The brain and Dzogchen...

Moderator: Tibetan Buddhism moderators

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Virgo » Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:09 pm

***
Last edited by Virgo on Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Virgo
 
Posts: 1416
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:47 am
Location: Globe

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Sönam » Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:43 pm

Image

========== Enlightenment Process ==========
By understanding everything you perceive from the perspective of the view, you are freed from the constraints of philosophical beliefs.
By understanding that any and all mental activity is meditation, you are freed from arbitrary divisions between formal sessions and postmeditation activity.
- Longchen Rabjam -
User avatar
Sönam
 
Posts: 1958
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:11 pm
Location: France

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Acchantika » Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:46 pm

Andrew108 wrote:In what sense does enlightenment transcend brain-based activity?


Maybe it doesn't.

Here's one possibility:

The nervous system is an aggregate of matter that can model sensory information in a subjective cognitive space which we call "mind" or "sems".

When a nervous system has developed sufficiently, as in humans, this information processing becomes reflexive such that it begins to represent its own structure and self-model, i.e, become self-aware.

That the mind is able to recognise its nature/essence is not by virtue of it being special, but merely that it is the representation of an information processing system capable of processing itself, which no other system in nature can do.

Hence why only sentient beings, i.e., beings with organic hardware capable of self-modelling, can achieve enlightenment.

So it is not brains nor sentience that matters, but simply the level of development, and why insentient things cannot achieve awakening.

Although, admittedly this idea is not as cool as the zombie buddha theory.

:popcorn:
...
Acchantika
 
Posts: 292
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:04 am

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Andrew108 » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:15 pm

Acchantika wrote:Although, admittedly this idea is not as cool as the zombie buddha theory.

Hahah that's funny. Of course that is not the implication of saying the buddha has no brain.
In fact if we say something like timeless awareness which implies an awareness that is beyond brain-based reasoning and creation - then that's more like what a buddha's 'brain' is. The 'enlightenment' that you describe which does not go beyond 'cognitive space' wouldn't really be enlightenment at all - it would be 'zombie enlightenment' in that timeless awareness would be missing. I'm saying a buddha's brain is timeless/space-like awareness. This can't be a creation of the imagination or an experience of the six senses. There is definitely a sense that the realization that matters is not really human - goes beyond or steps out of the space of human cognition.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
Andrew108
 
Posts: 1502
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:41 pm

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Virgo » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:17 pm

I think this conversation is potentially damaging to our samāya. We shouldn't reify so much.

No fault of the O.P. The questions are certainly valid.

Of course, people will disagree with me on this first point.

(This comment is not directed at any particular person. It is just a very general statement). Why the F do wew have to reify everything?


Kev
Last edited by Virgo on Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
Virgo
 
Posts: 1416
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:47 am
Location: Globe

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Malcolm » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:27 pm

Andrew108 wrote:In fact if we say something like timeless awareness


Please don't.

Translating ye shes as "timeless awareness" is terrible. "Ye shes" translates only the word jñāna.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 11781
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Malcolm » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:31 pm

Andrew108 wrote:There is definitely a sense that the realization that matters is not really human - goes beyond or steps out of the space of human cognition.


Or, a buddha has a mind whose cognitive range exceeds that of ordinary persons and whose realization merely expands the potential of what human cognition is capable of.

N
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 11781
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Andrew108 » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:44 pm

Namdrol wrote:Or, a buddha has a mind whose cognitive range exceeds that of ordinary persons and whose realization merely expands the potential of what human cognition is capable of.

Ouch. Buddha as superhuman.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
Andrew108
 
Posts: 1502
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:41 pm

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby gnegirl » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:54 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Or, a buddha has a mind whose cognitive range exceeds that of ordinary persons and whose realization merely expands the potential of what human cognition is capable of.

Ouch. Buddha as superhuman.


ok, so the robot with the human brain isn't written off yet either!

:popcorn:
"Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise." --Surangama Sutra

Phenomenon, vast as space, dharmata is your base, arising and falling like ocean tide cycles, why do i cling to your illusion of unceasing changlessness?
User avatar
gnegirl
 
Posts: 386
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:22 pm
Location: Waponi Woo

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Virgo » Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:24 pm

gnegirl wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:
Namdrol wrote:Or, a buddha has a mind whose cognitive range exceeds that of ordinary persons and whose realization merely expands the potential of what human cognition is capable of.

Ouch. Buddha as superhuman.


ok, so the robot with the human brain isn't written off yet either!

:popcorn:

Well I guess as long as it's conscious and has all the channels that the human body has, no problem. But that's not really a robot - It's Darth Vader!!



Kevin
User avatar
Virgo
 
Posts: 1416
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:47 am
Location: Globe

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Acchantika » Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:49 pm

Andrew108 wrote:
Acchantika wrote:Although, admittedly this idea is not as cool as the zombie buddha theory.

Hahah that's funny. Of course that is not the implication of saying the buddha has no brain.


Apologies if I came off as facetious. My intention with that comment was just a playful one.

In fact if we say something like timeless awareness which implies an awareness that is beyond brain-based reasoning and creation - then that's more like what a buddha's 'brain' is. The 'enlightenment' that you describe which does not go beyond 'cognitive space' wouldn't really be enlightenment at all - it would be 'zombie enlightenment' in that timeless awareness would be missing. I'm saying a buddha's brain is timeless/space-like awareness. This can't be a creation of the imagination or an experience of the six senses. There is definitely a sense that the realization that matters is not really human - goes beyond or steps out of the space of human cognition.

I didn't mean to suggest that what is realised is a product of cognition, mentation or sensory experience.

