Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

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Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby catlady2112 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 6:52 pm

Hi,

Whenever I try to do mahamudra meditations on exploring, observing and locating the mind, I always see my mind located inside my brain. I think this comes from having a western scientific education where mental functions are understood to be in the brain. Sometimes I do experience thoughts as being in front of my forehead, but for the most part I envision them in the brain. I feel kind of stuck here.

I am also starting to question what the definition of the "mind" is . I normally view it as the space in which thoughts arise and disappear. what do you think?
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:04 pm

catlady2112 wrote:Hi,

Whenever I try to do mahamudra meditations on exploring, observing and locating the mind, I always see my mind located inside my brain. I think this comes from having a western scientific education where mental functions are understood to be in the brain. Sometimes I do experience thoughts as being in front of my forehead, but for the most part I envision them in the brain. I feel kind of stuck here.

I am also starting to question what the definition of the "mind" is . I normally view it as the space in which thoughts arise and disappear. what do you think?
Are thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc... seperate to mind (as you seem to be implying)? If so where are they to be found?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby catlady2112 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:25 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:Are thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc... seperate to mind (as you seem to be implying)? If so where are they to be found?


Thanks for asking your questions. My answers are: I experience thoughts in my brain similar to viewing bacteria wiggling around in a microscope. The wiggling elements are the thoughts and the space they are inside of, are what I believe is the mind (mind as a container). Negative emotional feelings tend to appear in the stomach. Sensations usually are experienced at point of contact with the body (eyes, ears) except I know that scientifically the sensation is actually happening in the brain.
Last edited by catlady2112 on Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Andrew108 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:29 pm

catlady2112 wrote:Hi,

Whenever I try to do mahamudra meditations on exploring, observing and locating the mind, I always see my mind located inside my brain. I think this comes from having a western scientific education where mental functions are understood to be in the brain. Sometimes I do experience thoughts as being in front of my forehead, but for the most part I envision them in the brain. I feel kind of stuck here.

I am also starting to question what the definition of the "mind" is . I normally view it as the space in which thoughts arise and disappear. what do you think?


What you are taking as the mind is actually the 'mental consciousness' which of course is located in the brain. The mind that is talked about in Mahamudra is more like life itself. Substitute the term 'mind' with the term 'life' and you get closer to the actual meaning.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby pensum » Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:41 pm

What about when you stub your toe—where is your mind then?
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Gwenn Dana » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:04 pm

catlady2112 wrote: My answers are: I experience thoughts in my brain similar to viewing bacteria wiggling around in a microscope. The wiggling elements are the thoughts and the space they are inside of, are what I believe is the mind (mind as a container).


That is not observing the mind. You´re definitely observing your brain, that´s why you´re ending up in it. Your brain is involved in thinking, but it´s not all there´s to it. But what you´re observing is definitely the brain as an organ, that´s why it feels as wiggling as any other organ you observe. You´re observing a feeling inside your body. Observing the mind is even more subtle.

Best wishes
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:06 pm

catlady2112 wrote:Thanks for asking your questions. My answers are: I experience thoughts in my brain similar to viewing bacteria wiggling around in a microscope. The wiggling elements are the thoughts and the space they are inside of, are what I believe is the mind (mind as a container). Negative emotional feelings tend to appear in the stomach. Sensations usually are experienced at point of contact with the body (eyes, ears) except I know that scientifically the sensation is actually happening in the brain.
So if I cut open your brain I will find feelings, sensations, and thoughts inside there?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Astus » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:30 pm

Mind is what knows, the presence of consciousness. If you say you imagine/feel your brain to be your mind, that is not your mind, it is an image/feeling that the mind is aware of. So, if you want to locate the mind, find what knows.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby catlady2112 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:36 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote:So if I cut open your brain I will find feelings, sensations, and thoughts inside there?


According to my understanding in neurology, that is exactly true. You can stimulate different parts of the brain and get different emotional reactions/sensations.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Gwenn Dana » Sun Apr 06, 2014 11:25 pm

catlady2112 wrote: You can stimulate different parts of the brain and get different emotional reactions/sensations.


But are you usually cutting your brain open when feeling?
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:51 am

Catlady2112 wrote:I always see my mind located inside my brain. I think this comes from having a western scientific education where mental functions are understood to be in the brain. Sometimes I do experience thoughts as being in front of my forehead, but for the most part I envision them in the brain. I feel kind of stuck here.


That is interesting. Reflecting on my own sitting practice, I am aware of thoughts passing through the mind, and also aware that this involves neural activity. Actually when the mind quietens right down, the amount of neural activity is considerably less. That has been shown by many studies of meditator's brain activities. I think there is something called an 'alpha-wave pattern' associated with meditative states.

