What is "Mind?"


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Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
May 16, 2018 - 02:59pm PT
Yes HFCS. There are plenty of other societal constraints, plenty of which my forefathers did not have to deal. No person’s an island and all that rot. I was privileged to be a citizen of Pax Romana and my daughters enjoy freedoms their grandmothers could only dream about. But they have to work for their living same as the rest of us, same as it ever was ;)


Trad climber
Golden, CO
May 16, 2018 - 04:12pm PT
They eventually snatched the pebble from master's hand
Did you tell each of them..."Time to leave"? (I mean, at the appropriate moment and all -- you don't want to be kicking them out early just because they're quick studies).
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
May 16, 2018 - 06:44pm PT
No, not really :)


Social climber
Southern Arizona
May 16, 2018 - 08:40pm PT
I’d like to try to clarify some notions about meditation and selflessness.

Meditation is not an end or an objective. It’s a tool. Similar to what Jan noted, meditation can show one that there are things other than what can be conceptualized. It can open one to other dimensions of reality. Focusing on what can be supported empirically (ala. measurements in science) versus what cannot be empirically verified is narrow and maybe even prejudiced. Meditation may be beneficial to some folks psychologically to get them calm, but that is not its ultimate purpose. It's to show mind.

Second, spiritual orientations toward selflessness by serving others is NOT about others. It’s about you. Other people are in whatever situations they are for reasons that go beyond what people can understand. It’s a very complex and complicated universe that transcends what modern minds can grok. Heuristically, one can think of it as karma.

Serving others leads to selflessness, which is what the activity is really all about. See what selflessness is, and you can see what This is. It’s your consciousness. It’s all about you. It's all you can see. See what consciousness is, and you will see what’s going on.

None of us can save the world or each other. Put your own oxygen mask on first.

ALL practices are about finding yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s accounting, nursing, art, marketing, climbing, zen, or motherhood.

“Compassion is wisdom in action. . . . At the beginning of practice, many of us experience an overwhelming, bleeding-heart impetus to save the world, mixed with equally overwhelming despair that there are just too many problems and too few resources. As practice matures, our awkward attempts or pessimistic withdrawals are replace by genuine compassion arising from practice and realization. We see what we can do and we do it. We do it without even reflecting or knowing that we’re doing it. Compassion happens. It happens the way we grow our hair. It is that simple and that mysterious.”

(John Daido Loori, “Riding the Ox Home: Stages in the Path of Enlightenment” 1999, p. 39)

Loori was abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery in Mount Tremper, New York.

May 16, 2018 - 09:09pm PT
It can open one to other dimensions of reality

Some would agree with this. I would be more cautious, for what is experienced in meditation may be simply a mental construct and not a path to other dimensions. Do psychedelic drugs lead to other dimensions of reality?

Guess it depends on how you think of "reality" - physical or otherwise.

But getting back to pregeometry . . .

(just kidding)

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
May 17, 2018 - 05:08am PT
One of the interesting phenomenon of psychedelics is that they create heightened perceptions. Colors suddenly become more vivid and beautiful. One sees trees and grass in great detail as though every blade or leaf was perceived at once. Ordinary things like traffic lights become beautiful and endlessly fascinating. The whole world shimmers.

This poses many interesting questions about mind. It appears that our mind has been changed by chemicals, but what if our external world really is that beautiful all of the time and we just don't notice it? If we were to use psychedelics every day for the rest of our lives, would these phenomena continue or would we get used to them and find these perceptions to be just ordinary?

These questions become even more interesting when one gets similar psychedelic effects from meditation. How does quieting the mind and repeating a mantra bring that about? Have we changed the chemicals in our brain without knowing how, or has quieting the brain enabled us to see external reality as it truly is all the time?

Does a master see this beauty always or has the master gotten used to the new normal? is this what "Before meditation, chop wood, carry water and after meditation chop wood and carry water" really means?

And what is happening when these effects fade and other different extraordinary phenomena begin? How many of these different phenomena are there? And why do the masters say, don't get caught up in them and don't mistake them for true spirituality?


Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
May 17, 2018 - 06:58am PT
And why do the masters say, don't get caught up in them and don't mistake them for true spirituality?

In other traditions it is like the stars at night. They are not the goal but we can use them to navigate. Have you ever heard of the guy that got two patents for the Celtic Cross? It is actually a device to measure time like an astrolabe.

Social climber
Southern Arizona
May 17, 2018 - 08:18am PT
jogill: But getting back to pregeometry . . .

:-D Yes, please do.

Jan: what if our external world really is that beautiful all of the time and we just don't notice it? 


Noticing brings even more noticing. Look how education, experience, talking to others, and so forth exposes more than what one saw earlier. How can that be if it weren’t for the inherent capability of mind? Is reality infinitely detailed (like a fractal) and layered, or is the mind simply playing tricks on itself (which presents a puzzle in itself)? Whether it be drugs, meditation, mental illness, education, or the finger of God, how is it that reality seems to change or blossom with a change in mind?

Which is it? Is it external phenomena concrete / real and the basis for all presentation, or is it mind that is the basis for all presentation? How would / could one know?

A naive view might imagine that mind and reality are mutually causative, a dance as it were. (A few physicists might be naive.)

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 17, 2018 - 08:55am PT
And why do the masters say, don't get caught up in them and don't mistake them for true spirituality?

I'm a naive physicist, but perhaps tinged with cynicism, what is "true spirituality" and why would the work of someone with an interest in the matter, "the masters," not be vested in promoting their own view of it?

