Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby monktastic » Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:01 pm

Reference: http://www.2physics.com/2013/06/quantum ... e-for.html

“Local realism” is a world view in which the properties of physical objects exist independent of whether or not they are observed (realism), and in which no physical influence can propagate faster than the speed of light (locality). ... Although most scientists do not expect any surprises and believe that quantum physics will prevail over local realism, it is still conceivable that different loopholes are exploited in different experiments.


To be fair, it is also possible that realism holds but locality is violated (e.g., when entangled particles are measured, they somehow quietly "signal" to each other, faster than light, their result), but I don't think many are holding their breaths. Much easier for a working physicist to not worry about what the universe was "already like" before being measured, and leave that to philosophers.

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Some people refuse to believe that there is anything that exists independent of the subject who observes them


Are you familiar with (the idea of) coemergent appearance in Mahamudra? Or more generally, with non-duality? How can the "subjective" and "objective" aspects of experience / reality be simultaneously co-dependent and independent?

Could it be that with increasing certainty in the distinction between mind and the nature of mind, the practitioner sees how mind is merely another manifestation of the nature of mind, and invests increasingly less faith in its "brilliant" conclusions? Could this be why practice is so essential in resolving this point?

If you really think accomplished Mahamudra practitioners are crazy for giving up the idea that consciousness is caused by matter, wouldn't it make sense to stop practicing now, lest you go crazy too? :tongue:
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:05 pm

@ PvS and A108 I disagree. Measuring devices are constructed to verify a subjective opinion of what a theoretical objective reality may be. Nothing more. I recommend reading the pop physics book "The Tao of Physics". It is simplistic to say the least but I believe that it makes some very important and valid observations.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby dharmagoat » Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:11 pm

Where is the mind?

It is like when a movie is playing: where is the movie?

Is it on the reel, in the projector, on the screen, in the audience's visual experience, or in the director's imagination?
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:51 pm

monktastic wrote: How can the "subjective" and "objective" aspects of experience / reality be simultaneously co-dependent and independent?


Are you kidding?
That's easy, as long as you don't jumble all the terms together into meaningless nonsense.

Hypothetical Example:
A comet is headed toward the Earth, but nobody knows about it.
It is, at this point, not an object of awareness or of any consciousness.
(well, some space alien may have seen it whiz past their spacecraft, but that is totally beside the point).

It will hit the earth 300 years from now, long after everyone who is here now is gone.
The fact of the comet, and of where the Earth will be at that time, and what the two things are made of,
their comparative sizes and so on, are all dependently arising features.
No collision will occur if all those components are not lined up in a way that will result in an impact.

The fact that there is no current knowledge that this event will take place, no awareness that the comet even exists,
means that this dependently-arising event is happening independently of any consciousness of it.
There is residue all over our galaxy from such events that happened billions of years ago, and absolutely no way to show that any being was aware of it at the time they occurred.

Just because there is no awareness of something doesn't mean that it isn't happening!

Suppose you dig up a dinosaur fossil. It t can be shown to be many millions of years old.
How can something that is older than the person who discovers it for the first time
be the product of that person's consciousness?
The discovery is a product of consciousness, but not the item discovered.

. . .
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby monktastic » Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:54 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:The discovery is a product of consciousness, but not the item discovered.


The entire post presupposes that objects exist independently. It assumes the comet and the fossil. You may force the issue by asking: well if it's not a pre-existing comet that gives rise to the visual image of the comet, then what does? And I ask you: for what purpose do you need an explanation? For the Science Fair, my answer agrees with yours. But if you press me really hard, I'll admit that I created that answer just to have a sense of satisfaction and completeness and beauty. That's the role parsimony plays for me.

In the jelly bean dream (where instead of brains we have jelly beans), you may arrive at certainty that jelly beans are the cause of your consciousness. When you wake up and have new information, you say "oops!". Here, you (may) say that brains are the cause of consciousness. If this turns out to be a dream (or the matrix, or whatever), another "oops" may be just around the corner. Insisting that the relationships you observe here are fundamental truths about reality independent of your experience of it is akin to insisting that you cannot be fooled. This I do not understand. No matter how much evidence I currently have that I am not being "fooled," deciding to throw in the towel at this point feels like folly. Not for "everyday purposes", of course, but for the issue of total liberation (whatever it may be).
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Gwenn Dana » Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:06 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:The fact that there is no current knowledge that this event will take place, no awareness that the comet even exists,
means that this dependently-arising event is happening independently of any consciousness of it.


