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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:54 pm 
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Andrew108 wrote:
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.


Well, his assertion is quite different than how you are painting it. He is pointing to the fact that you cannot pin down a definitive location for mind. Not that mind goes to specific locations within the body when it's supposed to reside in the brain. Your critique is alluding to, and presupposing a few notions which reflect your view; primarily the treatment of mind as an entity of sorts which is traveling to various locations in a body which contains it. Which is "the ghost in the shell" idea; the body as a material vessel for a non-material mind, etc. Common notions which result from the type of view you champion.

I'm not saying that the mind cannot reside within a body in a conventional sense, that is certainly a rational view to uphold in that context. But you are not suggesting a model that is merely conventional, you are advocating for an accurate explanation for what you perceive to be an actual state of affairs. And you're welcome to that opinion of course.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 1:42 am 
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jeeprs wrote:
I personally don't find thought experiments based on dream-states convincing.


If you feel like explaining why, I'd be curious to know. But anyway...

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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.)


I find this to be in essence identical to my argument: it is nonsensical to use any details of experience (e.g., memories of neuroscience studies, or even present visual images we call "pixels representing blood oxygenation during an fMRI scan") to explain experience itself with certainty. This is easy to understand once you see that experience can be manipulated and fooled in arbitrarily confounding ways. The dream analogy is merely a convenient example, since most people know it well.

This also, conveniently, helps one see that certainty itself is no more than another "flavor" of experience. Otherwise, they're nothing more than latent causes of suffering when they flip into uncertainty -- as conditioned states are wont to do.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:26 am 
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Looking at the 'dream' analogy:

Monktastic wrote:
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?


I just don't find the idea of an internally-coherent dream to be a credible notion (movies like Inception notwithstanding.) I suppose you can say that in some sense, life itself is like a dream-state, but dream-states are very elusive and constantly shifting. But I guess I can see the counter to that.

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it is nonsensical to use any details of experience (e.g., memories of neuroscience studies, or even present visual images we call "pixels representing blood oxygenation during an fMRI scan") to explain experience itself with certainty.


That, I do agree with. If you point at a brain-scan, no matter how sophisticated it is, you're not actually looking at the nature of thought itself. It is still a representation on the basis of which you infer meaning. Establishing that equivalence between an fMRI scan and an idea always begs the question in the sense that it assumes what it seeks to explain. In other words, you have to use the very faculty you're trying to explain in order to create the explanation.

Which all goes back to the problem of the hand trying to grasp itself...and here we are again. :smile:

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:41 am 
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jeeprs wrote:
I just don't find the idea of an internally-coherent dream to be a credible notion (movies like Inception notwithstanding.) I suppose you can say that in some sense, life itself is like a dream-state, but dream-states are very elusive and constantly shifting. But I guess I can see the counter to that.


Yeah. Basically for me the interesting part is: if you admit that you'd feel certainty about jelly beans causing consciousness while in that dream (and I see no honest way to avoid this), then you have to explain: what is intrinsically different about your present certainty about the cause of consciousness? One can wriggle and squirm about knowing that this isn't a dream, but that doesn't help: it is quite easy to insert the "knowledge" that one isn't dreaming into a given moment in a dream. Sometimes people try to rely on past events (aka memories) to bolster their present knowledge, but that also fails for obvious reasons: it's always now, so to speak.

In the end, I find that the greatest difficulty is that people want to "escape" experience in order to explain it. That is, they use references to a real world outside of experience, not realizing that it's the very faculty of experience that is imagining (or one could say, inventing) said world. And if you point this out, you may get a condescending "oh, so you don't believe in a real world?" as though it's of any relevance what you believe.

Ah darnit, we're saying the same thing again :smile:. No surprise, I suppose. Not much to say about it, in the end, is there?

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Last edited by monktastic on Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:50 am 
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I think I know when I'm dreaming. OK, there are moments when I am quite immersed in the dream, but in my dreams, anyway, perspectives and locations and what is around me, changes continually. Like I'll be standing at a doorway and then suddenly realise I'm actually standing on top of a very tall brick wall. I'll look at what is in my hand, and see that it's a pile of papers, but somehow there's a gun in with them, and then it's just the gun, which actually turns out to be a cat, or something. And all these things constantly shift and move about. So there would never be the chance to really develop anything like a coherent theory like I do in waking hours. Maybe exponents of dream yoga might be able to, but I can't.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:55 am 
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jeeprs wrote:
I think I know when I'm dreaming.


But hopefully you admit that you only think you know. That is to say, it's not at all hard to believe you've had a false negative before. I know I've had quite a few.

