What is "Mind?"

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MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Oct 6, 2017 - 05:57pm PT
f you really want to "experience" reality you should hope to come back as a paramecium.


And if you are attracted to the idea of a long lifetime, hope to come back as a proton. As a proton the difference between your experience of reality and that of a paramecium may not be all that great.
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
Oct 6, 2017 - 06:34pm PT
Thanks PSP. That was very helpful.

I think the problem here is that some people are using Buddhism and meditation to try to explain things that they were never meant to explain. The Buddha himself said about his teachings, " I teach suffering and the end of suffering". He also declined to speculate on spiritual cosmologies, let alone physical ones. Whenever people tried to pin him down as to how many spiritual realms there were, the number of Boddhisattvas in the universe etc., he always replied, "Sit down, meditate, find the truth for yourselves".

I've long since come to the conclusion that science is the best tool for understanding the physical universe, but I do believe that the meditative sciences have a great deal to teach us about the workings of our mind and also how to use our minds in a more rational and compassionate way than we so far have.

I think we are at a point in our evolutionary history on this planet that aggressiveness, whether in the form of brute force or exploitation of nature, no longer guarantees the survival of our own species. In fact, it may hasten its end. Thus, clarity and compassion are not just for the soft hearted but for our practical survival.

We are at a turning point in history where thinking in the same ways and doing the same things, however successful for our survival and evolution in the past, is not going to ensure our survival. We need all the social, cultural, and psychological tools we can muster, and the insights of the meditative arts have a lot to contribute.



jgill

Boulder climber
The high prairie of southern Colorado
Oct 6, 2017 - 07:00pm PT
A thoughtful and reasonable analysis, Jan.

I think the problem here is that some people are using Buddhism and meditation to try to explain things that they were never meant to explain

Well said!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 6, 2017 - 07:10pm PT
" I teach suffering and the end of suffering"

what is suffering?

seems yet another human construction.
okay, whatever

climber
Oct 6, 2017 - 08:03pm PT
I think most anyone who has lived to adolescence and beyond knows what is meant by the word "suffer", in both the physical and emotional realms. Granted, it's just a word. And our individual brains, not to mention those of our pets, or wildlife, or what have you (NOT that they have English vocabularies, as far as we know!) may indeed have a slightly different mental image of what the word "suffer" means. But I think the core of the meaning is pretty clear, when it's used in its most conventional sense. I have certainly "suffered" physically and emotionally both in my life at times... in other words I HURT. Not that HURT isn't an equally vague word, but I would be astounded if any adult on this forum didn't know what I mean, though the "problem of other minds" is of course a philosophical issue of long standing. My view is that language DEFINITELY has limitations, but here we are, trying to convey our thoughts and feelings and doubts about language, in... LANGUAGE, ironically!
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Oct 6, 2017 - 08:29pm PT
Don't lose sight of suffering being a replacement for experience when one is more youthful. Wisdom is an ideal but ultimately illusive and a product of an insecure imagination.
WBraun

climber
Oct 6, 2017 - 09:08pm PT
Buddha came because there was so much violence against animals and other living entities.

His whole doctrine was ahimsa (nonviolence against other living beings).

They even killed the mother and father of the material earth (cow and bull) to eat them.

The cow provides it's blood in the form of milk without killing.

Yet the modern fool gross materialists kill the cow indiscriminately.

The modern gross materialists due to their foolish killing and slaughtering of their mother have become lactose intolerant.

In this day and age, they mass slaughter animals in industrial mechanized slaughterhouses with no regard to their suffering.

The animals know when they are being led to slaughter and become full of adrenalin.

The suffering of these living entities due to this un-necessary violence creates an incredible amount of Karmic reactions toward humanity.

The gross materialists think there's no such thing as karma all while it's on full display all around them.

Saying we need compassion and simultaneously creating all this violence is hypocrisy and insanity exactly what Americans are masters of.

But this is actually going on full blast in industrialized societies unbeknownst to what that causes to them.

Wars and endless violence all while they scream why is this happening.

The gross materialists constantly preach non-violence and simultaneously are the most violent and create so much undo suffering to so many living entities.

The hypocrisy and insanity is astronomical .......
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 6, 2017 - 09:33pm PT
what could be more natural in the 4.1 billion year history of life on planet Earth, than the food chain?

Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
Oct 6, 2017 - 09:44pm PT
Ever seen and smelled a feed lot? Ever read about the problems of dealing with all that animal waste? Nothing natural about it.

