the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby polarbuddha101 » Wed May 15, 2013 11:06 am

5heaps wrote:there is a difference between weak and strong emergence. the strong emergence of awareness is currently known as 'the hard problem of consciousness', for which there is not even any slight clue of how to deal with in the scientific community, nor has there been much progress in the last couple of decades.


I just think it's important to note that we don't know that strong emergence of consciousness isn't the case just like we don't know that consciousness isn't a fundamental aspect of the universe. We just can't arrive at an infallible philosophical answer or argument that proves things to be one way or the other. So for now we have to rely on inductive arguments, inferences, faith, or agnosticism to come to provisional conclusions (or to avoid coming to a conclusion one way or the other).
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"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby polarbuddha101 » Wed May 15, 2013 11:10 am

Alex123 wrote:
I am perfectly willing to believe that mind can exist without the brain if it is proven. For example: if person could answer simple questions with ZERO brain activity happening at that exact time (measured by fMRI and similar means). That would convince me.


You will never be convinced then my friend. It seems rather obvious that at minimum the brain is the conduit or medium through which consciousness expresses itself in the physical world or to put it another way, through which conscious decisions move the physical body and through which data from the physical world, such as smell, sight etc. is processed and fed into conscious experience.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby 5heaps » Wed May 15, 2013 11:25 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:
5heaps wrote:there is a difference between weak and strong emergence. the strong emergence of awareness is currently known as 'the hard problem of consciousness', for which there is not even any slight clue of how to deal with in the scientific community, nor has there been much progress in the last couple of decades.
I just think it's important to note that we don't know that strong emergence of consciousness isn't the case just like we don't know that consciousness isn't a fundamental aspect of the universe. We just can't arrive at an infallible philosophical answer or argument that proves things to be one way or the other. So for now we have to rely on inductive arguments, inferences, faith, or agnosticism to come to provisional conclusions (or to avoid coming to a conclusion one way or the other).

you assert this because the scientific tradition and its lineage never developed the capacity of samadhi. such people are more akin to worms than proper humans, since they are only able to concentrate for a couple of seconds at most (this has been shown scientifically through neural coorelates). they dont have a clue about observing the mind directly, that is why buddhists state that until the 2nd jhana where the qualities of the mind are directly ascertained there is no ascertainment (though awareness of course does appear constantly), and so the person is neccessarily left with wrong conceptions regarding mind.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed May 15, 2013 11:51 am

5heaps wrote:a person will never answer a question with zero brain activity according to buddhism. they maintain that position but also the position that the brain and awareness are not synonymous


Memories, skills, personality, behavior depends on the brain so much that if brain is damaged, they are damaged.
When a person dies and brain activity is zero, how can we speak of continued existence and carry over of mental qualities?


5heaps wrote:what is the book called?

I got his excerpts from "the Inner science of Buddhist practice". There are also teachings from various Tibetans and from Vasubandhu.

There is this quote that goes: "Moreover, the increase and decrease of wisdom and the like take place through differing actions of the mind, without any increase or decrease in the body."

Alteration to prefrontal cortex, temporal and frontal lobes (for example) can do that. It can diminish or increase religiosity, it can affect abstract reasoning, personality, decision making...
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed May 15, 2013 12:06 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote:You will never be convinced then my friend.


I can, if there is evidence. There are lots of evidence that puts difficulty on rebirth. Of course I could be wrong.

polarbuddha101 wrote: It seems rather obvious that at minimum the brain is the conduit or medium through which consciousness expresses itself in the physical world or to put it another way, through which conscious decisions move the physical body and through which data from the physical world, such as smell, sight etc. is processed and fed into conscious experience.


The tests, of course, should take those things in account. It would be interesting to check and try to disprove examples of brain->mind. link

in instances of some sort of brain damage (e.g. caused by automobile accidents, drug abuse, pathological diseases, etc.), it is always the case that the mental substance and/or properties of the person are significantly changed or compromised. If the mind were a completely separate substance from the brain, how could it be possible that every single time the brain is injured, the mind is also injured? Indeed, it is very frequently the case that one can even predict and explain the kind of mental or psychological deterioration or change that human beings will undergo when specific parts of their brains are damaged. So the question for the dualist to try to confront is how can all of this be explained if the mind is a separate and immaterial substance from, or if its properties are ontologically independent of, the brain link


What is the difference between brain's functions & body controlled by mind vs body being controlled by brain's functions alone? The occkham's razor seems to favor the latter...
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed May 15, 2013 12:15 pm

polarbuddha101 wrote:The big bang theory doesn't necessarily entail that it came out of nothing, that's simply one idea floating around about what was going on before the big bang. There are other theories that include the big bang theory that do not suppose that it happened spontaneously without cause.


OK, so everything came out of nothing and maybe there was a cause and maybe there wasn't. Or God made it. Which sounds simpler?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed May 15, 2013 12:20 pm

porpoise wrote:OK, so everything came out of nothing and maybe there was a cause and maybe there wasn't. Or God made it. Which sounds simpler?


