Question about "location of mind"

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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat May 25, 2013 11:07 pm

rachmiel wrote: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?


The sperm and egg do not possess awareness.
If the sperm possessed awareness, then also, every cell in the brain would possess awareness.
It's the other way around.
Awareness manifests as the activity of the sperm (attraction to the egg).
If the egg is fertilized and cells reproduce, and a brain results,
awareness further manifests as the activity of the brain.

Before, I used the analogy of awareness to 3D space.
If you make a donut, 3Dspace manifests as the hole in the donut.
It's shape (a circle) arises with the arising of the donut.
Space can arise as any shape or size depending on the specific conditions.
It can do all these things because it has no characteristics of its own.
it's not a "thing" as much as it is the context in which things arise.

Similarly, Awareness arises as varieties of attraction, repulsion, and so forth, in beings.

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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sat May 25, 2013 11:20 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
rachmiel wrote: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?


The sperm and egg do not possess awareness.
If the sperm possessed awareness, then also, every cell in the brain would possess awareness.
It's the other way around.
Awareness manifests as the activity of the sperm (attraction to the egg).
If the egg is fertilized and cells reproduce, and a brain results,
awareness further manifests as the activity of the brain.

Before, I used the analogy of awareness to 3D space.
If you make a donut, 3Dspace manifests as the hole in the donut.
It's shape (a circle) arises with the arising of the donut.
Space can arise as any shape or size depending on the specific conditions.
It can do all these things because it has no characteristics of its own.
it's not a "thing" as much as it is the context in which things arise.

Similarly, Awareness arises as varieties of attraction, repulsion, and so forth, in beings.

I guess we should agree to disagree?

Thanks for the walk, PadmaVonSamba. Until next time. :-)
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Astus » Sun May 26, 2013 12:39 am

rachmiel wrote:Please help me understand the Buddhist takes on these key terms. I'm hoping they can be "defined" in just a few words, i.e. the essence sans ornamentation ... ?
mind: ...
consciousness: ...
awareness: ...


Definitions are usually found in abhidharma works. That's what they were written for. Generally, consciousness means the six sensory consciousnesses and the four mental aggregates. The below one has a Yogacara take on it. (the sanskrit is a bit garbled because of copy-paste)

What is the definition of the aggregate of consciousness (vijnanaskandhavyavasthana)?
It is the mind (citta), the mental organ (manas) and also consciousness (Vijnana).

And now, what is the mind (citta)? It is the store consciousness of all the seeds (sarvabljakam alayavijnanam) impregnated by the residues (vasanaparibhavita) of the aggregates (skandha), elements (dhatu) and spheres (ayatana). The result-consciousness (vipakavijnana) and the appropriating consciousness (adanavijnana) are the same thing also, because of the accumulation of those residues (tad vasanacitata).

What is the mental organ (manas)? It is the object of the store-consciousness (alayavijnanalambana) which always participates in the nature of self-notion {manyanatmaka) associated with the four defilements, viz. the view of "self' (atmadrsti), love of "self" (atmasneba), pride of "I am" {asmimana) and ignorance (avidya). And this is present everywhere (sawatraga), in favorable (kusala), unfavorable (akusala) and neutral {avyakrta) states, except in the case of one facing the Path {margasammukblbhava), the attainment of cessation (nirodbasamapatti), the stage of the learned (asaiksabbumiV5 and also the consciousness that has just this instant ceased among the six kinds of consciousness.

What is consciousness (Vijnana)? It consists of six groups of consciousness: visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile and mental consciousnesses.


(Abhidharmasamuccaya, p. 21-22; tr. Boin-Webb)
"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)

“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."

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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Wayfarer » Sun May 26, 2013 1:07 am

PadmaVonSambha wrote:The sperm and egg do not possess awareness.
If the sperm possessed awareness, then also, every cell in the brain would possess awareness.
It's the other way around.


I thought I might menion the 'Santiago theory of cognition'. This has a connection to Buddhism, because it was founded by Francisco Varela (among others) who went on to found the MInd-Life seminars for dialog between Buddhism and Science. The Santiago Theory was a part of the broader movement known as 'systems theories' with which Gregory Bateson and Evan Thomson are also identified. (I guess Stuart Kaufmann would be another theorist in this school.)

ONE OF THE MOST revolutionary aspects of the emerging systems theory of life is the new conception of mind, or cognition, it implies. This new conception was proposed by Gregory Bateson and elaborated more extensively by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela in a theory known as the Santiago theory of cognition.

The central insight of the Santiago theory is the identification of cognition, the process of knowing, with the process of life. Cognition, according to Maturana and Varela, is the activity involved in the self-generation and self-perpetuation of living systems. In other words, cognition is the very process of life.


~ Frithjof Capra
This was originally laid out in a series of books in the early 90's which have become quite influential in academia:

The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience Varela et al
Tree of Knowledge Maturana and Varela

There is also the more recent Mind in Life by Evan Thompson.

