What takes rebirth: body or mind?

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

Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby undefineable » Sat Oct 27, 2012 3:09 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Nothing wrote:What is "mind"? ....define mind.

That which witnesses the chemical activity of the material brain and regards that activity as experience.


Hmm, not sure, but going on what I recall from a previous debate, I'd guess you're missing out a level of explanation for the sake of clarity. Obviously any chemical activity would be somehow witnessed 'from the inside', but I can't see how any 'genuine' experience could have a different nature (and therefore a different source) to the one we normally regard it as having, or how there could be no such thing as experience. Also, I wouldn't go along with the epiphenomenal implications of the term 'witnesses' - 'Witnessing' doesn't even count as living in mine or most people's books (though of course no living can be done if nothing outside the mind is witnessed first of all).

I suspect that a lot of materialist 'certainty' about the brain probably stems from the fact that conceiving of it in a way that respects 'a priori' evidence -i.e. that it's more a kind of junction box for mental activity than simply its source- would make it simply too complicated to understand rationally.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:mind doesn't take rebirth in samsara.
mind doesn't go anywhere.
it is samsara that keeps reoccurring (takes rebirth) over and over again in the mind.


:good: - It's good to hear fresh perspectives that seem to fit well enough with experience on being read, but which one hadn't yet heard or conceived of _ _
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Oct 27, 2012 3:49 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Nothing wrote:What is "mind"? ....define mind.

That which witnesses the chemical activity of the material brain and regards that activity as experience.

What I mean is, if you are looking for a thing that can be called "mind", either inside or outside the body,
my understanding is that no such thing can be found.

What I mean by That which witnesses the chemical activity of the material brain and regards that activity as experience
is that what we regard as an experience, say an experience of fear or anger, the physical components of that experience are just chemicals. What we experience physically as fear and what we experience as anger, is almost identical chemically.

Suppose you experience fear. What is that experience? what it the nature of that experience? Your heart beats faster, your breathing becomes more difficult, you perspire more, your hair follicles contract and the hair on your arms and neck stand up. We become agitated. You panic. But why?

Along with that is, intellectually, some degree of doubt, or worry, about what is about to happen.

It is possible to isolate the two. You could have doubt about what is about to happen without sweaty panic, without the chemical activity going on. We know this is true because you can watch two different people respond two different ways to a dangerous situation...one calmly, the other hysterically.

And you can also have some of the same events taking place...sweating, being out of breath, fast heart beat, without worrying. Maybe there is another cause. It might be the result of strenuous exercise.

So, my point is that all of these events are empty of any inherent quality.
I use the term 'witness' to mean experience. But I don't want to say, 'when we experience the experience of an experience' because that is too confusing. And "witness' conveniently suggests the experience of self-and-other. i could also say 'interpret". These various chemical events take place, but by themselves they have no personality. In this respect, the chemicals in the brain are no different from one's digestive acids. They are just chemicals, molecules, atoms, space.

MIND arises as the interpretation of these chemical interactions as personal experience. Outside of this interpretation, this witnessing of events, mind does not arise. Mind is like the crashing of cymbals. When the two cymbals come together, it makes a brassy sound. but if you try to find where the brassy sound exists in the cymbals or outside the cymbals, you cannot find it. It isn't a thing that exists. it only arises as sound as the result of interacting events.

Actually, the cymbals don't create sound. they only cause air molecules to vibrate against some membrane in the ear, and that vibrates. We witness, or interpret that vibration as sound, as the personal experience of having heard a sound. Mind arises as hearing.

So, this doesn't negate the idea that something called Mind is occurring. It just means that there is no separate or independently existing thing that is Mind. That is why when the teachings say to just let mind rest in an unfabricated state, or in its natural state, or mind's true nature, there is no separation between awareness and phenomena.
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby undefineable » Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:38 pm

That makes sense - Feelings get 'fleshed out' in the body as ego reacts to conclusions it's drawn about its relationship to its surroundings. The 'chemical feelings' are still experienced by mind of course - After all, anger and fear don't feel 'almost identical' on a superficial level. The chemicals themselves, of course, also serve to ready the body to respond to a situation by taking whatever actions one's mind sees fit in order to secure the ego, and of course one's mind may in turn have already been influenced by similar chemicals - as in sexual urges and so on.

