Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

fckw
Posts: 693
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:10 am

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by fckw »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:14 pm someone in a boat asks, “how do I reach the shore?” and is correctly instructed to head westward.
Someone else is on the road and asks, “his do I reach the shore?” And is correctly instructed to head eastward.
Since East and west are completely opposite directions,
How can both instructions be correct?
That’s the essence of the argument between the Theravadin method of understanding sunyata by means of reduction, and the Mahayana method of understanding sunyata by means of non-differentiation.
Sunyata is true on both accounts.
Now, this is an excellent post. :thumbsup:
User avatar
Gyurme Kundrol
Posts: 170
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 7:34 pm

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by Gyurme Kundrol »

javier.espinoza.t wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:09 pm
Gyurme Kundrol wrote: Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:21 pm The thing is even awareness of mulitple "objects" is actually just one object.
this is narrow minded, too comfortable in logic and referential points. if one keep believing like that one will never go beyhond mind -limitations-.
If you looked at the appearances in a mirror, would you say that there are multiple mirrors because there are multiple objects?
User avatar
Gyurme Kundrol
Posts: 170
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 7:34 pm

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by Gyurme Kundrol »

fckw wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 3:09 pm While this explanation might (or might not) apply for Dzogchen, it clearly does not apply for Therevada Buddhism. I think this is worth pointing out: In Therevada Buddhist thinking there is simply no such thing as "awareness". Hence, explaining that objects arise from anything like a "sphere of mind" makes just no sense in Therevada Buddhism.

As I said above already: The meditative experience along the path is actually very different between those traditions. (And most people who have not practiced both systems systematically up to the higher levels simply are not familiar with this experientally and therefore don't know about it.)
I sort of agree. However, awareness is used again and again in translated Theravadin literature, but that is really beside the point. For example accesstoinsight which many use as a Theravadin resource is rife with references to "awareness". We can be more specific in terminology since awareness is usually a gloss that can mean many things, or argue semantics, but we apparently do not actually disagree. We seem to be in agreement that a mind cant hold two objects at once, regardless of the literature or terms we are using.

You are correct that Dzogchen is basically the exact opposite of Theravada in terms of practice, but where they meet is Abhidharma. Dzogchen completely accepts the explanation of how mental events arise, and how the process of delusion unfolds, dependent origination, etc.. It merely adds onto that understanding by teaching about the original moment of delusion as being the non-recognition of appearances arising from the original basis, and the resultant cause being straying into samsara, where the process of the formation of the elements and eventually skandhas and so on form.

Anyways, I cant find any indication anywhere, not in Dzogchen, not in Theravada Abhidhdharma, not in The Abhidharmakosa, that its possible to have two cognitions at once. Either all cognitions are seen as part of a single sphere/realm of experience (Dzogchen) or they are seen as successive moments (Theravada). The two do not really contradict each other though in this respect, because Dzogchens description of delusion essentially is Abhidharma, and a person who is trying to practice Dzogchen while engaged in conceptualization/delusion is experiencing successive moments of cognitions- barring of course the philosophical arguments against the existence of such moments by Nagarjuna and such, which isn't relevant to this discussion since it amounts to "none of it is real", by which we could simply say that the unreal, nonexistent successive moments of cognitions always arise as singular or in succession in the non-existent moment. Which of course barely makes sense :rolling:
User avatar
Gyurme Kundrol
Posts: 170
Joined: Thu May 08, 2014 7:34 pm

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by Gyurme Kundrol »

javier.espinoza.t wrote: Wed Aug 26, 2020 2:47 pm the above is from "Rainbow Body: The Life and Realization of a Tibetan Yogin, Togden UgyenTendzin"
The passage in no way indicates he was having multiple cognitions at once. It only indicates that the cognitions he was having were disturbing enough to him that he wanted to put an end to them. Being able to perceive someones mind doesnt change the process of how cognition of that mind works. Its not like the XMEN where untrained mutants hear every thought of every person all at the same time, and even if you did, it would be akin to standing in a busy bar with lots of chatter, and any cognition you had about it would still just be a single cognition in a single moment happening in succession over moments in time.
fckw
Posts: 693
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:10 am

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by fckw »

Gyurme Kundrol wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 7:44 pm I sort of agree. However, awareness is used again and again in translated Theravadin literature, but that is really beside the point. For example accesstoinsight which many use as a Theravadin resource is rife with references to "awareness". We can be more specific in terminology since awareness is usually a gloss that can mean many things, or argue semantics, but we apparently do not actually disagree. We seem to be in agreement that a mind cant hold two objects at once, regardless of the literature or terms we are using.

