Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby garudha » Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:23 am

asunthatneversets wrote:It is the same as trying to pin down whether the chicken or the egg came first. If consciousness is allegedly located in the brain or skull, yet brains and skulls (including your own skull which supposedly contains your own brain) appear to consciousness, then there's no way to make any definitive statements as to what comes first.

And when it comes down to it neither can be found apart from conventionality, so attempting to make a definitive statement regarding either is choosing to be bias about one of two equally unfounded illusions as it is.


You're making statements but I would like to - perhaps helpfully - inform you that, I believe,.. a transcendental experience of emptiness, and then taking that to have provided "absolute truth" may still leave un-knowing about what is commonly regarded as "relative truth". Therefore; it might be that case that this un-known "relative truth", acting as a conjunctive-truth, in harmony with "emptiness", completes an understanding, conceptually at least, where there would be a third "total truth" with the following qualities:

(all the following may be simultaneously true)

Emptiness is the ultimate void-focus.
There is no void-focus of Emptiness
All phenomena is actually real and is not an illusion.
All phenomena is actually not-real and is an illusion.
There is no Mind.
All is Mind.
You think with your brain.
There is no brain.
There is no spirit but all is spirit.
There is no matter but all is matter.

Consider, the Buddha told us that it was incredibly hard to fathom, and this is against a backdrop of Hinduism (which is itself very rich and profound.)

Regards.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:04 am

There is a rational way of understanding this whole topic even though it seems very far-out.

When Buddhists say the world is 'mind-created', it is true, but it takes a change of perspective to see it. The view I see out the window - trees, a pool fence, side wall of a house - what is actually happening is that sense-data are being translated into concepts and ideas by the mind. It strings all of what it sees together and names it (=namarupa). Then it makes judgements about what it means and how it relates to everything else (=vikalpa). This is happening every moment, it is how consciousness 'constructs' the world. Even cognitive science will validate that.

Now you will find that is a very controversial idea to most people. This is because most people rely on the 'reality of the world' to validate their notion of who they are and what is real. As our views are massively influenced by science, we rely on the notion that the sensory realm is what is really there, and many people will say it's the only thing that is really there. (That is what they mean by 'empiricism'.) If you challenge it, they will get very hostile. You are, after all, challenging their notion of reality.

Years ago I read a book I'm sure many people here will know very well, namely, The Book: On The Taboo against Knowing Who you Are by Alan Watts. He laid out this topic and why people react to it with such hostility. But it is a deep idea, no question about that.

Anyway, the mainstream view is always there's some material thing or other - the brain or whatever - 'creating' thoughts. But in a sense, it is the other way around. Mind creates the brain, insofar as analysing it as an object of perception and inferring how it gives rise to ideas, and so on. As I have often argued on philosophy forums, that process of inference and saying what the brain 'means' is not a objective or external process. It is internal to the same process which constructs knowledge about everything else. That is why science is not and can't be fundamental, in a metaphysical sense. It has no concept of itself and how it constructs the world, which it takes to be absolute.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby garudha » Tue Apr 08, 2014 5:43 am

jeeprs wrote:It is internal to the same process which constructs knowledge about everything else. That is why science is not and can't be fundamental, in a metaphysical sense. It has no concept of itself and how it constructs the world, which it takes to be absolute.


Reply and new thread, sentient quantum technology, here viewtopic.php?f=36&t=16085
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby thigle » Tue Apr 08, 2014 7:51 am

Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen wrote: If you search in yourself can you find it? Therefore you should not speak about searching for the nature of mind.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Simon E. » Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:17 am

garudha wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:It is the same as trying to pin down whether the chicken or the egg came first. If consciousness is allegedly located in the brain or skull, yet brains and skulls (including your own skull which supposedly contains your own brain) appear to consciousness, then there's no way to make any definitive statements as to what comes first.

And when it comes down to it neither can be found apart from conventionality, so attempting to make a definitive statement regarding either is choosing to be bias about one of two equally unfounded illusions as it is.


You're making statements but I would like to - perhaps helpfully - inform you that, I believe,.. a transcendental experience of emptiness, and then taking that to have provided "absolute truth" may still leave un-knowing about what is commonly regarded as "relative truth". Therefore; it might be that case that this un-known "relative truth", acting as a conjunctive-truth, in harmony with "emptiness", completes an understanding, conceptually at least, where there would be a third "total truth" with the following qualities:

(all the following may be simultaneously true)

Emptiness is the ultimate void-focus.
There is no void-focus of Emptiness
All phenomena is actually real and is not an illusion.
All phenomena is actually not-real and is an illusion.
There is no Mind.
All is Mind.
You think with your brain.
There is no brain.
There is no spirit but all is spirit.
There is no matter but all is matter.

