Why is mind to be overcome?

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Why is mind to be overcome?

Postby Epistemes » Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:10 pm

This is a horribly basic question, so please forgive me.

I have been completing some reading and the thought occurred to me, "Why is conceptualizing unskillful?". The obvious answer to this question is that conceptualizing and, by extension, the whole mental matrix leads to suffering. My concern goes a little more deeper than that, though. If it is natural for the mind to conceptualize and identify, shouldn't it be considered unnatural to inhibit the mind from performing these tasks?

I recognize that my question is latent with a certain concept of "natural" things having some intrinsic quality of "good" or "best." However, we don't train the sea to cease from flowing. It just does what is natural. Likewise, the Coriolis effect and so on. These things are part of the natural universe like animal reproduction. Why is the human mind to be treated so differently?

Please forgive my ignorance.
The wind spins without end,
one moment southward,
the next moment northward.
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Re: Why is mind to be overcome?

Postby David2 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:28 pm

The problem with concepts is that they are most of the time not 100 % true, so there is a wrong component in it.
Indulgence in concepts also prevents that we perceive reality on the direct way, that we perceive it as it is.
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Re: Why is mind to be overcome?

Postby Nicro » Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:47 pm

Who's to say are "natural" state of mind is better? As far as I can tell the natural human state of delusion, ignorance, and greed cause suffering.

And of course concepts are useful. If the Buddha had just said "What I realized cannot be conceptualized, therefore I cannot help you" we would all be without hope. The fact is what he taught can't be conceptualized. The actual experience that is. He just used concepts to get it across as best he could. But whenever you read a Sutta and the Buddha expounds on a deep subject you don't just read it then become enlightened. You only get theoretical knowledge via concepts, you need intuitive knowledge(actual experience of it) to overcome suffering.

Something most people realize, usually not to long into meditation, is that we focus on concepts and not the actual experience. When you drop the concept and simply experience you actually see reality. There is so much more happening than you realize when everything is simply a concept. Take a look at this quote:


On the first trip abroad the author accompanied Sayadaw on, we stayed one night at the cousin of the King of Thailand. At the Bangkok airport, she asked Sayadaw a question,

"If you were to give the most concise, the most clear explanation of the nature of vipassanâ possible, how would you do it?"

Sayadaw had the king's cousin open her palm and then make a fist. "What do you perceive?" he asked.

"I perceive tension and hardness, Bhante," the king's cousin answered.

Sayadaw had her spread her hand, "What do you perceive?" he asked again.

"I perceive loosening and movement, Bhante," she answered.

Sayadaw told her to slowly, minutely and mindfully make a fist and open it. "What do you perceive?" he asked again. She answered, "Other than coming to perceive even more the tension and hardness, looseness and movement, I came to perceive hardness and softness, warmth and coolness."

"That kind looking to perceive the natures which are, as they are, is the work of vipassanā," Sayadaw said. When he said that, she understood well the nature of vipassanâ. She was extremely pleased with Sayadaw's ability to give such an immediate and experiential explanation. Most people think that vipassanā is extremely difficult work. It seemed that the Thai king's cousin had thought that way, too. Apparently, she concluded that though she had thought it difficult work before, now that Sayadaw had explained it, it was quite easy.

Excerpt from "One Life's Journey", chapter on Vipassana.
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Re: Why is mind to be overcome?

Postby Kenshou » Wed Sep 14, 2011 6:14 pm

I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with conceptualizing. Developing wholesome concepts is a part of the path. Impermanence, not-self, the 4 noble truths, 5 aggregates and 8 fold path, all concepts. But useful ones. Of course in the end no concept is to be adhered to, but that's not the fault of concepts specifically but the fault of all phenomena.

The problem is that when we get involved with the wrong concepts, or don't keep the reigns tight enough, it often leads to excessive mental proliferation, which just serves as a distraction from the practice we should be doing, and often serves to do nothing but kick up dust. If one's conceptualization is within the bounds of beneficial subjects and is conductive to mindfulness and the rest, I believe it's just fine. It's worth learning how to quiet for the sake of deepening samadhi, though.
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Re: Why is mind to be overcome?

Postby Epistemes » Wed Sep 14, 2011 6:21 pm

David2 wrote:Indulgence in concepts also prevents that we perceive reality on the direct way, that we perceive it as it is.


Which is to say, no-thing ever truly is, right?

