The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
chownah
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The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by chownah » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:59 am

I have noticed that if I sit with my head perfectly still (like when you are sitting on the toilet with your feet on the floor, your elbows on your knees, and your forehead resting on your hands) and I fix my stare so that my eyes do not move at all (important that there is absoluetly no eye movement which includes no re-focusing) then after a couple of seconds the visual image starts to degenerate until there will be no recognizable forms at all.....

Is this the ceasing of eye consciousness?....of course some science oriented explanations will probalby be posted as to physiologically why this happens....which is interesting....but not what I'm wondering about.

In this situation there is still light entering the eye and striking the retina (I guess) and the retina is still there (I guess)....so....???

chownah

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ground
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Re: The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by ground » Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:18 am

Guess it is just losing the physiological eye focus due to relaxation.

Kind regards

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tiltbillings
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Re: The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:22 am

TMingyur wrote:Guess it is just losing the physiological eye focus due to relaxation.

Kind regards
That is a very reasonable quess, and geez, chownah, thanks for the image you just put intro my head. I think I need to go watch TV now.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

Kenshou
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Re: The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by Kenshou » Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:27 am

Well if there were no eye-consciousness you'd be seeing nothing at all. I think it's probably more to do with perception rather than consciousness. Sight is really just kind of a flat screen, recognition of specific objects and features is based on and secondary to that.

I'd guess that since you're preoccupied with other business, the specific perception of the contents of your vision sort of drifts off. Which is probably just a more complicated way of saying what others have already suggested.

And yes, now we all have a nice mental image, don't we.

chownah
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Re: The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by chownah » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:04 am

TMingyur wrote:Guess it is just losing the physiological eye focus due to relaxation.

Kind regards
TMingyur,
This is not what I am talking about....it is definitely not just losing eye focus....definitely not....after the eyes de-focus the de-focused shapes lose their integrity and color fades....it is quite distinct from just a de-focused image.
chownah

To others,
Greetings friends!
I guess you now have an image of yourself sitting on a toilet....is this so distracting...afterall you sit on a toilet at least once a day probably....hasn't your study of the dhamma provided you with the insight that this is just a natural part of having a body and nothing to snicker about? Strange how I start a topic about images fading and many here just get sharp images that arise!
If someone sends me a PM requesting I will edit out my example of how to hold the eye completely still.....I'm offering to do this as a friendly gesture and to help focusing on the topic....I guess I have only myself to blame for this distraction so please accept that I am not trying to direct anything in this response towards criticism or any other negative attirbute.....
chownah

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Re: The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by Nyana » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:10 am

tiltbillings wrote:and geez, chownah, thanks for the image you just put intro my head.
LOL.... chownah, no more sharing deep thoughts from the lavatory.

Image
chownah wrote:Strange how I start a topic about images fading and many here just get sharp images that arise!

chownah
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Re: The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by chownah » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:22 am

Kenshou wrote:Well if there were no eye-consciousness you'd be seeing nothing at all. I think it's probably more to do with perception rather than consciousness. Sight is really just kind of a flat screen, recognition of specific objects and features is based on and secondary to that.

I'd guess that since you're preoccupied with other business, the specific perception of the contents of your vision sort of drifts off. Which is probably just a more complicated way of saying what others have already suggested.

And yes, now we all have a nice mental image, don't we.
Kenshou,
This happens not because of being preoccupied....it seems to happen even when one is maintaining mental focus on vision.

If I maintain this for awhile I do start to see nothing at all in that there are no recognizable shapes or forms. It seems like vision is not functioning....and I guess the Buddha taught that vision is dependent on the eye, light, and eye consciousness...when the three come together then there is vision....if this is correct and if vision ceases to function then which of the three is missing?....or....maybe you are right and the vision is still happening but it is sending a garbage signal onward...if there is no specific content passed on by vision then it is either vision not functioning or perception not functioning I guess.
I'm not saying I have the answer...I'm trying to use this experience to gain insight or to understand the Buddha's teachings better.
chownah

chownah
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Re: The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by chownah » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:29 am

Ñāṇa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:and geez, chownah, thanks for the image you just put intro my head.
LOL.... chownah, no more sharing deep thoughts from the lavatory.

Image
chownah wrote:Strange how I start a topic about images fading and many here just get sharp images that arise!
SN 22.22 PTS: S iii 25 CDB i 871
Bhāra Sutta: The Burden
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2001–2011

"..........
That is what the Blessed One said. Having said that, the One Well-gone, the Teacher, said further:

A burden indeed
are the five aggregates,
and the carrier of the burden
is the person.
Taking up the burden in the world
is stressful.
Casting off the burden
is bliss.
Having cast off the heavy burden
and not taking on another,
pulling up craving,
along with its root,
one is free from hunger,
totally unbound.
"

chownah

Akuma
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Re: The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by Akuma » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:34 am

I have noticed that if I sit with my head perfectly still (like when you are sitting on the toilet with your feet on the floor, your elbows on your knees, and your forehead resting on your hands) and I fix my stare so that my eyes do not move at all (important that there is absoluetly no eye movement which includes no re-focusing) then after a couple of seconds the visual image starts to degenerate until there will be no recognizable forms at all.....
Afair it has to do with either the Retina or the visual nerve due to overlaying the same image over and over again. Its the same effect one has when oen is staring in a bright light f.e. and gets a after image which will also disturb everything there is to be seen.
As a teenager I used to experiment with this a little, sitting myself in front of the mirror and staring into my face. It would change after a while, colors would fade, it would become black-green and it would show me things like the faces of a lion etc. before it would vanish.
Maybe its that.