As far as influence of "psychedelics," mammalian nervous systems are setup with receptors for many of the chemicals, and research has found that those same organisms are capable of producing psychedelics internally. It is an active area of research, and the subject of an interesting book by Doug Robinson which speculates on some implications.

MikeL's criticizes western views of objectivity, yet the program he proposes applies to those very masters, and the body of knowledge and wisdom they teach.

In MikeL's view, it seems to come down to believing what you want to believe.

But perhaps my naiveté has overcome me.

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
May 17, 2018 - 09:36am PT
Does a master see this beauty always

That depends (Lord Slime™).

I like to think a master would always see the beauty of the ordinary, no matter what. However, it would be hard to tell what the master feels. A true master and apprehender of all apparelled in celestial light would not make the rest of us feel the less for our own lesser apprehension.

We can all find splendour in the grass and glory in the flower.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
May 17, 2018 - 10:23am PT
I dunno, drug induced hyper-awareness seems drug induced to me.

But I'm no master. I'm not even high. But I enjoyed watching the honey bees pollinating the flowers this morning, what with their little fuzzy leg hairs all covered with pollen and how they look out of from their busy work at me like all, "What?"


May 17, 2018 - 10:32am PT
Practicing the Art of Dreaming years ago brought spectacularly enhanced clarity and colors of objects. But I could not read a newspaper held in my dream hand. Dimensions of the mind are breathtaking.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
May 17, 2018 - 10:41am PT
Why you hear “Laurel” or “Yanny” in that viral audio clip, explained...

This seems to be the main explanation going around the internet yesterday and today, but I think the phenom and explanation are more than just this (e.g., hearing different frequency envelopes across different people). I think there's a necker cube aspect playing a role too: that is, when you see it (the necker cube) or hear it (the Yanny Laurel clip), you perceive it one way or the other; your brain, as perception generator, constructs one perception or the other- it can't/doesn't do both simultaneously.

I did the experiments both yesterday and today and experienced this audio version of the necker cube switching. From the same source. And I've done this multiple times now from several same sources. E.g, from the Vox page above and also from the Youtube piece I posted yesterday. Fascinating!

I heard this from a Jimmy Kimmel clip this morning: "Whether you hear a Laurel or Yanny, there's one thing I think we can all agree on. Nothing has ever mattered less than this."

Well, not for some. Not if you're interested in mind-brain relations, the mental life, psychology, problem solving (in society), better understanding and better communications, sociopolitics, etc, etc...

What these phenomena show is that our brains - or mind-brains - are perception generators, and as such they construct perceptions that can vary widely not only between different people but even between different brain states (eg mood states) - and most strikingly/tellingly even given exactly the same sensory input.

This is insightful and full of implications! if one's receptive to it. Hardy a trifle for some.

For ref, the clip from yesterday...

Depending on hour of day and apparently depending on my own brain state/mode/mood, like Stephen Colbert (tweet yesterday), I can personally go back n forth, flip flop, between Yanny and Laurel. Multiple times now. Amazing. Like a switch, on or off, no in-between.


So like a lot of cool phenomena in our lives - and like a lot of cool descriptive system analyses, too - in my view there are many and various factors in the mix (like many factors in a polynomial equation) - and not just one or a few - all playing their role together to produce this amazing perceptual pheonom.

A pretty sweet distraction...

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - May 17, 2018 - 01:18pm PT

In many ways this short article on Nature Writing presents a few of the challenges when broaching mind.

Social climber
Wise Acres
May 17, 2018 - 01:56pm PT


...Thrive, Prosper, Flourish!!! : )


Prelude / The Sound of Music
Julie Andrews

The hills are alive with the sound of music
With songs they have sung for a thousand years
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing every song it hears

My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds
That rise from the lake to the trees
My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies
From a church on a breeze
To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over
Stones on its way
To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray

I go to the hills when my heart is lonely
I know I will hear what I've heard before
My heart will be blessed with the sound of music
And I´ll sing once more

Songwriters: Oscar Hammerstein Ii / Richard Rodgers


Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
May 17, 2018 - 02:33pm PT

I did a test on the front page of the New York Times yesterday where you moved a pointer along the sound spectrum until you heard it change from one word to the other. Then you clicked on a button to let them know where the crossover point was for a survey they were doing. Once I clicked, I then moved the pointer backwards and could hear Laurel underneath the yanny two full points below what I could going the other direction. Once you know what you're looking for, the brain is more discerning. I think this is learned in meditation or any other concentrative exercise as well.


May 17, 2018 - 03:28pm PT
From Largo's link: But this is not any old personal experience. It is, to all intents and purposes, religious experience

Transcendentalism resurgence. Welcome back Emerson! Interesting.

But, to return to pregeometry . . .

Jim Brennan

Trad climber
May 17, 2018 - 03:46pm PT
I saw this great deal today on transcending material objects.

Credit: Jim Brennan

Balcarce, Argentina
May 17, 2018 - 03:52pm PT
Credit: yanqui

Social climber
Southern Arizona
May 17, 2018 - 03:53pm PT

I think you missed the joke. I was saying that some physicists appear to argue that mind and external reality are mutually causative. I was not suggesting that physicists were naive. (Geez.)

My critique of western objectivity applies equally to eastern subjectivity: try not to take either view all that seriously or concretely. I do not say that people should believe whatever they *want* to believe. I’m just not all that enthusiastic about *beliefs* on either side. See that which needs no beliefs.
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