I guess what troubles me most about Buddhism is that it de-emphasises the action involved in living, but I also understand that it aims to cover more useful and fundamental ground by getting to the root of actions - which appears to be the mind.

I can't quite agree -yet- that chemical processes are themselves interpreted as experience, although maybe your qualifier -'personal'- clinches it - As I explained, I feel that the experience of samsara you have now will be determined by those chemical processes without their being the experience themselves, because samsara involves -in some sense- allowing such reactions to take control automatically as the safe, easy option. Outside those processes, there exists the potential for the experience, but not the actualisation of the experience. I'm unsure whether this view makes sense, since we may need atleast a remembered semblance of an experience in order to consider it as a potential. I'm also unsure as to whether my view is idealist/eternalist and therefore adharma (well, yogacara rather than madhyamaka atleast), as I may be looking for the sound of clashing cymbals in the air around still cymbals, to extend your metaphor. :thinking:
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:10 pm

undefineable wrote:I guess what troubles me most about Buddhism is that it de-emphasises the action involved in living, but I also understand that it aims to cover more useful and fundamental ground by getting to the root of actions - which appears to be the mind.


By action, do you mean like prana or a sort of life-force or energy?
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:22 pm

undefineable wrote:
I can't quite agree -yet- that chemical processes are themselves interpreted as experience


Well, I think either the chemicals are being interpreted, (my understanding)
or the chemicals themselves create the interpreter (a common assertion)
which, since chemicals are essentially, you might say, "mineral"
then this view to me is not much different than animism,
...the belief that salt and carbon and water and other elements can spontaneously generate thought
(to be more precise, that rocks and trees and bodies of water have spirits living in them).

The human brain is more or less composed of:
Water 77 to 78 %
fats 10 to 12 %
Protein 8%
Carbohydrate 1%
Soluble organic substances 2%
Inorganic salts 1%

So, we would have to look at these components and ask
how thoughts can be generated by this recipe for a zombie snack.

My understanding is the the brain provides a suitable environment for thoughts, just as a mirror provides the right conditions for a perfect reflection of whatever is placed in front of it, but that is all it does.

The thing is, I am not only aware that I am thinking,
but I am also aware of the fact that I am aware that I am thinking.

So, are the chemicals in the brain aware that they are chemicals...
or does awareness arise as mind
simply as the result of various events taking place simultaneously?
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby viniketa » Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:29 pm

Now we are at the place that philosophers call the "hard problem". The problem has yet to be solved even theoretically.

undefineable wrote: I suspect that a lot of materialist 'certainty' about the brain probably stems from the fact that conceiving of it in a way that respects 'a priori' evidence -i.e. that it's more a kind of junction box for mental activity than simply its source- would make it simply too complicated to understand rationally.


So, complicated things are best understood irrationally? :thinking: It is very complex, and probably cannot be understood simply, but rational (i.e., mathematical and logical) modeling does make it more simple. Perhaps you meant that the understanding cannot be reduced to its component parts? When the "whole" cannot be reduced to the sum of the parts, this is called "emergence". It is precisely the "emergent" properties of mind that are problematic. "Experience", or "qualia" in philosophy speek, is one such property.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Well, I think either the chemicals are being interpreted, (my understanding)
or the chemicals themselves create the interpreter (a common assertion)...


Or, perhaps, some combination of the two? Saying that chemicals create the conditions for an "interpreter" to arise is not the same as saying the chemicals, themselves, are imbued with "life".

PadmaVonSamba wrote:So, are the chemicals in the brain aware that they are chemicals...
or does awareness arise as mind
simply as the result of various events taking place simultaneously?