But if all phenomena in this universe depend on each other, since you cannot single one out as being separate or existing "alone", and consciousness is that which phenomena express as, how could something be possibly happening independently of consciousness?
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:17 pm

Just because all appearances are mind, or you could say, the true nature of all appearances are mind,
this does not mean that what appears is all there is.
From the standpoint of the practice of looking at one's mind,
saying that all phenomena arises from the mind is useful
But it doesn't mean that the physical universe is a product of consciousness.
It means that generally speaking, beings cannot get beyond their own perceptions of things
and experience that things as having intrinsic reality.
But things don't have to be produced by the mind in order to have no intrinsic reality,
and that is the mistake being made here,
the assertion that a thing require consciousness as one of its component parts.
While it is true that all appearances which arise in the mind
do have consciousness as an essential component part
this does not mean that consciousness is part of everything.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:18 pm

Gwenn Dana wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:The fact that there is no current knowledge that this event will take place, no awareness that the comet even exists,
means that this dependently-arising event is happening independently of any consciousness of it.


But if all phenomena in this universe depend on each other, since you cannot single one out as being separate or existing "alone", and consciousness is that which phenomena express as, how could something be possibly happening independently of consciousness?


How can there be food in the fridge if nobody is hungry?
. . .
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Apr 16, 2014 11:06 pm

PadmaVonSambha wrote:saying that all phenomena arises from the mind is useful
But it doesn't mean that the physical universe is a product of consciousness.


The thing you have to get your head around is that 'existence' is a concept. 'Physical' is a concept. Look at the facts: scientists have created the largest and most complex apparatus in the history of the world, and they have still to find anything which could be called 'fundamental' or what Buddhist philosophy would call 'self-existent'. (See Could the Higgs Nobel be the End of Particle Physics?)

When I say 'existence is a concept' what I mean is that the very notion of something existing relies upon a framework of relationships and meaning which the mind supplies. The difficulty is, one will immediately assume that this implies that when something is not being perceived, then it ceases to exist. But that is simply the imagined non-existence of the object. It doesn't mean that things go in and out of existence because someone isn't perceiving them.

Whatever we consider exists, no matter how large or small, near or far, that object or entity exists for us as a representation in the mind. The mind assimilates and synthesizes all the sensory data that it recieves from it and then through the processes of cognition, recognizes it (or not), names it, analyses it and so forth. And that is what 'existence' refers to. What exists outside that process or 'exists anyway' is not known to us.

But that doesn't mean that it is 'in our heads'. The idea of it being 'in our heads' is also a mental representation. But you can never perceive anything outside or apart from that.

(I have discovered this is quite near in meaning to the Yogacara analysis, but I am still just a beginner as far as that goes.)
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Malcolm » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:03 am

Andrew108 wrote:All we need to prove is that the mountain has an existence outside of sentience.


Outside of sentience, proofs are not possible.


So the fact that it can be measured by a non-sentient device and has a series of values (height, mass, dimension and so on) mean that it has an existence outside of sentience.


There is no such thing as a non-sentient measurement. Manas, the word for mind in Sanskrit, means "to measure" as well


Another example would be using a non-sentient device to measure phenomena that don't appear to the senses.


As above.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:07 am

jeeprs wrote: The thing you have to get your head around is that 'existence' is a concept. 'Physical' is a concept. ...
When I say 'existence is a concept' what I mean is that the very notion of something existing relies upon a framework of relationships and meaning which the mind supplies. The difficulty is, one will immediately assume that this implies that when something is not being perceived, then it ceases to exist. But that is simply the imagined non-existence of the object. It doesn't mean that things go in and out of existence because someone isn't perceiving them.


"It doesn't mean that things go in and out of existence because someone isn't perceiving them."
Yes. that is exactly what i am saying.
Stuff comes and goes without anyone noticing at all.

That is why I generally don't use the term "exist", but prefer the term "occur", which is a little more open ended. It doesn't imply that something has a finite, intrinsic reality that can't be broken down into components.

I am refuting the notion that some level of consciousness, or awareness of a particular object (event, occurrence, whatever) is automatically required in order for an event or occurrence to happen, which is what the assertion that the "universe is created by consciousness" implies.

I'm not disputing that consciousness, or awareness is required for the arising of appearances.
But, what is apparent is probably very little compared to what is not apparent,
and it doesn't make any sense to say that something is a product of consciousness but that there is no awareness of it.
Saying that "the unknown" is a concept,
and concepts are a product of consciousness,
therefore everything is a product of consciousness
sorry...that doesn't stack up.
The concept of "unknown" is a product of consciousness,
but the concept of unknown, and unknown, are two different things.
. . .
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Malcolm » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:10 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:and it doesn't make any sense to say that something is a product of consciousness but that there is no awareness of it.
. . .


