Question about "location of mind"

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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby undefineable » Sat May 25, 2013 1:07 am

jeeprs wrote:there is no substance involved which causes an effect. The effect is only caused by the belief of the subject that there is a substance.

This sounds like a standard definition of samsara as well as placebo :ugeek:
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby undefineable » Sat May 25, 2013 2:11 am

rachmiel wrote:Yes, the brain can change, functionally and structurally. And the impulse to make these changes comes from ... the brain (in cahoots with senses and nervous system). It's a self-modifying system, incredibly subtle, incredibly complex. Sufficiently complex to give birth to personal consciousness.

Are you suggesting that meditation can only change the brain if one doesn't begin with the intention of meditating?
rachmiel wrote:
jeeprs wrote:I don't think you have a warrant for that statement. If it were true, how would psychosomatic illnesses, or the placebo effect, have any effect? Both of those phenomena, which are well documented, rely solely on the beliefs of the subjects. In the case of placebos, there is no substance involved which causes an effect. The effect is only caused by the belief of the subject that there is a substance.

Warrant? No one *knows* these things. Everyone's still speculating, right? So my speculation is that beliefs arise from the brain/nervous system.

The image many here seem to have formed -fairly or otherwise- is that those who make it their business to speculate on these topics would generally see your particular speculations as 'The Truth', and that it is indeed 'known'. Debating someone with fixed views of this kind gets kind of samey, as it feels as if -say- you're explaining a mathematical problem to someone who insists on questioning -at every step- how the numbers involved can be prepared, cooked, and eaten. OK, the paradoxical nature of our reality means there is far more of a link between mind/awareness and brain, but I sense you may appreciate the whiff of 'category error' here.
rachmiel wrote:Not asserting, just sharing my take. That's what we're all doing here, right? No one here, anywhere, *knows* the answers to these questions. It's a mystery, unfathomable. Again: my take, not an assertion.

I have no idea how brain/nervous system gives birth to consciousness. But I don't see any need to look beyond the workings of brain/nervous system to explain consciousness

rachmiel wrote:Advaitans argue (passionately, unyieldingly!) that brahman cannot be refuted. Christians have thousands of pages of scripture explaining why their God/Truth is the only true God/Truth. Ditto for every religion and most (all?) scientific disciplines. Why should I -- anyone? -- believe any of these assertions? (I don't.) I see them all as metaphors, stories. Some no doubt come closer to modelling reality than others, but stories are just ... stories. Mind, awareness, consciousness, enlightenment ... compelling metaphors, not the real thing. But I digress ...

You seem to have gone from "don't know" speculation to assumption ("this is the truth but I'm not sure how it's the truth") to postmodernist intellectual nihilism ("there might be a true reality but it can't be known") in three short paragraphs. :rolleye:

There's not much anyone can say to this short of a dissertation. The only things that stick out in my mind is that -since there plainly IS a reality (otherwise we wouldn't be discussing it)- a valid approach is atleast conceivable, and that what little I understand of the actual practice of 'Buddhadharma' seems painfully short on the kind of metaphors, stories, or even beliefs that can be more straightforwardly pointed out in the other systems you mentioned. What I take to be your last paragraph's main insight -that every idea 'about' something else is far from that thing- is actually something you can read a lot about (under rubric such as non-conceptuality) in that context. For a beginner, the few concepts (out of those you label 'metaphors') that can already be applied to the Path are just convenient labels for one's own subjective experiences, however many holes one might dimly sense there may be in it. So, rather than creating a theory to be hived off from a reality that it can only describe in abstraction, the gist seems to be more to 'go after' reality first, and reflect from there on what any relevant concepts might hint at (so as to reassure latecomers!)
"Removing the barrier between this and that is the only solution" {Chogyam Trungpa - "The Lion's Roar"}
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sat May 25, 2013 3:08 am

Thanks for sharing your take, undefineable. Sorry, but I couldn't find any entry point for a useful response. (I tried, twice.) Maybe next time. :-)
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby 5heaps » Sat May 25, 2013 4:18 am

rachmiel wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Okay then, you assert that the brain creates its illusion of an owner.
Whatever. Illusion or not, the point is,
you are saying that all of this otherwise non-cognitive stuff spontaneously bears cognitive witness to its own existence.
.
.
.