What I am suggesting is simply that the brain has developed the capacity to self-process. Therefore, it can attain realisation of its nature.

If a rock could self-process, it could attain realisation of its nature, but it can't.

Within the nervous system of a sentient being such as a human, a mental process called "reflexivity" occurs, such that they can recognise their own state which is not seperate from the state of all things ("omniscience").

So in that sense, perhaps awakening happens via a brain, but what is realised is not reducible to the brain qua brain, but rather the brain as a node within the network of interdependence that is capable of self-recognition. Like a voltmeter is both powered by and can measure the current running through it, but is not the source of the current itself.
...
Acchantika
 
Posts: 292
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:04 am

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Acchantika » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:14 pm

Virgo wrote:I think this conversation is potentially damaging to our samāya. We shouldn't reify so much.


Perhaps not, if you don't believe Buddha taught faith as belief without understanding, but as conviction in practicing what one has come to understand in theory. If the latter, it is important to admit, discuss and attempt to understand any issues you may have. Cognitive dissonance is not a virtue I recall the Buddha teaching.
...
Acchantika
 
Posts: 292
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:04 am

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Virgo » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:18 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Virgo wrote:I think this conversation is potentially damaging to our samāya. We shouldn't reify so much.


Perhaps not, if you don't believe Buddha taught faith as belief without understanding, but as conviction in practicing what one has come to understand in theory. If the latter, it is important to admit, discuss and attempt to understand any issues you may have. Cognitive dissonance is not a virtue I recall the Buddha teaching.

Reification is. Reify things and the natural state do not go together. Learning is of course important, but we must keep this first thing in mind. In my opinion.

Thanks,

Kevin
User avatar
Virgo
 
Posts: 1416
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:47 am
Location: Globe

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Andrew108 » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:43 pm

Acchantika wrote:Within the nervous system of a sentient being such as a human, a mental process called "reflexivity" occurs, such that they can recognise their own state which is not seperate from the state of all things ("omniscience").

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.
Then you state:
Acchantika wrote:Like a voltmeter is both powered by and can measure the current running through it, but is not the source of the current itself.

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?
With an absence of brain would there still be cognition?
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?
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
Andrew108
 
Posts: 1502
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:41 pm

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Paul » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:00 pm

Andrew108 wrote: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?


If I remember correctly, we do have a body in the bardo. It's a subtle body and is actually the same body that we have in a dream.
Image

"Do not block your six senses; delight in them with joy and ease.
All that you take pleasure in will strengthen the awakened state.
With such a confidence, empowered by the regal state of natural mind,
The training now is simply this: lets your six senses be at ease and free." - Princess Parani
User avatar
Paul
 
Posts: 758
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:12 pm

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Andrew108 » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:03 pm

Hayagriva wrote:If I remember correctly, we do have a body in the bardo. It's a subtle body and is actually the same body that we have in a dream.

Yes I'm aware of the orthodoxy. But how would we dream without a brain?
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
Andrew108
 
Posts: 1502
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:41 pm

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Acchantika » Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:06 pm

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 :smile:

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. "
~ HHDL

So, perhaps the bardo experience is not something that happens apart from a brain.
...
Acchantika
 
Posts: 292
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:04 am

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Virgo » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:27 am

Virgo wrote:
Acchantika wrote:
Virgo wrote:I think this conversation is potentially damaging to our samāya. We shouldn't reify so much.


Perhaps not, if you don't believe Buddha taught faith as belief without understanding, but as conviction in practicing what one has come to understand in theory. If the latter, it is important to admit, discuss and attempt to understand any issues you may have. Cognitive dissonance is not a virtue I recall the Buddha teaching.

Reification is. Reify things and the natural state do not go together. Learning is of course important, but we must keep this first thing in mind. In my opinion.

Thanks,

Kevin

I mean, maybe it's not a problem for you. If so, fine.

Keivn
User avatar
Virgo
 
Posts: 1416
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:47 am
Location: Globe

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Acchantika » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:20 am

Virgo wrote:I mean, maybe it's not a problem for you. If so, fine.

Keivn


I didn't mean it isn't a problem for me. I just meant to highlight that discussing ideas and clinging to ideas as concrete is not the same. Discussion can be like painting a picture, a way of creating and honing your skills, but you are right that trying to live in a painted house will cause problems.
...
Acchantika
 
Posts: 292
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:04 am

Re: The brain and Dzogchen...

Postby Virgo » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:41 am

Acchantika wrote:
Virgo wrote:I mean, maybe it's not a problem for you. If so, fine.

Keivn


I didn't mean it isn't a problem for me. I just meant to highlight that discussing ideas and clinging to ideas as concrete is not the same. Discussion can be like painting a picture, a way of creating and honing your skills, but you are right that trying to live in a painted house will cause problems.

Hi Acchantika,

I can understand where you are coming from. I hope everyone also realizes that I am not accusing anyone in this thread of doing anything wrong by participating are thinking about these questions. As I said "I think this conversation can "potentially" lead to (to paraphrase myself). I am not saying that it does. I also don't want to appear like the jerk of the thread (my usual role). I guess what I'm really saying is this is the Dzogchen forum, I see no kind of place for this reification, maybe in the Tibetan Buddhist forum yes, but not here. I am probably just overreacting as usual anyway. :D But I think you got what I was saying, that is all that counts.

And yes, I know I have participated in this thread to a degree as well. I am well aware of that.

Kevin
User avatar
Virgo
 
Posts: 1416
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:47 am
Location: Globe

PreviousNext

Return to Dzogchen

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests

>