Consciousness & the Brain

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby greentreee » Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:27 am

steveb1 wrote:Some interesting citations there, but I'm puzzled by:

"The whole universe is just one big Self. Religious people call it God. Philosophers call it the fundamental nature. Scientists call it energy. Buddhists call it the Atma. Chinese call it the Tao."

I'm not clear that Buddhists think of the universe as a Self; or naming it "Atma". Isn't the universe in Buddhism a collection of heaps of skandhas, root-processes with no single permament Thing-ness?

Moreover, isn't the Therevadan view that Atma or Atman is a delusion, and that our true condition is anatta/anatman or "No-Self"?

I don't see how, if there is a Buddhist Ultimate/Absolute, it can be exchanged with personal deities like Allah or with the normative Western theological concept of God. The Western God is a creator. Buddhism rejects the notion of a single, originating "creator of all things".

I think in this one statement his syncretism, though well-intentioned, seems a bit undisciplined :)



From
Treatise in Thirty Verses On Mere-Consciousness
Swati Ganguly

(Question) Addressing the Buddhists it is asked -- if there is only consciousness, why the people in the world and all the scriptures speak about the existence of atman and dharmas?

(answer) Answering this the first verse says: Because the ideas of the self (atman, wo) and the elements (dharma, fa) are false. These appearances are dependent upon the development (parinama, pien) of the consciousness. This development is of three kinds. (WSSSLS 60a16-25)
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby dharmagoat » Sat Jun 02, 2012 2:46 pm

I would like to offer up a bit of philosophy of my own. Before I do, I would like to state that I have studied very little in the way of philosophy, western or eastern, so my ideas may seem naïve to the seasoned student of philosophy. For this reason I welcome those with a knowledge of philosophy to provide an analysis, so that I may see where my own personal view fits in with the wider world of philosophical thought.

Here goes:

From an individuals point of view, there are two realities: that which is external and can be indirectly perceived through the senses, and that which is internal and is directly experienced by the mind. The latter comprises of all subjective experience: sensation, emotion, thought and such. It is the reality of the mind, intimate with consciousness, and in a constant state of flux as mental events appear and vanish while awareness shifts from one thing to another. Being entirely subjective, it is an inner life that we are unable to share.

The reality of the external world is the opposite: it is more remote from our consciousness, we cannot know it intimately. It has the appearance of stability, objects are distinct and persist, natural laws are in effect. This is the reality that we physically share with others, where we find objective agreement and exchange tokens of our inner experience in the form of language.

What I have been describing this far is reality as I experience it, just as it is, without any interpretation. But if I now were to ask the question "which reality is more real?", I get into difficulty. I make two assumptions: 1) I will die and my subjective world will cease. 2) When I die, the physical world will continue as it is.

From this perspective, it is the physical world that gives rise to the subjective world. Without the physical world the subjective could not exist. But in the absence of the subjective, the physical world remains unchanged. So I find myself promoting the physical world as the real one, relegating that which is more familiar to a second-class status.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby greentreee » Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:38 pm

dharmagoat wrote:I would like to offer up a bit of philosophy of my own. Before I do, I would like to state that I have studied very little in the way of philosophy, western or eastern, so my ideas may seem naïve to the seasoned student of philosophy. For this reason I welcome those with a knowledge of philosophy to provide an analysis, so that I may see where my own personal view fits in with the wider world of philosophical thought.

Here goes:

From an individuals point of view, there are two realities: that which is external and can be indirectly perceived through the senses, and that which is internal and is directly experienced by the mind. The latter comprises of all subjective experience: sensation, emotion, thought and such. It is the reality of the mind, intimate with consciousness, and in a constant state of flux as mental events appear and vanish while awareness shifts from one thing to another. Being entirely subjective, it is an inner life that we are unable to share.

The reality of the external world is the opposite: it is more remote from our consciousness, we cannot know it intimately. It has the appearance of stability, objects are distinct and persist, natural laws are in effect. This is the reality that we physically share with others, where we find objective agreement and exchange tokens of our inner experience in the form of language.

