Can mind exist without matter?

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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby SarathW » Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:45 am

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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:01 pm

SarathW wrote:The way I understand, mind is arising with mater (gross or subtle) and it is not possible mind to exist without matter.


Don't the suttas describe formless realms, where presumably there is mind without matter?
See here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... /loka.html

Some variations of the dependent origination formula describe a mutual dependence between form and consciousness, but I assume that just applies to the form realms?
Last edited by Spiny Norman on Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:02 pm

retrofuturist wrote:So, in short, nāma-rūpa as "name and form" rather than "mentality and materiality"?


As I understand it the suttas support both options.
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby SarathW » Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:00 am

Hi SN
Thanks. This is the problem I have.
It says that there are Nama and Rupa in Kama-loka.
=================
Rupa means:
Material form (Ruppa) –This includes body, sex and seat of consciousness.
The body-decade is composed of the Four Primary Elements –Extension, cohesion, heat, motion (Pathavi, apo, tejo, vayo)

===============
Does this mean that Rupa-loka beings have above Rupa? What type of Rupa they have? Are they like human?

Does this mean, Arupa-loka beings do not have Rupa? Is space etc considered as non matter? Isn’t the space cold?
:shrug:
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:30 am

SarathW wrote:Does this mean, Arupa-loka beings do not have Rupa? Is space etc considered as non matter? Isn’t the space cold?
:shrug:


"Arupa" means formless, so yes, presumably beings in arupa-loka don't have rupa, they are pure consciousness.

Note that space is an element, along with consciousness. In some suttas, like MN140, these 2 elements are added to the 4 elements of form, ie earth, wind, fire and water. So it looks like space and consciousness are formless elements.
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby Mkoll » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:13 pm

Or maybe they could be seen as elements whose presence is implied when any of the other four primary elements are mentioned. Thus they're even more elemental than elements. For example, two of the formless realms are infinite space and consciousness where there is no form: earth, water, fire, or air. How can there be earth, water, fire, or air without a space for them to be in or a consciousness to perceive them?

Although this is just rampant speculation... :stirthepot:

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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:50 pm

"Arupa" means formless, so yes, presumably beings in arupa-loka don't have rupa, they are pure consciousness.


This raises some questions about what sense we can make of a formless or immaterial realm which contains formless beings. How could we distinguish them? What would mark the boundary between one formless being and another?
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:54 pm

Mkoll wrote:For example, two of the formless realms are infinite space and consciousness where there is no form: earth, water, fire, or air. How can there be earth, water, fire, or air without a space for them to be in or a consciousness to perceive them?


I came across this - does it make things any clearer?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formless_Realm

It might help to explore the relationship between the arupa-jhanas and the formless realms.
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:55 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
"Arupa" means formless, so yes, presumably beings in arupa-loka don't have rupa, they are pure consciousness.


This raises some questions about what sense we can make of a formless or immaterial realm which contains formless beings. How could we distinguish them? What would mark the boundary between one formless being and another?


Presumably it would be about the locality of consciousness?
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:03 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:
"Arupa" means formless, so yes, presumably beings in arupa-loka don't have rupa, they are pure consciousness.


This raises some questions about what sense we can make of a formless or immaterial realm which contains formless beings. How could we distinguish them? What would mark the boundary between one formless being and another?


Presumably it would be about the locality of consciousness?


Yes, that's my point. What sense can we make of locality in the absence of matter? All our terms of locality relate to stuff in this world. Is one consciousness "North of" of or "to the left of" another consciousness, and how do we know where one ends and another begins?
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:44 pm

Sam Vara wrote:Yes, that's my point. What sense can we make of locality in the absence of matter? All our terms of locality relate to stuff in this world. Is one consciousness "North of" of or "to the left of" another consciousness, and how do we know where one ends and another begins?


As I observed earlier space and consciousness appear to be formless elements, so presumably there could be location without form / matter.
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:54 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:Yes, that's my point. What sense can we make of locality in the absence of matter? All our terms of locality relate to stuff in this world. Is one consciousness "North of" of or "to the left of" another consciousness, and how do we know where one ends and another begins?


As I observed earlier space and consciousness appear to be formless elements, so presumably there could be location without form / matter.


