beautiful breath wrote:If the mind is a formless phenomena how then does it interact with the brain.
If the mind is merely an emergent property of the brain then there is nothing to be re-born nor is there anything to receive the (potentially negative) consequences of this life.
This is my favorite topic.
One of the reasons why it is difficult to answer is that there are some flaws in the question.
"the mind" is not a formless phenomena. "it" is not a single, solitary thing formless or otherwise.
As an analogy to this, consider a wind or a breeze. We call air movement a breeze, and we say the breeze blows the leaves around. But the breeze is merely the apparent result of air pressure, temperature, and so forth. So we can talk about the mind that way, as a formless phenomena, for conventional purposes. But when are talking about the mind in this context, relying on that convenience becomes an obstacle. "Mind" is really a lot of things happening.
It is my understanding that "mind" has no color or shape or duration of its own. It does not reside anywhere in the body. However, depending on the composition of the brain and the senses, mind assumes various characteristics.
As an analogy, consider the way reflections are different in various types of distorted "fun house" mirrors. So, if you are born as a human, then Mind assumes the qualities that can be supported, or reflected, or however you want to call it, by a human brain. If you are born as a dog, then mind assumes the characteristics available to it through a dog's brain, as well as the senses which are much sharper than a human's.
Mind is not produced by the brain, just as a deer is not produced by a forest. At the same time, the deer and the forest have evolved together over time, so in a sense you can
say that the forest produces the deer and vice-versa. Or you might say that tall trees produce giraffes. The forest provides an environment for the deer, and the brain provides an environment for the mind. Sometimes the environment changes (the example of hallucinogens was given) and then the mind also changes. Behavior can change both the mind and the brain.
The Mahamudra Lineage (Kagyu) prayer contains this line: The essence of thought is dharmakaya
. If you are not a Buddha, you don't get the whole picture. You only get a limited view of so-called "reality" meaning everything. What you get is dependent on what you have to work with, which is an expression of karma. It's all out there, but because of limitations, we do not see everything.
Somebody mentioned photons. So, consider the light of a full moon against a black night sky. Of course, the moon is reflecting photons that are coming from the Sun. Those photons are reflected toward us and when we look at the Moon those photons go right into our eyeballs through the pupils. Wow, what a journey!
In fact, there are just as many photons, maybe more, in the black sky all around that big white moon. If it weren't for that big old moon getting in the way, all those photons would be whizzing by unnoticed. But we only see the ones that are reflected. The photons do not become visible light to us until they are reflected off that moon, into our eyeballs, and detected by our brains. Then, the mind experiences that photon activity as "light". If it is cloudy, or we are blind, or dead, it won't work.
Likewise, the Dharmakaya, the 'reality' of everything, is just like a night sky full of photons. But we are primates, and we only experience the part of reality that is available to a primate brain. If we were bees with bee brains we could see ultraviolet colors. If we were dogs with dog brains we could smell last week's lunch. So, you can think of the brain as being like the moon, reflecting a small part of everything, and what experiences that reflection, what 'sees' that 'moonlight' is the activity of the mind. The fewer the obscurations, the more the mind experiences (becomes the experience) of the Dharmakaya.
So depending on the brain, you are going to have different experiences of Mind. But the thoughts are not produced by the brain any more than musical sounds are produced by a saxophone. Musical sounds only "come out of" a saxophone when the conditions are right, when air is vibrating a reed in the mouthpiece, and that vibration vibrates our ear drums, and our minds call that music. the saxophone provides the physical conditions for something non-physical to appear. the air is physical, but the vibration of that air is not physical.