Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

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Rui Sousa
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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Rui Sousa » Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:25 pm

danieLion wrote:
Rui Sousa wrote:I see the brain as the rupa that supports the sixth sense, in the same way the ear, with all its mechanics, supports earing.

HI Rui Sousa,
Our brains extend throughout our bodies via the nervous system. Sensations depend upon nervous sensations. Therefore, the brain extends throughout the sense organs. Therefore, the "brain as rupa" 'supports' all the components of vinnana, not just mano. In other words, according to dependent origination, with vinnana as condition, nama-rupa arises, not the reverse, as you imply.
Kind regards,
Daniel


I believe there is a difference between the function of the cells in the nervous system and the brain it self, I am not sure if I agree with considering the cells in my hand that are sensitive to heat as part of the brain.

I was talking about the mechanics of the senses, not about dependent origination. I don't see how dependent origination relates to this subject.
With Metta

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:24 am

In the context of MN 38.8, Bhikkhu Bodhi has discussed Consciousness and the Brain with his students at

http://bodhimonastery.org/a-systematic- ... ikaya.html

in the first lecture on MN 38 at

44:27, & ending at 62:16

Concepts covered include: physicality, mano-vinnana, the Abhidhamma perspective/vibhanga consciousness, the mind's independence from the brain, rebirth/personal continuity in relation to the brain....

Ven. also asserts his opinion that the heart is the seat of consciousness.

Compare to sources like:
http://www.mindfulmuscleblog.com/heart- ... ciousness/

& especially

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnA8GUtXpXY
(Thanks to Dmytro for the latter).

The fact is that the brain extends throughout the nervous system, and as such is necessarily involved with vinnana.

My personal belief is that mano is the "head" part of the mind and that citta is the "heart" part of the mind.

It will soon be known as fact that mind extends beyond the "physical."
Best wishes,
Daniel

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:27 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
danieLion wrote:
Rui Sousa wrote:I see the brain as the rupa that supports the sixth sense, in the same way the ear, with all its mechanics, supports earing.

HI Rui Sousa,
Our brains extend throughout our bodies via the nervous system. Sensations depend upon nervous sensations. Therefore, the brain extends throughout the sense organs. Therefore, the "brain as rupa" 'supports' all the components of vinnana, not just mano. In other words, according to dependent origination, with vinnana as condition, nama-rupa arises, not the reverse, as you imply.
Kind regards,
Daniel

What, then, does the eye consist of? Are the cones and rods of our retinas are part of the brain?

:namaste:
Kim

Hi Kim,
Which eye? "The eye" of modern physiology or "the eye" as the Buddha meant it?
Best wishes,
Daniel

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:36 am

Rui Sousa wrote:
danieLion wrote:
Rui Sousa wrote:I see the brain as the rupa that supports the sixth sense, in the same way the ear, with all its mechanics, supports earing.

HI Rui Sousa,
Our brains extend throughout our bodies via the nervous system. Sensations depend upon nervous sensations. Therefore, the brain extends throughout the sense organs. Therefore, the "brain as rupa" 'supports' all the components of vinnana, not just mano. In other words, according to dependent origination, with vinnana as condition, nama-rupa arises, not the reverse, as you imply.
Kind regards,
Daniel


I believe there is a difference between the function of the cells in the nervous system and the brain it self, I am not sure if I agree with considering the cells in my hand that are sensitive to heat as part of the brain.

I was talking about the mechanics of the senses, not about dependent origination. I don't see how dependent origination relates to this subject.

You're the one who brought up dependent origination.
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=12798&start=100#p194124
"The mechanics of the senses" has quite a bit to do with dependent origination.

The brain extends throughout the body via the nervous system. The nervous system interacts with its environment. This process is a part (only a small part, to be precise) of what we call "mind".
Best wishes,
Daniel

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:32 am

danieLion wrote:It will soon be known as fact that mind extends beyond the "physical."

Now that's an intriguing statement! Can you elaborate?

