IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

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IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby Graycomma » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:01 pm

Hi

This is my first post in this forum. I havent searched through the forum yet.

My question is "IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?".

I just couldnt get this question out of my mind. Can someone help me understand why buddhist believe that awareness is not function rather "awareness is all that exists".please help me to understand logically or otherwise

Appreciate your help.

thanks
Gray
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby ronnewmexico » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:04 pm

No

If brain is removed is that which is left aware?
If body is removed and brain is left is that aware?

However you slice the pie.....awareness is composite in origin and circumstantial in its presentation.
To my personal way of thinking and in the school of buddhism I study.
(others may differ in that).

To elaborate a bit...awareness requires a empty mileau to function. A object that exchanges with a awareness must be present. WE cannot perceive what we do not in some manner exchange with. So awareness must have this capacity for exchange. Awareneness is a quality. It is something that presents when elicited by a object of which to be aware. No object no awareness present. We cannot be aware of objects that do not exist in some form or fashion(this does not disallow the perceptability of self invented objects but that is another subject).
So always when awareness is considered are those things present..a empty mileau a exchangeable ground and ojects within that ground to be aware of.

So it is not singular and can not logically be considered to be such or to be present in a specific organ or some such. That speaks to a lesser consdierastion of what awareness is... restrictions on definition which are not the reality of its presentation.

Not to state this opinion is greater than any other buddhist view that opposes. But this is a particular buddhist view, and not solely personal.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:23 pm

Graycomma wrote:Hi

This is my first post in this forum. I havent searched through the forum yet.

My question is "IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?".

I just couldnt get this question out of my mind. Can someone help me understand why buddhist believe that awareness is not function rather "awareness is all that exists".please help me to understand logically or otherwise

Appreciate your help.

thanks
Gray

Neurologists would say the function of the nervous system and endocrine system is the coordination of all bodily function. The brain, a part of the nervous system, is specifically involved in higher-level coordination, including what you might call "awareness".

However, when Buddhists talk about mindfulness, they are talking about a kind of awareness that is dependent on right effort, not something that happens automatically as a result of one's anatomy.

Also... In a similar discussion elsewhere, someone shared this sutta and it seemed relevant:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html
This puppet is not made by itself,
Nor is this misery made by another.
It has come to be dependent on a cause,
When the cause dissolves then it will cease.

As when a seed is sown in a field
It grows depending on a pair of factors:
It requires both the soil's nutrients
And a steady supply of moisture.

Just so the aggregates and elements,
And these six bases of sensory contact,
Have come to be dependent on a cause;
When the cause dissolves they will cease.


ronnewmexico wrote:No

If brain is removed is that which is left aware?
If body is removed and brain is left is that aware?

However you slice the pie.....awareness is composite in origin and circumstantial in its presentation.
To my personal way of thinking and in the school of buddhism I study.
(others may differ in that).

Can you cite a single, well-documented case from a reputable, authoritative source of a Tibetan Buddhist whose brain was significantly damaged and yet still maintained normal cognitive function?
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby ronnewmexico » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:35 pm

Which speaks perhaps to the variance of belief or observation, that is present in the Buddhist community(not to state any view being superior).

Mindfullness is the faculty which enables the mind to maintain its attention on a referent object, thus allowing for the development of familiarity with the object and also the ability to retain its imprint within memory for future recollection,....as per definition found in the school I study.

So there is some variance in this thing...pick or choose what makes sense to you I'd suggest.

Individual...."Can you cite a single, well-documented case from a reputable, authoritative source of a Tibetan Buddhist whose brain was significantly damaged and yet still maintained normal cognitive function?"....is your comment intended to offer answer to the intial or to debate my statement?

Think what you want, start a seperate thread for debate if you want...I personally don't give a flying capital F. I am answering the initial posters question.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby catmoon » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:53 am

If one administers a severe blow to the head, a common result is loss of awareness. This suggests that the head has something to do with awareness. Notice that the same blow administered to the foot will not usually result in unconsciousness, even if the blow is so severe as to remove the foot entirely.
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:27 pm

catmoon wrote:If one administers a severe blow to the head, a common result is loss of awareness. This suggests that the head has something to do with awareness. Notice that the same blow administered to the foot will not usually result in unconsciousness, even if the blow is so severe as to remove the foot entirely.