What I have been describing this far is reality as I experience it, just as it is, without any interpretation. But if I now were to ask the question "which reality is more real?", I get into difficulty. I make two assumptions: 1) I will die and my subjective world will cease. 2) When I die, the physical world will continue as it is.

From this perspective, it is the physical world that gives rise to the subjective world. Without the physical world the subjective could not exist. But in the absence of the subjective, the physical world remains unchanged. So I find myself promoting the physical world as the real one, relegating that which is more familiar to a second-class status.


in a simple context, what you are describing is a dualistic aspect of reality. from the view of the mind-only school, or consciousness only school also called, yogacara school, all things are mind, which implies that even external realities, have one source, the mind. external phenomena do not carry labels, and it's the mind that labels the external phenomena.

i'm not an expert on this stuff, i'm still learning. it does take time to learn and do the work oneself, it won't get done by someone else. so all i can really suggest is to try to find out as much as you can through your own efforts and studying. consciousness-only or yogacara may not be what you need either. but since this thread was about "consciousness and the brain" i decided to add what i could, from what i've already been exposed to and understand.

plus someone else may have more to say with regards to what you are asking.

good luck!
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby jeeprs » Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:48 am

You have the advantage of being a clear thinker, which is an excellent starting point for such a deep question, which is really the basic question of all philosophy. I have studied and debated the subject for quite some time so I hope you find what follows to be useful.

Consider this: where does the distinction between 'inner' and 'outer' reside?

I would suggest that this distinction is an intellectual or internal one. In other words, the distinction between the outer and inner worlds, is something that is itself generated internally! But where the mind makes that distinction is a very difficult thing to ascertain, because it is foundational to the rest of our thinking - maybe you could say the making of this distinction is an unconscious or subconscious activity. So I would suggest that 'the objective and the subjective' are not actually completely separate, but mutually conditioned. Subjective and objective are 'mutually dependent', not absolute distinctions. But I do understand that this is a hard thing to accept, it goes against the grain of how we see the world nowadays.

Without the physical world the subjective could not exist. But in the absence of the subjective, the physical world remains unchanged.


We see 'the physical world' from a specific perspective. In what sense can it be said to exist without a perspective? For instance, from where you sit, all the elements that comprise the physical world have a relative distance from each other, and from you. They have duration and location, but each of these is dependent upon an intelligence that provides the sense of time (relatedness of moments) and space (relatedness of locations). The mind provides that scaffolding, if you like, around which all this is organized. (This is from Kant.)

Furthermore, aside from the physical fact of the existence of objects, you provide the interpretive framework which gives them meaning, relative to you, and relative to each other. In other words, your mind organizes them into a web of meaning. You might think that the world exists independently of this, but I would question that. Our world, as humans, is very much a meaning-world. It is not something that is simply given, but something that exists as an interpretive act. The 'world' as seen by another kind of creature would be vastly different, because of the different sensory and mental mechanisms involved in perceiving it. We can even say of different types of people that 'they live in different worlds'.

So, which of these worlds is 'the real world'?

These are obviously deep questions, but that is the way to start thinking about the matters philosophically, rather than from a position of naïve realism (no pejorative intent there, it is the default position for most of us. ) Buddhist philosophy has generally always understood 'the conditioned nature of perception'. So, in the Buddhist context, I would recommend reading up on abhidharma and dependent origination, combined with some practice in vipassana. That will provide a way into thinking about these deep philosophical questions. (A working knowledge of Western philosophy doesn't go astray, either.)
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:58 am

jeeprs wrote:Consider this: where does the distinction between 'inner' and 'outer' reside?

I would suggest that this distinction is an intellectual or internal one. In other words, the distinction between the outer and inner worlds, is something that is itself generated internally! But where the mind makes that distinction is a very difficult thing to ascertain, because it is foundational to the rest of our thinking - maybe you could say the making of this distinction is an unconscious or subconscious activity. So I would suggest that 'the objective and the subjective' are not actually completely separate, but mutually conditioned. Subjective and objective are 'mutually dependent', not absolute distinctions. But I do understand that this is a hard thing to accept, it goes against the grain of how we see the world nowadays.

