Six sense base question

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
Reductor
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Re: Six sense base question

Post by Reductor » Sat May 08, 2010 12:37 pm

appicchato wrote:
...feel both index fingers tingling...then focusing on two feelings at once...
That, and three bucks, will get you a cup of coffee...
Interestingly, I didn't raise the discussion about fingers.

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BubbaBuddhist
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Re: Six sense base question

Post by BubbaBuddhist » Sat May 08, 2010 6:39 pm

The "data rate" of consciousness is quite slow. I would have to dig in my library to find my books, but I recall one by a chap named Walker, who was a physics teacher at the same college Robert Anton Wilson taught. I think his book was called The Physics of Consciousness, but would have to check to make sure. He calculated the data rate of consciousness and it came out much slower than we would suspect. He said no one believed him, but experiments much later proved he was not far off. One of his conclusions was that when we're driving a car at 65 MPH, we're actually 12 feet further along than we "think" we are.

One experiment was pretty much common sense and demonstrated a quality of the human mind that I found fascinating. The time for nerve impulses to travel the length of the human body to the brain and back again is pretty slow. People were stuck in the big toe with pins and of course, they registered pain, yelped, and pulled their foot away. They said the pain sensation was simultaneous to the pin prick. But when they were blindfolded, there was a noticeable delay between the pinprick and the yell-and-recoil. So the conclusion was the person's mind was editing reality to make sense of it, in other words, correlating the visual input with the input of the nerves!

Other studies indicated our minds do this quite often, dropping out points of time here and there to make senses of the different "lags" in out various sensory inputs so everything correlates. Otherwise, we would walk around with various conflicting signals due to the inefficient nature of our sense-organs. So there are "gaps" in reality we simply do not remember. Therefore, if this research is valid, it is not possible even on a coarse level for our minds to process all sense-data simultaneously, not to mention on the near-microscopic citta-level described by the abhidhamma.

There is also a phenomenon called selective amnesia, often experienced by people texting or talking on the cell phone wile driving. You actually do not see some things while involved in multitasking complicated procedures, your brain edits them out. Driving simulations demonstrate this. I've also recreated this in my hypnosis demonstrations. I tell the subjects the hypnotist is invisible, but anything I'm holding is visible. Their eyes do not register me, but will dilate when I bring the objects into view. Eye dilation is controlled partially by autonomous and autonomous systems so I find this fascinating. The mind can truly edit reality.

So I have reason to believe the "serial processing" model of citta presented by the Theravada abhidhamma has some validity to it.

Oh yeah--it's also a lot more complex than just the six sense cittas, there are other cittas that precede the sense cittas, follow them when they pass away, and there's also the bvangha-citta which conditions everything. :juggling:

I hope this helps cast some light on the subject from another point of view. If not, ignore . :P

J
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Kenshou
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Re: Six sense base question

Post by Kenshou » Sat May 08, 2010 7:01 pm

Therefore, if this research is valid, it is not possible even on a coarse level for our minds to process all sense-data simultaneously
I can believe that there's a degree of lag, however I don't quite see how what you've posted has to do with how much sense data can be processed at one time potentially, though experience will show that it is certainly possible to be focused on one thing enough to block out others, so maybe you're right on the -all- part. Who knows.

Playing around with all this, I've noticed that the very act of focusing in and attempting to pinpoint discreet moments of consciousness is what seems to create the feeling of attention jumping from one place to the other. When I try to be more relaxed about it, it's much easier to be aware of multiple points with out the jumpy-feeling. But maybe all I'm doing is blurring the focus so that the little jumps of attention aren't registered.

Also, I'm not sure if the Abhidhammic stance is that each citta can take only one object at a time or can only have one object of consciousness at a time, or if there is a difference. Thing is, experience shows that pretty much all sensations are really sort of an effervescent mist of little points, the faculty of saññá helps create the sense of discreet objects, nevertheless in reality things are not so clear cut. If the mind can truly only be aware of one thing at a time, then it must be asked how do we define "one thing"? Am I entirely absorbed in the act of being aware of whatever the smallest unit of experience is, nevertheless so quickly that I'm not aware of it? I'm skeptical, but that certainly would require a ridiculously fast citta-rate.

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BubbaBuddhist
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Re: Six sense base question

Post by BubbaBuddhist » Sat May 08, 2010 7:32 pm

The abhidhammic stance (at least Thera abhidhma) is that there is one discrete citta at a time, and these citta moments are incredibly fast. "Normal" cognition/attention cannot perceive them. It takes a very advanced meditator to perceive these discrete states.

Venerable Dhamannando could weigh in here as he is expert in these matters.

J
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Re: Six sense base question

Post by acinteyyo » Sat May 08, 2010 9:37 pm

What does this mean "there can only be one citta at a time"? What is meant by "one citta" and "at a time"?
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Ben
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Re: Six sense base question

Post by Ben » Sat May 08, 2010 9:59 pm

Hi acinteyyo
acinteyyo wrote:What does this mean "there can only be one citta at a time"? What is meant by "one citta" and "at a time"?
One citta rises and falls before another rises and falls. in the same way, a fluorescent light tube flickers one burst of light at a time.
kind regards

Ben
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acinteyyo
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Re: Six sense base question

Post by acinteyyo » Sat May 08, 2010 10:43 pm

Ben wrote:Hi acinteyyo
acinteyyo wrote:What does this mean "there can only be one citta at a time"? What is meant by "one citta" and "at a time"?
One citta rises and falls before another rises and falls. in the same way, a fluorescent light tube flickers one burst of light at a time.
kind regards

Ben
Sorry Ben but I still don't understand. What is "one citta"?
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by retrofuturist » Sat May 08, 2010 11:14 pm

Greetings acinteyyo,

See CITTA

"Citta" (as interpreted nowadays at least, since most people learn Abhidhamma via commentarial compendiums) effectively takes us back to the momentariness discussions that we've been having in other topics. Whether citta was intended to be momentary (i.e. in a moment of time) rather than structural (vis a vis other cittas) in the Abhidhamma Pitaka itself, I don't know.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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appicchato
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Re: Six sense base question

Post by appicchato » Sun May 09, 2010 12:20 am

thereductor wrote:Interestingly, I didn't raise the discussion about fingers.