This is all I'm getting at, and all the argument needs: one moment of certainty that you're not dreaming, and simultaneously that X causes experience. Then one can ask: if in this moment (you only ever need or have one) you believe that Y causes experience, why aren't you wrong right now?

Then again, if one can indeed understand that you only ever have one moment, then perhaps one does not need to be led through such arguments at all.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:22 am 
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monktastic wrote:
One can wriggle and squirm about knowing that this isn't a dream, but that doesn't help: it is quite easy to insert the "knowledge" that one isn't dreaming into a given moment in a dream. Sometimes people try to rely on past events (aka memories) to bolster their present knowledge, but that also fails for obvious reasons: it's always now, so to speak.


That is why, regardless of whether it is a dream or not,
regardless of whether there is a sensation of identity, of being a witness to events, or not,
there is awareness of it.
Even if the awareness (that one is aware of) is part of the supposed dream, there is still awareness of that.
If you want to find the one thing that us undeniable, that cannot be refuted,
the thing you can't get around, the one thing you can be absolutely certain of that is really happening,..
...it is awareness.
bare, raw, simple.

After that, everything else, (real or not is beside the point) is an object of that awareness.
. . .

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:13 am 
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Thanks, PadmaVonSamba. It is, of course, obvious to anyone who has realized it. To those who insist that this "awareness" comes from physical reality, sometimes various thought experiments can be helpful.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:54 am 
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Sherab Dorje wrote:
Really? Insects, mollusks, crustaceans, arachnids, ad nauseum... Not sentient? Not possible? ;) Do you believe in non-material beings?


Insects and so on have brains. They are elementary compared to our brains. Nonetheless they have brains. Non-material beings? I don't think it is possible.

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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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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:55 am 
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conebeckham wrote:
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....


I didn't say consciousness emerges from matter. You are projecting. I said consciousness emerges from reality.

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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.


Last edited by Andrew108 on Wed Apr 09, 2014 5:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 5:08 am 
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I think that all the pre-modern traditions believe there are incorporeal intelligences. These might be described as angels or devas, or as celestial bodhisattvas. Obviously they are out of scope for science insofar as science is committed to the physicalist paradigm but I think they are simply assumed in other cultures.

Early in life I had a vivid experience of a previous existence. It wasn't specific in terms of personal identity or recollection of any particular circumstances but I have since had a conviction that it conveyed knowledge from a previous existence. Anyone who has had past-life recollections would say the same. I don't think that is conveyed on a purely physical level, i.e. through genetics. In fact I have come to the view that there really is no such thing as 'purely physical'. I think 'mind' in the broader sense is analoguous to a field. Whilst magnetic fields can be detected by instruments, I'm sure there are field effects associated with mentality and other aspects of living beings. In fact, I think there simply must be. The existence of such a field would go a long way to explaining such things as non-corporeal intelligence.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:01 am 
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Andrew108 wrote:
I didn't say consciousness emerges from matter. You are projecting. I said consciousness emerges from reality.


'Reality', 'life'... the vague cornucopia of terms which could mean any and everything.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:58 am 
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Andrew108 wrote:
Insects and so on have brains. They are elementary compared to our brains. Nonetheless they have brains.
No they don't, they have ganglia. Humans have ganglia AND a brain. Sooooooo...
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Non-material beings? I don't think it is possible.
Fair enough. So you do not believe in the six realms model then? You believe in a two realms model?
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I didn't say consciousness emerges from matter. You are projecting. I said consciousness emerges from reality.
When you say that consciousness arises from the brain, then you are essentially saying that consciousness arises from matter (especially if you do not agree with the notion of non-material beings). Unless your definition of reality has to do with the non-material which, as a naturalist, I would guess that it wouldn't. Right?

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:40 pm 
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monktastic wrote:
Thanks, PadmaVonSamba. It is, of course, obvious to anyone who has realized it. To those who insist that this "awareness" comes from physical reality, sometimes various thought experiments can be helpful.

We are mostly made of carbon. If someone can define what is experienced (including the 'user'...the one having the experience) as something which can be the result purely of the interaction of chemical (physical) matter, then I'm all for it.

It could be the case, of course, that there is nothing going on except for various chemical interactions... no experience is actually happening at all (some Buddhist assertions might concur with this). The 'materialist' subscribes to this theory, for example, light coming into the eye triggers chemical reactions in the brain. This can be shown to occur, and nothing can be shown, scientifically, beyond that. So, it is logical to conclude that this is all there is.

However, something 'witnesses' that physical event, something interprets it as an experience of the sight of a visible object. The problem I find in the theory that nothing but purely physical matter is happening (what you call the materialist view) is that it essentially says that the computer is creating the user of the computer...that the brain produces the person who experiences the activity of the brain. But why should a brain do this? I don't see how this view is appreciably different from animism, the belief that rocks and rivers and mountains and such have consciousness.