Consider, the Buddha told us that it was incredibly hard to fathom, and this is against a backdrop of Hinduism (which is itself very rich and profound.)

Regards.


Or, alternatively, NOT ' helpfully' ...thats gobbledegook.

The fact that one can read through threads and pick out those who have had no instruction in Buddhadharma even without learning their history, is not down to their non- use of accepted terms and subtle signifiers merely.
Its a much more nuanced missing of targets.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby thigle » Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:41 pm

catlady2112 wrote:I normally view it as the space in which thoughts arise and disappear. what do you think?


Possible preliminary practice: Find the source of a thought. Find the thinker of a thought. You must look hard. But you can't find anything. It's impossible. Attention I: Don't create a reified-concept out of the fact, that you can't find anything. Don't create a "nothingness" or reified "clarity" out of the fact, that you can't find anything. Don't create a "thing" out of the fact, that you can't find anything. Attention II: Don't create this possible pseudo-insight while your practice: "There are only thoughts..no thinker..and this is a thought to..therefore there are only thoughts..but this is a thought to.." This is a step to much. You can have the sensation of "clarity" and "presence" and "bliss" while doing this step, but that's not the nature of mind, that's not knowledge/transparency/potentiality; it's a delusion, it's hypnosis, it's artificial, it's fabricated, it's grasping, it's a state of mind, it's consciousness, it's ignorance. You can't find anything, that's all. The only factual consequence? Interrupt your search/meditation. Do nothing for a while. This is the end of your preliminary practice, but not the end of the story, because now you must recognice: you still practice/meditate, even if you "do nothing" .. or you "leave everything as it is" or you "act natural" or you "don't focus on anything". In other words, you practice nonpractice. There's an subtle expectation, who want's to have something from "doing nothing", et cetera. Therefore, mind creates a reified-concept out of "doing nothing". That's grasping. Your fabricated search for "something" has not really ended, even if you belief it has ended after the consequence of your preliminary practice. De facto/primordial 'do nothing', or 'don't focus on anything', or 'leave everything as it is', or 'act natural'.., that's the beginning of another story, sometimes called dzogchen menngagde.


Sry for my bad english
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Andrew108 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:51 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:Andrew is a die hard proponent of physicalist materialism, so the notion of consciousness being anywhere but the brain is no doubt blasphemous in that context.


I am a naturalist and am convinced by the logic of in naturalism. I don't understand how the mental consciousness can be anywhere but the brain. I think there will be a gradual acceptance amongst Tibetan Buddhists that besides thoughts and feelings (see 51 mental factors), even cognition is located in the brain.

The argument given as to why cognition is not located in the brain is that cognition jumps to where there is a sensation. So when we hurt our toe the argument says that it seems that cognition is in the toe and not in the brain. This is a very very weak argument given what modern science knows about cognition.

I think that consciousness is coming from reality rather than reality being a manifestation of consciousness.
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"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 asunthatneversets » Tue Apr 08, 2014 5:08 pm

Andrew108 wrote:The argument given as to why cognition is not located in the brain is that cognition jumps to where there is a sensation. So when we hurt our toe the argument says that it seems that cognition is in the toe and not in the brain. This is a very very weak argument given what modern science knows about cognition.


If I thought that was a valid example of an argument given in opposition of brain based cognition I would dismiss it as well. Luckily that argument dismisses itself because it is awful, and is an embarrassment to anything which would remotely resemble a valid argument against cognition being located in the brain.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby conebeckham » Tue Apr 08, 2014 5:30 pm

In Mahamudra, we say that the tool or substance we are working with is the Mental Consciousness. It is the cognizent awareness--which is normally the mental consciousness. This is so because in traditional Buddhist presentations, the sense consciousnesses, etc., "feed" into the mental consciousness which then creates the "object" of thought--be it a sensation, emotion, "perception," memory, or abstract thought. All our experience is experienced by the Mental Consciousness, in daily life.

In reality, it is the only thing we really CAN work with, as it is the "thinker."

If you think of thoughts, experiences, and sensations as merely the mechanics of a materialistic organism, and feel that all of this occurs in the brain, the question is "have you found the mind?" Is "The Mind" the same as the physical organism of the brain and it's electrochemical workings? Or is the "mind" the collection of experiences and awareness which makes up our lived reality? Are these two different things? Are they the same thing? How do they relate?