The question for me is whether it is more effective to try to persuade people to eat less meat to save the planet or to refrain as much as possible because of the suffering of the animals,or perhaps just appeal to their own self interests in terms of personal health?

Buddha by the way, listed the four main sufferings as illness, being disabled, growing old and death.

I would say anything that has a nervous system knows suffering.

Dingus McGee

Social climber
Where Safety trumps Leaving No Trace
Oct 7, 2017 - 04:50am PT
Lovegasoline

from David Ingram

With the simple exception of the fact of misperceiving the sensations occurring now and coming up with a separate, continuous individual, nearly all of the rest of the dreams are problematic to some degree.

Largo, this appears to be one your several problems -- ...misperceiving the sensations occurring now and coming up with a separate, continuous individual ... And do note the wording "continuous individual".

Meditator, Metzinger, substantiates the Gap Awareness experience while the Largo camp denies such. Yes for meditation and what happens we have some known 3000+ years of contradictions and zero contributions to how the brain makes consciousness.

The human race has maybe 1 million years of running experience. To believe people using meditation techniques & revelations will figure out how the brains makes consciousness awareness is about like believing runners of 100 years ago know all about muscle metabolism. Give me a fellow of that time that can tell us of the Krebs Cycle. Largo is not the fellow of this time that has a monopoly on what goes on during meditation.

Conscious awareness is likely the simplest of feelings and that feeling stays with us into the deepest of meditation. This feeling gives some the false interpretation of experience with no content. Hence some get the perception of the "empty drawer with no-contents" and cling to that idea like jello sticks to a ceiling and dries.

It took science to figure out how glucose powers muscles and it is going to take some science to figure out how the brain platform makes feelings. I am not holding my breath for Zen practitioners to figure out by meditating how feelings are made from brain molecules and signals.

From the Wiki, Damasio, Put simply, consciousness is the feeling of knowing a feeling ...

Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Oct 7, 2017 - 07:09am PT
You don't even know who the MASTER is

Totally agree. I do not know who the Master is.

DMT
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Oct 7, 2017 - 08:39am PT
Post accidentally deleted, probably for the best!
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
Oct 7, 2017 - 08:58am PT
Dingus-

I haven't seen anywhere on this thread where anybody is claiming that they know from meditation how feelings are made from brain molecules and signals. That is not the purpose of meditation.

On the other hand, science does not tell us how to control negative emotions let alone how to make ourselves happy in an existential world. It doesn't teach us how to be altruistic for the sake of our own survival either. It does tell us how our egos fool us and what the root causes of anger are and the irrational actions that follow. It also provides means to gain control of the irrational mind whose foundation is the ego.

Substitute lack of ego for nothingness which is a very Buddhist term, and you might have a better idea of the purpose of meditation. Without ego, without a strong sense of self identified with the body, our minds become truly free to see the world as it is, not as we think it should be in order to support our egos.

As PSP posted, there are many extraordinary states and mental refinements on this quest to see the mind and the way the mind sees the world along this path. Because they are not normal waking states, we lack the vocabulary, particularly in English, to describe them adequately and that is also part of the problem. None of that vocabulary however, is about molecules and neurons .
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 7, 2017 - 09:00am PT
Buddha by the way, listed the four main sufferings as illness, being disabled, growing old and death.

I would say anything that has a nervous system knows suffering.


all living things experience the sufferings in the Buddha's list, they all "suffer," it is to live.

But now you have somehow related "knowing" to the nervous system, which would seem to admit some physical connection.Nervous systems are an evolutionary adaptation, that is, beneficial to the survival of the species that have them.

It would seem a physical/causal path to try to walk to understand how that "knowing" comes about, an obvious hypothesis to explore, and one that is likely to provide insight and understanding.

Introspective approaches would have to deal with the subjective issues related to insight and understanding, issues which seem to dominate our contemporary world, yet have no firmer basis than someone's idea.


Driving by the slaughter houses south of Chicago in the early 1960s one would smell the results of dead, butchered animals.

Walking through the city market in Amecameca one not only smelled the butchered animals, but saw the pile of the remains.

It used to be common to know where your food came from, now less so.
WBraun

climber
Oct 7, 2017 - 09:06am PT
It took science to figure out how glucose powers muscles and it is going to take some science to figure out how the brain platform makes feelings.

Then do your science as no one is telling you not to do it.

