How do mind-streams interact?

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How do mind-streams interact?

Postby Nikolay » Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:02 pm

Hello everyone,

I am fairly new to Buddhism, so I have some basic questions.
As I understand, in Buddhist thought a sentient being is basically a mind-stream, i.e. a sequence of experienced states (I may be using wrong terminology here). These mind-streams are distinct - they are not all parts of a single universal consciousness, or something. This makes sense - if they were not distinct, we would all have the same experiences.
(I suppose this is a Yogacara position? Madhyamaka seems to be completely beyond me so far.)
My question is: how do sentient beings interact with each other? Because I am getting the impression that in the described model interaction would be in fact impossible - and how would then Buddhas and Boddhisattvas aid other sentient beings and so on?
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby Malcolm » Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:39 pm

mirage wrote:Hello everyone,

I am fairly new to Buddhism, so I have some basic questions.
As I understand, in Buddhist thought a sentient being is basically a mind-stream, i.e. a sequence of experienced states (I may be using wrong terminology here). These mind-streams are distinct - they are not all parts of a single universal consciousness, or something. This makes sense - if they were not distinct, we would all have the same experiences.
(I suppose this is a Yogacara position? Madhyamaka seems to be completely beyond me so far.)
My question is: how do sentient beings interact with each other? Because I am getting the impression that in the described model interaction would be in fact impossible - and how would then Buddhas and Boddhisattvas aid other sentient beings and so on?


conventionally sentient beings are series of aggregates inhabiting a universe, even for Yogacara. They interact with their bodies and voices on the materiallevel mostly; though some can interact directly through mind.
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby Nikolay » Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:21 pm

Malcolm wrote:conventionally sentient beings are series of aggregates inhabiting a universe, even for Yogacara. They interact with their bodies and voices on the materiallevel mostly; though some can interact directly through mind.

Thank you for your reply.
But isn't it stated that everything that a being experiences is a result of a ripening karmic seed from that beings alayavijnana? And that all objects have no existence on their side, as things-in-themselves, but exist only as perceived phenomena? Basically, how do individual mind-streams work if we have a material inter-subjective universe?
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby futerko » Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:20 pm

mirage wrote:
Malcolm wrote:conventionally sentient beings are series of aggregates inhabiting a universe, even for Yogacara. They interact with their bodies and voices on the materiallevel mostly; though some can interact directly through mind.

Thank you for your reply.
But isn't it stated that everything that a being experiences is a result of a ripening karmic seed from that beings alayavijnana? And that all objects have no existence on their side, as things-in-themselves, but exist only as perceived phenomena? Basically, how do individual mind-streams work if we have a material inter-subjective universe?


The idea of an existing thing-in-itself means something unchanging and eternal, and it is this that is disproven, but it does not then follow that phenomena do not appear whatsover.
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby Nikolay » Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:32 pm

futerko wrote:The idea of an existing thing-in-itself means something unchanging and eternal, and it is this that is disproven, but it does not then follow that phenomena do not appear whatsover.

True, phenomena do appear, that is obvious. But phenomena appear within mind-streams, right (or mind-streams consist of phenomena, I do not know which is the more correct way to say it)? So we have mind-stream A, in which phenomena a1, a2, a3... appear, and mind-stream B, in which phenomena b1, b2, b3... appear. How are they related and in what manner a material inter-subjective universe can exist?
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby Malcolm » Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:37 pm

mirage wrote:But isn't it stated that everything that a being experiences is a result of a ripening karmic seed from that beings alayavijnana?


Only in Yogacara. And even within Yogacara in India there were several different schools, half-eggists, true aspectarians, false aspectarians, etc.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
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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
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby Malcolm » Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:38 pm

mirage wrote:
futerko wrote:The idea of an existing thing-in-itself means something unchanging and eternal, and it is this that is disproven, but it does not then follow that phenomena do not appear whatsover.

True, phenomena do appear, that is obvious. But phenomena appear within mind-streams, right (or mind-streams consist of phenomena, I do not know which is the more correct way to say it)? So we have mind-stream A, in which phenomena a1, a2, a3... appear, and mind-stream B, in which phenomena b1, b2, b3... appear. How are they related and in what manner a material inter-subjective universe can exist?


Shared or like traces produce a common container universe.
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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
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby Nikolay » Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:59 pm

Malcolm wrote:Only in Yogacara. And even within Yogacara in India there were several different schools, half-eggists, true aspectarians, false aspectarians, etc.

