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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 2:10 am 
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I'm interesting in learning about the mind in Buddhism. What do Buddhists say about it? (the human mind) . . .


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 4:18 am 
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I got this from poster Huifeng -

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See Vimalakirti sutra:"The straight mind is the place of awakening. ..." etc.
《維摩詰所說經》卷1〈4 菩薩品〉:「我問:『道場者何所是?』答曰:『直心是道場...」(CBETA, T14, no. 475, p. 542, c14-p. 543, a7)


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 4:29 am 
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Wesley1982 wrote:
I'm interesting in learning about the mind in Buddhism. What do Buddhists say about it? (the human mind) . . .

We have a mind.
We should learn to be in control of our own minds.


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 4:45 am 
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And the mind connects to the brain which connects to the body. Am I missing something here? or does the dharma of religious practice train the mind leading to awakening/enlightenment? . .


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 5:40 am 
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Wesley1982 wrote:
And the mind connects to the brain which connects to the body. Am I missing something here? or does the dharma of religious practice train the mind leading to awakening/enlightenment? . .


"Mind" is used in different ways in Buddhism depending on the context of the teaching. It's most often associated with thought/memory, the stream of thought and memory is said to constitute "the mind". In other instances it can be used as a synonym for consciousness.

Being raised in the west and living under the reigning scientific paradigms which have nurtured our view of reality, we usually approach the world in a very materialist/physicalist outlook. And because of this it is deemed common sense to see things as you suggested above "mind connects to brain which connects to body", however Buddhism points to a different truth. In Buddhism the mind and body(and world) are intermittent states depending on the point of view taken (and ultimately there ends up being no mind, body or world at all).

These views may also change as one continues on the path. One may start with the outlook: "the mind is in the body" and then change to "the body is in the mind" which may evolve into "the body and mind are one" to "there is no body or mind" etc... there are no ultimate truths except for wisdom (vidyā) and even that is ultimately found to be empty. So a statement made at the beginning of ones path may be contradicted and/or even discarded completely as one progresses and it's important to keep this in mind and remain open. Look at the path as a process of shedding ignorance and/or dismantling these little structures of identity and views we have built(and maintained) through the years. Just as in demolishing a building one wants to end up with nothing, seek to associate the endpoint in Buddhism as having removed and deconstructed all of the ignorance which has spawned separation and suffering.

"Buddha Mind" as a full title may also refer to Buddha nature (Tathāgatagarbha) or even the mind of a fully awakened individual, again it depends on the context, seems that you were asking about the thought/memory based mind though from what I can gather.


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 11:43 am 
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Wesley1982 wrote:
I'm interesting in learning about the mind in Buddhism. What do Buddhists say about it? (the human mind) . . .


Oh man, huge topic. So many different theories about the mind. Though this in itself indicates that Buddhists consider the mind to be a very important topic. Let's kick off with an oldie but a goodie:

Everything has mind in the lead, has mind in the forefront, is made of mind;
For those who speak or act with an unwholesome mind, sorrow will follow.
Everything has mind in the lead, has mind in the forefront, is made of mind;
For those who speak or act with a wholesome mind, happiness will follow.
Dhammapada (from memory, open to corrections)

~~ Huifeng

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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 3:09 pm 
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when you begin, ordinary mind is separate from external objects. it is your thought, feelings, neurological wokings... all the western notions explain it quite well. however, in buddhism this separation from other things is removed. your own mind is seen as all things.

to start with, we have an ego. this separates us from the world around us, when through Buddhist practice the ego is removed the little mind becomes a big mind. infact, all things. the separation is removed.

in Buddhism, it is usually the 'one' (big) mind or dharmakaya that is referred to. in zen there is little emphasis on the western notions of neurology etc. though in zen there is reference to psychology of enlightenment.

so, when studying zen; most of the time it referrs to the big mind.

there is fundamentally no difference between ordinary mind and buddha mind. they are the same in every respect; except in that a buddha can see things that ordinary people cant, such as emptiness (mind).
when you see all things as this one mind you see that this one mind is emptiness.

in Christianity (you may be a christian), it is said that all things are created out of nothing... i guess mind is showing us that all things are empty. they are nothing and yet that this nothing is everything.

you know, we are speculating here and speculation arises as soon as there are words. you must see this mind for yourself, then you will know that Buddhism is an accurate understanding and experience.

buddhism can be seen as the supreme science or art of reality, without attachement to the word reality. words tend to fail us in our understanding. anyone can be a buddhist if he is persuing the art of reality and personal development. in Hong Kong, i seem to remember that there was a Buddhist - Christian college designed like a temple; on a hill in the new territories. Hui Feng may know of it; one of my friends used to service their sewage treatment facility and took me to see it. quite impressive. im not sure what their teaching was like, but i know of quite a few eminent buddhists who have respected Christianity, or being christians.

so, no hang ups.

i hope Wesley that you will find the joy and satisfaction from your study of Buddhism that i have found. stick with it and you are bound to see fruit of your practice.

best wishes, Tom.

