the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Wed May 15, 2013 7:18 pm

binocular wrote:
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 ...


Basic biology remains the same. Arahants don't turn into some Gods to whom biology, chemistry, physics don't apply. Their physiology remains the same as other humans. They are carbon based lifeforms that need to eat, drink and defecate. They need to rest. They are not invulnerable to old age, sickness and death.

What they are different is in wisdom (paññā), and practice induced changes to the function of certain areas of the brain responsible for religiosity, mood, decision making, etc.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby 5heaps » Thu May 16, 2013 2:04 am

Alex123 wrote: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."

its not saying that the body or brain is unchanging. in the same book you find that the consciousnesses are conditioned by sense powers, all of which are momentary phenomena. the simple act of producing an effect requires change.

what the quote says is that no matter what degree of for example selflessness is realized, as a novice or as a fullblown ariya, that knowable object accompanied by that awareness cannot be located in any part of the body. in other words dull people have small dull ideas whereas very intelligent people can form grand extremely complex designs in awareness. even though the mental content is very different in scope, and the minds are quite different in size ie. concentration, complexity, vividness etc, the occupation of these objects remains the same in the brain and body: zero.


Alex123 wrote:When a person dies and brain activity is zero, how can we speak of continued existence and carry over of mental qualities?

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...

brain mass is not 1st person experience. the material cause for 1st person experience must necessarily be something of similar type: a previous moment of 1st person experience.

yes, sense powers condition coarse levels of mind, what we might call our human awareness. and? modern humans and entire populations of people for tens of thousands of years never developed samadhi. they never learned to concentrate beyond the capacity of animals, never stilled their minds and learned to bring cessation to unfavourable mental factors such as confusion, lethargy, etc. they never observed the vacuity of mere awareness, because their awareness is always occupied by coarse appearances. of course theyre stuck in coarse levels of mind. and of couse coarse levels of mind are heavily conditioned by even the goddamn weather, let alone the brain or the body in general.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby binocular » Thu May 16, 2013 7:02 am

Alex123 wrote:
binocular wrote:
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 ...


Basic biology remains the same. Arahants don't turn into some Gods to whom biology, chemistry, physics don't apply. Their physiology remains the same as other humans. They are carbon based lifeforms that need to eat, drink and defecate. They need to rest. They are not invulnerable to old age, sickness and death.

What they are different is in wisdom (paññā), and practice induced changes to the function of certain areas of the brain responsible for religiosity, mood, decision making, etc.


The problem is that you're arguing that the psychological changes that are typically observed when run-of-the-mill people sustain brain injury, are bound to take place also in people who practice Buddhism and have come to some measure of attainment.
- If this is indeed what you're still arguing for.


In one sense, the whole point of Buddhist practice is to prepare for when aging, illness and death strike, so one doesn't go crazy.

You can study the examples of Buddhist practitioners who fell ill or sustained a brain injury, and how they have handled it, as opposed to how run-of-the-mill people typically handle it.

For example, Ajaan Lee had a heart attack while deep in the forest. And as he was there, incapacitated by the heart attack, he developed a method of breath meditation.
Ajaan Suwat later in life was in a car accident and sustained a brain injury. Afterwards, he had hallucinations and his brain was doing strange things. But he had his practice to depend on, so he was able to tell when his brain was playing tricks, and not be so affected by them.
In comparison, many people who don't have a solid practice to rely on just get paranoid or crazy in such situations.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu May 16, 2013 9:49 am

binocular wrote:In one sense, the whole point of Buddhist practice is to prepare for when aging, illness and death strike, so one doesn't go crazy.


So is BuddhaDhamma really just a glorified coping strategy?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 10:31 am

5heaps wrote:what the quote says is that no matter what degree of for example selflessness is realized, as a novice or as a fullblown ariya, that knowable object accompanied by that awareness cannot be located in any part of the body. in other words dull people have small dull ideas whereas very intelligent people can form grand extremely complex designs in awareness. even though the mental content is very different in scope, and the minds are quite different in size ie. concentration, complexity, vividness etc, the occupation of these objects remains the same in the brain and body: zero.


While it is true that we may not find consciousness in the body, the body (especially the brain) does seem to be a necessary cause for the mind.

5heaps wrote:brain mass is not 1st person experience. the material cause for 1st person experience must necessarily be something of similar type: a previous moment of 1st person experience.


Correct. Brain mass is not 1st person experience (FPE). But FPE depends on the brain and this can be verified.


5heaps wrote:yes, sense powers condition coarse levels of mind, what we might call our human awareness. and? modern humans and entire populations of people for tens of thousands of years never developed samadhi. they never learned to concentrate beyond the capacity of animals,


What exactly do you mean by "sense powers"?