Could you please recommend a book or an article, where Yogacara and Madhyamaka viewpoints are explained in a more-or-less accessible way?
Malcolm wrote:Shared or like traces produce a common container universe.

I understand that similar traces would produce similar phenomena in different mind-streams. But wouldn't it actually just result in two "synchronized" mind-streams, meaning that being A would see phenomena corresponding to being B and vice versa, and they would seemingly interact, but in fact their mind-streams would remain completely independent? I recall reading something like that.

Another example: person A sees an Eiffel Tower, and person B sees an Eiffel Tower. This actually means that phenomenon a1, labelled "Eiffel Tower", appears in mind-stream A, and phenomenon b1, labelled "Eiffel Tower", appears in mind-stream B. Phenomena a1 and b1 are distinct. How are they connected? There is no thing-in-itself which would produce both a1 and b1, connecting them.
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby Malcolm » Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:18 pm

mirage wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Only in Yogacara. And even within Yogacara in India there were several different schools, half-eggists, true aspectarians, false aspectarians, etc.

Could you please recommend a book or an article, where Yogacara and Madhyamaka viewpoints are explained in a more-or-less accessible way?
Malcolm wrote:Shared or like traces produce a common container universe.

I understand that similar traces would produce similar phenomena in different mind-streams. But wouldn't it actually just result in two "synchronized" mind-streams, meaning that being A would see phenomena corresponding to being B and vice versa, and they would seemingly interact, but in fact their mind-streams would remain completely independent? I recall reading something like that.

Another example: person A sees an Eiffel Tower, and person B sees an Eiffel Tower. This actually means that phenomenon a1, labelled "Eiffel Tower", appears in mind-stream A, and phenomenon b1, labelled "Eiffel Tower", appears in mind-stream B. Phenomena a1 and b1 are distinct. How are they connected? There is no thing-in-itself which would produce both a1 and b1, connecting them.


This is all explained pretty well in teh Mahāyāna Saṃhraha, from a Yogacara perspective.

Madhyamakas in general accept the outer universe etc., conventionally speaking.
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
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby Nikolay » Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:32 pm

Malcolm wrote:This is all explained pretty well in teh Mahāyāna Saṃhraha, from a Yogacara perspective.

Madhyamakas in general accept the outer universe etc., conventionally speaking.


Thanks. Actually, if I am trying to develop the right view to understand Buddhist practice on a deeper level, is it worth it to investigate Yogacara, or should I go straight for Madhyamaka which is considered a superior school? On the other hand, Yogacara seems far easier to understand.
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby viniketa » Thu Aug 23, 2012 8:20 pm

mirage wrote:...is it worth it to investigate Yogacara, or should I go straight for Madhyamaka which is considered a superior school? On the other hand, Yogacara seems far easier to understand.


Perhaps you have not seen the new TOS: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=3589&p=122967#p122967

This is not a "comparative religion site", it is a site to learn and discuss the Buddha's teachings without animosity.
- In support of this:

* Badmouthing of other spiritual paths is not allowed.
* Proselyting / evangelizing other paths, which includes, for example, arguing that some other path is superior to the Buddhist path is not allowed.


It is probably more correct to say that both Yogācāra and Madhyamaka are historical developments along the way that have 'fed into' several Buddhist traditions. Neither is really a 'school' today, though they are both useful learning tools.

Yogācāra does not deny the 'conventional world', BTW. It merely holds it as irrelevant, given that the phenomenal world is all we can really 'know' by conventional means. Westerners, in particular, may find it easier to understand as the 'view' is very similar to today's 'scientific view' of the world, i.e., that all is merely phenomena until 'verified' by multiple persons.

*P.S.: :namaste:

** Include entire quote
If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby Malcolm » Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:04 pm

mirage wrote:
Malcolm wrote:This is all explained pretty well in teh Mahāyāna Saṃhraha, from a Yogacara perspective.

Madhyamakas in general accept the outer universe etc., conventionally speaking.


Thanks. Actually, if I am trying to develop the right view to understand Buddhist practice on a deeper level, is it worth it to investigate Yogacara, or should I go straight for Madhyamaka which is considered a superior school? On the other hand, Yogacara seems far easier to understand.