In Mahamudra meditation, the mind is the ephemeral, non-physical experience/awareness --the thoughts and experiences themselves, as a sort of "entity." It may well be that these are the product of electrochemical processes in the brain, but to reduce "mind" to that, and only that, is to igore the "Contents" of mind. THAT material is what Mahamudra, and Buddhism, are concerned with...
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Apr 08, 2014 5:53 pm

Andrew108 wrote:I am a naturalist and am convinced by the logic of in naturalism. I don't understand how the mental consciousness can be anywhere but the brain. I think there will be a gradual acceptance amongst Tibetan Buddhists that besides thoughts and feelings (see 51 mental factors), even cognition is located in the brain.

The argument given as to why cognition is not located in the brain is that cognition jumps to where there is a sensation. So when we hurt our toe the argument says that it seems that cognition is in the toe and not in the brain. This is a very very weak argument given what modern science knows about cognition.

I think that consciousness is coming from reality rather than reality being a manifestation of consciousness.
And what does your naturalism say about non-material beings, and material beings that do not have brains? No cognition?
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby thigle » Tue Apr 08, 2014 6:11 pm

Lot of eternalism, lot of nihilism.. what kind of buddhism is this? Awesome topic.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Andrew108 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 7:11 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:The argument given as to why cognition is not located in the brain is that cognition jumps to where there is a sensation. So when we hurt our toe the argument says that it seems that cognition is in the toe and not in the brain. This is a very very weak argument given what modern science knows about cognition.


If I thought that was a valid example of an argument given in opposition of brain based cognition I would dismiss it as well. Luckily that argument dismisses itself because it is awful, and is an embarrassment to anything which would remotely resemble a valid argument against cognition being located in the brain.


Well this is the argument that Thrangu Rinpoche uses in 'Vivid Awareness' a commentary on Khenpo Gangshar's teaching. :

"When you touch the soles of your feet, the mind jumps there. If you wiggle your finger, then at that point the mind seems to be in the finger, but if you do something else, the mind goes elsewhere. The mind seems to be throughout the body, but exactly where is uncertain - it does not dwell in any fixed location. The mind seems to go wherever you experience a sensation, so you cannot say with certainty that it is in either the head or the heart."

The argument is saying that there is no exact location for mind within the body.
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 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 7:43 pm

conebeckham wrote:In Mahamudra, we say that the tool or substance we are working with is the Mental Consciousness. It is the cognizent awareness--which is normally the mental consciousness. This is so because in traditional Buddhist presentations, the sense consciousnesses, etc., "feed" into the mental consciousness which then creates the "object" of thought--be it a sensation, emotion, "perception," memory, or abstract thought. All our experience is experienced by the Mental Consciousness, in daily life.

In reality, it is the only thing we really CAN work with, as it is the "thinker."


I still agree with this. It is the mental consciousness that is doing the work. However it is not the only thing we can work with. At some point we also work with life itself. For example, when we see that non-fixation is a characteristic of reality/life, we also understand that without effort thoughts can be self-liberated. Thoughts are not other than an aspect of life and life is always cleaning and releasing and non-fixated. At this point one is no longer working with mental consciousness but has started to address life itself. Because life itself has all the characteristics of wisdom.


conebeckham wrote:If you think of thoughts, experiences, and sensations as merely the mechanics of a materialistic organism, and feel that all of this occurs in the brain, the question is "have you found the mind?" Is "The Mind" the same as the physical organism of the brain and it's electrochemical workings? Or is the "mind" the collection of experiences and awareness which makes up our lived reality? Are these two different things? Are they the same thing? How do they relate?


Well I don't need to find the mind. That is the short answer. You have asked a question regarding finding the mind, but the mind wasn't anything but a concept. So you know you can't find concepts. What you can find is the organisation and processing of information. This is found to take place in the brain. But it is important to point out that science is incomplete. It doesn't offer up a fully formed theory unless there is evidence. So it is still working these things out rather than accepting without proof what respected philosophers have said.

conebeckham wrote:In Mahamudra meditation, the mind is the ephemeral, non-physical experience/awareness --the thoughts and experiences themselves, as a sort of "entity." It may well be that these are the product of electrochemical processes in the brain, but to reduce "mind" to that, and only that, is to igore the "Contents" of mind. THAT material is what Mahamudra, and Buddhism, are concerned with...