As for concentration: I think that the reason for difficulty in reaching deep meditative states such as samadhi where one cannot hear, see, etc is because hearing is used to scan the area for predators. So for survival reasons this action is deeply ingrained into the brain. IMHO.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 10:35 am

binocular wrote:The problem is that you're arguing that the psychological changes that are typically observed when run-of-the-mill people sustain brain injury, are bound to take place also in people who practice Buddhism and have come to some measure of attainment.
- If this is indeed what you're still arguing for.


No. Of course a wise person will react differently to brain damage. No doubt about that. What I was saying is that even Arhats are not immune to damage to the brain or body.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby binocular » Thu May 16, 2013 11:11 am

Alex123 wrote:
binocular wrote:The problem is that you're arguing that the psychological changes that are typically observed when run-of-the-mill people sustain brain injury, are bound to take place also in people who practice Buddhism and have come to some measure of attainment.
- If this is indeed what you're still arguing for.


No. Of course a wise person will react differently to brain damage. No doubt about that. What I was saying is that even Arhats are not immune to damage to the brain or body.

And what do you propose this evidences?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 11:14 am

binocular wrote:And what do you propose this evidences?


You have shown example of Ajhaan Suwat for wise response toward visions caused by brain injury.

As for Arhants not immune to damage to the body: Buddha experienced pains, Angulimala and MahaMoggallana were beaten... etc etc.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby binocular » Thu May 16, 2013 11:16 am

porpoise wrote:
binocular wrote:In one sense, the whole point of Buddhist practice is to prepare for when aging, illness and death strike, so one doesn't go crazy.


So is BuddhaDhamma really just a glorified coping strategy?

It sounds really crappy when you put it like that ... :shock:

I think that the Buddhist practice has different uses, implications and meanings, depending on where on the path the practitioner is and depending on where on the path the observer of said practitioner is.

So, yes, at some point, the whole practice may seem like nothing more than a glorified coping strategy. That is in roundabout the view that some Western psychologists probably have of Buddhism.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Thu May 16, 2013 11:20 am

Alex123 wrote:While it is true that we may not find consciousness in the body, the body (especially the brain) does seem to be a necessary cause for the mind.

Where's the proof for that again? All I see is a certain assumption about causes being made based upon limited observations. Namely - alter the brain, you get mental alterations. However, the radio example demonstrates that it is fallacious to assume what causes what, from that.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby binocular » Thu May 16, 2013 11:21 am

Alex123 wrote:As for concentration: I think that the reason for difficulty in reaching deep meditative states such as samadhi where one cannot hear, see, etc is because hearing is used to scan the area for predators. So for survival reasons this action is deeply ingrained into the brain. IMHO.

Or, alternatively, an ordinary person simply hears better once they close their eyes, because as the brain power can be devoted to fewer sense doors, the perception at each is more intense.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 11:25 am

binocular wrote:
Alex123 wrote:As for concentration: I think that the reason for difficulty in reaching deep meditative states such as samadhi where one cannot hear, see, etc is because hearing is used to scan the area for predators. So for survival reasons this action is deeply ingrained into the brain. IMHO.

Or, alternatively, an ordinary person simply hears better once they close their eyes, because as the brain power can be devoted to fewer sense doors, the perception at each is more intense.


You could be correct in the above. I think that it is addition to what I've said. Why not both? Self preservation instincts + more intense perception.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby binocular » Thu May 16, 2013 11:27 am

Alex123 wrote: As for Arhants not immune to damage to the body: Buddha experienced pains, Angulimala and MahaMoggallana were beaten... etc etc.

But the arahant doesn't equal his or her body.

Yet what we ordinarily see, is merely the arahant's body. Based on that, we can't make valid claims about the state of his or her mind.
(Not to mention that this falls under the four unconjecturables.)


Alex123 wrote:While it is true that we may not find consciousness in the body, the body (especially the brain) does seem to be a necessary cause for the mind.

And this is a characteristic externalist perspective: assuming things about the nature or essence of a person, based on observations performed by a third party, completely disregarding the person's actual lived experience. - To which an external observer has no direct access, of course.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 11:31 am

kirk5a wrote:Where's the proof for that again? All I see is a certain assumption about causes being made based upon limited observations. Namely - alter the brain, you get mental alterations. However, the radio example demonstrates that it is fallacious to assume what causes what, from that.


a) I wasn't even talking about the only causes. Even if brain is 1 of 10 necessary causes, even if one necessary cause is gone - the effect is gone.
b) Neurology proved that consciousness depends on the brain.

c) Radio example is not that compelling. Without radio, one cannot hear the sound even though the signal still is. Without the brain there cannot be consciousness. The voice, the recording devices, the transmission devices, signal, radio, playback of sound - are all physical phenomena unlike consciousness vs body. The signal itself is sent by physical devices.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 11:33 am

binocular wrote:But the arahant doesn't equal his or her body.


