How can substances alter consciousness?

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How can substances alter consciousness?

Postby Tiger » Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:38 pm

As far as I know, consciousness is beyond form and substance according to Buddhism. It is like space. And just how if you punch in the air (space) you are not going to affect space or its properties in anyway, shouldn't any material thing also have no affect on consciousness (or mind)? Then why does our consciousness become "dim" when we take intoxicants or becomes expanded when we consume certain other drugs?

Or is it that our seventh and eighth consciousness remain unaffected by material phenomena and only sixth consciousness gets affected by chemicals and reactions (brain is a biochemical process after all?)?
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Re: How can substances alter consciousness?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Sep 09, 2012 11:50 pm

What we refer to as cognitive awareness or "consciousness" is not a single, solitary thing, but a rapid series of events consisting primarily of neurological activity in the brain. But all that is really happening is a lot of complicated electrical and chemical interactions. "WHO" is witnessing these events, and "WHO" interprets these chemical changes as the experience of fear, of love, as sadness, and so on? The TV is on, but who is the one that is watching it?

One's "Original Mind" (for lack of a better term) in fact is not disturbed by conditional phenomena (material things).
So, it's not that your Original Mind itself becomes dim. Rather, it is the awareness of original mind which becomes obscured.
You can think of this like turning on a flashlight and then putting that flashlight into a sealed box. The flashlight is still on, but the 'activity' of the box prevents our seeing it.

You could also use the analogy of a clogged drain. We say that a drain is clogged when it is full of stuff and the water won't go down. But as far as the drain pipe is concerned, nothing has changed. It is still the same pipe. It isn't clogged. What is clogged is not the drain pipe, it is the space inside the pipe. Likewise, true consciousness or Original Mind is not blocked by contaminants. But because we don't see it, we may think that it is. When we say "the drain is clogged" we are really talking about the empty space inside the drain pipe. When we say consciousness is fogged by intoxicants, we are really referring to the path to awareness of Original Mind, not Mind itself.

Tiger wrote:As far as I know, consciousness is beyond form and substance according to Buddhism. It is like space. And just how if you punch in the air (space) you are not going to affect space or its properties in anyway, shouldn't any material thing also have no affect on consciousness (or mind)? Then why does our consciousness become "dim" when we take intoxicants or becomes expanded when we consume certain other drugs?

Or is it that our seventh and eighth consciousness remain unaffected by material phenomena and only sixth consciousness gets affected by chemicals and reactions (brain is a biochemical process after all?)?
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Re: How can substances alter consciousness?

Postby lisehull » Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:08 am

PadmaVonSamba - your example of the clogged drain is one of the best I have ever heard (or in this case, read). Thank you for the clarity!
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Re: How can substances alter consciousness?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:21 am

:toilet:
lisehull wrote:PadmaVonSamba - your example of the clogged drain is one of the best I have ever heard (or in this case, read). Thank you for the clarity!
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Re: How can substances alter consciousness?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:16 am

If everything is illusory and only perceived, the narcotic and the perception it produces, be it faint or vibrant consciousness (or unconsciousness), are likewise illusory.

The physical universe and all things therein are the result of beings' collective karma, but "physicality" is no more substantial than mental activity (it is dependently originated). They are not mutually exclusive of each other, though matter depends on mind. This begs the question that if this is so, why does physical injury (or narcotics) alter the mind is very clear ways?

This is the perception of the ripening of karma.
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Re: How can substances alter consciousness?

Postby DarwidHalim » Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:59 am

Yes, what Huseng pointed out is correct.

For anyone who has not realized the naked awareness, they will always confused the ripening of karma as the reaction. This is what the original question is - how can substances alter consciousness?

Substances cannot alter naked awareness because once you realize that even you drink a beer, you will still realize that clarity of naked awareness in the middle of karma ripening.

The karma ripening itself is sometimes called the dance of illusions, because the nature is void.

For example, if someone hits you now, and you get angry.

That angry is the ripening of your karmic behavior. You have that reactiOn because everytime someone hits you, you always react in that way, which in this process you assert that as the karmic seed in your mindstream. However, although you do that, since the nature of that karmic seed is also void, it itself is actually inseparable with naked awareness.

Someone who can stay in their naked awareness, although anger or any reaction arise, the naked awareness is undisturbed. The anger and all fruition of karmic seed becomes the support to show the voidness.

All alternation of consciousness is actually just the ripening of karmic seed, which is unique to that person.

If someone scolds you, you may get scared.
Another person may scold him back and get angry.
Another person may not have reaction, because he doesn't have I, so he never feel he got scolded.

All the reactions are the ripening of karmic seed, but since the karmic seeds are also void, for someone who knows naked awareness, the ripening of karmic seeds has no grip to shake that person.

Whether the reaction is anger, or fear, or no reaction, there is no preference to any of them.

The naked awareness is unshakeable, because all disturbances are by nature void.

So for your question:
Substances can alter consciousness is only true if you confuse that as having substance, which confused you to assert there is alternation.
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Re: How can substances alter consciousness?

Postby Quiet Heart » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:25 am

Huseng wrote:If everything is illusory and only perceived, the narcotic and the perception it produces, be it faint or vibrant consciousness (or unconsciousness), are likewise illusory.

The physical universe and all things therein are the result of beings' collective karma, but "physicality" is no more substantial than mental activity (it is dependently originated). They are not mutually exclusive of each other, though matter depends on mind. This begs the question that if this is so, why does physical injury (or narcotics) alter the mind is very clear ways?

This is the perception of the ripening of karma.

:smile:
====================
Huseng has it right.
The physical world is percieved by the eyes through the medium of light or vision, the ears through the medium of sound, and so on.
The world of "mental activity" (there must be a better term for this than mental activity....but right now I can't think of one)...is percieved through the medium of "conciousness" in that organ of perception we call our brain or sometimes our "Self".
It's easy for people to see something like vision and our eyes as arising from Dependent Origination....because they have an apparent physical existance outside of our "Self"....but people feel that their "Self" is somehow different from those physical things.
When the understanding of "Self" as also arising from Dependent Origination is understood, we can also understand that our perception of "Self" is also as much of an illusion as is our vision.
Now, just like fog can dim our vision, and many noises can confuse our hearing....so can pre-conceptions, predjudice, and misunderstandings confuse the mind or our percieved "Self"...by obscuring the "mental activity" so we do not percieve it clearly.
"Substances" or drugs obscure this mental activity.
But so do mistaken assumptions, pre-conceptions, cultural and other preconceptions also obscure our clear view of this mental activity.
Therefore, we must practice, to clear all our senses...including conciousnrss and mental activity...so we can percieve clearly.
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