Brain correlates....

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Brain correlates....

Postby Myotai » Sun Oct 27, 2013 8:08 pm

Just listened to Leigh Brasington talk about Jhanas - "Focus and Freedom" - he often spoke of brain chemistry in terms of Jhanic states.....always makes me feel uncomfortable. If what the Buddha taught can be reduced to chemical changes in the brain, why not just develop a Jhana pill?
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Re: Brain correlates....

Postby Ben » Mon Oct 28, 2013 1:36 am

It's just a different perspective. Keep in mind that the dominant paradigm at the moment appears to be scientific materialism. By presenting the jhanas in such a way, he is making the Dhamma a little more accessible to people who may ordinarily dismiss it.
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Re: Brain correlates....

Postby Myotai » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:03 am

Thanks Ben, this is of course true of the moment! :)

Best evidence I have seen for brain not being synonomous with mind is the Pacebo effect....no other explanation needed IMHO. If the brain make changes when a non-placebo is administered, then what else evokes physiological changes when a placebo is used...?

Mind!

:)
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Re: Brain correlates....

Postby lbrasington » Thu Jan 23, 2014 8:09 pm

Yep, I'm assuming that the mind is (at least a partial) reflection of brain/nervous system activity in response to the environment in which it finds itself embedded. Is this the whole story? I'd say we don't know -- but I personally have yet to see any evidence of some part of the mind outside of brain/nervous system activity.

The placebo effect proves nothing IMHO. The mind affects the body and vice versa. For an example of the mind affecting the body go to this page and sit back and watch for 15 seconds as the pictures flip by: http://leighb.com/pix2013/Portugal/R001 ... tugal.html
Did the 3rd picture generate any bodily reaction when you realized what you were look at? Maybe not -- I may only get it because I took the picture. But for sure I get a tightening in my gut when I look at that picture -- and its all in my mind.

Given that the jhanas do arise in correlation with distinct brain states, I want to understand those states. Doing so just might make it easier to teach people how to enter and use these states. As for a jhana pill -- our understanding of how the brain works is far too primitive at this time to do so. You'll just have to use the ol' sittin' on a cushion method to get to the jhanas.

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Re: Brain correlates....

Postby fig tree » Fri Jan 24, 2014 3:03 am

Myotai wrote:Best evidence I have seen for brain not being synonomous with mind is the Pacebo effect....no other explanation needed IMHO. If the brain make changes when a non-placebo is administered, then what else evokes physiological changes when a placebo is used...?

The first time I read this, I accidentally missed the "not". I don't see it as more compatible with either assumption than the other. If mind is essentially just an activity of the brain, then the brain can influence the rest of the body just as easily as the mind could assuming it was independent of the brain. I was interested to read that the immune system has receptors for neurotransmitters; the same chemicals as serve as messengers for the brain get used as some kind of signal to the body's defenses.

The mind being just a function of the body makes rebirth harder to believe, but I don't see how else it affects practice.

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Re: Brain correlates....

Postby Myotai » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:50 am

I would say that the WHOLE of Buddhism as a viable and legitimate religion is based almost exclusively upon the existence of past and future lives.

If the mind dies with the brain then there isn't anything (apart from constructed morals based upon an inconsequential fantasy) to stop us being utterly hedonistic....


I am going to start a new thread re this but thought I would answer here first - hope thats ok?
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Re: Brain correlates....

Postby kirk5a » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:05 pm

lbrasington wrote:Yep, I'm assuming that the mind is (at least a partial) reflection of brain/nervous system activity in response to the environment in which it finds itself embedded. Is this the whole story? I'd say we don't know -- but I personally have yet to see any evidence of some part of the mind outside of brain/nervous system activity.

You claim to have personally attained the cessation of perception and feeling, am I interpreting what you've said below correctly? What, in that state, is indicative of brain/nervous system activity?
lbrasington wrote:I did not experience saññavedayitanirodha while doing these measurement - cuz I very seldom ever experience it, and certainly not under the less-than ideal circumstance of being measured while meditating.
"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: Brain correlates....

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:09 pm

Myotai wrote:Just listened to Leigh Brasington talk about Jhanas - "Focus and Freedom" - he often spoke of brain chemistry in terms of Jhanic states.....always makes me feel uncomfortable. If what the Buddha taught can be reduced to chemical changes in the brain, why not just develop a Jhana pill?




Chemical reactions occur in the brain when we meditate, however different chemical reactions go on all the time in the brain depending on what we are doing (sex, drugs, happy, stresses, asleep etc)


A jhana pill, that would be nice

A short cut to Jhana is unlikely, however it was possible you would still need to develop wisdom, which is different.

You can be in Jhana and not see the Dhamma

I dont know how you would develop a pill for "Wisdom"


If you find out though, let me know :thumbsup: :)
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan
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