You are correct that Dzogchen is basically the exact opposite of Theravada in terms of practice, but where they meet is Abhidharma. Dzogchen completely accepts the explanation of how mental events arise, and how the process of delusion unfolds, dependent origination, etc.. It merely adds onto that understanding by teaching about the original moment of delusion as being the non-recognition of appearances arising from the original basis, and the resultant cause being straying into samsara, where the process of the formation of the elements and eventually skandhas and so on form.

Anyways, I cant find any indication anywhere, not in Dzogchen, not in Theravada Abhidhdharma, not in The Abhidharmakosa, that its possible to have two cognitions at once. Either all cognitions are seen as part of a single sphere/realm of experience (Dzogchen) or they are seen as successive moments (Theravada). The two do not really contradict each other though in this respect, because Dzogchens description of delusion essentially is Abhidharma, and a person who is trying to practice Dzogchen while engaged in conceptualization/delusion is experiencing successive moments of cognitions- barring of course the philosophical arguments against the existence of such moments by Nagarjuna and such, which isn't relevant to this discussion since it amounts to "none of it is real", by which we could simply say that the unreal, nonexistent successive moments of cognitions always arise as singular or in succession in the non-existent moment. Which of course barely makes sense :rolling:
Good post, I always appreciate well informed, non-sectarian comparisons of traditions. Thanks for sharing!
Gedun
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:27 pm

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by Gedun »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:14 pm someone in a boat asks, “how do I reach the shore?” and is correctly instructed to head westward.
Someone else is on the road and asks, “his do I reach the shore?” And is correctly instructed to head eastward.
Since East and west are completely opposite directions,
How can both instructions be correct?
That’s the essence of the argument between the Theravadin method of understanding sunyata by means of reduction, and the Mahayana method of understanding sunyata by means of non-differentiation.
Sunyata is true on both accounts.
The fool who persists in his folly... If you head far enough east, you wind up in the west, and vice versa. :rolling:
PeterC
Posts: 3316
Joined: Tue May 20, 2014 12:38 pm

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by PeterC »

Gedun wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 6:43 pm
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:14 pm someone in a boat asks, “how do I reach the shore?” and is correctly instructed to head westward.
Someone else is on the road and asks, “his do I reach the shore?” And is correctly instructed to head eastward.
Since East and west are completely opposite directions,
How can both instructions be correct?
That’s the essence of the argument between the Theravadin method of understanding sunyata by means of reduction, and the Mahayana method of understanding sunyata by means of non-differentiation.
Sunyata is true on both accounts.
The fool who persists in his folly... If you head far enough east, you wind up in the west, and vice versa. :rolling:
If you tell someone in Amsterdam that they can reach the sea by walking East, you are technically correct in that advice, but they may not thank you when they arrive at the coast and consult a map.
Danny
Posts: 790
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:43 pm

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by Danny »

Gyurme Kundrol wrote:
in a busy bar with lots of chatter, and any cognition you had about it would still just be a single cognition in a single moment happening in succession over moments in time.
Presence and instant presence are not the same.

