Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Viscid » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:26 am

gavesako wrote:Unexplained communication between brain hemispheres without corpus callosum

Could the brain be using electromagnetic fields to communicate between hemispheres — the electromagnetic field theory of consciousness?

http://integral-options.blogspot.com/20 ... brain.html


First, the corpus callosum is not the only bridge between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. There is also the anterior commissure and the thalamus which could be used as an alternate pathway for communication.

Secondly, it should be somewhat expected that there would be 'synchrony' even if there was no direct connection between the left and right hemisphere. If both the left and right hemispheres are functionally similar, and are presented with the same stimulus (or lack thereof,) there would be little reason to see a major differences in their respective activity.

But I'm no neuroscientist, and neither are you. So, it's best not to jump the gun and use premature research to justify our own metaphysical beliefs.

I'm just :stirthepot: here though. I'd love there to be some weird quantum phenomena to explain consciousness-- but so far I have yet to see sufficient evidence (aside from the existence of my own subjective experience of reality) to demand such a thing to explain how a brain functions.

Edit: Also googled later and found that fMRI's temporal resolution is very poor, and it'd be quite impossible to see if there is any communication between the two hemispheres using that technology alone. fMRI's images are over a long period of time, like a time-lapse photograph, so you don't know what-fired-when, and thus one cannot see if one hemisphere's activity caused activity in the other hemisphere.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
User avatar
Viscid
 
Posts: 904
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:55 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jun 18, 2012 5:30 am

danieLion wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:...correct me if I am wrong, but the body does have a form of electrical current also, a being is not just matter.

Hi Cittasanto,
"Glia do not communicate with electrical impulses [they do it with calcium ions] (The Other Brain, p. 52)."

Kind regards,
Daniel

did I say that? no.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5757
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Rui Sousa » Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:04 am

danieLion wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:...correct me if I am wrong, but the body does have a form of electrical current also, a being is not just matter.

Hi Cittasanto,
"Glia do not communicate with electrical impulses [they do it with calcium ions] (The Other Brain, p. 52)."

Kind regards,
Daniel


danieLion,

I believe Cittasanto was mentioning the neuronal electrical flow.
With Metta
User avatar
Rui Sousa
 
Posts: 366
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:01 pm
Location: Sintra, Portugal

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby intex » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:40 am

Alex123 wrote:
intex wrote:from within the first-person perspective I am unable to experience myself as an external object like a 'brain'.


You can't directly see your eyes either.


In other words: No sense can appear to itself.

Alex123 wrote:
intex wrote:According to some, different functioning of the brain is responsible for different states of consciousness. Appearance of lump of flesh called brain can be similar. It is function of neurons, etc, that matters, and part of the cause for consciousness can be nervous system as well.

Of course we may never know the truth with absolute certainty, but there are good reasons for the above.


I agree. I think consciousness must depend on something which is 'beyond', otherwise it would not be anatta. If we regard consciousness as perspectivity, both ends of the perspective are matter: the internal end (eye, ear etc.) and the external end (forms, sounds etc.), so consciousness is 'stuck' between something which is beyond our control and therefore consciousness itself is beyond our control. That's how I see it at the moment.

Greetings
intex
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:17 pm

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Rui Sousa » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:04 am

manas wrote:I put this here for others to explain further, as my knowledge of pali is very limited, but I note that there is nothing in the definitions to suggest that consciousness is a product of the brain's activity, but only terms which validate the translation of 'supported here and bound up here'. Consciousness being 'bound up' with the body, however, could explain why the condition of the brain would influence consciousness. But the mechanistic view (now becoming oudated, actually) of matter somehow being able to produce consciousness, does not appear to be supported by the suttas.


Hi manas,

Picking up were you left it, we can look at other senses that are less polemic and obtain some information.

Sound waves induce movement in the internal ear components, each with its function and shape, and those movements generate electrical impulses in the nervous system that are propagated to the brain. All this happens on the rupa skhanda, for me. Any problem in the organ (ear) will affect the other skhandas, by altering the signal or by blocking the signal (deafness). So there will be no vedana originated from the earing rupa . Earing problems will also condition other skhanda, we migth ear "appealing" when the other person said "appaling" and this way we might feel something completely different.