I am not holding my breath for Zen practitioners to figure out by meditating how feelings are made from brain molecules and signals.

That's not even the goal of their meditation process.
Why are projecting this nonsense from your mental speculation onto them?
Do your science and let them meditate.

Largo is not the fellow of this time that has a monopoly on what goes on during meditation.

He never said he has a monopoly. It's you that's projecting again as usual.

The human race has maybe 1 million years of running experience.

Again mental speculations as you have no real clue how long the actual human race has been in existence and it's actual progression in knowledge.

Do some real research instead of just throwing out loose meaningless quips off the top of your head
to make yourself "look" scientific as you are the one defending the "scientific method" as so-called the only authority.
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Oct 7, 2017 - 09:35am PT
Once said to me by a person from a deep and old religious background, "If you aren't suffering you must not be doing anything worthwhile."

He was joking, and serious. He had joined the Peace Corps after JFK asked, "What can you do for your country?" Part of his reason for joining may have been a relationship break-up. He may have been trying to push aside emotional suffering with a more physical variety.

Then years later I repeated what he had said, and the woman I was talking to asked me, "What century are you from?" Quite rightly.

Just because a person is suffering doesn't mean they are doing anything worthwhile. But religion and meditation both attract followers partly because they help people come to terms with suffering.

On a suffering scale from 1 to 10, I am below 1. Of course, I do suffer when I hear news of other people suffering. As with pain, suffering is what the sufferer tells you. Not a thing that can be detected with perfect reliability or measured against a standard unit.
WBraun

climber
Oct 7, 2017 - 09:53am PT
Every single living entity (even a single blade of grass) in the material world suffers because it is not in its actual real constitutional position.

This was Buddha's actual message to revive the living entities real constitutional position.

The living entity is NOT material and when it comes into contact with the material world it is like a fish out of the water and thus suffers.

The living entities real position is it is always blissful but when in contact with temporary dualities of the material world that blissful position becomes covered.

That covering is the gross and subtle material energies.

We are not material entities ever and that is the real cause of our suffering.

The whole lifetime of the living entity is to mitigate and avoid suffering at all costs.

The living entity will take some suffering if that suffering will ultimately stop all suffering.

Climbers do it to ultimately temporarily to enjoy their climbing by training hard which causes them some pain and suffering due to injuries.

Their ultimate goal is to enjoy and be happy.

No one can ultimately be happy in the material world because we are NOT material ......

Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Oct 7, 2017 - 09:56am PT

Pain scale...
Self pity scale...
Worrying scale...
Suffering scale...
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 7, 2017 - 10:19am PT
the set of behaviors we refer to as "emotions" are influenced (in the extreme) by hormones that act in concert with our nervous system, and as a part of our physiology (writ large).

however, in a model that separates our "emotions" from physical influence (refer to "original sin") we posit that individuals have free will, a highly questionable concept which is nuanced by our understanding of physiology.

while the models that presume such dichotomies may have played important roles for human culture in the past, a scientific perspective forces a reconsideration of the validity of those models, especially when those models are extended beyond the small social groups and specific cultural settings where they may have had some utility.

understanding the limits of these ideas is important, and science provides a way to do that, and I would argue that helps to put our lives into a larger perspective, and ultimately does provide a guide to our existence.

you may not like the answers science provides.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 7, 2017 - 12:03pm PT
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/357/6358/1406

Gating of social reward by oxytocin in the ventral tegmental area

Lin W. Hung, Sophie Neuner, Jai S. Polepalli, Kevin T. Beier, Matthew Wright, Jessica J. Walsh, Eastman M. Lewis, Liqun Luo, Karl Deisseroth, Gül Dölen, Robert C. Malenka

Abstract
The reward generated by social interactions is critical for promoting prosocial behaviors. Here we present evidence that oxytocin (OXT) release in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a key node of the brain’s reward circuitry, is necessary to elicit social reward. During social interactions, activity in paraventricular nucleus (PVN) OXT neurons increased. Direct activation of these neurons in the PVN or their terminals in the VTA enhanced prosocial behaviors. Conversely, inhibition of PVN OXT axon terminals in the VTA decreased social interactions. OXT increased excitatory drive onto reward-specific VTA dopamine (DA) neurons. These results demonstrate that OXT promotes prosocial behavior through direct effects on VTA DA neurons, thus providing mechanistic insight into how social interactions can generate rewarding experiences.
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