I agree that what I have described as free of interpretation is in fact based on an underlying interpretation, albeit an unconscious one. If I were truly to "see things as they are", it would not involve even an unconscious interpretation of what is perceived. Or does perception by its very nature involve interpretation? How do advanced practitioners achieve this direct experience of reality?

jeeprs wrote:We see 'the physical world' from a specific perspective. In what sense can it be said to exist without a perspective? For instance, from where you sit, all the elements that comprise the physical world have a relative distance from each other, and from you. They have duration and location, but each of these is dependent upon an intelligence that provides the sense of time (relatedness of moments) and space (relatedness of locations). The mind provides that scaffolding, if you like, around which all this is organized. (This is from Kant.)

Furthermore, aside from the physical fact of the existence of objects, you provide the interpretive framework which gives them meaning, relative to you, and relative to each other. In other words, your mind organizes them into a web of meaning. You might think that the world exists independently of this, but I would question that. Our world, as humans, is very much a meaning-world. It is not something that is simply given, but something that exists as an interpretive act. The 'world' as seen by another kind of creature would be vastly different, because of the different sensory and mental mechanisms involved in perceiving it. We can even say of different types of people that 'they live in different worlds'.

I suppose that I am relying on the perspectives of those who survive me to maintain the physical world as I knew it. I accept that this may sound philosophically wacky.

jeeprs wrote:So, which of these worlds is 'the real world'?

It seems to depend on what I am doing at the time.

jeeprs wrote:These are obviously deep questions, but that is the way to start thinking about the matters philosophically, rather than from a position of naïve realism (no pejorative intent there, it is the default position for most of us. ) Buddhist philosophy has generally always understood 'the conditioned nature of perception'. So, in the Buddhist context, I would recommend reading up on abhidharma and dependent origination, combined with some practice in vipassana. That will provide a way into thinking about these deep philosophical questions. (A working knowledge of Western philosophy doesn't go astray, either.)

I have no problem with what I have described being labelled "naïve realism". I am pleased to hear it, because it gives me a starting point. Thank you for your recommendations, I will look into it.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:18 pm

Many thanks for your reply, greentreee.

greentreee wrote:from the view of the mind-only school, or consciousness only school also called, yogacara school, all things are mind, which implies that even external realities, have one source, the mind. external phenomena do not carry labels, and it's the mind that labels the external phenomena.

consciousness-only or yogacara may not be what you need either.

Although I am not a fully-fledged materialist, I am a bit too far gone to adopt the mind-only point of view that only mind exists. I did try once.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby anjali » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:33 pm

dharmagoat wrote: Although I am not a fully-fledged materialist, I am a bit too far gone to adopt the mind-only point of view that only mind exists. I did try once.


If you don't mind me asking, what part of the mind-only POV did you find untenable?
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby dharmagoat » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:55 am

anjali wrote:If you don't mind me asking, what part of the mind-only POV did you find untenable?

I am glad you asked.

From the perspective of someone who is more comfortable with a materialist point of view, any system that has idealism as its basis is going to cause difficulty. Specifically I find that the idea that only consciousness is truly existent to be at odds with the consensus that living beings seem to share regarding the physical world. I am more willing to accept that neither consciousness nor phenomena truly exist, at least in the form that they are experienced. To put one before the other seems to be considering them separate realities, whereas I am inclined to view them as different aspects of the same reality.

Edit: As I wrote this I became increasingly aware of how difficult it is to make sense of this subject. Let me then just say that I find Yogācāra too problematic to be of any practical use to me.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dexing » Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:27 am

dharmagoat wrote:I am more willing to accept that neither consciousness nor phenomena truly exist, at least in the form that they are experienced. To put one before the other seems to be considering them separate realities, whereas I am inclined to view them as different aspects of the same reality.

Edit: As I wrote this I became increasingly aware of how difficult it is to make sense of this subject. Let me then just say that I find Yogācāra too problematic to be of any practical use to me.


Perhaps your familiarity of Yogācāra is too problematic to be of any practical use to you. What you describe here is more or less the Yogācāra position...