Sure it does; such phenomena are called traces; and when a trace is activated, a given consciousness becomes aware of the phenomena produced by that trace. Further, traces are created by actions of consciousness.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby asunthatneversets » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:50 am

Andrew108 wrote:You have claimed that. I will tell you how. You have said that if we see a mountain then there are two aspects. The internal perception of the mountain and the external manifestation.

Please cite where I've said anything remotely close to that.

Andrew108 wrote:In your view, both the internal perception and the external manifestation are linked to karmic traces. In the first instance the perception of the mountain is linked to the karmic traces inherent in the mind stream of the individual and in second instance the manifestation of the mountain externally, is linked to the karmic traces inherent in the mindstreams of many individual streams of consciousness. So in both cases the mountain is a subjective creation. The only difference being the difference between one subjectivity and many subjectivities.

The fact that these things are linked with karmic traces should be quite telling regarding the nature of their manifestation. You are again leaping to compare and contrast these explanations to your materialist view, which is tantamount to trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. At any rate though, your continual conclusion that these matters somehow resolve into subjective experiences in any inherent sense (which is the only sense you are capable of working with) is an asinine notion.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby monktastic » Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:21 am

"Objects exist when I'm not looking" is a(n eminently reasonable) conclusion you arrive at through sensation, memory, and reasoning. Experimentation, analysis, etc. fit into these three categories: presumably your knowledge of such experiments is stored in your memory. It doesn't matter if you can produce the papers themselves if asked, or even have them in your hands right now; the basic point holds: your conclusion is drawn by your mind. This is true no matter how many other people agree with you. It is *your* job to interpret (and trust) their speech, and incorporate it into *your* reasoning (e.g., "Richard Feynman did experiment X, and Einstein said Y, so therefore Z," or even, "Edward Witten said X, so therefore, X.")

While you may have no reason to doubt your sensation, memory, or reasoning, I don't see how you can avoid this simple truth: they can all be fooled. Anyone with significant dreaming experience (or other altered states) can easily attest to this. There may not be *any* sensible reason to believe that they're being fooled right now, but that does not change the basic situation. "Sensible" is also your own conclusion.

"Objects do not exist when I'm not looking" has the very same problems of course, but I don't hear anyone championing it. Instead, I hear that the very idea of there being "real objects" anywhere is extraneous. It's obviously useful for taking care of day to day business, like doing science, or not stubbing your toe, but one can certainly survive just fine without taking it too literally. In fact, many masters tell us that letting go of this insistence -- and all others -- is an important part of the path.

At least, this is what I have learned and found useful. I'm sure your path is different from mine.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
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One will understand it in due course.

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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:33 am

PadmaVonSambha wrote:what is apparent is probably very little compared to what is not apparent...
...
The concept of "unknown" is a product of consciousness,
but the concept of unknown, and unknown, are two different things.


So how do you tell the difference? As soon as you try and answer, you are referring to - thinking of - 'the unknown'.

Gotcha!


I think that 'what is not apparent' corresponds to 'what is there anyway' which is very close to what most people think is 'reality'. That is a deeply-ingrained attitude, it is very hard to challenge. But I don't think it is the Buddhist view. Why? Because I don't think *anyone* thought like that before about the mid to late 19th C, or before the Industrial era. It is the innate assumption of scientific realism. I think, before that time, human mentality was generally not capable of comprehending the immensity of the physical universe. What they saw 'up there' was the realm of the Gods, and so on. 'The world' had an intrinsically different meaning. (It's like that saying 'the past is another country'.) So the realist view, which we take for granted, which we assume, is in its own way a product of our historical circumstances and situation.

The problem is, there is also a kind of deceit involved in the objective view. It is very subtle but it is there. It overlooks the fact that even the notion of the universe, vast in space and time, tens of billions of years old, billions of light-years across, is dependent on the perception of time and space within which notions such as 'age' and 'location' are meaningful. And those measures are also the products of human cognition, even if they are objective, i.e. same for everyone, within our shared frame of reference.

And as I noted above, when you try to analyse all of the material constituents of the apparently-real universe, they prove to be elusive. No ultimate thing or individisible particle has been shown to exist. The more subtle the analysis, the more the apparent entities that 'make up' the phenomenal realm appear to be mathematical forms rather than material objects.