I would be hard-pressed to explain how chemicals become self-aware. But the near-simultaneity of events does make the process seem more complex. This is one reason, I think, the Abhidharmists arrived at the point of the unreality of time. Analysis in terms of some timeless present seems much easier.

The lack of a good definition of "mind" (one that can be observed in research) is the sticking point in the hard problem.

:namaste:
Last edited by viniketa on Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby deepbluehum » Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:52 pm

viniketa wrote:In classic yoga, the primordial life force is praṇā vāyu (breath), from which all other bodily vāyu arise. It is very similar to the Greek pneuma (πνεύμα).

:namaste:


That's not the Buddhist view of the prana, nadi and bindu.
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby deepbluehum » Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:54 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Air/wind is just a descriptor for motility.
:namaste:


Semantics
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby deepbluehum » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:05 pm

viniketa wrote:BTW, I don't think what's been offered so far gets us close to a definition of what is "mind".

:namaste:


The mind is wind, the air element. You are trying to think in metaphysical terms. Metaphysics is conceptual traps. There is a further elaboration of nature of mind and mental event in Gongchig:

It is said: "The mind arises from mental events as well."
From the mind itself, which is luminosity free of elaborations,
The self-appearances, the self-manifestations arise; those are mental events.
From those again the mind itself arises.
The momentary thought "I will do that", for example, is mind.
The thought about the methods to accomplish those deeds is a mental event.
However, the momentary thought of completing those deeds is mind.
Therefore, mind and mental events spin and arise by turns.


So what is motile here? The mental event of a thought connect to an unborn future action. What is the nature of mind, free from elaborations here? The completed task. From this one can understand how it is the body that wanders.
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby viniketa » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:07 pm

deepbluehum wrote:
viniketa wrote:In classic yoga, the primordial life force is praṇā vāyu (breath), from which all other bodily vāyu arise. It is very similar to the Greek pneuma (πνεύμα).


That's not the Buddhist view of the prana, nadi and bindu.


Perhaps you can say that it is not the view in your particular "brand" of Buddhism, but it cannot be said it is not a Buddhist view, as I know many Buddhists who hold this view.

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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby viniketa » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:09 pm

deepbluehum wrote:So what is motile here? The mental event of a thought connect to an unborn future action. What is the nature of mind, free from elaborations here? The completed task. From this one can understand how it is the body that wanders.



This is incomprehensible, could you please clarify?

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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby deepbluehum » Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:26 pm

viniketa wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:
viniketa wrote:In classic yoga, the primordial life force is praṇā vāyu (breath), from which all other bodily vāyu arise. It is very similar to the Greek pneuma (πνεύμα).


That's not the Buddhist view of the prana, nadi and bindu.


Perhaps you can say that it is not the view in your particular "brand" of Buddhism, but it cannot be said it is not a Buddhist view, as I know many Buddhists who hold this view.

:namaste:


It is not the view of the sutras or tantras, period. Fundamental life force is a concept from Samkhya related to purusha and prakriti. These notions are discarded in Buddhadharma across the board, which, as in Madhyamaka, does not assert any fundamental. Of course, you can call yourself a "Buddhist," and hold a Tirthika view, and you can be completely beyond elaboration and never use the word "Buddhist," but no matter how you are, if you hold to a view of a fundamental force, then you are not Awakened.
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby viniketa » Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:23 am

deepbluehum wrote:Fundamental life force is a concept from Samkhya related to purusha and prakriti. These notions are discarded in Buddhadharma across the board, which, as in Madhyamaka, does not assert any fundamental. Of course, you can call yourself a "Buddhist," and hold a Tirthika view, and you can be completely beyond elaboration and never use the word "Buddhist," but no matter how you are, if you hold to a view of a fundamental force, then you are not Awakened.