But the mind reacts agressively to its extinction. It fights back. There is something threatening about nibbana. Mind would rather indulge. This is its natural state. How is training the mind to move beyond concepts any different from ascetics training their bodies to abstain from food or sex? Both modes of training seem unnatural.
The wind spins without end,
one moment southward,
the next moment northward.
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Re: Why is mind to be overcome?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:05 pm

Epistemes wrote:This is a horribly basic question, so please forgive me.

I have been completing some reading and the thought occurred to me, "Why is conceptualizing unskillful?". The obvious answer to this question is that conceptualizing and, by extension, the whole mental matrix leads to suffering. My concern goes a little more deeper than that, though. If it is natural for the mind to conceptualize and identify, shouldn't it be considered unnatural to inhibit the mind from performing these tasks?

I recognize that my question is latent with a certain concept of "natural" things having some intrinsic quality of "good" or "best." However, we don't train the sea to cease from flowing. It just does what is natural. Likewise, the Coriolis effect and so on. These things are part of the natural universe like animal reproduction. Why is the human mind to be treated so differently?

Please forgive my ignorance.
Conceptualization is not inherently unskillful, and it is a necessary tool for practice.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Why is mind to be overcome?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:07 pm

Epistemes wrote:But the mind reacts agressively to its extinction. It fights back.
The "self" that imagines it is more than it is fights back.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Why is mind to be overcome?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:17 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Conceptualization is not inherently unskillful, and it is a necessary tool for practice.

Yes, in typical approaches as described in that quote by Nicro posting.php?mode=quote&f=24&p=148876#pr148863 of U Pandita (I think) one starts with these concepts of hand, opening, closing, fist, and progress to more basic concepts of tension, hardness, softness. At that level it would be a bit premature to say that one was directly experiencing wind and fire element - in my experience it takes time to get beyond each level of concept...

:anjali:
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Re: Why is mind to be overcome?

Postby Tex » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:22 pm

Epistemes wrote:"Why is conceptualizing unskillful?".


It isn't necessarily unskillful; it depends what is being conceptualized. For example, metta meditation is a type of conceptualizing that is highly skillful.

The problem with concepts, as with just about everything in this world, is that we have a natural tendency to feel either attachment or aversion toward them.

Epistemes wrote:If it is natural for the mind to conceptualize and identify, shouldn't it be considered unnatural to inhibit the mind from performing these tasks?


Yes, I suppose it is unnatural. But the word "unnatural" tends to have a negative connotation in standard usage. Not so to a Buddhist, who realizes that our natural state of mind is clouded by delusion, which causes us to think and act unskillfully. Buddhist practice is about removing that delusion and retraining our minds to function skillfully.
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi
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Re: Why is mind to be overcome?

Postby Epistemes » Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:01 pm

Nicro wrote:Who's to say are "natural" state of mind is better? As far as I can tell the natural human state of delusion, ignorance, and greed cause suffering.


If we are to look at how a thing exists in reality, that would be an argument for preference of the natural state of mind. The actual experience of mind is delusion, ignorance, greed, suffering, etc. To attempt to move beyond those is actually as much a product of ego as not.
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Re: Why is mind to be overcome?

Postby nameless » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:48 pm

It's not natural to train one's body to the extent that athletes do, yet much of the world reveres them.
It's not natural to train oneself to pull strings or tap keys in a certain order with a certain rhythm, yet musicians are revered as well.
Some research suggests (granted I do not know the reliability of said research) that the natural sleep cycle in humans is multiphased, meaning we should take 2 or more naps instead of one long sleep, yet we are used to it.
Is it natural to work the 8-hour day?
Is it natural to keep pets? To farm animals? Or for that matter plants?
Is it natural to hurtle across a sky in a giant hunk of metal?
If we can accept all the unnaturalness on an everyday basis, why not something that is beneficial?

But more to the point. We don't train the sea to stop flowing because it can't. We train the mind to stop being unskilful because it can.

Also, conceptualizing is not as natural as it seems. There is a lot of external influence. What your parents, teachers, friends believe and taught you to believe, whether you were encouraged to be inquisitive or discouraged from asking questions, one's experiences and knowledge. A drop of water will most probably behave like any other drop of water in the same conditions. It has its nature and acts as such. But I'm sure you've experienced someone being unable to understand your concepts despite your best efforts. If it's such a natural thing why can't everyone do it?
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Re: Why is mind to be overcome?

Postby Nibbida » Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:50 am

Mind and thinking are not to be overcome, just to be seen for what they are.
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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