The point about this approach is that it attempts to avoid the Cartesian division of 'mind and body' which shapes so many of the debates around this topic, and recast the whole discussion in more holistic terms, drawing on life sciences, phenomeology, and abhidhamma perspectives.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Azidonis » Sun May 26, 2013 1:42 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
rachmiel wrote: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?


The sperm and egg do not possess awareness.
If the sperm possessed awareness, then also, every cell in the brain would possess awareness.
It's the other way around.
Awareness manifests as the activity of the sperm (attraction to the egg).
If the egg is fertilized and cells reproduce, and a brain results,
awareness further manifests as the activity of the brain.

Before, I used the analogy of awareness to 3D space.
If you make a donut, 3Dspace manifests as the hole in the donut.
It's shape (a circle) arises with the arising of the donut.
Space can arise as any shape or size depending on the specific conditions.
It can do all these things because it has no characteristics of its own.
it's not a "thing" as much as it is the context in which things arise.

Similarly, Awareness arises as varieties of attraction, repulsion, and so forth, in beings.

.
.
.


I usually use the analogy of a tire, but same principle. With the tire analogy, I add a rim, which is of course hollow in the center, but it seems easy enough for people to understand the spokes as the skandhas, which "aggregate" around the hub of the rim.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby 5heaps » Sun May 26, 2013 11:01 am

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.

there are too many lucid instructions, reasonings, and explanations on how to meditate, as well as too many on what it means to observe the qualities of the mind through direct perception, to say that its ok to "live comfortably" without knowing :)

youtube: The Hard Problem of Consciousness in Science

Recognizing the Basic Factors of Mental Activity
The Nature of the Mind
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby porpoise » Sun May 26, 2013 11:29 am

rachmiel wrote:In the book Vivid Awareness, it is asserted that one cannot know the location of one's mind. Is it in the head? No. In the heart? No. Inside? No. Outside? No. And so on.


Yes, it's a tricky one, and in some meditative states the mind can feel absolutely huge. But maybe it's more productive to understand the nature of mind rather than to worry about it's location?
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sun May 26, 2013 1:07 pm

5heaps wrote:
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.

there are too many lucid instructions, reasonings, and explanations on how to meditate, as well as too many on what it means to observe the qualities of the mind through direct perception, to say that its ok to "live comfortably" without knowing :)

I respectfully (and deeply!) disagree. :-)
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby MalaBeads » Sun May 26, 2013 1:11 pm

porpoise wrote:But maybe it's more productive to understand the nature of mind rather than to worry about it's location?


Well, thats what i think i porpoise. But hey, to each their own, you know?
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sun May 26, 2013 1:15 pm

MalaBeads wrote:
porpoise wrote:But maybe it's more productive to understand the nature of mind rather than to worry about it's location?

Well, thats what i think i porpoise. But hey, to each their own, you know?

+1 for both comments.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun May 26, 2013 5:58 pm

I think the whole point of all the exercises asking about location, color, existential qualities, and movement of mind are about understanding the nature of it. If you read famous stuff on Mahamudra, even just parts of sadhanas, the fact that mind has no findable qualities is often mentioned. One of the books i've read seemed to indicate that lengthy Mahamudra retreat is about doing just these things until one comes to a definitive understanding of something like the location of mind, and no longer has any question about it...I would say that IS determining the nature of mind.

The problem is that because what mind actually "is" is outside of concepts so that one has to go through and slowly filter out, and become sure of what mind is not before being able to have an experience of it...this is my impression at least of Mahamudra.
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is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sun May 26, 2013 7:57 pm

For what it's worth, all this discussion about mind, consciousness, awareness, etc. has helped me a lot in my vivid awareness meditation practice.

At the beginning of the thread I said I thought the brain -- in cahoots with the senses and nervous system -- was the seat of the mind. If I were asked now where mind is located during vivid awareness, I'd say: everywhere my awareness extends to.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun May 26, 2013 8:06 pm

rachmiel wrote:For what it's worth, all this discussion about mind, consciousness, awareness, etc. has helped me a lot in my vivid awareness meditation practice.

At the beginning of the thread I said I thought the brain -- in cahoots with the senses and nervous system -- was the seat of the mind. If I were asked now where mind is located during vivid awareness, I'd say: everywhere my awareness extends to.



Interesting to try figuring whether the area your awareness extends is "outside" or "inside" whatever you see as you is...
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sun May 26, 2013 8:16 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
rachmiel wrote:For what it's worth, all this discussion about mind, consciousness, awareness, etc. has helped me a lot in my vivid awareness meditation practice.

At the beginning of the thread I said I thought the brain -- in cahoots with the senses and nervous system -- was the seat of the mind. If I were asked now where mind is located during vivid awareness, I'd say: everywhere my awareness extends to.



Interesting to try figuring whether the area your awareness extends is "outside" or "inside" whatever you see as you is...

Good question. It feels kind of like a throbbing expansive IS-ness at the center of which sits a meditating entity.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun May 26, 2013 8:31 pm

rachmiel wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
rachmiel wrote:For what it's worth, all this discussion about mind, consciousness, awareness, etc. has helped me a lot in my vivid awareness meditation practice.