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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 6:29 pm 
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So . . :reading: There's not much the mind does other than interpret reality.


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 6:56 pm 
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Wesley1982 wrote:
So . . :reading: There's not much the mind does other than interpret reality.


For the mind to interpret reality, reality would have to exist separately from mind. Mind creates reality(as an emanation of itself), the two are one and the same.


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 10:23 pm 
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asunthatneversets wrote:
Wesley1982 wrote:
So . . :reading: There's not much the mind does other than interpret reality.


For the mind to interpret reality, reality would have to exist separately from mind. Mind creates reality(as an emanation of itself), the two are one and the same.


Which opens up a path to Ultimate Reality and awareness of everything.


Last edited by Wesley1982 on Wed May 02, 2012 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 10:26 pm 
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The mind when deluded we suffer when enlightened we liberated.

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NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

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―Listen! Those of you who devote yourselves to the Dharma
must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―


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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 1:43 am 
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another thing, is the Eastern Buddhist attitude of the mind fundamentally different than that of the West? . .


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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 2:10 am 
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Wesley1982 wrote:
another thing, is the Eastern Buddhist attitude of the mind fundamentally different than that of the West? . .


Yes. The mind in Western understanding comes from the the brain. The mind in Buddhism is beyond concepts.

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must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 1:16 am 
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And this understanding of -buddha mind- is one of the dharmas that leads us on the Path to Liberation? . .


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 2:15 am 
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Wesley1982 wrote:
And this understanding of -buddha mind- is one of the dharmas that leads us on the Path to Liberation? . .


You're already on the path of liberation. The moment you came into contact with the dharma and it caught your interest the path began. But yes Buddha mind is an integral part of it... understanding that your own mind is Buddha mind, and that your own nature is Buddha nature are key aspects of the teaching.


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 4:32 pm 
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it is often said that mind is emptiness. the christian mystic, St John of the cross writes...''On the path toward God - nada, nada, nada, nada, nada (nothing) and on the mountain of God is written 'on this mountain is nothing'. he is famous for his ''dark night of the soul''.

meister ekhart, the dominican monk and theologian says that God is ''absolute nothingness''; that all existence, which God is, is fundamentally absolute nothingness.

Keiji Nishitani of the kyoto school and a great buddhist philosopher talks in his book ''religion and nothingness'' about the influence of emptiness in western thought and says that even in the nihilism of some western philosopy is found a hankering after the positive realisation of nothingness/emptiness in buddhism.

the higher self of advaita vedanta is said to be seen as the void within. And so we know that experience of emptiness is a universal experience.

i would however say that this ''emptiness'' is not emptiness, nor is it nothingness, nor anythingness. emptiness is merely a label. emptiness is pregnanat with energy and potentiality and so to use this label can be misleading.

hope this is helpful.

best wishes, Tom.

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in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 7:27 pm 
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White Lotus wrote:
it is often said that mind is emptiness. the christian mystic, St John of the cross writes...''On the path toward God - nada, nada, nada, nada, nada (nothing) and on the mountain of God is written 'on this mountain is nothing'. he is famous for his ''dark night of the soul''.

meister ekhart, the dominican monk and theologian says that God is ''absolute nothingness''; that all existence, which God is, is fundamentally absolute nothingness.

Keiji Nishitani of the kyoto school and a great buddhist philosopher talks in his book ''religion and nothingness'' about the influence of emptiness in western thought and says that even in the nihilism of some western philosopy is found a hankering after the positive realisation of nothingness/emptiness in buddhism.

the higher self of advaita vedanta is said to be seen as the void within. And so we know that experience of emptiness is a universal experience.

i would however say that this ''emptiness'' is not emptiness, nor is it nothingness, nor anythingness. emptiness is merely a label. emptiness is pregnanat with energy and potentiality and so to use this label can be misleading.

hope this is helpful.

best wishes, Tom.