chownah
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Re: The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by chownah » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:48 am

Akuma,
Yes, I think what you describe is probably the same thing as what I have experienced. I think your scientific explanation is sort of pointing to the correct thing from a scientific perspective but what I'm wondering about is how it might be explained by the Buddha's teachings. You add another dimension to this phenomena by saying that you could see your face in altered forms (like a lion)...this makes me think that your visual sense had possibly shut down and your mind made sense of vision took over....again....this might help in understanding how phenomena can help elucidate the Buddha's teachings.
chownah

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Re: The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by Akuma » Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:21 am

chownah wrote:Akuma,
Yes, I think what you describe is probably the same thing as what I have experienced. I think your scientific explanation is sort of pointing to the correct thing from a scientific perspective but what I'm wondering about is how it might be explained by the Buddha's teachings. You add another dimension to this phenomena by saying that you could see your face in altered forms (like a lion)...this makes me think that your visual sense had possibly shut down and your mind made sense of vision took over....again....this might help in understanding how phenomena can help elucidate the Buddha's teachings.
chownah
I have very bad eyes. If someone drives me in a car for exmaple it might happen that I see a tree. When it comes closer it might be a human being. When we drive past it I realize its an emergency-phone.
I dont know what function this is in Buddhism its probably sanna which scans different concents of the different vijnaanas and tries to make sense of them. If your visual perception is so muddled due to staring it wants to make sense of that too. In a similar way people who are deprived of sensual influxes when being in solitary confinement will start hearing voices and seeing things eventho the room is completely silent and no light is there. So even if there is no stimuli at all your mind tries to make sense of that no-stimuli.
Also - I would have to check now I also have bad memory ^^ - afair the visual consciousness cant just shut down in buddhist theory.

daverupa
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Re: The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by daverupa » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:51 am

The eye can only see a small point directly in front of the retina (the fovea, about two arc degrees). Basically, the normal way of seeing is having the eyes move all over the field of vision while the mind stitches those pins of imagery into a larger, coherent view of the visual environment. By resting the eyes very still, as you mention, you let the stitching come apart and are reduced to processing only the input from the fovea, a very small area. This can be overwritten amidst the larger blankness, similar to how the blind spots are overwritten with surrounding visual information to provide a continuous arch-image. It can also be overwritten as the mind, bored with the plainness, avoids the visual field in favor of other qualia.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

chownah
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Re: The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by chownah » Wed Sep 28, 2011 2:01 pm

daverupa,
Good post. It inspired me to go to wikipedia and read some more about how the eye works and under the topic "Fixation (Visual)" I found this:
"............
In the current consensus, fixational eye movement contributes to maintaining visibility, by continuously stimulating neurons in the early visual areas of the brain, which mostly respond to transient stimuli. In the absence of retinal jitter (a laboratory condition called retinal stabilization), stabilized images as a visual percept rapidly fade out and completely disappear (provided the stabilization is good enough) (Pritchard, Heron & Hebb, 1960; Coppola & Purves, 1996).
............"
It seems to be pretty much in agreement with what you have said about stitching together the larger view when it talks about "continuously stimulating neurons in the early visual areas of the brain" but it also seems to indicate that if the stabilization of the eye is good enough "a visual percept rapidly fade out and completely disappear". This seems to imply complete cessation of perception but one wonders what exactly is meant by "completely disappear".

In term of how this fits with the Dhamma I have been pondering whether the condition is a result of the eye losing it's sensitivity (I'm assuming that vision is completely interupted which I do not think has been conclusively shown). If I remember correctly light must come together with the "sensitive part of the eye" (usually taken as the retina) as a necessary condition for eye consciousness to arise and result in contact. If someone could verify this that would be good. Anyway if the eye has lost its sensitivity then that means the eye is at least temporarily out of the game (I would say does not exist but don't want to start a discussion of "existence" vs. "non-existence") so that explains the phenomena at one level.

On the other hand if the eye must be moved for it to be sensitive or to become sensitive then might it be volition or intention which provides the impulse to keep the eye moving....some variation of this theme could very closely approximate the teaching about the cessation of the eye....it might be hypothesized that the eye arises when intention sends it impulses for movement without which the eye does not function.

Also, I don't know how to find the answer but during mediation (assuming eyes closed) does this same thing occur....i.e. does the eye stop moving resulting in its decomissioning?

chownah

daverupa
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Re: The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by daverupa » Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:24 pm

In terms of it fitting within a Dhamma worldview, I'm uncertain pursuing the anatomy of eye function is appropriate. The blankness you describe can be maintained by relaxation combined with attention directed elsewhere a la zazen. Alternatively, you can shortcut this scenic route by closing your eyes in order to ensure that the only visual input is comprised of phosphenes. The difference, of course, is that without practice closed eyes are strongly correlated with sleep, whereas without practice open eyes are strongly correlated with eye movement which can impinge on awareness.

Eyes open and stare at a wall or the floor, or eyes closed - either way, anapanasati doesn't bother with visual input, so whichever way assists you in setting it aside...

:heart:
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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mikenz66
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Re: The ceasing of eye conscoiusness?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:37 pm

Hi Dave,
daverupa wrote:The eye can only see a small point directly in front of the retina (the fovea, about two arc degrees)....
Perhaps you left out the words "high detail"...

It's not that you can't see things at large angles (it is easy to check that peripheral vision in humans works out to about 80 degrees - try bringing your hand forward from your ear), but that there is a small high-resolution area.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fovea_centralis" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:

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