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby daverupa » Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:53 am

danieLion wrote:My personal belief is that mano is the "head" part of the mind and that citta is the "heart" part of the mind.


This may be going off-topic, but I understood that citta was the rational (cognitive abilities, et al in toto) as well as the emotional, while mano in particular was an active analysis-function thereof.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:06 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
danieLion wrote:It will soon be known as fact that mind extends beyond the "physical."

Now that's an intriguing statement! Can you elaborate?

Greetings Ñāṇa,
By all means. All I meant was we're (amateur and professional scientists--of which I include practitioners of the Buddha's teachings) getting better and better at measuring mental phenomena, and thereby "proving" the existence of mind. Maybe I'm too optimistic?
Best,
Daniel

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:26 am

daverupa wrote:
danieLion wrote:My personal belief is that mano is the "head" part of the mind and that citta is the "heart" part of the mind.


This may be going off-topic, but I understood that citta was the rational (cognitive abilities, et al in toto) as well as the emotional, while mano in particular was an active analysis-function thereof.

Greetings Dave,
In this, I have to defer to you. I don't think it's contrary to what I'm thinking, but rather expanding on it.

Regarding going OFF TOPIC, I think it goes directly to the Topic. If we trust the Buddha (and I do--via the suttas and the confirmations of practice), then part of what we trust is his accuracy about psychology and mind. One of the primary ways the west misunderstands Buddhism is through its philosophical and psychological traditions. Yet those traditions are not devoid of truth. The Buddha himself I think was wise to this when he admonished teaching the Dhamma to be done in the language of the listeners. I infer from this a duty to find better and better ways to linguistically clarify the teachings of the Buddha in modern, scientific language. One of the best ways to do this is to stay abreast of current research on mind and brain and constantly cross reference those findings with not only the teachings of the Buddha but also critical scholarship of Buddhist texts, history, and culture, etc....

It seems to me like the modern theories of mind are still playing catchup to the Buddha. I guess I'm biased in that way.
Kind regards,
Daniel

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:46 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Has science measured intention yet?


There is such POV. We can see brain and its workings. We can measure. We can alter the functioning of the mind by altering the brain. At least some mental states seem to correspond, and appear to be causally dependent on the brain. There is big problem with interaction to assume two phenomena (mind & brain).
Some scientists claim that mental state = brain state . So then the science DOES measure intention.

Well, for what it's worth, a point that should be acknowledged is that believing in the philosophy of physicalism based on the current Western scientific knowledge of consciousness is quite unsatisfactory. John Searle, quoted in The Future of Consciousness Studies:

    At our present state of the investigation of consciousness, we don't know how it works and we need to try all kinds of different ideas.

Jerry A. Fodor, The Big Idea: Can There Be a Science of the Mind:

    Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious.

Ned Block, "Consciousness," in A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind:

    We have no conception of our physical or functional nature that allows us to understand how it could explain our subjective experience.... in the case of consciousness we have nothing -- zilch -- worthy of being called a research program, nor are there any substantive proposals about how to go about starting one.

Alan Wallace, Hidden Dimensions:

    A true revolution in the mind sciences has been delayed by an enforced conformity to the unnatural ideological and methodological constraints imposed by the assumptions of scientific materialism, particularly neo-Darwinism. One such assumption is that mental phenomena are equivalent to neurophysiological processes in the brain, an empirically uncorroborated belief. If the first revolution in the mind sciences is to take place, such unsubstantiated ideas must be suspended and new methodologies must be employed that are uniquely suited to the scientific study of mental phenomena, including consciousness. In other words, science can either continue to let its study of the mind be dominated by the metaphysical assumptions of a well-established ideology or pursue the open-minded, empirical investigation of mental phenomena, even if it calls into question some of the most deeply held scientific beliefs based on classical physics and contemporary biology.