Buddhism is concerned with bringing an end to suffering. Looking at life itself and what characterises life is what ends suffering. The more you become connected with life and the more you identify with it's characteristics such as non-fixation, spontaneous presence, luminosity, equality, non-duality the easier your Mahamudra realization comes about.
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 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 7:49 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:And what does your naturalism say about non-material beings, and material beings that do not have brains? No cognition?


Naturalism says there is no proof for non-material beings. A material entity without a brain would be classed as organic life that was not sentient. A material being without a brain? Not possible.
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 PadmaVonSamba » Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:20 pm

catlady2112 wrote:Hi,

Whenever I try to do mahamudra meditations on exploring, observing and locating the mind, I always see my mind located inside my brain. I think this comes from having a western scientific education where mental functions are understood to be in the brain. Sometimes I do experience thoughts as being in front of my forehead, but for the most part I envision them in the brain. I feel kind of stuck here.

I am also starting to question what the definition of the "mind" is . I normally view it as the space in which thoughts arise and disappear. what do you think?


Try seeing the mind as that which is seeing something located in inside the brain, that is what is viewing something as the space in which thoughts arise and disappear.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:31 pm

Andrew108 wrote:A material entity without a brain would be classed as organic life that was not sentient. A material being without a brain? Not possible.
Really? Insects, mollusks, crustaceans, arachnids, ad nauseum... Not sentient? Not possible? ;)
Naturalism says there is no proof for non-material beings.
Okay. Do you believe in non-material beings?
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby conebeckham » Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:42 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:Okay. Do you believe in non-material beings?

How could he, as a materialist? If consciousness emerges from matter, as he indicated was his belief....
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:22 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:And what does your naturalism say about non-material beings, and material beings that do not have brains? No cognition?


Naturalism says there is no proof for non-material beings. A material entity without a brain would be classed as organic life that was not sentient. A material being without a brain? Not possible.


I think, in the 21st century, the terms 'sentient' and 'being' need redefinition.
You can look at every single cell in the body, and not one of them is what we would call 'sentient', even though each cell reacts to the conditions that surround it.
Yet, clump them all together, and see a process by which the same cells, as a group, react to the conditions that surround it, and we label that 'sentience'.

Concurrent with that clump of reacting cells emerges an experience of identity that label 'being'.But individually, none of the cells is what we would call a 'being'.

I maintain that
there is nothing in matter that can spontaneously produce any awareness of the conditions that surround it.
There is only awareness, and everything that is an object of that awareness.
Some people call that awareness 'consciousness', but I don't.

'resting the mind in its natural state' in mahamudra practice isn't about forcing your brain to go back to a point before the activity of subject-object occurs. It's not 'making' your mind do anything. It's simply resting in full awareness.

Here is a simply excercise that you can do that may help.
Listen very carefully to the sounds that are round you...the very faintest sounds, and put all of your attention on those sounds. Now, while your attention is totally focused on those sounds, very lightly, without really shifting your attention, simply be aware of what your eyes are doing. --not what they are looking at, but just what your eyes and your sense of vision is doing when all of your attention is focused on your hearing. This takes some practice, but you can do it. You will notice that your eyes aren't actually looking at anything. There is vision, and there is awareness, but there isn't a whole lot of activity. . That's somewhat the mind resting in its natural state, in the area of vision. No, it isn't mahamudra, but it will give you a sense of what the experience of mahamudra is.
. . .
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby monktastic » Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:30 pm

How does a materialist answer the "jelly bean" problem I posed earlier?

Imagine you're in a dream, in which heads are filled with jelly beans, whose activity correlates with the (claimed) experience of dream characters. Jellyscientists therefore publish proof that consciousness is caused by jelly beans. Do you, in this dream, accept that consciousness is "really" caused by jelly beans? Or do you take it to be a useful fiction for conversing with others?

If the latter, shouldn't the same be true here?
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One will understand it in due course.

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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Wayfarer » Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:48 pm

I personally don't find thought experiments based on dream-states convincing.

There is a fundamental Buddhist argument against naturalism, which can be phrased like this: the world ('nature') does not contain its own explanation (ground of being, first cause.) Everything that science can measure exists in relationship to something else ( 'empty of own-being'). There is nothing you can point to as being fundamental or self-originated (possessing svabhava). Atoms used to be thought to occupy that role, but they have dissolved into the so-called 'particle zoo' of virtual particles, anti-particles, and fields.

That is why naturalism can only say 'we're working on it'. What that amounts to, is the belief that one day the answer will be found within the scope of the natural sciences.

But don't get distracted by it.
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