Greetings from Massachusetts

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Greetings from Massachusetts

Postby pjoseph » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:51 pm

Hi there,

I have long been interested in Buddhism, ever since my first conversation with my Dad on this topic at our dining table in Madras, India, when I was 12. Since then I have visited Bodhgaya, Nalanda, and Vaishali in my quest to learn more. Over the years, my quest has taken me computer science and the "hard problem of AI", i.e., the study of consciousness itself.

To this end, I have attended the beginner Viapassana 10 day course and have been meditating for the last decade or so.

I am sick and tired of new age thinkers who go on and on about "healing energy" and such, only because they do not progress knowledge beyond what it was over 2.5 millenia ago. My attempt to do so can be found here (I hope it does not cause offense): http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/artic ... 2/abstract

I recently and accidentally experienced Turyia, but have been unable to reproduce it. This has given me some insight into many hitherto opaque readings in Buddhist, Zen and Hindu literature. (It also completely destroyed my then current theories on consciousness; however, I remain very much a materialist.)

My main aim in coming to this site is to learn. Specifically, it had always struck me that during the Vipassana talks, it was mentioned at least twice, that the Buddha "...saw things as they are..." and my intuition then and now is that this may not metaphorical, i.e., that in deep states of meditation, qualia perception mechanisms are perhaps altered and allow us to see things in a unique way. That is what I hope to learn about in my quest to try to understand qualia--what does the Buddhist literature (and Buddhist theories of atomism) have to say on this.

I have read the wikipedia and the online Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy entries on these already, but they do not address the Buddhist perspective on qualia "head on" and any new sources of information on this would be of much help.

Sincerely
Paul G. Joseph
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Re: Greetings from Massachusetts

Postby waimengwan » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:56 pm

Welcome Paul hope you have a fruitful journey with DW.
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Re: Greetings from Massachusetts

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:02 pm

Welcome Paul,

:hello:

:anjali:
Mike
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Re: Greetings from Massachusetts

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:26 pm

You might be interested in reading up a bit on Phenomenalism, as it is probably the Western philosophy most in line with the Buddhist conceptualization of reality.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Greetings from Massachusetts

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:17 pm

:hello:
Welcome to Dhamma Wheel!
:buddha1:
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Re: Greetings from Massachusetts

Postby cooran » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:36 pm

Welcome to DhammaWheel, Paul! :group:

with metta
Chris
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Re: Greetings from Massachusetts

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:50 pm

Welcome to DW!
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: Greetings from Massachusetts

Postby pjoseph » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:49 am

I am familiar with Phenomenalism and it is not of much help when it comes to qualia.

In fact Western Philosophy of Mind has come to a dead halt before the so called "qualia problem," viz. Joe Levine's "explanatory gap" and Chalmers "hard problem" (among others).

My hope was/is that Buddhist writings on this topic could open an alternate approach to this "qualia problem."

brgds
Paul
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Re: Greetings from Massachusetts

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:00 am

pjoseph wrote:I am familiar with Phenomenalism and it is not of much help when it comes to qualia.

In fact Western Philosophy of Mind has come to a dead halt before the so called "qualia problem," viz. Joe Levine's "explanatory gap" and Chalmers "hard problem" (among others).

My hope was/is that Buddhist writings on this topic could open an alternate approach to this "qualia problem."

brgds
Paul

Buddhism would state that qualia - as defined as experience gained through the six sense bases - are the fundamental building blocks of reality. What exactly is the qualia problem that can arise from such a stance?
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Greetings from Massachusetts

Postby pjoseph » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:27 pm

>>Buddhism would state that qualia - as defined as experience gained through the six sense bases - are the fundamental building blocks of reality.

This is a good working definition and I think most cognitive neuroscientists would be very happy with it. I know I am.

The problem of qualia is brute and simple--so simple that it was hard for me to understand. Take the color red for example. The physics of light tells us that this is electromagnetic radiation of 428 THz. The problem is this: there is no physics that can explain how this electromagnetic frequency shows as "red" in our head.

That is the "qualia problem." In the Wikipedia entry on Buddhist atomism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_atomism), there is a very intriguing statement:

...Both systems [Sānkhya and later Indian Buddhism] share in common a tendency to push the analysis of Existence up to its minutest, last elements which are imagined as absolute qualities, or things possessing only one unique quality. They are called "qualities" (guna-dharma) in both systems in the sense of absolute qualities, a kind of atomic, or intra-atomic, energies of which the empirical things are composed. Both systems, therefore, agree in denying the objective reality of the categories of Substance and Quality, ... and of the relation of Inference uniting them. There is in Sānkhya philosophy no separate existence of qualities. What we call quality is but a particular manifestation of a subtle entity. To every new unit of quality corresponds a subtle quantum of matter which is called guna "quality", but represents a subtle substantive entity. The same applies to early Buddhism where all qualities are substantive ... or, more precisely, dynamic entities, although they are also called dharmas ("qualities")...

It seems to come from the writings of the Soviet Indologist Stcherbatsk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fyodor_Shc ... ite_note-1). I have ordered his 2 volume summary of Buddhist philosophy. Hopefully it will have more info.

brgds
Paul
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Re: Greetings from Massachusetts

Postby bodom » Sat Oct 20, 2012 2:41 pm

Welcome Paul!

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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