Question about "location of mind"

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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Wayfarer » Fri May 24, 2013 3:27 am

Jnana wrote:Respectfully, this only illustrates your lack of understanding about how direct perception is used in Mahāmudrā.


No offense taken. I didn't claim to be answering on the basis of Mahāmudrā.

Jnana wrote:If someone wants to train in Mahāmudrā or Dzogchen, then they need to (1) find a qualified teacher, and (2) follow their instructions.


Having done so, could one answer the question: does the mind have a location? And also: what is the mind?
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Jnana » Fri May 24, 2013 3:36 am

jeeprs wrote:Having done so, could one answer the question: does the mind have a location?

Yes, one could then answer this question.

jeeprs wrote:And also: what is the mind?

Yes, one could also then answer this question as well.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Wayfarer » Fri May 24, 2013 3:51 am

Well, the OP starts with
In the book Vivid Awareness, it is asserted that one cannot know the location of one's mind.



So we appear to have hit an impasse.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Jnana » Fri May 24, 2013 4:06 am

jeeprs wrote:Well, the OP starts with
In the book Vivid Awareness, it is asserted that one cannot know the location of one's mind.



So we appear to have hit an impasse.

The mind doesn't dwell in objects externally, nor in the body internally. And according to the text, it's possible to realize that the mind has no fixed location. In Vivid Awareness the root text of Khenpo Gangshar states:

    It has no fixed place. It dwells neither inside outer objects nor inside the body, nor in the empty space in between. You must become certain that it has no dwelling place.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Wayfarer » Fri May 24, 2013 4:38 am

So 'realizing the mind has no fixed location' is not at all incompatible with what I said in the first place. I really am not trying to start an argument with Jnana or Astus here, I am trying to put an argument as to why it is inadmissable to try and create a scientific definition of mind or proceeed as if 'mind' is some locatable or defineable thing which science can investigate as an object. I didn't think that this would be contentious on this board. :emb:
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Jnana » Fri May 24, 2013 5:06 am

jeeprs wrote:So 'realizing the mind has no fixed location' is not at all incompatible with what I said in the first place.

It's not incompatible. But there is a difference between what you have said and the teachings in Vivid Awareness in terms of epistemology.

jeeprs wrote:I really am not trying to start an argument with Jnana or Astus here, I am trying to put an argument as to why it is inadmissable to try and create a scientific definition of mind or proceeed as if 'mind' is some locatable or defineable thing which science can investigate as an object.

Understood. I think if someone is inclined to hold physicalist metaphysical views based on some interpretation of physics, neuroscience, etc., then it's probably better to begin by examining those views through inferential analysis. This is where the traditional Buddhist and modern arguments against physicalism can be useful.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby heart » Fri May 24, 2013 5:39 am

rachmiel wrote:My personal take, for what it's worth, is that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon that arose and evolved into its current complexity with the evolution of living sentient thinking/feeling organisms. As I see it, brain/sentience preceded and gave rise to consciousness. The belief that consciousness precedes brain/sentience is one of my main obstacles to fully buying into most Eastern philosophies.


The mind we are saying precedes everything is not what you think it is. Fundamental Buddhism don't include the idea of a soul. Also, science have by studying people that practice a lot of meditation found out that it is possible to change the way your brain works.

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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Astus » Fri May 24, 2013 9:53 am

jeeprs wrote:So I don't know why you're taking issue with what I have said here, as far as I am concerned it is totally orthodox.


Jnana has kindly answered the issue, so here I just add a little. The only reason I took up your post is because you stated that the mind cannot be known. It is actually a part of the instructions that not finding anything doesn't mean that one is incapable of knowing, rather it is the fact of not finding that shows its emptiness. This kind of instruction is not only Dzogchen and Mahamudra but also found in Madhyamaka and the sutras (Dogen also has a chapter in the Shobogenzo on it (at least on the term "unfindable", usually translated to English as "unobtainable", like in the Heart Sutra): Shin fukatoku 心不可得).

From Thrangu Rinopche's "A Guide to Mahamudra Meditation" (p. 33; PDF):

"Not finding anything, you initially think that you have somehow failed. Either you misunderstood how to look, or you just haven’t looked enough. But in fact this is not true. The reason you didn’t find anything is that the nature of your mind is utter insubstantiality, which is why, according to the Buddha, it is empty. To thoroughly comprehend this emptiness, we need to experience this directly in meditation."

Also, in chapter 7 of Thrangu Rinpoche's commentary on the 9th Karmapa's Ocean of Definitive Meaning the fact of not finding anything is discussed.
"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 oushi » Fri May 24, 2013 11:48 am

Mind is trying to find itself, "who am I?". Through realizing "I am not my self, because "self" is my construct", mind faces a problem of missing an answer. In fact, this is not a problem but a solution, because every answer will be a construct of the mind, not the mind itself. Lack of answer is a direct, nonverbal, experiential answer.

"Sought-after truth is found by not seeking it. - Longchenpa, The Jewel Ship"
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby muni » Fri May 24, 2013 12:03 pm

Ocean is never wondering about where is the drop now.

:namaste:
We keep trying to tie knots in the vast, open sky, so we have something to hold onto to.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Fri May 24, 2013 12:53 pm

heart wrote:Also, science have by studying people that practice a lot of meditation found out that it is possible to change the way your brain works.

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.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Wayfarer » Fri May 24, 2013 12:55 pm

Astus wrote:You stated that the mind cannot be known.


What I said was:

Jeeprs wrote: you cannot know the knower of knowing, you cannot see the seer of seeing. The hand cannot grasp itself nor the eye see itself. Therefore any 'theory of mind' tries to locate the seer or knower amongst the objects of perception, but it is never there.


