:07 am

Two quotes from Maitreya’s distinguishing phenomena and pure being:

The lack of a percieved object discrete from the perciever:

What appears to be outer, percievable in common,
Are perceiving awareness; they are not referents
Existing as something extrinsic to consciousness,
Because they are only experienced as common.


The elimination of any further uncertainty :

The counterpart is the one in which what is percieved
Is not shared in common. Here awareness’ referent
Is the minds and so on associated with others.
These do not comprise an object of mutual exchange
For percieving awareness not resting nor resting poised,
Because, for those not resting in equipoise,
It is but their own conceptions that appear;
And because, for those who are resting in equipoise,
It is its faithful reflection that appears
As the object encountered during samadhi absorption.


Mipham: "No one indeed could disprove that all appearances are merely what appears to the mind. This does not however prove that all appearances are substantially identical with mind, nor does it prove the non-existence of outer referents producing the appearances, since it is possible for the minds of others to be known directly by someone with extrasensory perception. And this means that there is no validity in saying that the mind appearing to the other person should be substantially identical to the observing mind or that the continuum of that appearing mind does not exist. And the same would apply to outer objects".


Guru Rinpoche said: not same as mind but not different.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Andrew108 » Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:21 am

jeeprs wrote:The thing you have to get your head around is that 'existence' is a concept..........When I say 'existence is a concept' what I mean is that the very notion of something existing relies upon a framework of relationships and meaning which the mind supplies.


Here you are giving the mind an identity. You are saying that the mind, which is a thing, is that thing that supplies meaning. If you can't locate the mind in any way then how can you know that it is the mind that is supplying meaning? Why can't meaning be a sensation that arises from the processing of information. Why is that meaning cannot have a basis in cognition? Why must meaning always be framed interms of a non-locatable mind that seems to neither exist in the body or outside of the body? The answer is obvoious to me.

jeeprs wrote:Whatever we consider exists, no matter how large or small, near or far, that object or entity exists for us as a representation in the mind. The mind assimilates and synthesizes all the sensory data that it recieves from it and then through the processes of cognition, recognizes it (or not), names it, analyses it and so forth. And that is what 'existence' refers to. What exists outside that process or 'exists anyway' is not known to us.

But that doesn't mean that it is 'in our heads'. The idea of it being 'in our heads' is also a mental representation. But you can never perceive anything outside or apart from that.)


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?
Last edited by Andrew108 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
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 Andrew108 » Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:29 am

jeeprs wrote:
Well then what is mind? Is it a substance? No. Does it have a shape? No. A colour? no. And so on. It seems like there is no mind.


To say there is 'no mind' fails before it is even uttered, because the statement is made by a mind.


Well you have to assume there is a thing called mind rather than just cognition and the processing of information.

jeeprs wrote:The mind does not exist as an object. But what is that designates things as 'substances' and attributes 'colours' to them? What is it that recognizes objects? What exists in the absence of those acts of designation and recognition?

You are falling again and again into the blind spot of believing that objects have 'inherent existence'.


What designates colours and attributes is cognition. It is brain-based and has been evolving through natural selection for millions of years.

Asserting that there is an object condition is not the same as asserting inherent existance. I have never asserted inherent existance - as if a thing that existed did so because of a singular irreducible property of that thing. For instance I am not saying that the essence of an object is luminosity, which is something you hear about when Yogacharins talk about so-called external objects.
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 Simon E. » Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:51 am

I don't think you DO have to assume a 'thing' called a mind.
I think this discussion would go a lot better if we assume the absence of such a 'thing'.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:59 am

Andrew108 wrote:Well you have to assume there is a thing called mind rather than just cognition and the processing of information.


No I don't. There is no thing called mind. That is the problem. Thought requires an object, it creates objects, it proceeds in terms of objects. The mind is not an object of cognition in the sense that, say, a mineral or some other object is. There literally is no such thing, but at the same time, it is not nothing. That is key to this debate. The scientific attitude always proceeds in terms of analysis of some object or objects and the relationships between them. That is how science works, and there is nothing the matter with it, except when it tries to treat as an object, something like 'mind' which is not an object at all. Now that is not the kind of thing you'll read in academic Western philosophy, but it is very characteristic of the Buddhist (and other Eastern) philosophies.

What designates colours and attributes is cognition. It is brain-based and has been evolving through natural selection for millions of years.


But you're objectifying it again. Consider your fMRI scan. Say you're a scientist who is expert in the various neurological areas and how they process information. If I show you a scan, you can expound at length upon the meaning of what you're looking at:

Image

'This area processes that kind of information, that area there is associated with such and such'.