But at the same time, from what you are saying, I think there is a strong element of visualization in your case. It is like you are visualizing the brain producing thoughts. There is nothing the matter with that, but I think it likely that this is a 'construction' or a 'vikalpa'. That is, because of your pre-disposition to accept the notion of the equivalence between brain-states and thoughts, that is what you are seeing. You're imagining the brain thinking and in that sense 'constructing' that activity.

The deeper question is, what is actually doing the seeing or constructing? I wouldn't necessarily try and answer that verbally, otherwise it might be more of the same kind of thing. I would treat it like an open question, something to ponder rather than a question to which there is an unambiguous answer. That would be my suggestion.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:26 am

catlady2112 wrote:Hi,

Whenever I try to do mahamudra meditations on exploring, observing and locating the mind, I always see my mind located inside my brain. I think this comes from having a western scientific education where mental functions are understood to be in the brain. Sometimes I do experience thoughts as being in front of my forehead, but for the most part I envision them in the brain. I feel kind of stuck here.

I am also starting to question what the definition of the "mind" is . I normally view it as the space in which thoughts arise and disappear. what do you think?



Hey, I recommend the book The Practice of Mahamudra, if you've not read it. It's like 60 pages or something.

I'm pretty sure the typical instructions i've seen say that you should keep searching to see if indeed your mind IS inside your brain or what in meditation, rather than viewing this as "wrong", it is where you are at with the meditation. I think the point is to eliminate uncertainty about these questions (granted a BIG task lol), rather than to follow a set of prescribed instructions to get someone else correct answer. You can also try to determine if your thoughts are of the same substance, or fundamentally different than your mind, if you can find a root of the thoughts, and see if they emerge from the "space", or what...again I am not sure the meditation should be undertaken with the idea that you will finish and arrive at a correct answer, the point is just to keep discerning until there is some clarity...I think.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:28 am

catlady2112 wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:So if I cut open your brain I will find feelings, sensations, and thoughts inside there?


According to my understanding in neurology, that is exactly true. You can stimulate different parts of the brain and get different emotional reactions/sensations.
And what of beings that lack physical characteristics: Gods, hell beings, hungry ghosts? Where is their mind located? What of sentient beings that don't have brains: insects, crustaceans, etc...? Where is their mind located?

And what about karma? Which part of the brain is that stored in?

What of Chikkhai, Chonyid and Sidpa bardo experiences? The brain has well and truly stopped working during those (okay, maybe it hasn't completely ceased functioning in the Chikkhai bardo, but definitely in the other two).

And what happens during rebirth? Does the physical brain get reborn too? Do you take it along with you in a little box?

Of course ones mind is located in one's brain too, when one has a brain. :smile:
Last edited by Sherab Dorje on Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Simon E. » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:50 am

The skandhas/kandhas model might be useful here...
You could start by asking where if anywhere ' mind' fits that model.
Or whether current western psychology is correct when it describes the Cartesian concept of 'mind' as simply a convention..

Then you could go on to asking if the skandhas/kandhas model and current psychology are not in fact saying something similar.. with allowances for their respective paradigms..
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Astus » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:27 pm

Brains and neurology are besides the point. Mahamudra is not a philosophy of mind but a practical method that is to be applied within one's personal sphere of experience. If there are bodily feelings one identifies with mind, those should be looked into using the correct path of analysis as presented in the Mahamudra instructions. Theorising about all that is a different thing.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Simon E. » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:34 pm

Precisely so...but Instructions from a bone fide teacher...not book larnin'.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Kelwin » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:14 pm

catlady2112 wrote:
Sherab Dorje wrote:So if I cut open your brain I will find feelings, sensations, and thoughts inside there?


According to my understanding in neurology, that is exactly true. You can stimulate different parts of the brain and get different emotional reactions/sensations.
Sure! And if I shine light in your eyes, you will see it as well. If there's sound in your ears, you will hear it. Does that mean your mind is there? The senses and brain are obviously connected in creating experiences. Are these experiences mind?

What is the difference between a certain cognition, and awareness of that cognition? Is it in the same place? Does it have the same shape?
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Andrew108 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:21 pm

It's amazing how many of you see mind and mental consciousness as being the same thing. They are different.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Simon E. » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:39 pm

Particularly as ' mind ' is simply a convention that describes a series of connected processes, rather than an entity which exists ' within ' something.
Last edited by Simon E. on Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby conebeckham » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:54 pm

When you locate this "mind" in the brain, what is it which is locating the "mind?"
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