Andrew108 wrote:This is interesting but seems to suggest the brain can cognize outside of it's immediate condition in the sense that it can know the state of all things through knowing the state of itself.
As I understand it, knowledge in Dzogchen, as in "knowledge of one's natural state", is a state of "knowing" rather than a subject knowing an object. It doesn't mean having knowledge about something, so its not cognitive, per se.
So in this scenario it seems the brain can channel a state that is not internal to it but that exists objectively or independently. What would happen after death in this scenario?
I don't mean that it channels a state. Rather it begins to process its own structure, which is ultimately inseparable from the structure of everything.
An algorithm cannot model something larger than itself. So, a laptop can model a calculator, but not visa versa. In the same way, the brain attempts to represent itself within its own modelling, which we call the "self". Understanding this to be a representation, and that what we are cannot be modelled within limited consciousness is the point. The totality of this understanding however, is not merely conceptual or cognitive, but a kind of total reflexivity of awareness. The struggle of the brain trying to process itself ends with the realisation that it can't, because it is not the progenitor of "that which knows". This latter part leaves it open to there being the continuation of this beyond brain death, but in a strictly non-cognitive sense.
Although, since I am obviously not enlightened this may all be complete bullshit.
With an absence of brain would there still be cognition?
No, not if cognition is just a byword for neural processing.
Personally I have a problem with traditional descriptions of the bardo - with it seeming that we have some phantom brain and perceive forms and so on. But in your scenario what would account for the bardo?
Not sure, I can't remember the last time I died
When HHDL talks about the bardo and so on, he always infers that there is still brain activity going on after "clinical death", albeit subtle activity. E.g. (my bold):
" ...the body of another senior Tibetan lama...remained fresh for almost three weeks after he had died. As soon as I heard that this master's body was remaining in this naturally fresh state, I asked a medical center in Dharamasala, the village in northern India where I live, to carry out an investigation. This medical center had a simple machine for measuring brain activity. They sent a team with the machine and placed electrodes on the lama's head. Although a very detailed analysis of the results of these tests has yet to be completed, it seems that even a few days after he had been declared clinically dead, some very weak electrical signals could be detected in the lama's brain. This, I was told, is very unusual. We believe that these findings indicate that the lama's innermost subtle mind was still present and having a measurable influence on the body. "
So, perhaps the bardo experience is not something that happens apart from a brain.