Neurobiologist on Buddhist theory

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Re: Neurobiologist on Buddhist theory

Postby Huifeng » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:36 am

biojuris wrote:
"Some seeds are innate,
handed down by our ancestors.
Some were sown while we were still in the womb,
others were sown when we were children."


That is a very interesting and relevant statement. I wonder what the term "seed" means ... the source of what we are and what we become?


This is why I think most of us here are encouraging you to go and study the Dharma in detail before making comparisons between neurobiology and Buddhism.

Just as neurobiology, I am sure, takes many years of serious study before one is qualified to really discuss it in any depth at all, likewise too does Buddhism require many years of study.

My guess would also be that you are very able to spot someone who talks about neurobiology without really understanding it at all, for example, perhaps in the popular media. Those people may think that they know about it, because they read a book or two, but to an expert in the field, sometimes what they know is dubious at best. It's not that they lack sincerity, just that their understanding is superficial.

In the same manner, when I see someone asking "I wonder what the term 'seed' means", I can almost guarantee that they are a newbie in the field. I would strongly discourage them from making any sort of comparisons at this point, simply because they are in all likelihood going to misrepresent the Buddhist teachings.

Given 5-10 years of serious study, under expert teachers, then maybe the task of comparative study would be fruitful.
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Re: Neurobiologist on Buddhist theory

Postby Huifeng » Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:45 am

Nirveda wrote:This is a quote by Vasubandhu, a prominent Mahayana philosopher:

"Some seeds are innate,
handed down by our ancestors.
Some were sown while we were still in the womb,
others were sown when we were children."


"Seeds" are influences that can manifest into behavior or other characteristics. So not only are genetics, but also prenatal influences and early childhood influences taken into account. None of this is inconsistent with core Buddhist principles.


Nirveda, can you please give a source for this?
All I can find is the "50 verses on consciousness" by Thich Naht Nahn, but nothing by Vasubandhu.

The statement "handed down by our ancestors" may have some serious conflicts with standard Vijnaptimatra teachings, too. As such, I wouldn't be so sure that "None of this is inconsistent with core Buddhist principles." For a start, only a few schools proposed bijavada anyway. But more importantly, the notion of passage of "seeds" from ancestors, rather than mutual seeding within all five aggregates, is an alien notion to Vijnaptimatra, and in fact any Buddhist school that I can think of.
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Re: Neurobiologist on Buddhist theory

Postby Nirveda » Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:48 pm

Whoops. I didn't see the request for a source. Here it is:

http://tinyurl.com/45n465p

It's from Thich Nhat Hanh's translation.

Yes, I'm sure some would disagree with seeds sown by ancestors. I understand this to mean seeds of cause and effect, not necessarily one's "individual" karma.
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Re: Neurobiologist on Buddhist theory

Postby Nirveda » Wed Feb 02, 2011 7:50 pm

biojuris wrote:
"Some seeds are innate,
handed down by our ancestors.
Some were sown while we were still in the womb,
others were sown when we were children."


That is a very interesting and relevant statement. I wonder what the term "seed" means ... the source of what we are and what we become?


I understand "seed" to mean causes and conditions. It seems the most sensible interpretation, but I am not an expert on this.
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