MayaRefugee wrote:It's a very interesting topic
Yes it is. Just a general observation that seems relevant at this point - one of the most useful things I was told was to examine every topic from the perspective of whether it directly helps in reducing greed, hate and delusion, and increasing kindness, generosity and wisdom. I.e. there's a lot of attachment associated with speculative thinking, we just love thinking about this and that, but often, no matter what the answers the thinking leads us to, it still has very little to do with the path to ending suffering. So, choosing the right topics as well as the approaches to considering these topics intellectually is very important. If we're talking buddhism that is. If we're talking science/philosophy/new age, then sure, speculation is all there is.
MayaRefugee wrote:and discovering it opened my eyes up to the presence of a "sentience projector" in my mind - I'm always asking what's the Areason for or what is the thinking behind things being the way they are - I'm guessing when I understand the 5 niyamas better this will come to an end.
At this point it might be useful to understand the difference between buddhism and science for example. Science tends to look outside for answers, how certain outside existing entities or "things" affect other outside "things". Buddhism (at least as I understand it through abhidhamma) on the other hand directs to recognising first that all those outside "things" are are just products of speculative thinking - concepts , so it doesn't really concern with them, but directs us to understand through insight how the mind attaches to these concepts regardless of what they are.
E.g. regardless of whether we're arguing is it god that created the earth, or is it nature that did it, both of these would still be just speculative thinking, and so of no real concern to buddhism. What would be of interest is what are the mental factors and consciousness (so dhammas) that are involved in this speculation - are they wholesome or not? Is the mental factor of concentration at that momnet wholesome or not, how about intention, is there greed, or maybe there's kindness, etc? So these mental factors (dhammas) are basically objects of insight, and buddhism is all about direct insight, not about concepts and speculation (for reference, there are four kinds of dhammas that insight is concerned with - materiality (rupa), consciousness (citta), mental factors (cetasikas) and nibbana, so concepts are not a dhamma). That's the first important difference imo.
The second important difference is about conditionality. I.e. when said that one dhamma (like greed) conditions another dhamma (like intention), it's not meant in terms of things and existing entities affecting each other (like cause and effect in science), but pretty much the opposite - there is no existing entities - whether it's an external "thing" or a mental event, it's just dhammas arising together based on conditions (other dhammas past and present) for a split second and then falling away forever. So, it's very much irrelevant talking about existing entities, objects or things being created, etc.
MayaRefugee wrote:Anyway, this came about because chownah said "ordinary objects" can be just as insightful/beautiful as "works of art", where are we with this now?
I tend to think that as long as we're focusing on "objects" no matter how we define them, we're focusing on the wrong end - i.e. we're still in the world of concepts and speculation, instead of directing our attention to the world of dhammas and insight.
MayaRefugee wrote:Is it suffice to say temperature can create objects which seem to be at rest that can be insightful/beautiful and an artist can emulate this phenomenon?
According to my understanding of abhidhamma, temperature is just a dhamma (rupa-materiality in this case) that acts as a condition for other dhammas (other great elements - earth, water, wind as well as other derived rupas - materialities) to come together in one instant and then fall away for ever in the next instant. So, in reality there is no creation of "objects", nor can they be really said to be insightful/beautiful, at rest, or anything else. That's possible only in the world of concepts. It's due to attachment to concepts that things appear to last, be beautiful, etc.
Anyway, you seem to have a very inquisitive mind, so I'd wholeheartedly recommend Abhidhamma in daily life
by Nina Van Gorkom. I remember that it gave me a lot of answers I was looking for, which I couldn't find neither in science/phylosophy nor in the suttas directly. Abhidhamma also helped to direct the inquisitiveness in a useful direction - dhammas instead of endless speculation.
If you're particularly interested in the outside world, the universe, matter, etc, even though buddhism never really set out to explain the outside world (e.g.see Simsapa sutta
), there is a lot of detail in abhidhamma on rupas (I even heard this called buddhist quantum mechanics) and how they come together (5 niyamas are a related topic), but even so, it still remains in the domain of insight, not speculation - i.e. it is a sort of an account of how dhammas would be seen to "operate" with developed insight. Nina has also written a short book on rupas
if you're interested. One good thing about her books is that you can ask her directly if there's something you don't understand - she participates in this yahoo group:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastudygroup/