What is "Mind?"

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Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jun 27, 2014 - 02:29pm PT
Becuse most all constructive talking about Zen or any no-mind practice issues from the practive itself, not from guessing or specuating on the practice.

Kind of like science.

DMT
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 27, 2014 - 03:14pm PT
Meditation IS science but the instrument you use is not a slide rule, but awareness, and ultimately, no-mind or no-thingness (a non-starter from the outside). The rest is entirely imperical.

Dingus said: I don't see oxygen either. For that matter I don't see you either.

The difference here - and it is substantial - is that my body does have material, and oxegen does have physical qualities that can be observed under certain conditions. "Qualities," as BASE calls them, have no stand-alone physical thingness we can wrangle with our sense organs "out there." Subjectivity itself is not the same as objective though the relationship betwen the two is undisputed.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jun 27, 2014 - 03:40pm PT
Electricity is most definitely a thing.

Can you see it?

DMT
MH2

climber
Jun 27, 2014 - 06:11pm PT
Becuse most all constructive talking about Zen or any no-mind practice issues from the practive itself (JL)


Here is where you are on safe ground (safe from criticism).

But why have you talked on and on and on about your meditative practice?

And why so many futile attempts to find analogies in physics and other corners of discursive practice?


Physics envy?
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jun 27, 2014 - 06:47pm PT
Now, now.

I would remind folks here as I have several times before, that Largo is selling Zen which is rather unique in its methods. As someone like jgill who has had numerous other experiences/states of consciousness between discursive thinking and no mind, I never found Zen all that helpful. So it isn't just the hard science types who have difficulties with that approach. As Largo says, all the meditation traditions get you there, though there is a basic dichotomy between the impersonal who find no-thingness and those which emphasize the personal and find union with "the Divine". This crowd leans of course, toward the impersonal aspect.

I have learned however, that even Zen, Soto version at least (Largo seems primarily Rinzai) does have experiences along the way and analyzes them. For that approach, the best I know of is the writings of the deceased Rev. Jinu-Kennet, the first Japanese ordained western Zen master, a woman no less. Read her book, How to Grow a Lotus Blossom or How a Zen Buddhist Prepares for Death, available on Amazon of course, and you will get a compilation of both methods. I was able to recognize from her writings, that in the Indo-Tibetan traditions I follow, she had experienced the opening of the 7th chakra and the raising of the kundalini which convinced me the process is universal.
WBraun

climber
Jun 27, 2014 - 06:53pm PT
The mundane gross materialists exit their gross material bodies at the time of death out of their aszhole.

The spiritual enlightened souls exit out at the top of their heads when they leave their material bodies.

Modern science is still deep in the dark cave of nescience claiming they are so advanced ......
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jun 27, 2014 - 06:54pm PT
And welcome back, base104 !
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 27, 2014 - 07:56pm PT
Becuse most all constructive talking about Zen or any no-mind practice issues from the practive itself (JL)


Here is where you are on safe ground (safe from criticism).

But why have you talked on and on and on about your meditative practice?

And why so many futile attempts to find analogies in physics and other corners of discursive practice?


Physics envy?


I'm actually envious of you, MH2. And the vast insight and thought stimulation you have brought to this thread, as opposed to passsive-aggressive whining and chickenshit sniping without offering a single idea of your own, save to declar to the world that "I am in no position to (fill in the blank).

So far as my "futile attempts" to find analogies, they ae not mine, as I have repeatdly said, rather me simply quoting friends, so if you kindly tell me which one - SPECIFICALLY - you find lacking, I will get the source (if he will) to respond to your questions. But again, you need to be specific per what question you ask - and I suspect that you are in fact incapible of asking an honest question - that is, an inquiry per someting that you do not know about but would like information.

JL
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jun 27, 2014 - 08:16pm PT
JL,

It kinda seems like you are trying to skirt the issue. Like if you go on about some thing like a "shakra" all of the scientists will laugh at you.

This should not be the case. It is a very old practice and I suppose that the language best suited to sharing ideas will be old as well.

All I wanna know is what are you doing. Not in any mean or confrontational aspect. We all know each other fairly well by now, so we should be respectful.

I wanna know what you are up to. What have you achieved? What have you learned? What do you think your ultimate goal is?

I think it would be a good idea to give everyone a little primer on Zen. We keep getting stuck on the meaning of some word, when it isn't the word that is important. It is the idea. Sometimes we get so formal that it becomes a damn language contest. I wish that would go away.

I was driving up in the city the other day, in a neighborhood which I had never visited. There is this really big property with a cool building. It is some sort of Buddhism temple. I might try to check it out.

Even a gross materialist should acknowledge that meditation can be observed. It seems like a healthy thing.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 27, 2014 - 08:24pm PT
It kinda seems like you are trying to skirt the issue.
--


The problem is, you're defining the issue as thought Zen is something, some task or some mental feat that someone "does." Then you're getting in a tissy or making comments when I (or others) don't respond - not because we are skirting the issue, but rather because internal practices involve letting go of all "doing."

If you to ask: What is the process here? What is involved - now I could answer those questions. Or try to.

JL
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jun 27, 2014 - 08:30pm PT
If you to ask: What is the process here? What is involved - now I could answer those questions. Or try to.

Exactly. This is going to bridge some gaps if you talk to us.
PSP also PP

Trad climber
Berkeley
Jun 27, 2014 - 08:38pm PT
Base ; just go do it for a few months. Then you will get a taste. It is a lot like climbing that way. But make sure you have a real teacher who will set you straight about trying to get special experiences.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 27, 2014 - 09:11pm PT
First off, as PP just said, meditation is NOT a solo endeavor. It's a GROUP endeavor. So the first thing to "do" is to cast about and find a group that feels right and a teacher that you won't project on too terribly hard. You WILL do this, so don't worry about it. You will be judging the sh#t out of the whole thing till you realize it's not about them. It's about you.

So the first step is searching out a group and a teacher. If you're really skiddish, just find a friendly vapassana or Insight group and blend in and do the work a baby step at a time. Like exercise or any other study, you have to stay consistant to get past your conditioning, so it has to become an everyday thing, and it might takes months before you feel things starting to shift. But they will - that is a fact.

JL

jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Jun 27, 2014 - 10:31pm PT
meditation is NOT a solo endeavor

Zen meditation.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jun 28, 2014 - 08:13am PT
Well, Wiki has a page for everything, and it has a really long Zen Buddhism page.

It is pretty interesting. I encourage people to check it out. Just from that page I get a better understanding than a year of bickering about the nature of matter here.

As for meditation being solo, it says this:

Zen meditation[edit]

See also: Dhyāna in Buddhism

Central to Zen-practice is dhyana or meditation. The Zen tradition holds that in meditation practice, notions of doctrine and teachings necessitate the creation of various notions and appearances (Skt. saṃjñā; Ch. 相, xiāng) that obscure the transcendent wisdom of each being's Buddha-nature. This process of rediscovery goes under various terms such as "introspection", "a backward step", "turning-about" or "turning the eye inward".

Observing the breath[edit]





Venerable Hsuan Hua meditating in the Lotus Position. Hong Kong, 1953.
During sitting meditation, practitioners usually assume a position such as the lotus position, half-lotus, Burmese, or seiza postures, using the dhyāna mudrā. To regulate the mind, awareness is directed towards counting or watching the breath or put in the energy center below the navel (see also anapanasati).[web 5] Often, a square or round cushion placed on a padded mat is used to sit on; in some other cases, a chair may be used. This practice may simply be called sitting dhyāna, which is zuòchán (坐禅) in Chinese, and zazen (坐禅) in Japanese.

Observing the mind[edit]

In the Soto school of Zen, meditation with no objects, anchors, or content, is the primary form of practice. The meditator strives to be aware of the stream of thoughts, allowing them to arise and pass away without interference. Considerable textual, philosophical, and phenomenological justification of this practice can be found throughout Dōgen's Shōbōgenzō, as for example in the "Principles of Zazen"[web 6] and the "Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen".[web 7] In the Japanese language, this practice is called Shikantaza.