You may start with consciousness and phenomena, the creator and created. Then take away phenomena and be left with consciousness. But you will then have to get to the point where you realize without an object there can also be no subject. They are more like aspects of the same illusion.

From the perspective of someone who is more comfortable with a materialist point of view, any system that has idealism as its basis is going to cause difficulty. Specifically I find that the idea that only consciousness is truly existent to be at odds with the consensus that living beings seem to share regarding the physical world.


With the above understanding, you will see that Yogācāra is not idealism, and "consciousness-only" doesn't mean "only-consciousness". To explain consciousness-only and to answer your problem of consensus:

You will find that consensus is only shared between those of like-karma. For example, the general consensus among human beings is that manure is smelly and repulsive, but flies generally agree that it is quite fragrant and even tasty! Humans generally view the world in an abundance of colorful, while dogs would say its only black and white.

You may ask yourself how you know a table exists. Your immediate answer may be that "you see it", but eyes only see color which is a subjective creation of eye-consciousness based on your karma. When the table's color is contrasted with another, for example the floor, there appears to be a line drawn forming a rectangle. Based on the shape you see (which is only contrasting colors in your consciousness) you deduce that there is a physically external object which you call a table. But you haven't seen a table, you've only seen color.

Or you say "you feel it", but you can only feel hard, soft, hot, and cold–– all of which are subjective creations of body-consciousness based on your karma. You have never felt a table. You have only felt subjective sensations.

Same holds true with sound (if you knock the table), or flavor (if for some reason you lick the table), or aromas (if you smell the table). What you experience in each case is completely a subjective experience happening only internally by your own consciousness. Based on those experiences you make an assumption about what seems to be a physical object you call a table.

Again you object that it has a function. You are able to place books on the table. Again you can apply the above logic to the "book" and "table" independently and together, with the added knowledge that 'function' doesn't indicate 'reality' or 'existence'. An obvious example, you are being chased by a tiger in your dream. It's gaining on you and gaining on you then takes a leap toward your back, jaws wide, claws out. Then you jump up out of bed panting and sweating with fear. Here the tiger had a function in scaring you, but it was not real. The "table" seemingly displaying a function is also dependent upon your own karma.

If you follow me so far, then you can see that if your experience of a "table" is only a subjective experience of consciousness, then when countless other people have similar experiences, all it shows is that you share similar karma as human beings. It doesn't make a "table" an external objective reality. The subjective delusion doesn't become an objective reality because it is shared by 7 billion human beings.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby dharmagoat » Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:25 am

Dexing wrote:Perhaps your familiarity of Yogācāra is too problematic to be of any practical use to you.

Yes, part of the problem could be not seeing the wood for the trees.

Dexing wrote:You may start with consciousness and phenomena, the creator and created. Then take away phenomena and be left with consciousness. But you will then have to get to the point where you realize without an object there can also be no subject. They are more like aspects of the same illusion.

Could consciousness and phenomena equally well be the created and the creator? If they are aspects of the same illusion, could it be that they are reciprocal in nature?

Dexing wrote:You will find that consensus is only shared between those of like-karma. For example, the general consensus among human beings is that manure is smelly and repulsive, but flies generally agree that it is quite fragrant and even tasty!

As humans it is all to easy to overlook this.

Dexing wrote:The subjective delusion doesn't become an objective reality because it is shared by 7 billion human beings.

Hence the problem in philosophy concerning scientific 'proof'.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dexing » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:24 pm

dharmagoat wrote:
Dexing wrote:You may start with consciousness and phenomena, the creator and created. Then take away phenomena and be left with consciousness. But you will then have to get to the point where you realize without an object there can also be no subject. They are more like aspects of the same illusion.

Could consciousness and phenomena equally well be the created and the creator? If they are aspects of the same illusion, could it be that they are reciprocal in nature?


It's a subject-object duality, e.g. the seer and the seen. What I'm saying is the entire duality is imagined. If the object does not exist, neither does the subject. There is only the illusion of both called "false imagination".