However think about the fact that all of those meanings are inferred on the basis of reasoning. You're looking at an image and inferring what the processes mean. Now that process of rational inference is not in[i] those images anywhere. Inferences is attributable to the expertise of the trained neurologist who can equate [i]that image with this meaning. And that process of rational inference or attribution of meaning, is not something external to the mind. It is not given in the image or the data. You can't see 'rational inference' anywhere externally. Even if you made an image of a brain engaging in rational inference, you have to use that process in order to explain what you're seeing. This means there is always a circularity in such explanations. They always must beg the question. ('Begging the question' means 'assuming what you are you are trying to explain'.)

Asserting that there is an object condition is not the same as asserting inherent existance.


I think you're assuming inherent existence in every one of your arguments.

I know this is tough stuff. I have studied it for 30 years and debated it for five years on Philosophy Forum before joining here. The view I am proposing is not a mainstream view at all but I believe it is closer to the the Buddhist understanding.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Sönam » Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:33 am

For a person who is still on the ordinary path of training, when he sees a mountain, in the first moment it is unavoidable not to have the thought, "this is a mountain," but in the second moment, because of the perfection (rDzogs-Pa) of the power (rTsal) of the mind and mental events which analyze the nature of the mountain, the concept of mountain disappears without any trace. At that time, although the appearance of the mountain in the mind has not ceased, one will gain experience in dwelling in the ultimate nature, in which there is no apprehension of the appearance of the mountain. Having purified all the phenomenal existents, as the simultaneous liberation-at-arising (Shar-Grol), to unify ('Dres-Pa) the appearances and mind indivisibility is the unerring Dzogpa Chenpo.

- Jigmed Lingpa - on mengagde - Yon-Tan Rin-Po-Ch'e'i mDzod dGa'-Ba'i Ch'ar Zhes-Bya-Ba bZhugs -
By understanding everything you perceive from the perspective of the view, you are freed from the constraints of philosophical beliefs.
By understanding that any and all mental activity is meditation, you are freed from arbitrary divisions between formal sessions and postmeditation activity.
- Longchen Rabjam -
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:17 pm

jeeprs wrote:
PadmaVonSambha wrote:what is apparent is probably very little compared to what is not apparent...
...
The concept of "unknown" is a product of consciousness,
but the concept of unknown, and unknown, are two different things.

So how do you tell the difference? As soon as you try and answer, you are referring to - thinking of - 'the unknown'.
Gotcha!

You are not aware ---of the fact that--- there are many things that you do are not aware of??
You must know everything then!

From what I can tell, your argument is thus:
Since it cannot be [i]proven that there are things we are not aware of
it is logical to assume everything is the product of consciousness.[/i]

However, it is easy to prove that there are things we are not aware of,
and it happens all the time in everybody's ordinary life,
and I have already given many examples.
. . .
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Malcolm » Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:28 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Outside of sentience, proofs are not possible.


You don't need proof. You just need to measure something. Of course theories are part of sentience. I am not denying sentience. I have also said that reality has no theory within it. But there are characteristics that can be measured and that are measured by non-sentient apparatus.


That which is non-sentient cannot measure anything.

Malcolm wrote:There is no such thing as a non-sentient measurement. Manas, the word for mind in Sanskrit, means "to measure" as well .


I would disagree. I don't think fMRI scanners are sentient. In what way does the 'mind' make a measurement? As I understand it the 'mind' interprets measurements. Measuring the measurements.


All measurements are based on judgments, long, short, thick, thin, etc. It is a fundamental characteristic of the conceptual mind to judge and measure. Instruments of measurement merely extend the capability of the mind's capacity to judge, but are not themselves capable of measuring anything.

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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Gwenn Dana » Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:37 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:You are not aware of the fact that there are things you do not know?
You must know everything then.
. . .


There's a subtle difference.

Consider "things that you don't know (options that did not unfold to yourself)" and "options that did not unfold (at all)".

That universe which can be experienced are the options that did unfold.
That which did not unfold is one huge problem when doing statistical calculus on that which is observed, because it is an illusory, infinite many which bites the assumptions of statistics (it is the options that within the model could have been but haven't, so it's an imaginative many).

Now even if we take these three types of experience:
a. That which unfolds to what you assume as yourself ("you know")
b. That which unfolds to what you assume as anybody else but not yourself ("you do not know, but somebody knows")
c. That which unfolds to nobody. ("nobody knows")

Could there be anything that is told or experienced about that which unfolds to nobody? Does any of the scientifically proven phenomena fall into that latter category?