Whereas

Jnana wrote:It has no fixed place. It dwells neither inside outer objects nor inside the body, nor in the empty space in between. You must become certain that it has no dwelling place.


and

Astus wrote:
Thrangu Rinpoche wrote:The reason you didn’t find anything is that the nature of your mind is utter insubstantiality, which is why, according to the Buddha, it is empty.


I think these statements all say the same thing in different ways. One expression speaks of 'knowing something utterly insubstantial and empty' , the other approaches the question in terms of negation of objects of perception, or 'not knowing'. That is the only difference. However I prefer the latter method, because even though you say 'the mind can be known', if you are challenged to say 'what is this mind' or 'where is it', the answer cannot be given except for in very vague terms, whereas the argument that 'the eye cannot see itself' is hard to refute even by means of scientific analysis.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby Wayfarer » Fri May 24, 2013 1:04 pm

Rachmiel wrote:And the impulse to make these changes comes from ... the brain


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.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri May 24, 2013 1:12 pm

rachmiel wrote:
In fact I would, do think the latter. Who am "I?" A fictional character created by my brain in cahoots with my sensory organs and nervous system.


So, you assert that the brain creates its owner.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri May 24, 2013 1:14 pm

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.

So, you assert that salt and water and other molecular structures either:
1.already have consciousness on their own (can cognitively bear witness to their own existence)
or
2. can spontaneously produce cognition from themselves,
or can produce the conditions for the spontaneous production of
cognition, when those conditions did not exist before,
which implies that causes of cognition lie dormant in water, salt and other molecular structures from which the brain is composed:

Water: 77 to 78 %
fats: 10 to 12 %
Protein: 8%
Carbohydrate: 1%
Soluble organic substances: 2%
Inorganic salts: 1%

So, please tell me, at what point along the scale from single carbon atom, or hydrogen atom, all the way up to complex human brain, where along that construction is it that the causes of cognition spontaneously occur?

And further, what is the cause (there has to be a cause, if there is a result) for cognition to occur? All of the other organs of the body seem to function without any cognitive self-awareness whatsoever.

I'm not arguing that all these physical events are not necessary for what we regard as cognition to occur.
All I am saying is that they do not produce the awareness itself of these physical events,
and that it is only when these events occur within the context of, or within the ground of awareness
does what we experience as cognition actually occur.
Since awareness cannot be refuted, cannot be shown not to exist,
I suggest that this is a reasonable argument
and basically, the Buddhist argument as well.
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Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Fri May 24, 2013 1:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby 5heaps » Fri May 24, 2013 1:34 pm

Jeeprs wrote:However I prefer the latter method in the context of the Original Post, because even though you say 'the mind can be known', if you are challenged to say 'what is this mind' or 'where is it', the answer cannot be given except for in very vague terms, whereas the argument that 'the eye cannot see itself' is hard to refute even by means of scientific analysis.

the mind is that clarity (gsal) of for example form and shape that you are experiencing right now, which you believe is the outside world. the colours and shapes are an internal representations of the world due to the functioning of mind in the world. the mind is also that activity of 1st person experience that engages with these appearances as it forms them. these activities as one entity is what is meant by mind. furthermore these moments of mind are accompanied by either a type of reflexive awareness (most schools) or persons (unique to gelug prasangika) which ascertain each moment of mind. this is the final element in the entity called mind (aside from mental factors).

so the answer to the question is that the mind has no location in space, however it is located where it appears ie. with that cognitive base

the eye cant see itself, the eye consciousness cannot see itself, but the mental consciousness can see itself and see eyes and eye consciousnesses. conclusion: the mind can know itself
that the finger cant touch itself or the knife cant cut itself is typical zen stuff by people who havent studied pramana and who limit themselves to relatively very simple meditations (though can be considered quite complex relative to the modern world)
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Fri May 24, 2013 2:37 pm

jeeprs wrote:
Rachmiel wrote:And the impulse to make these changes comes from ... the brain


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 "magic" is in the functioning of the brain/nervous system, not in any force (e.g. Consciousness, with a capital C) external to that. Just my take, born of the goings on in my brain/nervous system. :-)
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Fri May 24, 2013 2:38 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
rachmiel wrote:
In fact I would, do think the latter. Who am "I?" A fictional character created by my brain in cahoots with my sensory organs and nervous system.


So, you assert that the brain creates its owner.
.
.
.

I'm saying there IS no owner. There is just: brain/nervous system ... doing its thing.
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Re: Question about "location of mind"

Postby rachmiel » Fri May 24, 2013 2:55 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
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.

So, you assert that salt and water and other molecular structures either:
1.already have consciousness on their own (can cognitively bear witness to their own existence)
or
2. can spontaneously produce cognition from themselves,
or can produce the conditions for the spontaneous production of
cognition, when those conditions did not exist before,
which implies that causes of cognition lie dormant in water, salt and other molecular structures from which the brain is composed: ...

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. We humans invent gods and supernatural forces to attempt to fathom what we don't yet fathom ... or what is unfathomable.

I'm not arguing that all these physical events are not necessary for what we regard as cognition to occur.
All I am saying is that they do not produce the awareness itself of these physical events,
and that it is only when these events occur within the context of, or within the ground of awareness
does what we experience as cognition actually occur.
Since awareness cannot be refuted, cannot be shown not to exist,
I suggest that this is a reasonable argument
and basically, the Buddhist argument as well.

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

Postby mutsuk » Fri May 24, 2013 3:19 pm

Dzogchen teachings have lot to say about the location of mind, and they have one answer. But this implies discussing the mind (sems) as a conditioned phenomena on one side, and wisdom (ye shes) as unconditioned on the other side. Both have specific locations (gnas), pathways (lam), arising doors ('char sgo), etc., but both are not limited to these modalities.
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