To clarify and summarize, from the Madyānta-vibhāga:

    "FALSE IMAGINATION EXISTS;
    THE DUALITY IN IT DOES NOT EXIST.
    IN IT, THERE IS ONLY EMPTINESS;
    IN THAT, THERE IS ALSO THIS IMAGINATION.

    THEREFORE, I DECLARE THAT ALL DHARMAS
    ARE NEITHER EMPTY NOR NOT EMPTY,
    BECAUSE OF EXISTENCE, NONEXISTENCE, AND EXISTENCE;
    THIS CONFORMS TO THE MIDDLE WAY."
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby jeeprs » Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:16 am

I agree that, as we are humans, we experience the world in a particular way. But there is nevertheless a difference between true and delusory perception. One can have visual illusions, but not everything is a visual illusion, and to treat it as such might have adverse consequences. So:

Dexing wrote:you can see that if your experience of a "table" is only a subjective experience of consciousness, then when countless other people have similar experiences, all it shows is that you share similar karma as human beings. It doesn't make a "table" an external objective reality.


So in this case, how to account for the difference between real and imaginary objects?

You might imagine there is a city of gold called El Dorado, in the middle of a remote rainforest. A large number of people might believe this. At great peril, you journey there, but discover that there is actually no such thing. Surely, this couldn't happen if the existence of such a place was purely subjective.

On the other hand, you might make an accurate prediction regarding the trajectory of a rocket, so that when you launch it, it lands in a particular place. In this case you have caused an outcome with a high degree of accuracy, on account of your mastery of the objective facts of angular momentum, and so on, none of which depend on your subjective faculties. (And yes, it is rocket science.)

So, even allowing for the fact that, in some sense, reality is a 'construction of the mind', it is not simply an illusion in the same sense as a hallucination, is it?
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dexing » Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:08 pm

jeeprs wrote:So in this case, how to account for the difference between real and imaginary objects?

.......

So, even allowing for the fact that, in some sense, reality is a 'construction of the mind', it is not simply an illusion in the same sense as a hallucination, is it?


What you described as examples of "real" vs "imaginary" objects were simply "objects of sense perceptions" vs "objects of only mental perception", which are both subjective imaginations. In both cases we are still only dealing with consciousness of the same perceptions, i.e. our seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, and imagining. With the former we are imagining objects based on experiences of sense perceptions, e.g. we call a certain combination of color, sound, texture, etc. a "table". With the latter what we imagine is also based on the same senses, i.e. a "golden city" is also an imagined object of certain color, sound, texture, etc.. So in reality the difference which seems obvious is an illusion. The object in both cases is imagined based on our subjective experience of sense perceptions, albeit a shared delusion with beings of like-karma.

According to Yogācāra, the reason there seems to be order in the world, like with your rocket example, or simply the fact that it always takes the same amount of time to travel across town from point A to point B, is because of our karmic obstruction. We cling strongly to the external reality of things and so are bound by its limitations, unlike Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who without this karmic obstruction are able to "traverse" from one "distant place" to another in a millisecond. Because these places are not truly places, but more like conscious states of being.

This also accounts for rebirth, in that it is not traveling from one place to another, or completely changing form. It is only that while the 8th and 7th consciousnesses are intact, the lower 6 consciousnesses transform into a great variety of apparent "forms" (human, animal, etc.) in a great variety of seeming "realms" (heaven, hell, etc.) due to the constant ripening and withering of karmic seeds. But it is just the illusion of consciousness. Hence the Western Paradise is both "far" and "near", as it simply depends on your mental state.

There are many objections to this. For example, when someone dies you still see their lifeless corpse. But in this case that particular color, odor, feeling, etc. that you associated to a certain being is a creation of your subjective consciousness. Just as when they were alive you never actually saw "them", but saw only a particular color which again is a subjective creation of your eye-consciousness. It is now only that you are no longer interacting with them, but your perceptions persist even though they have passed on. Hence the perception of a remaining corpse. A human being's karmic obstruction prevents them from directly perceiving minds as a Buddha is able. If you cannot directly perceive your own mind, of course you cannot perceive that of others. You simply can't get beyond your own conscious perception.