I see the brain as the rupa that supports the sixth sense, in the same way the ear, with all its mechanics, supports earing. If I take substances that alter the chemicals of the brain thoughts will be altered, as signals from the other senses will aso be altered, and I will loose contact with reality. That is how I understood that I should stop drinking alchool. It would be like walking around with a piece of cloth in front of my eyes, changing everyhing I would see. A disease in any of the sense organs will condition my perception of the world, this includes brain tumors, strokes and chemicals problems in the brain.

The leap from rupa to nama is something I don't understand. How electrical signals in the brain condition vedana, sañña, sankhara and viññana is beyond my understanding. But I can easily understand and accept the nama-rupa bound and mutual support relationship.

Metta
With Metta
User avatar
Rui Sousa
 
Posts: 366
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:01 pm
Location: Sintra, Portugal

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Dmytro » Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:08 pm

Hi Rui Soisa,

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.


In Vibhanga 253 there's indeed a mention of rupa that supports the sixth sense and the mind:
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=12799

Metta
User avatar
Dmytro
 
Posts: 1161
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:24 pm
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Rui Sousa » Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:28 am

Dmytro wrote:Hi Rui Soisa,

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.


In Vibhanga 253 there's indeed a mention of rupa that supports the sixth sense and the mind:
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=12799

Metta


Hi Dmytro,

Thank you for the reference.

I have been discussing the concept of Namarupa very much latelly, but not in the context of Paticca-samuppada. For me, it makes much more sense that way: what "becomes" is this bound up and supported bundle of the four elements of rupa and the five elements of nama, both conditioned by kamma.

:anjali:
With Metta
User avatar
Rui Sousa
 
Posts: 366
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:01 pm
Location: Sintra, Portugal

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Alex123 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 3:49 pm

Rui Sousa wrote:The leap from rupa to nama is something I don't understand. How electrical signals in the brain condition vedana, sañña, sankhara and viññana is beyond my understanding. But I can easily understand and accept the nama-rupa bound and mutual support relationship.


This is very difficult question. How does matter condition mind? Their properties are totally different:
Matter has a location, mind does not.
Matter can be seen, mind cannot.
Matter doesn't know, only mind knows.

If there is one quality, then there might not be a problem. But two different qualities? How can they interact?
”Even the water melting from the snow-capped peaks finds its way to the ocean."
User avatar
Alex123
 
Posts: 2865
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby daverupa » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:40 pm

Related:

Double exposure: cutting across Buddhist and western discourses, by Bernard Faure & Janet Lloyd

"This book explores the possible relations between Western types of rationality and Buddhism. It also examines some clichés about Buddhism and questions the old antinomies of Western culture (“faith and reason,” or “idealism and materialism”). The use of the Buddhist notion of the Two Truths as a hermeneutic device leads to a double or multiple exposure that will call into question our mental habits and force us to ask questions differently, to think “in a new key.”

"Double Exposure is somewhat of an oddity. Written by a specialist for nonspecialists, it is not a book of vulgarization. Although it aims at a better integration of Western and Buddhist thought, it is not an exercise in comparative philosophy or religion. It is neither a contribution to Buddhist scholarship in the narrow sense, nor a contribution to some vague Western “spirituality.” Cutting across traditional disciplines and blurring established genres, it provides a leisurely but deeply insightful stroll through philosophical and literary texts, dreams, poetry, and paradoxes."
    "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]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4195
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Rui Sousa » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:39 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Rui Sousa wrote:The leap from rupa to nama is something I don't understand. How electrical signals in the brain condition vedana, sañña, sankhara and viññana is beyond my understanding. But I can easily understand and accept the nama-rupa bound and mutual support relationship.


This is very difficult question. How does matter condition mind? Their properties are totally different:
Matter has a location, mind does not.
Matter can be seen, mind cannot.
Matter doesn't know, only mind knows.

If there is one quality, then there might not be a problem. But two different qualities? How can they interact?


I don't konw how they interact, but to see them interacting I just need to take some coffee. (a couple of beers would make the interaction more evident, but also less skilful)
With Metta
User avatar
Rui Sousa
 
Posts: 366
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:01 pm
Location: Sintra, Portugal

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby kirk5a » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:33 pm

How about the fingers typing? How does that work, exactly? :shrug: It does happen, though, so there is no "problem." Unless we make one...

A centipede was happy – quite!
Until a toad in fun
Said, "Pray, which leg moves after which?"
This raised her doubts to such a pitch,
She fell exhausted in the ditch
Not knowing how to run.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centipede's_dilemma
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
User avatar
kirk5a
 
Posts: 1759
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Alex123 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:07 pm

kirk5a wrote:How about the fingers typing? How does that work, exactly? :shrug: It does happen, though, so there is no "problem." Unless we make one...