DBH - It is a good thing that I trust your intentions, otherwise I might take this as a personal attack. First, you read too much into the term "fundamental life force". Would you be alive if you did not breathe? Second, you are the first to mention puruṣa and pakriti, I never mentioned that dualism, although it is fundamentally the same as the mind-body problem being discussed. Third, you need to review your Indian history. Puruṣa is a fundamental concept from the Rigveda, predating by some time the philosophies of Kapila in the Sāṃkhya. According to A.K. Ambedkar (a Buddhist), Buddha predates the Rigveda, but that is generally considered revisionist history even in India. In another thread, you and I already agreed that Buddha did not refute the Vedas across the board. I haven't referred to puruṣa, but if I had, I might use it in the more generic Vedic manner that is used in many Buddhist sutras (which is more or less akin to "living matter") rather than as the Divine Puruṣa of the Vedantas (which Buddha does predate).

Lastly, it might be good to set aside your dislike of me. I have not attacked you personally. I often question your views. If you are not at liberty to further explicate the meaning of the Jigten Sumgon quote you provided, it should not have been provided in the first place and is best that you say so instead of continually dropping cryptic words into the thread. That way, others can set aside Jigten Sumgon's views and continue to discuss the topic.

:namaste:
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby deepbluehum » Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:58 am

viniketa wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:Fundamental life force is a concept from Samkhya related to purusha and prakriti. These notions are discarded in Buddhadharma across the board, which, as in Madhyamaka, does not assert any fundamental. Of course, you can call yourself a "Buddhist," and hold a Tirthika view, and you can be completely beyond elaboration and never use the word "Buddhist," but no matter how you are, if you hold to a view of a fundamental force, then you are not Awakened.


DBH - It is a good thing that I trust your intentions, otherwise I might take this as a personal attack. First, you read too much into the term "fundamental life force". Would you be alive if you did not breathe? Second, you are the first to mention puruṣa and pakriti, I never mentioned that dualism, although it is fundamentally the same as the mind-body problem being discussed. Third, you need to review your Indian history. Puruṣa is a fundamental concept from the Rigveda, predating by some time the philosophies of Kapila in the Sāṃkhya. According to A.K. Ambedkar (a Buddhist), Buddha predates the Rigveda, but that is generally considered revisionist history even in India. In another thread, you and I already agreed that Buddha did not refute the Vedas across the board. I haven't referred to puruṣa, but if I had, I might use it in the more generic Vedic manner that is used in many Buddhist sutras (which is more or less akin to "living matter") rather than as the Divine Puruṣa of the Vedantas (which Buddha does predate).

Lastly, it might be good to set aside your dislike of me. I have not attacked you personally. I often question your views. If you are not at liberty to further explicate the meaning of the Jigten Sumgon quote you provided, it should not have been provided in the first place and is best that you say so instead of continually dropping cryptic words into the thread. That way, others can set aside Jigten Sumgon's views and continue to discuss the topic.

:namaste:


I don't dislike you. There's no need for any personal discussion I hope. I am only using a global "you" for ease in writing. It's probably my American disposition. I mentioned purusha-prakriti and samkhya as a basic example to illustrate that the idea of fundamental life force is foreign to buddhadharma. I accept your caveat that you are using this term loosely. We don't need to get into the history of Vedic thought vis a vis the Samkhya. Suffice to say they are part of a single philosophical continuum. There's no need to establish your authority related to your knowledge of history, which is not relevant. But I accept you have this knowledge. BTW, it's not necessary for you to moderate this thread. Let's just discuss freely. My terse comments are meant to goad further discovery, not as an affront.

I understand Lord Jigten Sumgon is difficult. That's common for everyone. His writing is very cryptic. But profound. What I was driving at with my comment about wind not being a fundamental life force is that wind is simply one of the four great elements, none of which are fundamental. They are interdependent. Yes, one can live without breathing. That's precisely what happens in dhyana. So in this way, because mind is wind, an element, we can understand how it is the body that circles. Because the nature of mind is free from elements, we can understand why it doesn't. That's about it.