And (not so interestingly), I wasn't quoting you... :smile:

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by Reductor » Sun May 09, 2010 12:44 am

appicchato wrote:
thereductor wrote:Interestingly, I didn't raise the discussion about fingers.

And (not so interestingly), I wasn't quoting you... :smile:
Are you sure?

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... =20#p64516" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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retrofuturist
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Re: Six sense base question

Post by retrofuturist » Sun May 09, 2010 1:11 am

Greetings Bubbabuddhist,

Thank you for sharing those scientific findings.

It reminds me of a reflex testing machine at Scienceworks (the local childrens' interactive 'museum') where a red light would come on and as soon as it did you had to press a button. The machine would then tell you, to the hundredth of a second, how long you took to react to the red light. Now, generally speaking I think my reflexes are pretty good, but there was a certain threshold of time for which it seemed impossible to beat, even when you were "in the zone"... the only way it could be beaten was by pre-emptively guessing when the light would go and to get in with the button press before you had actually cognised the red light. From memory, that threshold (when not pre-emptively cheating) was about 0.3x seconds, but I can't be sure. Either way it was, as you indicate in your post, far cruder than that required to disseminate microscopic 'cittas' which (if the commentaries were to be accepted) are measured in billionths of seconds, let alone hundredths.

With such limits to human observation imposed by biology (can impulses travel faster than the speed of light... would the speed of light even make it viable? Does anyone fancy doing the maths?), and with the Buddha not mentioning it in the suttas, I would assume the critical mind would naturally question the origins of the teaching of cittas, and the practical benefit they possess. If we accept they cannot be observed discretely, they would be a pedagogical device, at best. I guess it's for each to determine, in accordance with their own reasoning, intelligence and experience, based on the available information. What else can be done?

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by mikenz66 » Sun May 09, 2010 2:53 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote: With such limits to human observation imposed by biology (can impulses travel faster than the speed of light... would the speed of light even make it viable? Does anyone fancy doing the maths?)
I think that the biology of working the brain actually involves chemical reactions that impose a much lower limit than the speed of light.

But, since you asked, light travels about 30cm (one foot for the Americans :) in one nanosecond (one billionth of a second). The average modern computer has a clock rate of about 1gigahertz, i.e. one billion cittas (errr... operations) per second. If it didn't fit in a small box, then the speed of light would be a problem.

But is this relevant? Is "mind" just biology?

But while we are at it, in computer terms the original question is whether "mind" has multiples cpus or a single processor. A single processor gives the impression of multi-tasking by working on one program for a while, then on another, then on a third...

Mike



Mike

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tiltbillings
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Re: Six sense base question

Post by tiltbillings » Sun May 09, 2010 4:17 am

mikenz66 wrote:
But is this relevant? Is "mind" just biology?
Biology is certainly the medium through which the mind/body process functions, which is why the notion of billions of mind moments in an eye's blink is just one of those Indian numerical exaggerations, having not a thing to to with the actual experience, nor was it taught by the Buddha, whose teachings reflect a far more naturalistic, empirical experience. At best the billions of mind moments indicates that the mind moves with remarkable rapidity.
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This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by appicchato » Sun May 09, 2010 5:11 am

thereductor wrote:Are you sure?
Pretty much...I purposely didn't attribute the words to anyone... :coffee:

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Re: Six sense base question

Post by retrofuturist » Sun May 09, 2010 8:31 am

Greetings,

Here are some words from the Buddha...

SN 33.46 (Bhikkhu Bodhi translation)
The Blessed One wrote:At Savatthi. "Bhikkhus, all is to be directly known. And what, bhikkhus, is the all that is to be directly known? The eye is to be directly known. Forms are to be directly known. Eye-consciousness is to be directly known. Eye-contact is to be directly known. Whatever feelings arise with eye-contact as condition... that too is to be directly known.

The ear... The tongue... The body... The mind... Whatever feelings are with mind-contact as condition... that too is to be directly known.

Seeing thus, bhikkhus, the instructed noble disciple experiences revulsion towards the eye, towards forms, towards eye-consciousness, towards eye-contact... He understands:'... there is no more for this state of being."
SN 33.50 (Bhikkhu Bodhi translation)
The Blessed One wrote:At Savatthi. "Bhikkhus, all is to be fully understood through direct knowledge. And what, bhikkhus, is the all that is to be fully understood through direct knowledge? The eye is to be fully understood through direct knowledge. Forms are to be fully understood through direct knowledge. Eye-consciousness is to be fully understood through direct knowledge. Eye-contact is to be fully understood through direct knowledge. Whatever feelings arise with eye-contact as condition... that too is to be fully understood through direct knowledge.

The ear... The tongue... The body... The mind... Whatever feelings are with mind-contact as condition... that too is to be fully understood through direct knowledge.

Seeing thus, bhikkhus, the instructed noble disciple experiences revulsion towards the eye, towards forms, towards eye-consciousness, towards eye-contact... He understands:'... there is no more for this state of being."
The Buddha was direct (and cool). 8-)

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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