Lets take two statements:
a) Universe (including time & space) came from Big Bang.
b) There was God who made universe (including time & space) from Big Bang. (And from where did God come from? Before time/space, what and when motivated God to do this?)

Which has fewer problems, a or b?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed May 15, 2013 12:33 pm

Alex123 wrote:
porpoise wrote:OK, so everything came out of nothing and maybe there was a cause and maybe there wasn't. Or God made it. Which sounds simpler?


Lets take two statements:
a) Universe (including time & space) came from Big Bang.
b) There was God who made universe (including time & space) from Big Bang. (And from where did God come from? Before time/space, what and when motivated God to do this?)

Which has fewer problems, a or b?


It depends how you look at it. At least (b) has the advantage of a narrative, eg there is this eternal God who got a bit bored and wanted a hobby... :tongue: And in (b) there was something before the big bang ( God ) whereas in (a) we are asked to believe that everything came from nothing, well sort of, possibly ( they really haven't got a clue :tongue: ).

PS Personally I favour option (a), my point is that things aren't necessarily as straightforward as they seem.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed May 15, 2013 12:45 pm

Lets say that John has a nice, calm and thoughtful mind. Due to accident, his brain was damaged and now he is angry, unconcentrated and impulsive.

Does his mind still remain nice, calm and thoughtful despite his negative mental states? Or does it changes along with changes to the brain?

If the mind is separate from brain & body, then we have two beings: Mind with positive states and John whose mind is with negative states due to brain damage.
If they are the same, then when brain dies, so does the mind.

Perhaps we could say that the root mind is somehow a more basic thing that is separate, yet operates through the brain to create mental states of anger or loving kindness, concentration or un concentrated mind. The brain stores information, skills and personality. If we say that this subtle mind "jumps" from dead person to person being born, then what is the continuity of development in Buddhist sense if all memory, skills, and personality is wiped out with previous brain? So a person could have developed negative or positive skills, but a newborn baby doesn't have them. This puts difficulty on the idea of practice that spans multiple lives.

As for direct experience of rebirth. Some can say that "I haven't died yet, so I don't know". As it comes to rebirth, there are always TWO points when it occurs. It occurs after death (post-mortem) of this body which we cannot experience now, and it occurs at/before birth of this body (pre-natal). The latter can theoretically be experienced or at least can be remembered. However:

When I (Alex) was born, I didn't come with developed positive or negative skills. I didn't come with knowledge of any languages, and there was nothing from which I could now infer that I inherited my past qualities from previous lives. Nothing to say about the lack of direct experience of rebirth into Alex. It was as if it was my first life...
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Wed May 15, 2013 2:10 pm

Alex123 wrote:Perhaps we could say that the root mind is somehow a more basic thing that is separate, yet operates through the brain to create mental states of anger or loving kindness, concentration or un concentrated mind. The brain stores information, skills and personality. If we say that this subtle mind "jumps" from dead person to person being born, then what is the continuity of development in Buddhist sense if all memory, skills, and personality is wiped out with previous brain? So a person could have developed negative or positive skills, but a newborn baby doesn't have them. This puts difficulty on the idea of practice that spans multiple lives.

According to MN 64, the infant does indeed have "underlying tendencies" = anusaya. Underlying tendencies to personality view, doubt, adherence to rules and observances, sensual lust, ill will. Those correspond to the five "lower fetters." AN 7.11 gives a list of seven.
MN 64 wrote:Would not the wanderers of other sects confute you with the simile of the infant? For a young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion 'personality,' so how could personality view arise in him? Yet the underlying tendency to personality view lies within him.
"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
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed May 15, 2013 2:13 pm

kirk5a wrote:According to MN 64, the infant does indeed have "underlying tendencies" = anusaya.


Maybe these are traits that are passed by genes and are activated when external and internal situation is right? For example, sexual desire is built into genes and can start to occur when appropriate hormones (ex: testosterone) are produced (generally starting at puberty). When testosterone declines, it can lead to decline of sexual desire.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Wed May 15, 2013 2:24 pm

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:According to MN 64, the infant does indeed have "underlying tendencies" = anusaya.


Maybe these are traits that are passed by genes and are activated when external and internal situation is right? For example, sexual desire is built into genes and can be activated when appropriate hormones are produced.

Unless you've stopped believing in arahantship also - how would arahants alter their genes? Because those underlying tendencies are said to have been completely uprooted for the arahant.
"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
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed May 15, 2013 2:32 pm

kirk5a wrote:Unless you've stopped believing in arahantship also - how would arahants alter their genes?


Good question. Maybe they cannot alter their genes but with training functionally and structurally alter a brain, a bit. Also it could be possible that the negative traits are suppressed due to their secluded lifestyle. Maybe Arahants do have genetically built-in mental states occur when conditions are right, but they don't consider those mental states to be "Mine", don't take them personally and don't mentally suffer over them.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Wed May 15, 2013 3:00 pm

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Unless you've stopped believing in arahantship also - how would arahants alter their genes?