**Intensive group meditation[edit]

Intensive group meditation may be practiced occasionally in some temples. While the daily routine may require monks to meditate for several hours each day, during the intensive period they devote themselves almost exclusively to the practice of sitting meditation. The numerous 30–50 minute long meditation periods are interleaved with short rest breaks, meals, and sometimes, short periods of work should be performed with the same mindfulness; nightly sleep is kept to seven hours or less. In modern Buddhist practice in Japan, Taiwan, and the West, lay students often attend these intensive practice sessions, which are typically 1, 3, 5, or 7 days in length. These are held at many Zen centers, especially in commemoration of the Buddha's attainment of Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi. One distinctive aspect of Zen meditation in groups is the use of a flat wooden slat used to keep meditators focused and awake. In the Japanese language, this practice is called Sesshin.**

Kōan practice[edit]

Main article: Kōan





Chinese character for "nothing", Chinese: wú (Japanese: mu). It figures in the famous Zhaozhou's dog kōan
At the beginning of the Song Dynasty, practice with the kōan method became popular, whereas others practiced "silent illumination."[75] This became the source of some differences in practice between the Linji and Caodong traditions.

A kōan, literally "public case", is a story or dialogue, describing an interaction between a Zen master and a student. These anecdotes give a demonstration of the master's insight. Koans emphasize the non-conceptional insight that the Buddhist teachings are pointing to. Koans can be used to provoke the "great doubt", and test a student's progress in Zen practice.

Kōan-inquiry may be practiced during sitting meditation (zazen), walking meditation (kinhin), and throughout all the activities of daily life. Kōan practice is particularly emphasized by the Japanese Rinzai school, but it also occurs in other schools or branches of Zen depending on the teaching line.[76]

The Zen student's mastery of a given kōan is presented to the teacher in a private interview (referred to in Japanese as dokusan (独参), daisan (代参), or sanzen (参禅)). While there is no unique answer to a kōan, practitioners are expected to demonstrate their understanding of the kōan and of Zen through their responses. The teacher may approve or disapprove of the answer and guide the student in the right direction. The interaction with a Zen-teacher is central in Zen, but makes Zen-practice, at least in the west, also vulnerable to misunderstanding and exploitation.[77]
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jun 28, 2014 - 08:38am PT
But make sure you have a real teacher who will set you straight about trying to get special experiences.

This is pure Zen and does not represent all traditions.

1. Not everyone is trying to get special experiences. For some people they just happen in the course of ordinary life and then the person goes searching for explanations of what and why and how it happened.

2. By cultivating unusual states of mind as in some traditions, one is led to the same conclusion, that they are all fleeting and illusory and in the end, it is the state of pure wordless awareness (no-thingness) that is ultimate. In the meantime, through various techniques such as lucid dreaming, one learns the various levels of mind and how to master them in preparation for the deeper levels of mind.

3. Depending on one's karma (at a minimum, one's childhood experiences or adult traumas like PTSD), the individual may need to wash a lot of garbage out of their unconscious. Just breathing and letting thoughts pass away is not so easy in that case, and one may need to do purification exercises before being able to successfully quiet the mind. Learning to deal with the powerful emotions of anger for example, or envy, or insecurity and greed, may take more than just watching the breath and if really focussed on to learn their source, may also bring one to altered states.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 28, 2014 - 08:51am PT
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/344/6190/1243091.full
Science 344 1357 (2014)
DOI: 10.1126/science.1243091

REVIEW

The cultural evolution of mind reading

Cecilia M. Heyes, Chris D. Frith

ABSTRACT
It is not just a manner of speaking: “Mind reading,” or working out what others are thinking and feeling, is markedly similar to print reading. Both of these distinctly human skills recover meaning from signs, depend on dedicated cortical areas, are subject to genetically heritable disorders, show cultural variation around a universal core, and regulate how people behave. But when it comes to development, the evidence is conflicting. Some studies show that, like learning to read print, learning to read minds is a long, hard process that depends on tuition. Others indicate that even very young, nonliterate infants are already capable of mind reading. Here, we propose a resolution to this conflict. We suggest that infants are equipped with neurocognitive mechanisms that yield accurate expectations about behavior (“automatic” or “implicit” mind reading), whereas “explicit” mind reading, like literacy, is a culturally inherited skill; it is passed from one generation to the next by verbal instruction.