Yes, I agree entirely with your deduction here. I'm just wondering what it would be like - how we could make any sense of such a situation. I think location and separation are essentially about form. I believe Richard Gombrich says somewhere that the whole idea of formless realms is a cosmological afterthought added after the Buddha's death. I'll have a look when I get home, and post again.
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:42 pm

Here's the Gombrich bit. He is speaking of the post-mortem destination of the Non-Returner.

By that time the brahma-worlds themselves had been banalized and made much more like ordinary heavens, the non-returner needed something better, and the weirdly abstract strata of the so-called formless worlds, named after states of advanced meditations, were added on to accommodate him. Since those worlds are formless, their inhabitants can have no bodies. So how do bodiless beings have locations? One begins to suspect that the non-returner began his career as a figment of satire.


What the Buddha thought, p.90
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby culaavuso » Fri Jan 24, 2014 7:59 pm

Sam Vara wrote:Here's the Gombrich bit. He is speaking of the post-mortem destination of the Non-Returner.

By that time the brahma-worlds themselves had been banalized and made much more like ordinary heavens, the non-returner needed something better, and the weirdly abstract strata of the so-called formless worlds, named after states of advanced meditations, were added on to accommodate him. Since those worlds are formless, their inhabitants can have no bodies. So how do bodiless beings have locations? One begins to suspect that the non-returner began his career as a figment of satire.


What the Buddha thought, p.90


Are there sutta references to support this claim from Gombrich, specifically the claim that non-returners arise in the formless worlds? The page at accesstoinsight on The Thirty-one Planes of Existence seems to place non-returners in the rupaloka, and specifically says that in the arupaloka beings are unable to hear Dhamma teachings. Unfortunately, the accesstoinsight page doesn't seem to have links to suttas to offer strong support for its claims, either. The notion of non-returners seems to appear in many places in the canon, and the notion of inhabitants of the formless realms (independent of the notion of non-returners) seems to be supported by DN 15
DN 15: Maha-nidana Sutta wrote:"There are beings who,with the complete transcending of perceptions of [physical] form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not heeding perceptions of diversity, [perceiving,] 'Infinite space,' arrive at the dimension of the infinitude of space. This is the fifth station of consciousness.

"There are beings who, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of space, [perceiving,] 'Infinite consciousness,' arrive at the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. This is the sixth station of consciousness.

"There are beings who, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, [perceiving,] 'There is nothing,' arrive at the dimension of nothingness. This is the seventh station of consciousness.
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:49 pm

culaavuso wrote:
Are there sutta references to support this claim from Gombrich, specifically the claim that non-returners arise in the formless worlds? The page at accesstoinsight on The Thirty-one Planes of Existence seems to place non-returners in the rupaloka, and specifically says that in the arupaloka beings are unable to hear Dhamma teachings. Unfortunately, the accesstoinsight page doesn't seem to have links to suttas to offer strong support for its claims, either. The notion of non-returners seems to appear in many places in the canon, and the notion of inhabitants of the formless realms (independent of the notion of non-returners) seems to be supported by DN 15
DN 15: Maha-nidana Sutta wrote:"There are beings who,with the complete transcending of perceptions of [physical] form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not heeding perceptions of diversity, [perceiving,] 'Infinite space,' arrive at the dimension of the infinitude of space. This is the fifth station of consciousness.

"There are beings who, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of space, [perceiving,] 'Infinite consciousness,' arrive at the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. This is the sixth station of consciousness.

"There are beings who, with the complete transcending of the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, [perceiving,] 'There is nothing,' arrive at the dimension of nothingness. This is the seventh station of consciousness.


He doesn't give sutta references at that point, but the destination of the non-returner is not the issue here. It is whether we are able to make sense of a being or beings who are formless. Gombrich seems to think that the fact that we cannot, supports the idea that the "non-returner" concept has been misconstrued by the Buddha's followers at some stage, and then been written into the suttas.
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby santa100 » Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:38 pm

The formless realm is mentioned in many places: AN3.76, AN3.116, AN5.166, etc.
Also "lust for the formless" is one of the Five Higher Fetters which was mentioned frequently: SN45.180, SN46.184, SN47.104, AN7.16, AN10.13, etc..
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby culaavuso » Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:49 pm

Sam Vara wrote:He doesn't give sutta references at that point, but the destination of the non-returner is not the issue here. It is whether we are able to make sense of a being or beings who are formless. Gombrich seems to think that the fact that we cannot, supports the idea that the "non-returner" concept has been misconstrued by the Buddha's followers at some stage, and then been written into the suttas.