Yogacara is much more difficult to understand than Madhyamaka.
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
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby Nikolay » Fri Aug 24, 2012 6:39 am

viniketa wrote:Perhaps you have not seen the new TOS: http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.ph ... 67#p122967

This is not a "comparative religion site", it is a site to learn and discuss the Buddha's teachings without animosity.
- In support of this:

* Badmouthing of other spiritual paths is not allowed.
* Proselyting / evangelizing other paths, which includes, for example, arguing that some other path is superior to the Buddhist path is not allowed.


Oh, sorry. I was simply referring to the common classification of philosophical schools, as presented by any number of Tibetan authors. I did not think that was a breach of TOS. If other traditions have a different position on this, I did not mean to imply that they are necessarily wrong. And does not "other paths" mean non-Buddhist paths anyway?
Malcolm wrote:Yogacara is much more difficult to understand than Madhyamaka.

In all specific details, probably. I just mean that the principal position of Yogacara seems easier for me to understand, because it accepts (or seems to accept) the fact that we only have access to our own phenomena. I have encountered many familiar anti-realist arguments in texts that compare Yogacara to Sautrantika, for example. But I still do not understand how Madhyamaka explains our perception of "external world". How it avoids the problems of representational theory of perception, etc.
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby viniketa » Fri Aug 24, 2012 6:54 am

mirage wrote:And does not "other paths" mean non-Buddhist paths anyway?


Actually, that is not at all clear in the new TOS statement, the way it is worded... Anyway, no offense taken. :smile:

mirage wrote:I just mean that the principal position of Yogacara seems easier for me to understand, because it accepts (or seems to accept) the fact that we only have access to our own phenomena. I have encountered many familiar anti-realist arguments in texts that compare Yogacara to Sautrantika, for example. But I still do not understand how Madhyamaka explains our perception of "external world". How it avoids the problems of representational theory of perception, etc.


The 'paths' of Yogācāra, Mādhyamaka, Sautrāntika, etc., compared:

Image



:namaste:
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby futerko » Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:44 am

mirage wrote:How it avoids the problems of representational theory of perception, etc.


It's been many years since I studied this, but isn't this an issue only for subject-object dualism?
How would you say for example, Husserl's phenomenology avoids those problems?
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby Nikolay » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:28 am

futerko wrote:
mirage wrote:How it avoids the problems of representational theory of perception, etc.


It's been many years since I studied this, but isn't this an issue only for subject-object dualism?
How would you say for example, Husserl's phenomenology avoids those problems?

I am not very familiar with it, but I think it simply does not postulate the existence of external objects. Of course it creates exactly the same problems with intersubjectivity which I described above, and I remember finding Husserl's attempts to solve them quite unsatisfactory.
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby futerko » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:51 am

mirage wrote:
futerko wrote:
mirage wrote:How it avoids the problems of representational theory of perception, etc.


It's been many years since I studied this, but isn't this an issue only for subject-object dualism?
How would you say for example, Husserl's phenomenology avoids those problems?

I am not very familiar with it, but I think it simply does not postulate the existence of external objects. Of course it creates exactly the same problems with intersubjectivity which I described above, and I remember finding Husserl's attempts to solve them quite unsatisfactory.


The issue of epistemology focuses on the question of knowledge of phenomena which is less of an issue if one's focus of enquiry is the study of the structures of consciousness and the phenomena that appear in acts of consciousness.

Rather than the issue of objective knowledge, Buddhism enquires as the conditions for anything appearing at all - the focus is not about the truth "behind" appearances, but the truth about them.
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby Nikolay » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:18 pm

futerko wrote:The issue of epistemology focuses on the question of knowledge of phenomena which is less of an issue if one's focus of enquiry is the study of the structures of consciousness and the phenomena that appear in acts of consciousness.

Rather than the issue of objective knowledge, Buddhism enquires as the conditions for anything appearing at all - the focus is not about the truth "behind" appearances, but the truth about them.

But I find the question of intersubjectivity to be very relevant to the aims of Mahayana. If the ultimate aim is Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings, then any Mahayana philosophy has to explain how beings can possibly interact with each other.
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby catmoon » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:23 pm

Personally, I can't see how the mind only schools manage to explain this. Malcolm might be able to do it though. Problems like this are the reason I have stayed with Gelug approaches.
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Re: How do mind-streams interact?

Postby futerko » Fri Aug 24, 2012 1:13 pm

This may help, or at least stimulate some ideas on the topic - B. Alan Wallace. Intersubjectivity in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism.

http://www.sbinstitute.com/sites/defaul ... tivity.pdf
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