And just one area of investigation that isn't easily compatible with physicalism is the phenomenon of NDE experienced during cardiac arrest. Sam Parina, et al, A Qualitative and Quantitative Study of the Incidence, Features and Aetiology of Near Death Experiences in Cardiac Arrest Survivors:

    The data suggests that in this cardiac arrest model, the NDE arises during unconsciousness. This is a surprising conclusion, because when the brain is so dysfunctional that the patient is deeply comatose, the cerebral structures which underpin subjective experience and memory must be severely impaired. Complex experiences such as are reported in the NDE should not arise or be retained in memory. Such patients would be expected to have no subjective experience ... or at best a confusional state if some brain function is retained. Even if the unconscious brain is flooded by neurotransmitters, this should not produce clear, lucid, remembered experiences, as those cerebral modules which generate conscious experience and underpin memory are impaired by cerebral anoxia. The fact that in a cardiac arrest loss of cortical function precedes the rapid loss of brainstem activity lends further support to this view.

    An alternative explanation would be that the observed experiences arise during the loss of, or on regaining, consciousness. However, it is unlikely that the NDE arises either when the cortical modules are failing, that is, during the process of becoming unconscious, or when the cortical modules are coming back on line, that is when consciousness is returning.

The point of mentioning the NDE is to give one example of a fairly widespread phenomenon that isn't easily reduced to neurological brain activity. There are also other phenomena that don't fit easily with physicalist reductionism.


Hi Ñāṇa, Alex123, kirk5a
Sue Hamilton presents what I think is strong support to prefer the term "sensations" over "consciousness" for vinnana in Identity & Experience.

I think of it as "sensating" (I don't recall if Hamiltion uses that term or not) and find this conceptualization much more conducive to vipassana with the khanda vinnana.

And when comparing/contrasting modern research on mind & brain with the teachings of the Buddha, it makes a lot more sense. ;)
Kind regards,
Daniel

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:59 am

kirk5a wrote:Has science measured intention yet?

Hi Kirk5a,
Science doesn't measure--people do. And in this case, lots of people.

http://theintentionexperiment.com/

Kind regards,
Daniel

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Mon Jun 25, 2012 3:23 am

danieLion wrote:Sue Hamilton presents what I think is strong support to prefer the term "sensations" over "consciousness" for vinnana in Identity & Experience.

I can't seem to find any reference to this in Identity & Experience? She seems to refer to viññāṇa consistently as "consciousness" or "consciousness of." For example, page 83:

    (1) Viññāṇa as impermanent, (2) Viññāṇa as 'consciousness of', (3) Viññāṇa as a factor in cognition, (4) Viññāṇa as providing continuity, and (5) Viññāṇa as evolving.

And page 95:

    We have the three mental khandhas of vedanā, saññā and viññāṇa working together, each contributing to the process: vedanā as affective cognition, saññā as discriminatory or identificatory cognition, and viññāṇa as consciousness of each and every part of the process as a whole.

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:03 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
danieLion wrote:Sue Hamilton presents what I think is strong support to prefer the term "sensations" over "consciousness" for vinnana in Identity & Experience.

I can't seem to find any reference to this in Identity & Experience? She seems to refer to viññāṇa consistently as "consciousness" or "consciousness of." For example, page 83:

    (1) Viññāṇa as impermanent, (2) Viññāṇa as 'consciousness of', (3) Viññāṇa as a factor in cognition, (4) Viññāṇa as providing continuity, and (5) Viññāṇa as evolving.
:
And page 95:

    We have the three mental khandhas of vedanā, saññā and viññāṇa working together, each contributing to the process: vedanā as affective cognition, saññā as discriminatory or identificatory cognition, and viññāṇa as consciousness of each and every part of the process as a whole.


Hi Ñāṇa,
I'm sorry for sending you on a wild goose chase. I cant' find the reference either. I also checked Early Buddhism: A New Approach. I see how I my mind might have turned it into that over time, though.
If the part of me that still wants to believe she (or someone) wrote it somewhere like I claimed drives me to keep investigating, I'll let you know if I find the reference. Otherwise, my mind is apparently the original source.
Kind regards,
Daniel

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Rui Sousa » Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:30 pm

danieLion wrote:(...)
You're the one who brought up dependent origination.
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=12798&start=100#p194124
"The mechanics of the senses" has quite a bit to do with dependent origination.

The brain extends throughout the body via the nervous system. The nervous system interacts with its environment. This process is a part (only a small part, to be precise) of what we call "mind".
Best wishes,
Daniel


Hi Daniel,

I was not trying to imply that the order of dependent origination is reverse. From the SN-12.2 " From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form."

My arguing was not about dependent origination, but on analysing a mind moment, in which there is an object beng cognized and the cognition depends on the sense media. As I understand it, this does not contradict the previous paragraph. Thus I said that dependent origination was not related to the subject.

I also argued that the brain was the rupa of the sixth sense. By sixth sense I did not meant vinnana, but the origin of objects (thoughts, mental elaborations, fantasies) being cognized by vinnana dependet on the mind door.

Then I took the ear sense as an example, because we know how the rupa of the ear door works in detail, whith pressure diferences being detected by nervuos cells sensitive to pressure, that create electrical signals that go through other nervous cells until it reaches the brain (strictly speaking). How can we see, by means of the western scientific method, the link between rupa processes (chemical and electrical processes in neurons) and mind processes (the skhandas)?

In your opinion the nervous cells between the ear and the brain are part of the sense-door (rupa), or are they a support of feeling(nama)? Is the electrical signal created by the change of ions on the neuron cell walls nama or rupa?

With Metta,
Rui Sousa
With Metta

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby daverupa » Mon Jun 25, 2012 5:24 pm

I don't see how developing those sorts of physical correlates helps the practice. For example, suppose mano equates with the operation of the fusiform gyrus - so what?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:56 am

Rui Sousa wrote:In your opinion the nervous cells between the ear and the brain are part of the sense-door (rupa), or are they a support of feeling(nama)? Is the electrical signal created by the change of ions on the neuron cell walls nama or rupa?

Hi Rui Sousa,
Perhaps if you rephrase the question to expand beyond the confines of the "either/or" form I could answer you better. As is, tit seems the only skilful thing for me to do is set it aside. I suspect the analytical form would be better, but that's just my hunch.
Kind regards,
Daniel

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Rui Sousa » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:10 am

danieLion wrote:
Rui Sousa wrote:In your opinion the nervous cells between the ear and the brain are part of the sense-door (rupa), or are they a support of feeling(nama)? Is the electrical signal created by the change of ions on the neuron cell walls nama or rupa?

Hi Rui Sousa,
Perhaps if you rephrase the question to expand beyond the confines of the "either/or" form I could answer you better. As is, tit seems the only skilful thing for me to do is set it aside. I suspect the analytical form would be better, but that's just my hunch.
Kind regards,
Daniel


Analytical is better. But taken my lack of uderstanding I was trying to obtain some conceptual input that would help my analysis efforts.

Please don't take my questions the wrong way, I was not trying to capture in any logical trap, as the either/or formula, I was just trying to make a question that would address my problems with understanding this issue.

But I guess we have gone very off topic as it is, so maybe another thread would be better to continue the debate.
With Metta

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby suttametta » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:25 pm

Watching the OP video reminds me that what we call "Buddhism" is just an illusion. There are actually so many different religions, secular philosophies, and yogic practices that outwardly might keep the same statue around, some may not, but there is no real unity here.

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Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:51 am

suttametta wrote:Watching the OP video reminds me that what we call "Buddhism" is just an illusion. There are actually so many different religions, secular philosophies, and yogic practices that outwardly might keep the same statue around, some may not, but there is no real unity here.

Hi, suttametta,
I think 'illusion' is too strong a word, too big a rejection. Really, it's fuzzy - if you go looking for where Buddhism stops and something else starts, you find that there is no clear dividing line. But if you look at the middle of that fuzzy ball of concepts and traditions, you still have Buddhism.

:thinking:
Kim


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