Science can measure the physiology, kinetics, physics, biochemistry related to movement of fingers. Signal can be altered and that would alter the movement of fingers... If one would drink a lot, or take drugs, or too much anesthetics, etc, that would alter the movement of the body and fingers...

But specifics of interaction between mind and brain... That is a mystery.
”Even the water melting from the snow-capped peaks finds its way to the ocean."
User avatar
Alex123
 
Posts: 2865
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby kirk5a » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:26 pm

Alex123 wrote:Science can measure the physiology, kinetics, physics, biochemistry related to movement of fingers. Signal can be altered and that would alter the movement of fingers... If one would drink a lot, or take drugs, or too much anesthetics, etc, that would alter the movement of the body and fingers...

But specifics of interaction between mind and brain... That is a mystery.

Has science measured intention yet?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
User avatar
kirk5a
 
Posts: 1759
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby daverupa » Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:30 pm

kirk5a wrote:Has science measured intention yet?


It's a known field of inquiry; here is an example:

Science, 2004 wrote:"Intention is central to the concept of voluntary action. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we compared conditions in which participants made self-paced actions and attended either to their intention to move or to the actual movement. When they attended to their intention rather than their movement, there was an enhancement of activity in the pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA). We also found activations in the right dorsal prefrontal cortexand left intraparietal cortex. Prefrontal activity, but not parietal activity, was more strongly coupled with activity in the pre-SMA. We conclude that activity in the pre-SMA reflects the representation of intention."
    "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]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4195
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Alex123 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:06 pm

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.
”Even the water melting from the snow-capped peaks finds its way to the ocean."
User avatar
Alex123
 
Posts: 2865
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Nyana » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:24 pm

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.
Nyana
 
Posts: 2227
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:56 am

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Alex123 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:29 pm

John Searle wrote: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.


If one assumes that consciousness is somehow separate from complex functioning of the brain and related material things, then perhaps the above it true.

Jerry A. Fodor wrote: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.


It may depend about what "material" and "conscious" mean. Is it possible that "consciousness" is a very complex material action in the brain?

There can't be swimming without a water, and person/being doing certain kinds of motions with arms and legs to swim.
”Even the water melting from the snow-capped peaks finds its way to the ocean."
User avatar
Alex123
 
Posts: 2865
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby rowboat » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:45 pm

Excerpt from - Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness
David J. Chalmers
http://www.imprint.co.uk/chalmers.html

If any problem qualifies as the problem of consciousness, it is this one. In this central sense of "consciousness", an organism is conscious if there is something it is like to be that organism, and a mental state is conscious if there is something it is like to be in that state. Sometimes terms such as "phenomenal consciousness" and "qualia" are also used here, but I find it more natural to speak of "conscious experience" or simply "experience". Another useful way to avoid confusion (used by e.g. Newell 1990, Chalmers 1995) is to reserve the term "consciousness" for the phenomena of experience, using the less loaded term "awareness" for the more straightforward phenomena described earlier. If such a convention were widely adopted, communication would be much easier; as things stand, those who talk about "consciousness" are frequently talking past each other.

The ambiguity of the term "consciousness" is often exploited by both philosophers and scientists writing on the subject. It is common to see a paper on consciousness begin with an invocation of the mystery of consciousness, noting the strange intangibility and ineffability of subjectivity, and worrying that so far we have no theory of the phenomenon. Here, the topic is clearly the hard problem - the problem of experience. In the second half of the paper, the tone becomes more optimistic, and the author's own theory of consciousness is outlined. Upon examination, this theory turns out to be a theory of one of the more straightforward phenomena - of reportability, of introspective access, or whatever. At the close, the author declares that consciousness has turned out to be tractable after all, but the reader is left feeling like the victim of a bait-and-switch. The hard problem remains untouched.
Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it.
Ud 5.5
User avatar
rowboat
 
Posts: 446
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 5:31 am
Location: Brentwood Bay, British Columbia

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby danieLion » Sat Jun 23, 2012 12:04 pm

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
danieLion
 
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: Uncertain Minds: How the West Misunderstands Buddhism

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Jun 24, 2012 7:35 am

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
User avatar
Kim OHara
 
Posts: 3088
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

PreviousNext

Return to Lounge

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Mr Man and 2 guests