Good question. Maybe they cannot alter their genes but with training functionally and structurally alter a brain, a bit. Also it could be possible that the negative traits are suppressed due to their secluded lifestyle. Maybe Arahants do have genetically built-in mental states occur when conditions are right, but they don't consider those mental states to be "Mine", don't take them personally and don't mentally suffer over them.

You can't go changing the definition of arahantship to suit your argument.
The fermentations that defile, that lead to further becoming, that disturb, that ripen in stress, that tend to future birth, aging, & death: Those the Tathagata has abandoned, their root destroyed, like an uprooted palmyra tree, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"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
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed May 15, 2013 3:06 pm

The fermentations that defile, that lead to further becoming, that disturb, that ripen in stress, that tend to future birth, aging, & death: Those the Tathagata has abandoned, their root destroyed, like an uprooted palmyra tree, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


What about fermentations that no longer defile, disturb or cause stress? Maybe the genetically built-in, hardwired into being human, mental states that do occur when conditions are right, - are no longer perceived/interpreted in such a way as to lead to stress.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Wed May 15, 2013 3:33 pm

Alex123 wrote:What about fermentations that no longer defile, disturb or cause stress? Maybe the genetically built-in, hardwired into being human, mental states that do occur when conditions are right, - are no longer perceived/interpreted in such a way as to lead to stress.

What "fermentation" is there which does not defile, disturb or cause stress?
āsava: Mental effluent, pollutant, or fermentation. Four qualities — sensuality, views, becoming, and ignorance — that "flow out" of the mind and create the flood of the round of death and rebirth.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/glossary.html
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed May 15, 2013 4:29 pm

kirk5a wrote:What "fermentation" is there which does not defile, disturb or cause stress?


Arisen thoughts and perceptions that one doesn't cling to as being "mine" which no longer cause mental suffering.

When one becomes an Arahant, does one forgets what such-and-such worldly behavior is? Does one lose all one's memory of household life? No. One simply doesn't selfishly react in stress producing way to arisen memories and thoughts dependent on genes, hormones and other internal or external factors.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby binocular » Wed May 15, 2013 6:49 pm

Alex123 wrote:Lets say that John has a nice, calm and thoughtful mind. Due to accident, his brain was damaged and now he is angry, unconcentrated and impulsive.

Arguably, such a change is not possible.

Prior to the accident, John may have had "a nice, calm and thoughtful mind" according to the standards of non-Buddhist lays.
But by Buddhist standards, it's not clear whether this was really the case or not.

It seems more likely that in the case of a person who seemed normal prior to an accident, and became erratic afterwards, the accident only emphasized or uncovered what was already not-nice, not-calm and not-thoughtful about their mind to begin with.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed May 15, 2013 6:55 pm

binocular wrote:Arguably, such a change is not possible.


There have been many such cases in neurology

Phineas Gage, who suffered destruction of one or both frontal lobes by a projectile iron rod, is often cited as an example illustrating that the brain causes mind. Gage certainly exhibited some mental changes after his accident. This physical event, the destruction of part of his brain, therefore caused some kind of change in his mind, suggesting a correlation between brain states and mental states. Similar examples abound; neuroscientist David Eagleman describes the case of another individual who exhibited escalating pedophilic tendencies at two different times, and in each case was found to have tumors growing in a particular part of his brain.[78][79]

Case studies aside, modern experiments have demonstrated that the relation between brain and mind is much more than simple correlation. By damaging, or manipulating, specific areas of the brain repeatedly under controlled conditions (e.g. in monkeys) and reliably obtaining the same results in measures of mental state and abilities, neuroscientists have shown that the relation between damage to the brain and mental deterioration is likely causal. This conclusion is further supported by data from the effects of neuro-active chemicals (such as those affecting neurotransmitters)[80] on mental functions, but also from research on Neurostimulation (direct electrical stimulation of the brain, including Transcranial magnetic stimulation).[81]
link


If one drinks heavily or takes drugs, then one's mental states will change. This is a fact.


Also interesting thing:
In some contexts, the decisions that a person makes can be detected up to 10 seconds in advance by means of scanning their brain activity.[83]
link
One significant finding of modern studies is that a person's brain seems to commit to certain decisions before the person becomes aware of having made them. Researchers have found delays of about half a second (discussed in sections below). With contemporary brain scanning technology, other scientists in 2008 were able to predict with 60% accuracy whether subjects would press a button with their left or right hand up to 10 seconds before the subject became aware of having made that choice.[8] These and other findings have led some scientists, like Patrick Haggard, to reject some forms of "free will". link


Of course if the source of decision making is damaged, so will be the decision. After all, will is not self, and consciousness is not self-made phenomenon.

Anatta.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby binocular » Wed May 15, 2013 7:10 pm

Alex123 wrote:There have been many such cases in neurology

You're again talking about run-of-the-mill people.

And now you're probably again going to argue that arahants are just people too, so what goes for any run-of-the-mill person, goes for the arahant too ...
And on and on, and falling asleep at the wheel ....
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