Seems that most religions/spiritual traditions began in the theme of discovering these truths. Some have fallen further from the tree than others but whether it be judaeo-christian, Islam etc.. They either presently have "higher schools" within them devoted to "union with god" type endeavors or they had schools/members of their traditions in the past which propagated these truths more clearly than they are today. Buddhism/Hinduism obviously are much more blatant and uncorrupted which makes their teachings/methods more excelled. But I agree that even Christianity had a past which was involved in seeking the truth Buddhism points to, to a certain degree. 5th-6th century Christian theologian/philosopher Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite wrote those two books Divine Names and Mystical Theology one being cataphatic and the other apophatic approaches to full union with "god"... And St. Thomas Acquinas stated that Mystical Theology and it's apophatic approach was the quickest way to reach that union (per Alan Watts). The dharma is the most clear cut method in my opinion.


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 9:43 pm 
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asunthatneversets wrote:
You're already on the path of liberation. The moment you came into contact with the dharma and it caught your interest the path began. But yes Buddha mind is an integral part of it... understanding that your own mind is Buddha mind, and that your own nature is Buddha nature are key aspects of the teaching.


Thus far, with my mindset I feel like I'm in the physical reality of what really is.


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 11:17 pm 
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White Lotus wrote:
it is often said that mind is emptiness. the christian mystic, St John of the cross writes...''On the path toward God - nada, nada, nada, nada, nada (nothing) and on the mountain of God is written 'on this mountain is nothing'. he is famous for his ''dark night of the soul''.

meister ekhart, the dominican monk and theologian says that God is ''absolute nothingness''; that all existence, which God is, is fundamentally absolute nothingness.

Keiji Nishitani of the kyoto school and a great buddhist philosopher talks in his book ''religion and nothingness'' about the influence of emptiness in western thought and says that even in the nihilism of some western philosopy is found a hankering after the positive realisation of nothingness/emptiness in buddhism.

the higher self of advaita vedanta is said to be seen as the void within. And so we know that experience of emptiness is a universal experience.

i would however say that this ''emptiness'' is not emptiness, nor is it nothingness, nor anythingness. emptiness is merely a label. emptiness is pregnanat with energy and potentiality and so to use this label can be misleading.

hope this is helpful.

best wishes, Tom.


i think that the biggest problem Buddhism faces is getting lost in translation. You're using emptiness in a way which seems logical, like a state of nothingness, formlessness, empty of attributes, etc. But this isn't what Sunyata/Emptiness means at all.


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 11:36 pm 
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Wesley1982 wrote:
asunthatneversets wrote:
You're already on the path of liberation. The moment you came into contact with the dharma and it caught your interest the path began. But yes Buddha mind is an integral part of it... understanding that your own mind is Buddha mind, and that your own nature is Buddha nature are key aspects of the teaching.


Thus far, with my mindset I feel like I'm in the physical reality of what really is.


At least you know it's a product of your mindset, that means you're already 10 steps ahead of the game... Investigate what makes it "physical" and see if reality claims to be physical, or if reality's physicality is merely a idea (or a belief) projected onto it.

Seek some other possible explanations for reality, perhaps read about sensory perceptions. While the sensory perception view isn't what Buddhism suggests either at least it starts to paint a picture which shows you how "reality" isn't physical at all. How the eyes process information which passes through them by sending it to the brain, which in turn translates the information into a representation. This woud suggest that you aren't looking out of window-like eyes but are indeed experiencing your brain's interpretation of reality. And this goes for all your senses.

From there perhaps look at some quantum physics, which suggests that at the fundamental level the components that construct reality can exist either as waves or particles. And that when the eyes observe the waves they actually collapse into particles, creating an illusion of solidity. When the waves aren't observed they remain in a superposition which is just a field of possibility. This would further suggest that you indeed create reality as you go.

Buddhism doesn't champion either of these views. There's elements of it that point towards these aspects of experience but it actually goes even further.

Some philosophy can help deconstruct reality and physicality as well... David Hume, Brand Blanshard, George Berkeley are a few... Their work deals with perception and how one relates to the senses and thought. Jaques Derrida, Martin Heidegger and others like that as well (though they are a bit more complex than the first few I mentioned).

Buddhism will reflect pieces of all of these but Buddhism is experiential. That being said, these things can help you see through "physicality" and they'll help you understand so that you can gain confidence. Buddhism will actualize these things beyond intellectual understanding so that experience directly becomes that.


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