Yogācāra goes into great detail meeting various objections to it and remains internally consistent.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby jeeprs » Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:46 pm

Thanks. That is interesting. I will meditate on that some more.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby jeeprs » Sat Jun 09, 2012 3:03 am

So in this philosophy 'karma' has quite a lot of creative force, doesn't it?

Karma here gives rise to animals and our sensory capabilities. If you wanted to square this with evolutionary biology, it seems that karma amounts to much more than 'intentional action' or 'conscious action', as it also must give rise to all the creatures which preceded humans, must it not?
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby dharmagoat » Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:59 am

jeeprs wrote:Karma here gives rise to animals and our sensory capabilities. If you wanted to square this with evolutionary biology, it seems that karma amounts to much more than 'intentional action' or 'conscious action', as it also must give rise to all the creatures which preceded humans, must it not?

So it would seem. I am still working on this.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby jeeprs » Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:07 am

Challenging, I know! That's why I asked.

Actually, to digress somewhat: there was a very well-regarded biologist from Chile by the name of Fransisco Varela, who became a student of Tibetan Buddhism, and in fact had a hand in starting the Mind and Life Institute, of which the Dalai Lama is patron.

He wrote and also co-authored a couple of very highly-regarded books which introduced something called 'the Santiago Theory of Cognition':

Frithjof Capra wrote:ONE OF THE MOST revolutionary aspects of the emerging systems theory of life is the new conception of mind, or cognition, it implies. This new conception was proposed by Gregory Bateson and elaborated more extensively by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela in a theory known as the Santiago theory of cognition.'

The central insight of the Santiago theory is the identification of cognition, the process of knowing, with the process of life. Cognition, according to Maturana and Varela, is the activity involved in the self-generation and self-perpetuation of living systems. In other words, cognition is the very process of life.

It is obvious that we are dealing here with a radical expansion of the concept of cognition and, implicitly, the concept of mind. In this new view, cognition involves the entire process of life - including perception, emotion, and behaviour - and does not necessarily require a brain and a nervous system. At the human level, however, cognition includes language, conceptual thought, and all the other attributes of human consciousness.


Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself, but the possibilities are very interesting.....
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby dharmagoat » Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:21 am

jeeprs wrote:Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself, but the possibilities are very interesting.....

When one considers the mind as master of everything, the possibilities are endless.
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby jeeprs » Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:29 am

as indeed they seem to be......
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Re: Consciousness & the Brain

Postby Dexing » Sat Jun 09, 2012 7:53 pm

jeeprs wrote:So in this philosophy 'karma' has quite a lot of creative force, doesn't it?


Certainly, in a particular sense, but I'm getting the feeling you're taking this further than how I meant it.

Karma here gives rise to animals and our sensory capabilities.


More specifically; karma gives rise to the animal realm (a particular state of the first 6 consciousnesses), and our sensory capabilities as human beings cause us to perceive that realm (we see dogs, cats, etc.), or as animals to act and live that way, but our karmic obstructions as human beings prevent us experiencing other 'realms' such as pretas which we don't see or hear, etc..

If you wanted to square this with evolutionary biology, it seems that karma amounts to much more than 'intentional action' or 'conscious action', as it also must give rise to all the creatures which preceded humans, must it not?


Not sure what you mean. It is not that our karma creates other beings, but only forms our sensory perception of them which is never actually "them" directly, as explained in my previous post. In all cases, those beings gave rise to their own specific conditions due to their individual karma, which also affects how other beings will perceive them, e.g. their pleasant or unpleasant appearances which attract or repel others. But it is also our individual karma that allows us to perceive through our sensory capabilities, while our obstructions keep us from going beyond all this and perceiving other minds directly, as a Buddha is able.

Parenthetically, the realm of manuṣya or so-called "human beings" is not necessarily homo-sapiens, but is a realm with a certain specific balance of traits making it the only realm from which one can attain full Buddhahood, anuttarā-samyak-saṃbodhi. But there are Buddhas that precede the appearance of the homo-sapien species on Earth.
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