Regards
Opl
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon May 04, 2020 10:47 pm

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by Opl »

Here is something that I think sum it up (and as someone said in the discussion: both viewpoints can be right)
I was listening to a recording from a workshop with Lock Kelly (a meditation teacher who has been taught by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and teaches none-dual meditation. He has been asked to teach by his son Minqyur Rinpoche)

Here is a transcript of what he said that is essential to this discussion:
Loch Kelly says that, "It can seem like multi-tasking, when being aware of two things at once i.e. being aware both inside and outside, but from awareness you almost need that, which seems contradictory to the studies that says that you cant really multi-task...Research has been done from system 1 and from system 1 you can only be aware of one thing at once because you are looking from the moving mind and it can only... you know the word mindfulness is translated from Pali and means "remembering" so you loose and you have to keep remembering that one thing "come back to your breath" "remember your breath" you can only attend to one thing and you loose it-come back-loose it-come back. So we have to do some new research from spacious awareness".
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here are his definitions of the two systems, given to someone from the audience who ask him to define them (sometimes he speak about them as different 'operating systems'):

System 1:
which is "thought based knowing - with normal ego function reflects on itself and creates ego identification, it creates a feeling of a little mini me in your head and its organizing according to its limited rules about whats true, real, safe and knowing".

System 2:
"Awake awareness as the foundation of awareness based knowing, that is using thought but awareness is primary and thought isn't needed moment to moment... It includes your functioning intelligence , memory and language and is embodied and has a kind of heart mind which is non conceptual but intelligent locally...(gets interrupted)".
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
Posts: 5073
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

You can obviously perceive a great multitude of objects simultaneously. Modern scientific research demonstrates that different aspects of visual data (color, distance, relative movement, etc) register in the brain simultaneously. This is tested, for example, isolating perception in left and right eye.

Consciously paying attention to something, however, for example, trying to look at the spherical shape of an orange, and at the same time trying to look at the color of an orange, this cannot be done, even though the information about the object, the light reflected off an orange and hitting the back of the eyeballs, reaching the brain does, in fact, happen simultaneously.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 13036
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA
Contact:

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

It depends by what is meant by "hold an object", or hell, what you mean by "object". Zeroing in on one object in one instant is just a way of training the discursive mind, not a statement about "what the mind does" as a whole or something, and certainly not in Buddhism where many schools make a practical distinction between the moving, discursive mind and mind-as-such, etc. When someone rests in the alaya in meditation, is that resting in a single object, or something else?

So this might very well be true of the discursive mind, which is defined by time in many ways, but that doesn't mean that much outside of Shamatha.
There's no hoarding what has vanished,
No piling up for the future;
Those who have been born are standing
Like a seed upon a needle.

-Guhatthaka-suttadinesso
User avatar
FiveSkandhas
Posts: 639
Joined: Sat Jun 29, 2019 6:40 pm

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by FiveSkandhas »

Would anyone care to weigh in from a Tendai or Nichiren perspective on the "Doctrine of three thousand realms in a single thought-moment" as first proposed by T’ien-t’ai (538–597) in his work "Great Concentration and Insight" (摩訶止観)?

Since I am not intimately familiar with either Tendai or Nichiren doctrine, I don't know what bearing this would have on the topic, if any. But it is a great Mahayana doctrine and what little I know of it seems to involve the perception of a great many...well, "perceptants," let's say...all at once.

Anyone familiar with this doctrine?
"One should cultivate contemplation in one’s foibles. The foibles are like fish, and contemplation is like fishing hooks. If there are no fish, then the fishing hooks have no use. The bigger the fish is, the better the result we will get. As long as the fishing hooks keep at it, all foibles will eventually be contained and controlled at will." -Zhiyi
SilenceMonkey
Posts: 840
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2018 9:54 am

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by SilenceMonkey »

kusulu wrote: Wed May 06, 2020 12:13 am Who's to say that time is truly linear in the first place? I find the argument collapses on that point. It's not so much that "there is" only one thought at a time, rather "how well" you attend to that "experience", "reality" whatever tag you want to put on it.

:quoteunquote:
Well, that seems to be how we experience time, no? Unless we're on drugs or have some realization that bends time...
muni
Posts: 5057
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:59 am

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by muni »

fckw wrote: Fri Aug 28, 2020 8:30 am
Gyurme Kundrol wrote: Thu Aug 27, 2020 7:44 pm I sort of agree. However, awareness is used again and again in translated Theravadin literature, but that is really beside the point. For example accesstoinsight which many use as a Theravadin resource is rife with references to "awareness". We can be more specific in terminology since awareness is usually a gloss that can mean many things, or argue semantics, but we apparently do not actually disagree. We seem to be in agreement that a mind cant hold two objects at once, regardless of the literature or terms we are using.