Buddha, Angulimala, MahaMogallana still felt pain.

binocular wrote:And this is a characteristic externalist perspective: assuming things about the nature or essence of a person, based on observations performed by a third party, completely disregarding the person's actual lived experience. - To which an external observer has no direct access, of course.


It is a fact that alcohol impairs judgement, etc. and the results are correlated with amount one drinks, body mass, body composition, etc.

You've never seen a person get drunk and his behavior changing?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby binocular » Thu May 16, 2013 11:37 am

Alex123 wrote:You could be correct in the above. I think that it is addition to what I've said. Why not both? Self preservation instincts + more intense perception.

"Self-preservation instincs" is an idea that in order to be maintained, requires a particular ontology.
Namely, that there is a self, and this self is of such a kind that the weather, physical force, fire, water etc. can damage or extinguish it.

Someone who maintains that that which is subject to aging, illness and death is not fit to be considered "the self"; that that which is impermanent and unsatisfactory is not fit to be considered "the self" - such a person cannot have notions of "self-preservation". Such a person may only have notions of "how to preserve the false ego" or "how to preserve the illusion of self." Self, if there is such a thing, need not attempted to be preserved, because it has an unassailable existence on it own.

If you posit that "biological givens" as understood by modern Western science are more basic and override any specific religious or particular notions, and that all people are essentially the same, regardless of their religion or their spiritual advancement - then you're simply elevating modern Western science to your utmost authority. In which case, why bother with Buddhism.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby binocular » Thu May 16, 2013 11:40 am

Alex123 wrote:
binocular wrote:But the arahant doesn't equal his or her body.

Buddha, Angulimala, MahaMogallana still felt pain.

So? Doesn't mean that they suffered.


binocular wrote:And this is a characteristic externalist perspective: assuming things about the nature or essence of a person, based on observations performed by a third party, completely disregarding the person's actual lived experience. - To which an external observer has no direct access, of course.

It is a fact that alcohol impairs judgement, etc. and the results are correlated with amount one drinks, body mass, body composition, etc.
You've never seen a person get drunk and his behavior changing?

Again, what do you think this is evidence of, and how does it relate to advanced Buddhist practitioners?


Alex123 wrote:b) Neurology proved that consciousness depends on the brain.

We've been over this at least once.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 11:43 am

binocular wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
binocular wrote:But the arahant doesn't equal his or her body.

Buddha, Angulimala, MahaMogallana still felt pain.

So? Doesn't mean that they suffered.


I didn't say that they suffered. I said that they "still felt pain".

binocular wrote:
binocular wrote:And this is a characteristic externalist perspective: assuming things about the nature or essence of a person, based on observations performed by a third party, completely disregarding the person's actual lived experience. - To which an external observer has no direct access, of course.

It is a fact that alcohol impairs judgement, etc. and the results are correlated with amount one drinks, body mass, body composition, etc.
You've never seen a person get drunk and his behavior changing?

Again, what do you think this is evidence of, and how does it relate to advanced Buddhist practitioners?


It is a well known fact that alcohol impairs judgement. It can also be observed. What we cannot observe is consciousness existing without the brain.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 11:47 am

binocular wrote:
Alex123 wrote:You could be correct in the above. I think that it is addition to what I've said. Why not both? Self preservation instincts + more intense perception.

"Self-preservation instincs" is an idea that in order to be maintained, requires a particular ontology.
Namely, that there is a self, and this self is of such a kind that the weather, physical force, fire, water etc. can damage or extinguish it.


This is what developed over billion of years of evolution. Lifeforms surviving and passing corresponding genes. Those lifeforms that didn't survive and didn't pass genes, we don't have alive today. Speculations about "The Self" is very recent (compared to billion years) phenomenon, perhaps few thousand years old.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Thu May 16, 2013 11:51 am

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Where's the proof for that again? All I see is a certain assumption about causes being made based upon limited observations. Namely - alter the brain, you get mental alterations. However, the radio example demonstrates that it is fallacious to assume what causes what, from that.


a) I wasn't even talking about the only causes. Even if brain is 1 of 10 necessary causes, even if one necessary cause is gone - the effect is gone.
b) Neurology proved that consciousness depends on the brain.

c) Radio example is not that compelling. Without radio, one cannot hear the sound even though the signal still is. Without the brain there cannot be consciousness. The voice, the recording devices, the transmission devices, signal, radio, playback of sound - are all physical phenomena unlike consciousness vs body. The signal itself is sent by physical devices.

You're missing the point. I'm not saying the radio example should be taken as the correct model for consciousness. What it demonstrates is that those who assume something about causation from their observation of altering something physical, are making an unjustified leap in logic.

As far as b) goes, please direct everyone to where neurology has proved that consciousness depends on the brain.
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