Yes! It's miraculous, isn't it? So is the fact that a buncha particle-waves can come together to create a cherry tree in full flower. Who/what tells each particle to go where it goes, stay where it stays?


its impossible. something which physically obstructs cannot give rise to something that does not physically obstruct. likewise in reverse, it cannot be produced by something which physically obstructs.

there is no "redness" in 1 particle, 500 million particles, or an infinite number of particles
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat May 25, 2013 4:52 am

rachmiel wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote: you are saying that all of this otherwise non-cognitive stuff spontaneously bears cognitive witness to its own existence.

Yes! It's miraculous, isn't it? So is the fact that a buncha particle-waves can come together to create a cherry tree in full flower. Who/what tells each particle to go where it goes, stay where it stays?


Amazing to us, yes. Miraculous, no, explainable.
And if Khenpo Gangshar had said that the blossoms or bark or cherries could not be found anywhere,
you could easily prove that wrong.
If he had said the brain cannot be found anywhere, you could prove otherwise.
But, if asked "where does the smell of the cherry blossoms arise?", or "where does the taste of the cherries arise?,
and you answered 'in the flower itself' or, "in the pulp of the fruit itself"
you would be mistaken.

For while it is true that the cherry tree produces the chemical and physical causes for scent and taste,
scent and taste only arise as mind, to the one sniffing and tasting,
and only because such events happen to arise within the context of awareness
just as the cherry tree arises within the context of three-dimensional space.

But just as the cherry tree does not produce one's awareness of it,
likewise the brain cannot be shown to produce one's awareness of it either.
it can only produce the events that, because of awareness, arise as experiences.
in that way, the brain and the tree are alike.
they produce conditions,
but not the awareness of those conditions.

I welcome any proof that the brain itself (alone) is what produces a witness to its own activity.

If the brain has not been shown to actually produce awareness itself,
and yet, because the fact of awareness cannot be denied,
then one can conclude that this "awareness" is something that is not caused by anything else,
it does not arise as the result of component factors,
but is itself a factor in the arising of cognition.

The brain may produce everything that is experienced as thoughts
But it is not shown that the brain alone produces the one "having" the experience of thoughts.
That's the illusion!
Even if you admit that this illusion of "me" is imaginary,
If you say that this imaginary "being" who experiences samsara is produced as a result of physical components alone,
then samsara must have a purely physical cause as well.
and if it is physical, how can one be liberated from it?
Liberation could be attained only by having a lobotomy.
By destroying the physical cause.

Buddhist teachings all point back to realization of this basic awareness.
Zen, Dzogchen, Mahamudra, even Pure Land, in one way or another,
calling it Buddha Mind, or Buddha nature, Emptiness and Luminosity, or whatever,
all point to this fundamental nature of awareness
in which mind arises.
.
.
.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sat May 25, 2013 12:38 pm

Maybe awareness in the way you talk about it exists.

Maybe it doesn't.

The challenge for me is to live comfortably with not-knowing. Something like living forever at the cusp of concreteness, where wave functions have not collapsed into certainty.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby MalaBeads » Sat May 25, 2013 12:52 pm

rachmiel wrote:Maybe awareness in the way you talk about it exists.

Maybe it doesn't.

The challenge for me is to live comfortably with not-knowing. Something like living forever at the cusp of concreteness, where wave functions have not collapsed into certainty.



Living comfortably with not-knowing is important. For a practitioner, this can be significant. For a scientist, this is not his/her path.

When you talk about wave functions collapsing into certainty....well, there are different kinds of certainty. There is the certainty of direct experience. When you put your hand on a hot stove, you know it burns. No amount of scientific explanation can give you this type of certainty.

If you want to be a scientist, be a scientist. If you want to be a practitioner, be a practitioner. Just understand that each type of certainty is different.

And it is fine to have a keen interest in both. But then the problem becomes one of language, not of science and not of practice. And the resolution of questions lies in clarity, not certainty.