The idea that the "non-returner" concept was misconstrued, as I read the passage you quoted, is based on the assumption that non-returners arise as formless beings. If non-returners do not arise as formless beings, then the two questions ("has the non-returner concept been misconstrued?" and "can we make sense of formless beings?") are independent of each other and the latter can then not be used to answer the former without further support.

If formless beings don't make sense, then how are the formless absorptions to make sense? Aren't the experiences of beings in the formless realms effectively defined in terms of the experiences of the formless absorptions (as in my previous quote from DN 15)? It seems that dismissing the possibility of formless realms requires similarly dismissing the possibility of the formless absorptions.

Regarding the original question, the terms "mind" and "matter" are not clearly a one to one mapping with "nama" and "rupa", and the term "rupa" itself seems to be used in different ways in the canon. Answering the question definitively requires providing definitions for what exactly is meant by "mind" and "matter". For example, in DN 22 "rupa" is used to describe what gives rise to eye contact, but not the other five senses.

DN 22 (Pali)
DN 22: Maha-satipatthana Sutta wrote:Rūpā loke … saddā loke … gandhā loke … rasā loke … phoṭṭhabbā loke … dhammā loke

DN 22: Maha-satipatthana Sutta (Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation) wrote:"Forms... Sounds... Smells... Tastes... Tactile sensations... Ideas...


Alternatively, we could view "rupa" as it is used in SN 22.48, which seems to be more inclusive.
SN 22.48: Khandha Sutta wrote:"Whatever form is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: That is called the form aggregate.

"Whatever feeling is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: That is called the feeling aggregate.

"Whatever perception is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: That is called the perception aggregate.

"Whatever (mental) fabrications are past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: Those are called the fabrications aggregate.

"Whatever consciousness is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: That is called the consciousness aggregate.
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby Mkoll » Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:56 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
Mkoll wrote:For example, two of the formless realms are infinite space and consciousness where there is no form: earth, water, fire, or air. How can there be earth, water, fire, or air without a space for them to be in or a consciousness to perceive them?


I came across this - does it make things any clearer?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formless_Realm

It might help to explore the relationship between the arupa-jhanas and the formless realms.

Thanks for the link.

I have no desire to make anything clearer in this regard, viz. the mind-matter conundrum, for myself. I know enough at this point that questions in this regard are only answered via direct meditative experience. At a certain point, speculation only leads to more questions which is why I called it rampant. However, upp to that point speculation and questioning are essential.

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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:57 pm

santa100 wrote:The formless realm is mentioned in many places: AN3.76, AN3.116, AN5.166, etc.
Also "lust for the formless" is one of the Five Higher Fetters which was mentioned frequently: SN45.180, SN46.184, SN47.104, AN7.16, AN10.13, etc..


Indeed. My point is whether we can make any sense of such a concept, which is a different sort of point from whether it exists, or whether it is said to exist.
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Re: Can mind exist without matter?

Postby culaavuso » Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:05 pm

retrofuturist wrote:That said, to your question of what "exists", I'd caution against unwittingly leaping to an ontological interpretation. To use an analogy...

For the man watching television but hearing no sound... it could be because the volume is off, or it could be because he is deaf. In his world (loka), no TV sound "exists"... but whether the physical reason for this is attributable to deafness (no audible vibrations being detected) or the volume being turned down (no audible vibrations being produced), is inconsequential in terms of the resultant first-hand present-moment experience of seeing but not hearing the television.

Compare that to when matter could be said to "exist" or otherwise.


This interpretation makes sense and seems to be supported by DN 15
DN 15: Maha-nidana Sutta wrote:There are beings who,with the complete transcending of perceptions of [physical] form, with the disappearance of perceptions of resistance, and not heeding perceptions of diversity, [perceiving,] 'Infinite space,' arrive at the dimension of the infinitude of space. This is the fifth station of consciousness.
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