thought, memory and perception

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thought, memory and perception

Postby delora » Sat Oct 09, 2010 6:05 pm

I was wondering where I could read more about thought, memory and perception, from a buddhist perspective.

I have heard people use the phrase, "do not trust your thought or perception" or "memory is not real.. it is just memory."

this leaves me curious as to what the buddhist perspective is in relating to the past. Can the past, or even ppl be understood, or does it simply divert us from being in the present moment? is it worth trying to understand the past, esp in relation to the present?

If the past is not important, or simply a memory, then how come so many monks (dalai lama included), write autobiographies?

I have been searching quite a lot to find somewhere where this is discussed, but cannot seem to find anything. Any help appreciated.
Last edited by delora on Sat Oct 09, 2010 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: thought, memory and perception

Postby Hanzze » Sat Oct 09, 2010 6:32 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: thought, memory and perception

Postby Prasadachitta » Sat Oct 09, 2010 8:58 pm

Hello Delora,

Buddhism places a high degree of importance on recollection with appreciative awareness. This means cultivating a mind which is aware of the influence of the past on the present and how that relates to the future. This is a practice which is at first a matter of just being present but slowly builds upon that as a foundation. It is actually quite difficult to perfect but highly valuable and satisfying to even make a bit of progress at.


Metta

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Re: thought, memory and perception

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 09, 2010 9:21 pm

Greetings delora

It might be worthwhile having a look at some of the literature associated with the abhidhamma.
One book i recommend is Nyanaponika Thera's Abhdihamma Studies.
kind regards

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Re: thought, memory and perception

Postby dhammapal » Sun Oct 10, 2010 5:20 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Meditation is not simply a matter of bare attention. It is more a matter of appropriate attention, seeing experience in terms of the four noble truths and responding in line with the tasks appropriate to those truths: stress is to be comprehended, its cause abandoned, its cessation realized, and the path to its cessation developed. These tasks involve processes of thought, analysis, and memory — which means that these processes, instead of being enemies of meditation, are actually the means by which Awakening is attained.

The ten recollections are a set of meditation themes that highlight the positive role that memory and thought play in training the mind. They employ memory to sensitize the mind to the need for training, to induce feelings of confidence and well-being conducive for concentration, to keep the topics of concentration in mind, to produce tranquility and insight, and to incline the mind toward the deathless when tranquility and insight have grown sufficiently strong.
From: The Ten Recollections: A Study Guide by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


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Re: thought, memory and perception

Postby delora » Thu Oct 14, 2010 2:57 pm

thanks for your replies. So I take views such as 'memory and thought is nonsense', and 'history is not worth studying', aren't buddhist views as such.. ?

i have heard ppl say this and it has confused me a bit. I have also heard people in dhammic circles discredit the notion of a 'personal story', yet some monks lace their dhamma talks with intricate biographical experiences and personal stories. It can be confusing to reconcile. Isn't there a sutta also that forbids monks to talk about their own histories or personal stories? Did the buddha talk of his own past or experiences?

With something like an autobiography, you are dealing with someone's memory and interpretation of events. And just that. So I have difficulty reconciling views such as 'personal stories don't mean anything' and 'do not attach to much to views and opinions', when 'famous' and supposedly highly attained monks publish their details. It also relates to how I choose to view my past too. I have also heard people say that delving into memory or the past, especially to understand the present, is a fruitless exercise. It would be interested to hear people's thoughts on this.

I will take a look at the reading material suggested. If anyone has anything else I'd be interested to hear. Suttas esp.
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Re: thought, memory and perception

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:31 pm

delora wrote:thanks for your replies. So I take views such as 'memory and thought is nonsense', and 'history is not worth studying', aren't buddhist views as such.. ?

i have heard ppl say this and it has confused me a bit. I have also heard people in dhammic circles discredit the notion of a 'personal story', yet some monks lace their dhamma talks with intricate biographical experiences and personal stories. It can be confusing to reconcile. Isn't there a sutta also that forbids monks to talk about their own histories or personal stories? Did the buddha talk of his own past or experiences?

With something like an autobiography, you are dealing with someone's memory and interpretation of events. And just that. So I have difficulty reconciling views such as 'personal stories don't mean anything' and 'do not attach to much to views and opinions', when 'famous' and supposedly highly attained monks publish their details. It also relates to how I choose to view my past too. I have also heard people say that delving into memory or the past, especially to understand the present, is a fruitless exercise. It would be interested to hear people's thoughts on this.

I will take a look at the reading material suggested. If anyone has anything else I'd be interested to hear. Suttas esp.

No they are not Buddhist views as such. What Buddhism suggests is that we are open to the possibility that our self narrative may be only part of a much more subtle process.
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Re: thought, memory and perception

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:49 pm

There are definitely personal stories, and they do have meanings... but that doesn't mean you have to attach to them, or identify with them. That way, when these stories change in some ways; or they're found to be not true; or they become obstructions... then you're able to not cling to them; get dragged down with them; or make your life harder than it has to be. That is what takes practice.
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Re: thought, memory and perception

Postby Individual » Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:10 pm

delora wrote:I was wondering where I could read more about thought, memory and perception, from a buddhist perspective.

Somebody sent me this a long time ago:
http://web.ukonline.co.uk/buddhism/abdmjnka.htm

Maybe it will be helpful.

delora wrote:thanks for your replies. So I take views such as 'memory and thought is nonsense', and 'history is not worth studying', aren't buddhist views as such.. ?

Not Theravada Buddhist, but Buddhists from other schools might say something like that.

delora wrote:i have heard ppl say this and it has confused me a bit.

If it confused you, you should ask the people who said it for clarification. You might be taking their words out of context and we have no idea what they meant.
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Re: thought, memory and perception

Postby dhammapal » Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:01 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Meditation doesn't mean that you're cutting off any mental faculties. The mind has to tell stories. Even arahants can tell stories, can reflect on the past and plan for the future. They've simply learned to do it in a way that doesn't cause any suffering. And it's not just from their bringing the mind into the present moment. It also comes from reflecting on things in a certain way, using the Buddha's teachings as proper tools to weave skillful narratives. Let all the ways that the mind relates to itself in terms of past, future, narratives, stories, worldviews, cosmologies — all your views — become skillful. Let them no longer be a cause for suffering.
From: The Story-telling Mind by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: thought, memory and perception

Postby Dan74 » Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:29 am

There are different perspectives on this. From a practice perspective, it may be worthwhile to pay less attention to thoughts, say while meditating. To not dwell in past memories too much especially while engaged in another task, to open up more to the current perception.

Everything has its place, including thoughts, memories, emotions and perceptions. It is just that we tend to be out of balance, dwelling in the past, proliferating thoughts that interfere with our present responsibilities and believing that these thoughts and fantasies are objectively real, whereas they are often our patterned way of dealing with reality.

In this sense it is important to see through the thoughts. "Mind is the forerunner of all things," goes the Dhammapada, and indeed our lives are largely mind-made. Guess who is responsible then?
_/|\_
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