I would encourage you, rachmiel, once again, to receive direct introduction to the nature of mind, from a qualified dzogchen teacher. But what you do or don't do is up to you.

Cheers.
Last edited by MalaBeads on Sat May 25, 2013 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Azidonis » Sat May 25, 2013 12:57 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:It's what I said before, the brain provides the physical conditions for the experience. In fact, you can even map out where in the brain certain activities take place. But that's all it does.


The experience provides the experiencer.

Thought in itself is not actually thought, until it is recognized. When suddenly, "Oh, there's a thought", it is then that an experiencer can be determined in relation to that specific thought.

The "you" is just a collection of memories of these that has welled up over time, like a ball of yarn that started by the initial roll, and continues to roll and collect as sensory experience creates the yarn.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sat May 25, 2013 1:12 pm

MalaBeads wrote:If you want to be a scientist, be a scientist. If you want to be a practitioner, be a practitioner. Just understand that each type of certainty is different.

But isn't declaring/feeling oneself to be ANY kind of "ist" a move towards concretization, away from not-knowing? I'm not this or that, I'm everything I am (at its moment of am'ing). Right?

If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. My spin: If you meet the Buddha on the road, tip your hat and walk on, unperturbed.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sat May 25, 2013 1:14 pm

Azidonis wrote:The "you" is just a collection of memories of these that has welled up over time, like a ball of yarn that started by the initial roll, and continues to roll and collect as sensory experience creates the yarn.

Nice. I'd add: memories + reflexes (habits) that these memories and external stimuli trigger.

I had a therapist who once said: Self is where you stubbed your toe.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat May 25, 2013 1:25 pm

rachmiel wrote:Maybe awareness in the way you talk about it exists.
Maybe it doesn't.

Spermatozoa swim toward the egg.
.
.
.
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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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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sat May 25, 2013 1:33 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
rachmiel wrote:Maybe awareness in the way you talk about it exists.
Maybe it doesn't.

Spermatozoa swim toward the egg.
.
.
.

From what point of view:

The egg?
The sperm?
The observer?
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby MalaBeads » Sat May 25, 2013 3:12 pm

rachmiel wrote:
MalaBeads wrote:If you want to be a scientist, be a scientist. If you want to be a practitioner, be a practitioner. Just understand that each type of certainty is different.

But isn't declaring/feeling oneself to be ANY kind of "ist" a move towards concretization, away from not-knowing? I'm not this or that, I'm everything I am (at its moment of am'ing). Right?

If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. My spin: If you meet the Buddha on the road, tip your hat and walk on, unperturbed.



Sounds good to me.

<tips hat>
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sat May 25, 2013 3:18 pm

MalaBeads wrote:
rachmiel wrote:If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. My spin: If you meet the Buddha on the road, tip your hat and walk on, unperturbed.

Sounds good to me.

<tips hat>

I'm so glad you didn't take Door #1. ;-)
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Jesse » Sat May 25, 2013 3:34 pm

http://jonlieffmd.com/blog/microbes/a-m ... h-no-brain
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
rachmiel wrote:Maybe awareness in the way you talk about it exists.
Maybe it doesn't.

Spermatozoa swim toward the egg.
.
.
.


http://jonlieffmd.com/blog/microbes/a-m ... h-no-brain

I just found this page while doing some reading, pretty interesting read.
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sat May 25, 2013 3:48 pm

Jesse wrote:http://jonlieffmd.com/blog/microbes/a-mind-with-no-brain
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
rachmiel wrote:Maybe awareness in the way you talk about it exists.
Maybe it doesn't.

Spermatozoa swim toward the egg.
.
.
.


http://jonlieffmd.com/blog/microbes/a-m ... h-no-brain

I just found this page while doing some reading, pretty interesting read.

Nice. :-)
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat May 25, 2013 4:09 pm

rachmiel wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
rachmiel wrote:Maybe awareness in the way you talk about it exists.
Maybe it doesn't.

Spermatozoa swim toward the egg.
.
.
.

From what point of view:

The egg?
The sperm?
The observer?


all three.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
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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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sat May 25, 2013 4:17 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
rachmiel wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Spermatozoa swim toward the egg.