The materialist would argue that no level or degree of "consciousness" can exist without a suitable framework...some kind of living brain or sensory mechanism, and I wouldn't disagree. But the causes of that consciousness, what may itself have no defining characteristics whatsoever, that basic inclination to react somewhat purposefully with objects in its environment, that can be seen in living things which have no sensory mechanism or brain whatsoever.
. . .

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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:05 pm 
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Sherab Dorje wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:
Insects and so on have brains. They are elementary compared to our brains. Nonetheless they have brains.
No they don't, they have ganglia. Humans have ganglia AND a brain. Sooooooo...


The ganglia are organised in such a way so as to act like a primitive brain. As I said, insects do have brains which are elementary compared to our brains.

Sherab Dorje wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:
Non-material beings? I don't think it is possible.
Fair enough. So you do not believe in the six realms model then? You believe in a two realms model?


I believe in evolution. Don't you?

Sherab Dorje wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:
I didn't say consciousness emerges from matter. You are projecting. I said consciousness emerges from reality.
When you say that consciousness arises from the brain, then you are essentially saying that consciousness arises from matter (especially if you do not agree with the notion of non-material beings). Unless your definition of reality has to do with the non-material which, as a naturalist, I would guess that it wouldn't. Right?


I said consciousness is coming from reality. Reality has all sorts of dimensions to it - entropy, electromagnetic energy, force carriers, elementary fields. The brain is also part of this reality. It happens to have a material consistency which obeys the laws of physics. But this doesn't mean that it is a simple material thing like a table or chair.

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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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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:07 pm 
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monktastic wrote:
Thanks, PadmaVonSamba. It is, of course, obvious to anyone who has realized it. To those who insist that this "awareness" comes from physical reality, sometimes various thought experiments can be helpful.


Well you have those that think reality is created by consciousness and those who see reality as the progenitor of consciousness. Most of the arguments you have put forward are idealist in that the underlying assumption is that reality is made by consciousness.

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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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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:09 pm 
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asunthatneversets wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:
I didn't say consciousness emerges from matter. You are projecting. I said consciousness emerges from reality.


'Reality', 'life'... the vague cornucopia of terms which could mean any and everything.


It's vague to you but not to a naturalist. The point is that there are observable laws that are applicable at all times and at all places (except one) and that constitute the reality that you were born into. These laws are not just conventions.

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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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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:14 pm 
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asunthatneversets wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:
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.


Well, his assertion is quite different than how you are painting it. He is pointing to the fact that you cannot pin down a definitive location for mind. Not that mind goes to specific locations within the body when it's supposed to reside in the brain.



asunthatneversets wrote:
Your critique is alluding to, and presupposing a few notions which reflect your view; primarily the treatment of mind as an entity of sorts which is traveling to various locations in a body which contains it. Which is "the ghost in the shell" idea; the body as a material vessel for a non-material mind, etc. Common notions which result from the type of view you champion.


? That's not my position at all.

asunthatneversets wrote:
I'm not saying that the mind cannot reside within a body in a conventional sense, that is certainly a rational view to uphold in that context. But you are not suggesting a model that is merely conventional, you are advocating for an accurate explanation for what you perceive to be an actual state of affairs. And you're welcome to that opinion of course.


It's more than conventional. There is proof. But here you are talking about the 6th consciousness right?

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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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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:28 pm 
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PadmaVonSamba wrote:
......that the brain produces the person who experiences the activity of the brain. But why should a brain do this? I don't see how this view is appreciably different from animism, the belief that rocks and rivers and mountains and such have consciousness.


It's quite different and is related to how the brain evolved over time due to natural selection.

But one thing to remember is that science isn't positing a fully worked-out model of the world in the way that religions do. There is still a lot to understand. Using scientific method, one needn't rely on beliefs but on facts. So scientists aren't entirely materialists in the way that you might think.

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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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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:32 pm 
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Andrew108 wrote:
The ganglia are organised in such a way so as to act like a primitive brain. As I said, insects do have brains which are elementary compared to our brains.
You may say it but scientific theory does not exactly support what you are saying. Anyway, according to your theory humans have multiple brains since they have a brain AND ganglia.
Andrew108 wrote:
I believe in evolution. Don't you?
The question is irrelevant to the scope of the discussion but I'll answer anyway: I believe that the THEORY of evolution is one way to explain material existence.
Andrew108 wrote:
I said consciousness is coming from reality. Reality has all sorts of dimensions to it - entropy, electromagnetic energy, force carriers, elementary fields.
So reality, for you, is material and non-material simultaneously? But you believe in non-material effects but not non-material existence (reality)? How does that work?

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