So I am arguing against the notion of 'mind-independent things' which is deeply ingrained into our way of seeing the Universe. I have come to think that the division between what I think I'm aware of, and what I assume is 'there anyway', is the very duality or division which non-dualism challenges - but it takes a gestalt shift to see it.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Andrew108 » Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:19 am



The Copenhagen interpretation of QM proposes this breaking of Local Realism as you suggest and it does seem that there is some experimental data that supports this assertion. However one must remember that QM is an investigation of sub-atomic conditions. None of the Physicists who agree with the Copenhagen interpretation would deny that at a macro level (few atoms big) there is Local Realism. Mostly they accept decoherence.

monktastic wrote:Could it be that with increasing certainty in the distinction between mind and the nature of mind, the practitioner sees how mind is merely another manifestation of the nature of mind, and invests increasingly less faith in its "brilliant" conclusions? Could this be why practice is so essential in resolving this point?:


Well then what is mind? Is it a substance? No. Does it have a shape? No. A colour? no. And so on. It seems like there is no mind. Then we get back to the idea that mind (as Malcolm suggests) is clear and knowing. If it was clear and knowing at micro level in terms of it's nature then QM would challenge that. If it were clear and knowing at a macro level you wouldn't be able to tell it apart from cognition. There is a lot of proof that cognition is brain-based.

It makes more sense if you are a practitioner of Mahamudra to swap the term 'mind' with the term 'reality'.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby Andrew108 » Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:26 am

Malcolm wrote:Outside of sentience, proofs are not possible.


You don't need proof. You just need to measure something. Of course theories are part of sentience. I am not denying sentience. I have also said that reality has no theory within it. But there are characteristics that can be measured and that are measured by non-sentient apparatus.


Malcolm wrote:There is no such thing as a non-sentient measurement. Manas, the word for mind in Sanskrit, means "to measure" as well .


I would disagree. I don't think fMRI scanners are sentient. In what way does the 'mind' make a measurement? As I understand it the 'mind' interprets measurements. Measuring the measurements.
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 Wayfarer » Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:06 am

Well then what is mind? Is it a substance? No. Does it have a shape? No. A colour? no. And so on. It seems like there is no mind.


To say there is 'no mind' fails before it is even uttered, because the statement is made by a mind.

The mind does not exist as an object. But what is that designates things as 'substances' and attributes 'colours' to them? What is it that recognizes objects? What exists in the absence of those acts of designation and recognition?

You are falling again and again into the blind spot of believing that objects have 'inherent existence'.
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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby monktastic » Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:30 am

Andrew108 wrote:However one must remember that QM is an investigation of sub-atomic conditions. None of the Physicists who agree with the Copenhagen interpretation would deny that at a macro level (few atoms big) there is Local Realism. Mostly they accept decoherence.


None of the physicists who subscribe to any interpretation would deny that things look different on a large scale... for most systems. See "Quantum biology", Nature Physics Jan 2013 for examples of macroscopic coherence on biological timescales. And the field is just getting started.

Andrew108 wrote:Well then what is mind? Is it a substance? No. Does it have a shape? No. A colour? no. And so on. It seems like there is no mind. Then we get back to the idea that mind (as Malcolm suggests) is clear and knowing. If it was clear and knowing at micro level in terms of it's nature then QM would challenge that. If it were clear and knowing at a macro level you wouldn't be able to tell it apart from cognition. There is a lot of proof that cognition is brain-based.


You lost me here. QM is a model of the physical world. If the mind is not a physical entity, then it is not under QM's purview.

At the root of what I'm saying (beating to death) is this: all of the contents of my experience can be questioned, as is obvious to anyone who's had a dream they mistook for reality. This includes the existence of brains. It does not matter how far-fetched or absurd this possibility is; it is sufficient that the possibility exists. Meanwhile, the sheer fact of experience -- that anything seems, to me, to be "happening" at all -- cannot be doubted. Or if it is doubted, one need only investigate how one knows about that doubt, to re-discover conscious experience.

By asking me to believe that brains cause experience, you are therefore asking me to believe that something whose existence I can doubt is causing something whose existence I cannot. For practical purposes, this is fine. But to have "certainty" about it boggles my mind.
Last edited by monktastic on Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
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One will understand it in due course.

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Re: Mahamudra meditation problem: locating the mind

Postby monktastic » Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:35 am

Andrew108 wrote:It seems like there is no mind.


And yet (to paraphrase Sam Harris): mind is that to which things seem. :tongue:
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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