Wouldn't that only work in some illusory model, where you construct something that has been seen but all the seers died out?
In that case, what could be told about such a world, or who was there to see it?

If we partition further down:
Imagine something that has been seen.
But even though seers are still there it is no longer seen.
Would science say such a thing still exists, or would it consider it extinct?

Now what is extinct?
If the object of the seeing is no longer there, you consider it extinct.
If the subject of the seeing is no longer there, you proclaim probably there still is something that nobody can see anymore. A hypothesis which can never be proven.

But if seer and the seen are a dependently arising effect as "seeing", what that is seen could possibly remain once the seers are all gone?
And when we honor the fact that everything we have ever seen came about as an object of seeing?

One might say the seen to be there without anybody be able to see it is religious belief since there cannot be any proof.

If you add to that picture, that dimensionality and time are scales that come into existence because of the functioning of our sensation, and therefrom one concludes there is only the now, that every"thing" folds into pure seeing. Since time itself is an effect of observation, when all seers are gone, there is no time.

Who would read the instrument?

Best wishes
Gwenn
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby thigle » Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:37 pm

For a person who is still on the ordinary path of training, when he don't focus on anything ¹, in the first moment it is unavoidable not to focus on, "don't focus on anything", because of grasping. But if he realize the difference between his fabricated reified-conceptualisation of non-focusing and factual non-focusing, primordial natural looseness is immediate obvious. Since it is completely unfabricated, the reified-concepts of an origin or source or subject or object .. doesn't matter naturally from itself.

¹ Can be replaced by the tasks: do nothing, just sit, be natural, leave everything as it is, don't use your consciousness ...

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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:04 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:However, it is easy to prove that there are things we are not aware of,
and it happens all the time in everybody's ordinary life,
and I have already given many examples.
. . .


Of course there are many things that we are not aware of, that is not at issue.

I know this is a perplexing point and cause of many endless debates. I will try and rephrase it again.

It is natural to assume that the 'objective realm' or whatever you want to call the world at large, just carries on regardless of whether it is perceived by us or not. But if I show you anything whatever, what happens is that your senses take in those signals, your mind synthesises the data, and you name it as such-and-such. That is what existence is for human beings. It can't be any other way. We have minds and sensory apparatus that construct our sense of reality. Whether there is a reality outside of that or beyond that, is not known to us, because, obviously, if it were known to us, then it would not be 'beyond' us. Even the whole Universe is like that. Of course it is a vast universe and exists for billions of years before you and I live as individuals. But 'years' themselves, require some consciousness that is aware of consecutive moments, the passing of time. Without some mind to be aware of time, where is time? Of course that too is a deep question. I don't claim to have a solution to it, but I can legitimately claim it is an unsolved question.

The modern habit of thought is to take 'what is there anyway' as the yardstick of reality. I really think that over recent history, 'the cosmos' has assumed the place in our thinking formerly occupied by God, and science has assumed many of the functions previously associated with aspects of religion. But the problem with that is that the cosmos described by science is essentially meaningless. I am not inventing that or making wild claims - you will find an enormous literature on this very point. But the so-called 'objective picture' which science provides, is an abstraction. All it is, is the composite of what science regards as real measurable objects. That we take for 'reality'. But

Schrodinger wrote:I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is deficient. It gives a lot of factual information, puts all our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously.


The problem is, the so-called 'scientific worldview' has occupied the position of the priests of our culture. We see that every day. And it is based on the 'worship' of the idea of the inherent reality of the phenomenal realm.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby thigle » Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:03 pm

Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind


Try to locate the source of thoughts. But you can't find anything. Consequence: You can't find nature trough searching for nature. Consequence: Do nothing. If you act normally, there's nothing wrong. But there are two ways to implement this task: practiced nonpractice which is grasping, or factual nonpractice which is primordial unfabricated looseness. Just like that. Attention A: Don't create a spiritual thing like emptiness or essence or clarity or nature or whatever out of the simple fact that you can't find anything. Attention B: Don't think: "There's nothing to do". That's just a thought, just speculation, just like philosophy. The consequence is a concrete task.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Andrew108 » Thu Apr 17, 2014 3:10 pm

thigle wrote:.....factual non-focusing......


Yep. That's it. :thanks:
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 Andrew108 » Thu Apr 17, 2014 3:41 pm

jeeprs wrote:There literally is no such thing, but at the same time, it is not nothing. That is key to this debate.


If there is 'literally no such thing', how can there also be this 'not nothing'?

jeeprs wrote:
Asserting that there is an object condition is not the same as asserting inherent existance.