Buddhism speaks of various kinds of awareness or consciousness. For the purposes of this discussion you could say the two main ones are uncompounded, nondual wisdom and compounded, dualistic consciousness. The latter is said to be a confused offshoot of the former, and while Buddhism says compounded consciousness does not arise FROM the brain, it does say that while one is living in a body of flesh and blood, the dualistic consciousness is experienced via the brain.
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby catmoon » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:35 pm

Yes, I see. Well somewhat anyhow.


I was going to say that the brain experiences awareness in the same sense that the eye experiences light. But I wasn't sure if that was correct or not. What do you think, Pema?
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby ground » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:42 pm

Graycomma wrote:My question is "IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?".

I just couldnt get this question out of my mind. Can someone help me understand why buddhist believe that awareness is not function rather "awareness is all that exists".


I am a buddhist but I do not think that "awareness is all that exists".

I know that we can only talk about or think "awareness" because we are "aware of {something}". So without "being aware of {something}" there is no awareness. For me "awareness" is a synonym for "consciousness" and for "mind".

So "IS AWARENESS [ or 'consciousness' or 'mind'] A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?"

I would answer: Maybe. At least there is some evidence that "it" (i.e. what we are "aware of" when we encounter this term) is.

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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby Graycomma » Sat Oct 16, 2010 5:22 pm

hi
by "awareness" i was referring to non-dual awareness as used by some Zen , Dzogchen , Advaita etc... who say that awareness is not a function of the brain.what is the reason behind their conclusion?
hope this clarifies my question.
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby ronnewmexico » Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:13 pm

Why....looking at our own mind attests to view of this thing...

"Be certain the nature of mind is empty and without foundation.
One's own mind is insubstantial, like a empty sky.
Look at yur own mind to see whether it s like that or not.
Divorced from views which constructedly determine (the nature of) emptiness,
Be certain that pristine congnition, naturally originating, is primordiallly radiant-
Just like the nucleus of the sun, which is itself naturally originating.
Look at you own mind to see whether it isike that or not"

"There are no phenomena extraneous to those that originate from the mind.
(So), there are no modes of conduct to be undertaken extraneous (to those that originate from the mind).
There are no phenomena extraneous to those that originate from the mind.
(So), there are no commitments to be kept extraneous (to those that originate from the mind).
There are no phenomena extraneous to those that originate from the mind.
(So), there are no results to be attained extraneous (to those that originate from the mind).
There are no phenomena extraneoius to those that originate from the mind.
(So), one should observe one's own miond, looking into its nature again and again."

So the reason behind such conclusions is observation of mind as it displays as our reality displays.
Then anything that exists is essentially a function of awareness/ our consciousness/ our mind.
Hence brain a solid object is not seperate from this thing but a part. A partial result of cause of awareness combined with ignorance, which precipitates awareness to present in this fashion.
So it is result...this brain not cause, of circumstance habitual inclination and cognitive function.

If you are looking to understand this thing I can elaborate. If you are poseing question to build logical trap and then spring that trap, to substantiate some held view...enjoy that, I will not participate.
Or if this is not what you are talking about..please clarify.

I may be speaking a differing language I presume, but perhaps not. So I will give it a go if honestly posed, and if desired. If not advise I will not comment again on this issue.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby ground » Sun Oct 17, 2010 5:44 am

Graycomma wrote:hi
by "awareness" i was referring to non-dual awareness as used by some Zen , Dzogchen , Advaita etc... who say that awareness is not a function of the brain.what is the reason behind their conclusion?
hope this clarifies my question.

Do they say this? Well I don't know

However awareness - like all the other skandhas is the effect of actions and motivations so one might also say that awareness is a function of karma. But as the body is a function of karma in this sense too so would the brain be a function of karma and the awareness that arises from it.

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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby Graycomma » Sun Oct 17, 2010 6:45 am

ronnewmexico : I think we are speaking same language and thanks much for your replies.

There are no phenomena extraneous to those that originate from the mind


This is what I was looking for. They say (please dont take it literally ) that mind creates all and in mind everything dissolves and awareness is a canvas where all the painting of mind happens

I want to understand this and please elaborate.