Therefore, there is no mind-body problem. The dharmakaya is completely beyond the elements. The mind is just the body in a subtle form, just like an elements can be gaseous or solid. This does not in anyway present a dualistic mind-body problem, because mind and body are both the same nature. The dharmakaya or "nature of mind" is beyond this. Here's how: According to the sutras and tantras, the nature of the four great elements are impermanent, dependent arisings, and owing to this nature, are ultimately free. They are mere illusory appearances, and in Dzogchen tantras, as five lights and five wisdoms, the ultimate of which is the dharmadhatu, which is, again, free from extremes of existence and non-existence.

To summarize, there are no four great elements. No body and no mind. This is not annihilationism, because the nature of samsara is without end and appearances arise nonstop. Hence, the middle way and the commitment to sentient beings.
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby deepbluehum » Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:32 am

No mind body problem

526. Mind (citta) and matter are neither different nor not-different from discrimination; there is no distinction of all things as they are removed from being and non-being.


Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby viniketa » Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:33 am

deepbluehum wrote:The mind is just the body in a subtle form, just like an elements can be gaseous or solid.


In which case, there is no difference in saying that it is the mind that circles in saṃsāra.

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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby deepbluehum » Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:39 am

viniketa wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:The mind is just the body in a subtle form, just like an elements can be gaseous or solid.


In which case, there is no difference in saying that it is the mind that circles in saṃsāra.

:namaste:


Or the body. :bow:
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby deepbluehum » Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:41 am

Let's reword. The mind-body problem circles.
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:44 am

A good illustration of the Buddhist concept of rebirth, as opposed to say, reincarnation, is snow.
or, to go further, a snowman.
Every January, the view from my window is the same. the ground is covered with snow.
is it the same snow as last year, or different?
Putting aside for a moment (for the sake of the analogy) that there is a tremendous volume of water
that blows around the world in a year, we can say that yes, it is the same snow -in essence.
The blanket of snow in my yard is not made from the same snowflakes as the ones that fell last year,
but the conditions which force the moisture in the air to become snow flakes,
those conditions are the same. Or very close. Maybe a few degrees warmer or cooler.
Maybe a little more or a little less precipitation.
But basically the same.
When the conditions are different, that snow is "reborn" as rain,
or as fog, or as an ocean, or as a cup of tea.

Similarly, I am not the same person I was a year ago
but the conditions which bring the aggregates of my existence together are roughly the same.
The DNA is still human, there is some genetic coding at work, and some memory storage is operative,
so in most respects I resemble both in body and in thought
the person I was a year ago. Or a moment ago.

My understanding of the Buddhist teachings is that it is the actions of one's
body, speech and mind
that determine the degree of similarity between
who I was before, who i am now, and who i will be in the future.
"karma".

the problem that seems to present itself to people seems to be death,
when we assume that there is a "thing" called "mind" that comes into being
due to conditions, the way we think of a blanket of snow as a "thing".
But it isn't a single thing. It is trillions of ice crystals.
Likewise, "mind" isn't a single thing that moves out of an old corpse and into a new womb
(although it is described this way).
Always moving, whether from moment to moment or from life to life,
its is still a collection of conditions.

So, a snowman melts, and next summer you swim in its body and next winter it falls into your yard and you build it again.
I think this is what describes rebirth.
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Re: What takes rebirth: body or mind?

Postby Red Faced Buddha » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:58 am

This is my own view of it:
The mind is like a fire and while smoke rises from fire,thoughts arise from the mind.The body is the candle and the mind is the flame.I'll use myself as an example.If I were to die,the consciousness that is Red Faced Buddha would be extinguished(i.e die.)However,from it will rise another consciousness that will light another candle(i.e body.)this will go on until the flame is extinguished(i.e in the cycle of "Me's,"eventually one of "us" attain nirvana.)this collection of beings are connected by thoughts,karma,etc.
A person once asked me why I would want to stop rebirth. "It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want to be reborn."
I replied. "Wanting to be reborn is like wanting to stay in a jail cell, when you have the chance to go free and experience the whole wide world. Does a convict, on being freed from his shabby, constricting, little cell, suddenly say "I really want to go back to jail and be put in a cell. It sounds pretty cool. Being able to come back. Who wouldn't want that?"
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