I think you're assuming inherent existence in every one of your arguments.


Here is the Dalai Lama talking about the issue we have been banging on about:

The Dalai Lama says the following:

"The question of whether there is an external physical reality independent of sentient beings' consciousness and mind has been extensively discussed by Buddhist thinkers. Naturally, there are divergent views on this issue among the various philosophical schools of thought. One such school [Cittamatra] asserts that there is no external reality, not even external objects, and that the material world we perceive is in essence merely a projection of our minds. From many points of view, this conclusion is rather extreme. Philosophically, and for that matter conceptually, it seems more coherent to maintain a position that accepts the reality not only of the subjective world of the mind, but also of the external objects of the physical world."

I agree with the Dalai Lama's position here. Acceptance of the reality of external objects is not a denial of dependent origination.
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 Gwenn Dana » Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:05 pm

That schools with these different models exist does not keep you from liberation.
But insisting that one of them is correct will.
I prefer the model which says: "This we can experience, the rest we will never be able to tell anything about."
Of course we can phantasize, project, hypothesize, whatever.
Thoughtwork.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Matt J » Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:10 pm

Personally, I see no reason to take a position as to how things are outside of our experience. By definition, that will always be unknown. I live within the world of experience, not outside of it. The most that can say is that the universe is far more vast and mysterious than I could ever imagine, and using concepts to capture the ever-flowing present is as useless to capture the ambiance of this moment with a photograph.

Also, many modern Yogacarins I've come across don't deny an external world, they aren't idealists. They say that everything we experience is a transformation of consciousness--- i.e. it is more a statement regarding epistemology rather than ontology.

http://www.acmuller.net/yogacara/articles/intro-uni.htm


The Dalai Lama says the following:

"The question of whether there is an external physical reality independent of sentient beings' consciousness and mind has been extensively discussed by Buddhist thinkers. Naturally, there are divergent views on this issue among the various philosophical schools of thought. One such school [Cittamatra] asserts that there is no external reality, not even external objects, and that the material world we perceive is in essence merely a projection of our minds. From many points of view, this conclusion is rather extreme. Philosophically, and for that matter conceptually, it seems more coherent to maintain a position that accepts the reality not only of the subjective world of the mind, but also of the external objects of the physical world."

I agree with the Dalai Lama's position here. Acceptance of the reality of external objects is not a denial of dependent origination.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby conebeckham » Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:28 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
jeeprs wrote:There literally is no such thing, but at the same time, it is not nothing. That is key to this debate.


If there is 'literally no such thing', how can there also be this 'not nothing'?


Mind is not a "thing." This is the crux of the issue, and a key not just to this debate, but to Mahamudra practice.

From Rangjung Dorje's Aspiration Prayer of Mahamudra:

"It is not existent-even the victorious ones have not seen it.
It is not nonexistent-it is the basis of all samsara and nirvana.
This is not a contradiction, but the middle path of unity.
May we realize the true nature of mind, which is free from extremes."
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Simon E. » Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:35 pm

Precisely Cone.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby conebeckham » Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:42 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
jeeprs wrote:
PadmaVonSambha wrote:what is apparent is probably very little compared to what is not apparent...
...
The concept of "unknown" is a product of consciousness,
but the concept of unknown, and unknown, are two different things.

So how do you tell the difference? As soon as you try and answer, you are referring to - thinking of - 'the unknown'.
Gotcha!

You are not aware ---of the fact that--- there are many things that you do are not aware of??
You must know everything then!

From what I can tell, your argument is thus:
Since it cannot be [i]proven that there are things we are not aware of
it is logical to assume everything is the product of consciousness.[/i]

However, it is easy to prove that there are things we are not aware of,
and it happens all the time in everybody's ordinary life,
and I have already given many examples.
. . .


Sure...and all your examples, proofs, illustrations, and discussions, are simply "mind." For without mind, how can we discuss? How measure? How postulate?

You are missing the crux of the biscuit, to quote Mr. Zappa.....it's not about the nature of the "External world," but about the sheer impossibility of removing "mind" from any aspect of experience. It's true that there is a strain of Yogacara which posits that Physical Reality is merely Mind-Made, but that is very coarse interpretation, helpful but not Definitive Truth. A more subtle approach focuses on the "primacy" of mind and experience, and that is more helpful, and closer to Definitive Truth, at least viewed from the POV of Kagyu Mahamudra lineages.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Gwenn Dana » Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:04 pm

conebeckham wrote: For without mind, how can we discuss? How measure? How postulate?


All the while I'm asking myself where is that mind, that we could be with or without.
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