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Is the new "Spread Mind" philosophy actually Buddhism?

Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:32 am
by joshzltyn
I recently stumbled upon a fascinating series of conversations on consciousness in the New York Review of Books by an MIT Fulbright scholar named Riccardo Manzotti. That series led me to his The Spread Mind website, his How to Locate Consciousness in the Physical World video, his Why Consciousness and World are one and the same book and two of his philosophical¹ cartoons².

Three (of many) of his ideas are as follows:

- Consciousness is the object one is conscious of.
- A physical entity exists if and only if it is the actual cause of something else.
- The past is not defined until it produces an effect, but once it does, the past has been defined since it occurred originally.

I'm certainly not yet an expert in Buddhism but these three ideas alone seem to have a likeness to Buddhist teachings, namely: nonduality, not-self, dependent origination and cause-condition-effect. Yet, he was specifically asked in one of the NYR conversations if he was familiar with Buddhism and he indicated that he was not.

Are his ideas equivalent to, similar to, a subset of, or compatible with those of Buddhist teachings?

Any input that anyone would be kind enough to provide would be especially appreciated. Thank you.

Re: Is the new "Spread Mind" philosophy actually Buddhism?

Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:38 am
by SDC
Moved to "Connections to Other Paths"

Re: Is the new "Spread Mind" philosophy actually Buddhism?

Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:13 am
by cappuccino
Theravada isn't non-duality.

Re: Is the new "Spread Mind" philosophy actually Buddhism?

Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:00 am
by perkele
joshzltyn wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:32 am
Three (of many) of his ideas are as follows:

- Consciousness is the object one is conscious of.
- A physical entity exists if and only if it is the actual cause of something else.
- The past is not defined until it produces an effect, but once it does, the past has been defined since it occurred originally.
As these ideas, as outlined, don't seem very original, I don't think that it's fair to count them as his. Sounds like some regular everyday vague try at an interpretation of strange quantum stuff. So there's already a connection with Buddhist teachings: anatta.
I must admit that I have not yet listened to what the man himself has to say about it. So it might seem that I'm making a mistake, but I don't actually mean that in a bad way.
I do think that the explanation for all and everything is "quantum stuff". "Quantum stuff" is roughly equal to 42 in my mind.

I don't know how to actually construe a clear connection from qunatum stuff to buddhist teachings (except anatta, even in a much more serious sense than that quip of mine above). But it seems it's not uncommon that people do this. (I read the book that the last link is about and found it to be interesting, but not explaining a lot.)

I have always been fascinated and mystified by quantum stuff ever since I learnt about it. I remember when I was first introduced to the topic in school I was euphoric and awestruck: How fascinating, how magical this seems. These strange effects of observation and fuzziness of physical matter, and beautiful strange laws one can derive from it, lying at the heart of this mysterious reality of mind and matter that we're trapped in.
But it's still a mysterious topic to me, which means: I don't really understand it.

Maybe, just maybe, the following topic is also interesting to make some wild connections, or, to the contrary, develop some clean and sober ideas:
All dhammas are personal, not public

:rolleye:

Re: Is the new "Spread Mind" philosophy actually Buddhism?

Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:02 am
by paul
“Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos, the cessation of the cosmos, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos.”—-Anguttara Nikaya 4:45

No. While it is true that reality is a result of the mind, the ‘Spread Mind’ theory only presents the unenlightened part of the picture, so it is a non-dual view. Once the practitioner begins the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos, then they are on the Theravada path of duality; both conventional reality and ultimate reality exist concurrently.

Therefore recollection of nibbana is necessary, which is one of the forty subjects of meditation:
“To whatever extent there are phenomena conditioned or unconditioned, dispassion is declared the foremost among them, that is, the crushing of pride, the removal of thirst, the uprooting of attachment, the termination of the round, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbāna. Those who have confidence in the Dhamma have confidence in the foremost, and for those who have confidence in the foremost, the result is foremost.”—-Anguttara Nikaya II. 34, Sutta Central.