You are correct that Dzogchen is basically the exact opposite of Theravada in terms of practice, but where they meet is Abhidharma. Dzogchen completely accepts the explanation of how mental events arise, and how the process of delusion unfolds, dependent origination, etc.. It merely adds onto that understanding by teaching about the original moment of delusion as being the non-recognition of appearances arising from the original basis, and the resultant cause being straying into samsara, where the process of the formation of the elements and eventually skandhas and so on form.

Anyways, I cant find any indication anywhere, not in Dzogchen, not in Theravada Abhidhdharma, not in The Abhidharmakosa, that its possible to have two cognitions at once. Either all cognitions are seen as part of a single sphere/realm of experience (Dzogchen) or they are seen as successive moments (Theravada). The two do not really contradict each other though in this respect, because Dzogchens description of delusion essentially is Abhidharma, and a person who is trying to practice Dzogchen while engaged in conceptualization/delusion is experiencing successive moments of cognitions- barring of course the philosophical arguments against the existence of such moments by Nagarjuna and such, which isn't relevant to this discussion since it amounts to "none of it is real", by which we could simply say that the unreal, nonexistent successive moments of cognitions always arise as singular or in succession in the non-existent moment. Which of course barely makes sense :rolling:
Good post, I always appreciate well informed, non-sectarian comparisons of traditions. Thanks for sharing!
Dito.
Labeling takes place in confusion, for what is nonexistent is taken to exist.
Given that the nature of things is similar to that of dream images, which
have no basis,
how exceedingly strange it is to fixate on samsara and nirvana as though
they existed in their own right!
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
Posts: 5073
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

The conscious perception of a moving object in relation to a motionless object, such as a ball rolling past a tree, can only occur if both objects are perceived simultaneously. Otherwise there would be no perception of movement.
Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Mon May 10, 2021 12:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
User avatar
Könchok Chödrak
Posts: 793
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:12 pm
Location: ༀ ∞ Nam Myoho Renge Kyo ∞ ༀ

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by Könchok Chödrak »

For a Buddha to be Omniscient as they say, wouldn’t their consciousness be able to perceive infinite objects at once, in the Pure Land, with no hindrances?
Danny
Posts: 790
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:43 pm

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by Danny »

Mirrors are so important to people, they even hang them in toilets.
User avatar
heart
Posts: 5197
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:55 pm

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by heart »

Könchok Chödrak wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 12:24 am For a Buddha to be Omniscient as they say, wouldn’t their consciousness be able to perceive infinite objects at once, in the Pure Land, with no hindrances?
From a Dzogchen point of view Buddhas don't have mind and are not sentient beings anymore.

/magnus
"We are all here to help each other go through this thing, whatever it is."
~Kurt Vonnegut

"The principal practice is Guruyoga. But we need to understand that any secondary practice combined with Guruyoga becomes a principal practice." ChNNR (Teachings on Thun and Ganapuja)
User avatar
Könchok Chödrak
Posts: 793
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:12 pm
Location: ༀ ∞ Nam Myoho Renge Kyo ∞ ༀ

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by Könchok Chödrak »

heart wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 5:58 am
Könchok Chödrak wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 12:24 am For a Buddha to be Omniscient as they say, wouldn’t their consciousness be able to perceive infinite objects at once, in the Pure Land, with no hindrances?
From a Dzogchen point of view Buddhas don't have mind and are not sentient beings anymore.

/magnus
I am very interested in this, can you explain in further detail?
Bristollad
Posts: 806
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:39 am

Re: Can the mind only hold a single object at a time?

Post by Bristollad »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Mon May 10, 2021 12:17 am The conscious perception of a moving object in relation to a motionless object, such as a ball rolling past a tree, can only occur if both objects are perceived simultaneously. Otherwise there would be no perception of movement.
I disagree. All that would be required is fast task switching, checking the position of the ball, checking the position of the tree, and so. We then process that information and conclude the ball is moving past the still tree.
Post Reply

Return to “Dzogchen”