Conclusions and future directions


We have argued that explicit mind reading is culturally inherited in the same way as print reading. The neurocognitive mechanisms that allow us to deliberate and talk about mental states are constructed, or recycled (3), from mechanisms that evolved genetically to fulfill more general functions (to parse and predict dynamic sequences of events and to get information from others), and the construction process depends on tuition. Expert mind readers communicate mental-state concepts, and ways of representing these concepts, to novices. As the present generation of novices becomes expert, it passes on the knowledge and skill of mind reading to the next cultural generation.

Most, possibly all, human neurocognitive skills are shaped by culture, and many are culturally inherited, but the parallels between mind reading and print reading are extraordinary. For example, linguistic communities vary in the ways that they categorize colors, but color perception is not culturally inherited in the same way as print reading. Unlike print reading, color perception is rooted in highly specialized, genetically inherited mechanisms that humans share with other species. Although cultural input adjusts these mechanisms, it does not make them into a whole new neurocognitive system.

The analogy between print reading and mind reading is not perfect. “Sound symbolism” shows that the relations between inscriptions and their corresponding speech sounds and referents often depend on structural features of the nervous system (63), but it is likely that these relations are more arbitrary than the relations between observable behavior and mental states. In this respect, numeracy may be a better analog than literacy. However, explicit mind reading is comparable to print reading, not only in terms of its weak dependence on specialized genetically inherited mechanisms and strong dependence on tuition, but also in the shape and size of the cultural legacy. Like print reading, explicit mind-reading mechanisms represent representational relations—between mental states, behavior, and events in the world—and allow the mind reader to regulate and interpret a virtually limitless range of mental contents. Consequently, the print reading and mind reading legacies are also alike in promoting the cultural inheritance of other, more specific skills. Reading and writing enable us to teach others almost anything we know through the written word, and mind reading improves the efficiency of all teaching by allowing the expert to represent what the novice does and does not already understand. Like print reading, mind reading is a cultural gift that goes on giving, a culturally inherited skill that facilitates the cultural inheritance of an enormous range of other, more specific skills (64).

We have suggested that in infancy, when the enculturation process is only beginning, implicit mind-reading mechanisms produce, under some circumstances, accurate expectations about the behavior of agents. A priority for future research is to find out whether these implicit mechanisms are specialized for mind reading, or whether implicit mind reading is mediated by domain-general mechanisms. In either case, it is clear that implicit mind-reading mechanisms continue to operate throughout the life cycle, enabling swift social coordination of behavior when time is short and other demands on the neurocognitive system are heavy. It is possible that the outputs of these implicit mechanisms also contribute to the development of explicit mind reading by, for example, segmenting the stream of observable behavior into units that can subsequently be aligned with mental categories. However, in our view, implicit mind reading is radically insufficient for the development of explicit mind reading. Our view suggests that no amount of individual learning—implicit mind reading, introspection, and watching the behavior of others—would be enough for the development of explicit mind reading. If a group of human infants managed to survive on a desert island, in a cruel Lord of the Flies–like experiment, they would be no more likely to develop a theory of mind and become explicit mind readers than to develop a writing system and become literate print readers.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jun 28, 2014 - 09:04am PT
I googled up the local Buddhist temples and centers. We have a fairly large Vietnamese population, and most of the centers come from that branch of Buddhism.

There is one, probably the largest, that has numerous classes and sessions that are meditation oriented...which is Zen pretty much.

I might go check it out.

I will say one thing about meditation. Let's say that I were a susceptible person who believed that David Koresh was Jesus. If I concentrated my mind on a daily basis, at a deep level, I could end up believing damn near anything.

My opinion is that David Koresh was a lunatic kook, but all of his followers certainly DID believe in him...to the point of death.

This is where I see danger in religion. It is possible to delude yourself, and all of us know many circumstances where this has happened to man over the centuries, often with horrific results.

If I go check out the temple, I will still have my scientific skepticism. Because of that skepticism, I would be a little wary if it requires blind faith. I don't believe in blind faith.
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Jun 28, 2014 - 09:11am PT
I'm surprised by how little internecine bickering there has been among the meditation proponents.

Perhaps they have been falsely united against a common foe.
go-B

climber
Cling to what is good!
Jun 28, 2014 - 09:18am PT
"To fall down seven times, to rise eight times, life starts from now."
-Bodhidharma


daruma doll
daruma doll


Proverbs 24:16 For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again,
But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.



1 John 2:1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.


...we can fall and can get up again knowing Jesus is for us! :)
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