If you are poseing question to build logical trap and then spring that trap


No , i am not posing logical trap. I just want to understand either logically or non-logically or any otherway.
all my further question would be to understand your replies better that's all.

please eloborate on how "mind creates brain and not otherwise"
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby ronnewmexico » Sun Oct 17, 2010 6:13 pm

Well I'll leave the substantiation(buddhist source) of the thinking part aside and approach through a deductive reasoning of sorts.

Now what constitutes awareness. If awareness is a solidy present thing in one aspect of a body, then why is it not seemingly always present in constant quality. If I am sleeping and considered to be not aware how can I be woken up. If I am considered to be constantly aware how can I go to sleep.
So it is thusly established that this thing is apparently a changing thing, with differing quality and presentation.
Since that is so we may examine change, what constitutes change in this thing of awareness.

How does a object appear to us.....it appears not as it is but as a gradient of our interaction with the object. AS in...I feel a cold wall, not because the wall is cold but because it is cold in relation to my finger. All senses and observations are of this nature....we are essentially seeing ourselves not other....always. If one studies this thing of perception that is found.
Appearence is thusly mind, a function of congition.

So we have identified that awareness has differing aspect and that our awareness is a process really of self understanding. Understanding thing only of relationship to us not things in themselves.

Now....mind creates brain not otherwise.

So since all I see is self relationship not object itself any object that is perceivable such as a tree a ball or a brain is not that object itself that is being apprehended but the realtionship of that object to that which perceives object.....any perception is a creation of the interaction of the observor and observed and thusly in this sense a creation of the observor. So all observed in this context is a creation(apprehension) of the observor. So mind creates brain(object) in this context.

Now awareness we have established is a variable. Variables are in a sense not always on. Some parts perhaps on always some parts on some of the time some part not on at times and on and on.
So seeing that awareness functions in relationship to object, a pinprick of something may awaken a sleeping person to that prick. Awareness and object are found to be directly related.
Now if a object brain.....in the inverse seemed to by sole presence create a thing called awareness, if that was so that object, awareness would be always present in a constant quality. Brain is present wether alive or dead whethe sleeping or not whether brain dead or not, whether funcitoning or not.
So awareness in this context cannot be equated with simple function of brain. Flux presence and absence denies such observation to be logically concludable.
And in furthur observation we find that object itself ball, tree brain cannot be found to be in this context solely aware or to contain awareness in and of themselves. A observor of interactional nature must be present. .

so brain is simply found to be not equatable to awareness. A relationship exists that is the most that can be said in this context.
So brain in this context does not create mind. Object cannot solely of itself create awareness.
So it is not otherwise as mentioned.

In a practical logical sense our reality is not apart from us, due to the interactive nature of things already mentioned, how we perceive is a function of us not solely objects. Objects are not aware.
So thusly all reflects this our awareness to include everything present in reality.
Long story short....in a buddhist context brain, the object, is a product. The product is composite in origin as are all things. The particular brain composite is the result of awareness circumstance and certain habitual tendency which precipitates as cause and effect and resultant action... karma.
So brain the presence of one is a function of a aware mind not the origination of a aware mind.
Awareness essentially precipitates its presence as perceiveable object. It realtiy is not denied but its status as sole originator of aware aspect is thusly denied. It exists as objects all perceiveable objects do in relationship.

I can elaborate on that point if necessary.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby catmoon » Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:15 pm

ronnewmexico wrote:Now....mind creates brain not otherwise.



This jumped out at me. It's ok as an axiom, but I don't think it is proven.

I was also wondering, have you considered other possibilities? Like, neither creates the other, or both create the other simultaneously?
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby ronnewmexico » Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:37 pm

No offense but you are not going to refute very many paragraphs of writing with a sentence of two, unless perhaps one if very spiritually advanced which i suspect none here, to include myself are.

Consider other points of view.....refute my points if you so desire. That is irrelevent.
I will perhaps entertain challenge to this as it may express point more clerarly to initial poster, but my answer if one bothers to read all the replies not just ones that draw a fanciful interest it to explain a posed question by the intial poster. Which I am doing. I am not just providing elaboration as I am not certain of my position and want to test it or to just pontificate.

It is a answer to a question.