From what point of view:

The egg?
The sperm?
The observer?

all three.

So you think the egg is aware that the sperms are swimming to it? And the sperms are aware that they are headed for the egg?

As I see it, the egg is just sitting there, aware (to whatever extent an egg can be aware) of its immediate ovarian environment, and the sperms are driven to swim with all their might in a certain direction but with no awareness of an egg as goal (until, perhaps, they are right there "in sight" of the egg). The observer (human mind) is the only point of view that concludes: sperm swimming towards egg.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Astus » Sat May 25, 2013 5:02 pm

rachmiel wrote:Which would you recommend: vipassana (which I did regularly a few years back) or kusulu-type "resting in being" meditation? I'm more keen on the latter, because it's new to me. But I'm still not sure, after all this time, what exactly "resting in being" means. ;-) Maybe I should mix it up, vipassana followed by kusulu 10-20 minutes each kind of thing?


You have to find it out for yourself, because only you can tell what works and what doesn't. First of all, in order to be able to do proper vipashyana, you have to practise yourself in shamata first, otherwise the whole thing is not meditation just thinking about this and that. There are many good manuals you can follow, more detailed than Vivid Awareness, or you go to a Dharma centre and follow their programme. Analytical meditation is meant to ease your mind, to help you get over your doubts about the truth of the Dharma. So the second thing to do is to learn the relevant teachings that you use for your investigation in meditation. Although the important points are covered in most manuals, it is useful to comprehend the details of such things as the five aggregates, the eighteen dhatus and the various forms of reasoning applied (as in Madhyamaka). Then if you are through with the analytical part in a session you finish by resting in the conclusion that is emptiness, thus the final result is no different from directly going for non-conceptual resting, except that this time you sorted out your doubts instead of just putting them aside for a short time.

If you don't know where to look for meditation instructions, here are some options (based on Madhyamaka):

Kamalashila: Bhavanakrama (commentaries are also available by HHDL, Thrangu Rinpoche, etc.)
Tsongkhapa: Lamrim chenmo
Gen Lamrimpa: How to Practice Shamatha Meditation; How to Realize Emptiness
Thrangu Rinpoche: The Middle-way Meditation Instructions
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sat May 25, 2013 5:29 pm

Astus wrote:
rachmiel wrote:Which would you recommend: vipassana (which I did regularly a few years back) or kusulu-type "resting in being" meditation? I'm more keen on the latter, because it's new to me. But I'm still not sure, after all this time, what exactly "resting in being" means. ;-) Maybe I should mix it up, vipassana followed by kusulu 10-20 minutes each kind of thing?


You have to find it out for yourself, because only you can tell what works and what doesn't. First of all, in order to be able to do proper vipashyana, you have to practise yourself in shamata first, otherwise the whole thing is not meditation just thinking about this and that. There are many good manuals you can follow, more detailed than Vivid Awareness, or you go to a Dharma centre and follow their programme. Analytical meditation is meant to ease your mind, to help you get over your doubts about the truth of the Dharma. So the second thing to do is to learn the relevant teachings that you use for your investigation in meditation. Although the important points are covered in most manuals, it is useful to comprehend the details of such things as the five aggregates, the eighteen dhatus and the various forms of reasoning applied (as in Madhyamaka). Then if you are through with the analytical part in a session you finish by resting in the conclusion that is emptiness, thus the final result is no different from directly going for non-conceptual resting, except that this time you sorted out your doubts instead of just putting them aside for a short time.

If you don't know where to look for meditation instructions, here are some options (based on Madhyamaka):

Kamalashila: Bhavanakrama (commentaries are also available by HHDL, Thrangu Rinpoche, etc.)
Tsongkhapa: Lamrim chenmo
Gen Lamrimpa: How to Practice Shamatha Meditation; How to Realize Emptiness
Thrangu Rinpoche: The Middle-way Meditation Instructions

Thanks, Astus.

Currently I'm doing a three-pronged attack, two sittings a day: N minutes of anapanasati -> N minutes of vipassana -> N minutes of vivid awareness. (N >= 5 minutes.) So I cover all the bases: shamata, analytical, resting in mind. Feels right. :-)
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