At the beginning of the thread I said I thought the brain -- in cahoots with the senses and nervous system -- was the seat of the mind. If I were asked now where mind is located during vivid awareness, I'd say: everywhere my awareness extends to.



Interesting to try figuring whether the area your awareness extends is "outside" or "inside" whatever you see as you is...

Good question. It feels kind of like a throbbing expansive IS-ness at the center of which sits a meditating entity.


Might be fun to try to find whether there is a separate entity form what constitutes the 'meditation', and if so, where the boundaries of it are.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby MalaBeads » Sun May 26, 2013 8:32 pm

rachmiel wrote:For what it's worth, all this discussion about mind, consciousness, awareness, etc. has helped me a lot in my vivid awareness meditation practice.

At the beginning of the thread I said I thought the brain -- in cahoots with the senses and nervous system -- was the seat of the mind. If I were asked now where mind is located during vivid awareness, I'd say: everywhere my awareness extends to.


:smile:
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Sun May 26, 2013 8:43 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Might be fun to try to find whether there is a separate entity form what constitutes the 'meditation', and if so, where the boundaries of it are.

I'll check it out when I meditate later today and report my findings. :-)
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby monktastic » Tue May 28, 2013 6:04 am

I haven't read the full thread, but Rachmiel, here's a nice little thought experiment you might try:

Try to "feel" where your experience is located. Try to get a strong feeling of it, so that you feel pretty certain of its physical location. Now imagine that your brain is moved (along with all the structures that connect it to external organs -- such as the optic nerves, etc.) slowly downward, toward your feet. Let your sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, etc.) stay in place.

Now: Does the location of your experience move? Do you think you will experience the location of your experience moving? How far can your brain be moved without changing the location of your experience (ignoring the limited speed of neuron impulse propagation, of course :tongue:)?

If experience is "located" in the brain, but moving the brain does not "move" the location of experience, isn't that a little fishy? What might that suggest about the "location" of experience? Is it a meaningful concept?
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Tue May 28, 2013 2:04 pm

monktastic wrote:I haven't read the full thread, but Rachmiel, here's a nice little thought experiment you might try:

Try to "feel" where your experience is located. Try to get a strong feeling of it, so that you feel pretty certain of its physical location. Now imagine that your brain is moved (along with all the structures that connect it to external organs -- such as the optic nerves, etc.) slowly downward, toward your feet. Let your sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, etc.) stay in place.

Now: Does the location of your experience move? Do you think you will experience the location of your experience moving? How far can your brain be moved without changing the location of your experience (ignoring the limited speed of neuron impulse propagation, of course :tongue:)?

If experience is "located" in the brain, but moving the brain does not "move" the location of experience, isn't that a little fishy? What might that suggest about the "location" of experience? Is it a meaningful concept?

Fishy, I like that. To me, it's ALL fishy! ;-)

Interesting thought experiment, thanks for sharing. My result: If all the sense organs remain in place and only the brain moves, there is little to no sense of movement of mind/consciousness. It's a bit like moving a CPU with respect to a keyboard/mouse/screen. It doesn't matter where the CPU is located, as long as the keyboard/mouse/screen function normally.

Is "location of experience" a meaningful concept. Well, some experiences seem location-centric: You step on a thorn and the experience (OUCH!) emanates from and is centralized around your foot. And other experiences seem ambiguous or even location-less: Looking at a tree and experiencing wonder.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby monktastic » Tue May 28, 2013 5:12 pm

rachmiel wrote:Fishy, I like that. To me, it's ALL fishy! ;-)


I was going to take credit for that pun, but possibly my brain just picked up on signals from your avatar :smile:

Interesting thought experiment, thanks for sharing. My result: If all the sense organs remain in place and only the brain moves, there is little to no sense of movement of mind/consciousness. It's a bit like moving a CPU with respect to a keyboard/mouse/screen. It doesn't matter where the CPU is located, as long as the keyboard/mouse/screen function normally.


Great! Stay with this. Again: if experience (mind) is located in the brain, then mustn't it move when the brain moves? If we stick to physicalist notions, isn't this inescapable? But, as you rightly noted, if there was no change to experience, is it really reasonable to say that experience moved? Try it now. You can simulate the experience of the brain being relocated by... just sitting there :smile:. Does it make sense to say that your experience is "moving"?

How else might we make experience "move"? What if we move our head, or start walking? Is this "experience moving," or is it just a series of new experiences? Can you do anything to make experience move? If it cannot be moved, then where is it? Is it still located where you were born? Is it meaningful to assign it a physical location at all?

Could it be that when we say that experience is "located in the brain," what we really mean is something more like: because experience seems like a "real thing", and because "real things" must have physical locations, the most sensible location for experience is the brain?

Perhaps it is only our insistence that experience is a (physically) "real thing" that causes this difficulty?

As they say in Dzogchen texts, it is not nonexistent, because it clearly appears. Yet it is not existent, because it cannot be pinned down as this or that (i.e., assigning it physical characteristics leads to nonsense, as we see above).

Edit: I now see that you've perhaps come to this recognition from this thread already :smile:
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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