Your posed questions are referencing aware aspect, or how awareness presents in relation to object, those are standard objections in that frame of reference. I am talking in this context to the claim a already observed object(in this case a brain)...can singularly be responsible for awareness.
I am refuting that claim not examining this aS total point, a actual mechanism of operation.
In any event that is like stateing the name of a chapter of a book and stateing that as argument..what you stated .
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby 5heaps » Sun Oct 17, 2010 9:06 pm

Graycomma wrote:I just couldnt get this question out of my mind.
its a good thing to think about. the subject is difficult, so a teacher is helpful.

anyway one analysis is to consider how objects such as theories, concepts/ideas, etc are utterly devoid of physical properties. consider how 1st person subjectivity itself is devoid of it. consider whether other positions are faulty, for example an assertion of materialism that 1st person experience is a hallucination (ie. not a functioning thing).

can physical causes lead to effects of nonsimilar type (ie. nonphysical effects), etcetc.
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby ronnewmexico » Sun Oct 17, 2010 9:58 pm

Excellent comment and many excellent comments versed, as the initial poster mentions any support for view multiple in kind are the responses .

I will elaborate a bit on just mine, not that it is in any manner superior to any other...

Simply
Awareness of object cannnot precipiate without a object
Awareness is a final consideration of consciousness or even more generally perhaps or equated..... mind.

Consciousness being essentially complex awareness or awareness in a particular fashion with certain attributes...discrimination of differing quality, perception of same quality, ability of object to move other object and on and on....elaborations on simple awareness or becomeing aware of another object.
I do not simply become aware of a balls existance. With consciousness I evaluate that ball with my awareness, and determine its nature to the extent that I can.

Generally the more complex a cause the more complex a result.

A very complex reaction or effect of a consciousness in certain circumstances of complexity which include karmic effect, cause and effect, and retentive aspect(that which enables us to compare objects) and resultant habitual formation(that which enables us to draw more complex assumptions on objects).....leads to the formation of a body, brain and all the rest.

Though it is very complex it is but a distillation of the basic.....knowing a object. Keep in mind we do not with our consciousness or aware aspect simply become aware of objects, we cognicize them or attempt to know them. Our present reality to include brain then is but a extension(abeit a very complex one)of awareness. With ignorance we attempt to solidify things into seperate identity to include a brain which seems to originte a awareness. WE affirm our seperateness with such things. Things if studied with the rational do not sustain scrutiny as stand alone things of origination.

So mind creates brain... awareness, senses whatever... thusly though present as a function of brain is not precipitator but the circumstance of its particular presentation.
A result of sorts as are the thoughts and any reflections which present. Very very complex but drawn on the same principal. Circumstance empty aspect and object of complexity produces complex result.... our present consciousness and its varying attributes of awareness to include our present reality,
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby ground » Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:38 pm

I would recommend not to speculate too much but to use the potential of awareness/consciousness/mind to finally get rid of all speculations. :)

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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby Individual » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:32 pm

To perhaps elaborate on what TMingyur just said:

The process of using language is a subset of the process of using the mind. Thinking in terms of self and thinking in terms of words is only one way of thinking, and an inferior way of thinking in many ways.

This is why wise people don't always use elaborate & verbose terminology to describe all things (words are just symbols). With states of mind it's more complicated because the door to the object referenced is not as readily apparent. They have to use words as symbols for symbols. If you think of words as a mirror of reality ("dog" is a mirror of the actual object dog), with abstract things of the mind, any words we can use are simply a mirror of a mirror (a mirror of what you can do when you self-reflect). If I say, "Dog," it's easy to hold up a dog. But if I say, "Dzogchen," nothing I can hold up to your five senses would make any sense. To you, a mandala looks just like a pretty picture. A mantra is just gibberish. Instead, it's up to you to examine your own mind to determine the truth.

Otherwise, anything I might say will simply sound like many paragraphs of gibberish.

And if you don't understand me, I can't fault you for not understanding anymore than I can get angry at a dog for not understanding English. But rather, it's my own lack of ability to explain things.

So, the answer to this question is not here or anything outside of you (including these very words right here). The answer can only be found within your own mind.
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Re: IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?

Postby Sherab » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:54 am

Graycomma wrote:"IS AWARENESS A FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN?".

A controversial area still in cognitive science. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_probl ... sciousness

In Buddhism, the answer is yes and no. Yes because mind is linked to the physical brain and no because otherwise the formless realm is a figment of the Buddha's imagination.
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