Brain vs mind?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Kim OHara
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Re: Brain vs mind?

Post by Kim OHara » Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:01 am

Alex123 wrote: It would be interesting if there was a drug to make one enlightened.

Ok, so maybe it is possible for brain to physically rewire itself due to practice.
The classic position* on this issue is that drugs can be used to give anyone a glimpse of higher states of consciousness but real progress hasn't been made until the person does the work to get there without chemical help.

*Thinking of Aldous Huxley 'Doors of Perception' and other books from around that time, not the Dhamma - though it might well be present in the suttas without me knowing.

:namaste:
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Sylvester
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Re: Brain vs mind?

Post by Sylvester » Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:45 am

I think both Dualism and Materialism are irrelevant to the Buddha's teaching of consciousness as an Aggregate.

Dualism is needed to defend the theory of the post-mortem survival of the soul/consciousness or whatever is being posited to mediate experience.

Materialism of course is a nail in the coffin of the post-mortem survival theory, but ONLY IF what survives death is taken to the be same thing (as a 'species' rather than an identical thing) that mediated experience or is experienced.

What if consciousness in the Buddhist sense falls into neither category?

Although the early Buddhist theory of cognition refers to types of consciousness arising at the salayatana, it is famously silent on the mechanism for the arising of consciousness, except for 3 different nidanas, ie (i) sankharas are the paccaya of vinnana (std DO), or (ii) namarupa are(is?) the paccaya of vinnana (DN 15 variant of DO) or (iii) corresponding engagement (MN 28). No (ii) veers quite close to a Materialist conception of a basis for consciousness (see eg DN 15's exposition of the interplay between 'rebirth' consciousness and what looks like a discussion of a foetus), but I think there are modern interpretations worth considering that Nama-Rupa is best not understood in the classical "Commentarial" basis.

I think it mattered little to the Buddha on whether or not there is a physiological basis to vinnana, or if the pyschiological basis is the sole and exclusive explanation for consciousness (except if it gave rise to Ajita Kesakambalin's or Pakudha Kaccayana's theories - see DN 2). The problem is the clinging and grasping of the consciousness once arisen. The problem is the craving that leads to the arising of consciousness and the other khandhas.

What makes Dependant Origination so frustratingly impenetrable and impervious to synthetic a priori speculation is that it needs to be personally witnessed at Stream Entry. The more we allow ourselves to be plagued by these speculations, the more tenacious the Fetter of Doubt that stands between us and Stream Entry. MN 27 notes that a disciple does not arrive at certainty about the Dhamma, even after he's experienced the lofty Jhanas and the 2 Super-Knowledges. It is only with vision into Dependant Origination that the Faith is verified.

Can we allow ourselves just enough faith to put aside these questions?

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kirk5a
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Re: Brain vs mind?

Post by kirk5a » Tue Apr 19, 2011 7:50 pm

I found this interesting commentary on brain vs. consciousness by Ajahn Maha Boowa
The brain, for instance, is a lump of matter. The brain is merely an instrument that human consciousness uses. When the citta enters into a deep state of calm and concentration, the conscious awareness that is normally diffused throughout the body simultaneously converges from all areas of the body into one central point of focus at the middle of the chest. The knowing quality manifests itself prominently at that point. It does not emanate from the brain. Although the faculties of memorization and learning arise in association with the brain, direct knowledge of the truth does not. Step by step, beginning with the initial stages of samadhi practice, progress in meditation is experienced and understood in the heart—and only in the heart. This is where the truth lies, and the meditator who practices correctly knows this each step of the way. When it comes to understanding the true nature of all phenomena, the brain is not a factor—it is not useful at all. The citta’s serene and radiant qualities are experienced at the heart. They emanate conspicuously from that point. All of the citta’s myriad aspects, from the grossest to the most subtle, are experienced clearly from this central spot. And when all defiling influences are finally eliminated from the citta, it is there that they all cease.
http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... ntship.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"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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Dhammarakkhito
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Re: Brain vs mind?

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:06 pm

why take anything sam harris has to say seriously
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

https://www.facebook.com/noblebuddhadha ... 34/?type=3

http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://sites.google.com/site/santipada ... allytaught

Saengnapha
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Re: Brain vs mind?

Post by Saengnapha » Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:52 pm

kirk5a wrote:
Tue Apr 19, 2011 7:50 pm
I found this interesting commentary on brain vs. consciousness by Ajahn Maha Boowa
The brain, for instance, is a lump of matter. The brain is merely an instrument that human consciousness uses. When the citta enters into a deep state of calm and concentration, the conscious awareness that is normally diffused throughout the body simultaneously converges from all areas of the body into one central point of focus at the middle of the chest. The knowing quality manifests itself prominently at that point. It does not emanate from the brain. Although the faculties of memorization and learning arise in association with the brain, direct knowledge of the truth does not. Step by step, beginning with the initial stages of samadhi practice, progress in meditation is experienced and understood in the heart—and only in the heart. This is where the truth lies, and the meditator who practices correctly knows this each step of the way. When it comes to understanding the true nature of all phenomena, the brain is not a factor—it is not useful at all. The citta’s serene and radiant qualities are experienced at the heart. They emanate conspicuously from that point. All of the citta’s myriad aspects, from the grossest to the most subtle, are experienced clearly from this central spot. And when all defiling influences are finally eliminated from the citta, it is there that they all cease.
This is much more to the point. But this kind of explanation is usually not talked about in mainstream Theravada. It reminds me much more of how the Christian mystical tradition looks at this. I wonder why?

chownah
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Re: Brain vs mind?

Post by chownah » Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:16 am

Ajahn Maha Boowa wrote: The brain, for instance, is a lump of matter.
The heart for instance is a lump of matter.
chownah

Saengnapha
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Re: Brain vs mind?

Post by Saengnapha » Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:10 am

chownah wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:16 am
Ajahn Maha Boowa wrote: The brain, for instance, is a lump of matter.
The heart for instance is a lump of matter.
chownah
Only for those who refuse to let go of their knowledge about such things.

chownah
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Re: Brain vs mind?

Post by chownah » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:29 am

Image
chownah

Upeksha
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Re: Brain vs mind?

Post by Upeksha » Thu Feb 22, 2018 4:55 am

How coherent is Buddha-dharma if there is only one aggregate: form?

And no immaterial jhanas?

And no karma?

And how could one possibly define nibbana in materialist terms? The cessation of brain activity = nibbana?? That is a dire proposition.

So it's a pretty easy answer: it's not coherent at all.

There were materialists in the Buddha's time too - the Carvakas - and they were understood (by the Buddhists) to be about as heretical as one can get to Buddha-dharma.

In today's age, I would agree that there are some nuanced and sophisticated and well founded versions of materialism......but all of them are contrary to the buddha-dharma: the very logic of buddha-dharma is 'a mind that extracts itself from entanglements with form.'

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