2. Is there anything in the Buddhist teachings/traditions about how neuropathology impacts the mind - the mind viewed as "that which meditates"?
Not long ago I watched a YouTube lecture in which the lecturer said that Buddhist monasteries just don't possess a suffiicent "mental mapping" of brain pathology in regards to Buddhist monks. Naturally, the speaker's main subject was Alzheimer's disease. He maintained that there is virtually nothing in the traditions/monastic orders or in the Dharma itself that deals with the mental effects of brain disease/brain injury.
Do you have a link to the youtube lecture?
steveb1 wrote:I therefore wonder just what modern, scientifically informed Buddhists are currently thinking about this issue. It is as if the basic Buddhistic (as well as other religious groups) stance always begins with the assumption of a sound mind in the practitioner. That is, the mind may be "sick" (Buddhism: egoic, enslaved by attachment/Christianity: sin/estrangement from God-and-Grace) in a spiritual sense, but sound and capable in terms of what most cultures regard as a normal, sane mind. I am not aware of any religious system that begins from a standpoint of a pathological mentality in the practitioner.
So I am wondering: What does Buddhism - modern, scientifically informed Buddhism - have to say about neuropathologies and injuries/traumas that occur during a practitioner's meditative initiation, or long after many years of practice? In short, how does Buddhism and/or the Dharma handle a practitioner's sick, injured mind, when the sickness and injury are clearly due to brain problems? Can the journey toward Buddhahood be interrupted or even derailed by a physical "skandha" such as brain sickness or injury?
I don't think they view the mind as separate. I think there is the method of blending the mind of the Guru with the student in order to calm the emotional distractions of the student and to point out the nature of mind. I think this blending of mind is extremely beneficial...and is often done in a group during certain practices for someone who is ill. And depending on the karmic connection with the practice and the practitioners, the result may be different. In the monastery that I frequently visit, the Lamas often chant Chod for people who are ill--mentally ill or physically ill--often the 'patient' is present during the chanting. Sometimes the person is someone from the monastic community. I have seen--over time--monks improve or even recover from what I initially thought was quite a strong mental affliction. But, I am not sure if it is the right path for everyone. I think I read somewhere that even HH the Dalai Lama encourages western medicine in some cases. But, I also think the power of mind to heal itself and benefit others through meditation and visualization can't be overlooked. I think most Buddhists would say that one has to take up the derailment as part of the path--in some cases the obstacle may even quicken the path to awakening. Obstacles may often appear like our enemies, but may, in fact, be our best friends. But, I also agree that mental illness or injury is a terrible obstacle to encounter.
It is said that you can tell whether someone has just eaten by how red his face is. Similarly, you can tell whether people know and practice the Dharma by whether it works as a remedy for their negative emotions and ego-clinging. --Jetsun Mila
The hungry are not satisfied by hearing about food; what they need is to eat. In the same way, just to know about Dharma is useless; it has to be practiced. --Jetsun Mila