What is "Mind?"

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Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jun 28, 2014 - 11:11am PT
I'm surprised by how little internecine bickering there has been among the meditation proponents.

Our differences are over method, not dogma. Likewise, once you understand the method through personal experience, you can see it in all traditions. jgill mentions Theresa of Avila who is an old favorite of mine. Her Seven Roomed Crystal Mansion clearly corresponds to the seven chakras, while John of the Cross, her prayer partner, is more along the lines of formlessness Zen style. Likewise, I've had conversations with Christian Pentacostals and Charismatics and we were all talking the same language when discussing our methods and experiences, though we were light years apart on dogma.

BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jun 28, 2014 - 11:20am PT
Our differences are over method, not dogma

Yep. I think you nailed it there. Science is ALL about method. That method can become a philosophy that colors your entire perception.

Kinda sorta
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jun 28, 2014 - 11:32am PT
blueblockr-

There are as many different understandings of karma as there are denominations of Hinduism and Buddhism. People in tropical countries tend to take it more fatalistically, and those in cold countries who have to store up for the winter, tend to have versions closer to 'God helps those who help themselves'.

As for remembering past lives, most traditions I know of say that it happens when you reach the right level of personal spiritual progress. Before that, if you could see how badly you have screwed up over and over in the same ways, you would be too depressed to handle it so that's why most people can't remember. Of course that's true of this present life as well, if one really reflects on it, so no need to worry about the past. Buddha said, "if you want to know your past life, look at the present one. If you want to know your future life, look at the present one".

As far as keeping count, there is no St. Peter in the sky with a book. Rather, it is seen as a universal principle of cause and effect which operates in the world in a consistent fashion whether you believe in a personal God or in an impersonal universe and even whether or not you believe in karma. The beauty of a belief in karma combined with reincarnation, is that you have endless chances to get it right (everybody wakes up someday), and therefore people pay less attention to other's business, are less judgemental, and are not out to convert others to their particular dogma.

As for scientific explanations, I have often pondered this one. Some people have hypothesized a collective unconscious or a morphic field, and I suspect a better knowledge of DNA and genetics will find some physical evidence for it as well.

As for what the afterlife might be like, both Hindus and Buddhists see it as multidimensional, including plenty of heavens and hells. None of them are permanent states however, only enlightenment is forever.
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jun 28, 2014 - 11:44am PT
and base104, my first real teacher appeared in the form of a book - The Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda. I became very interested when he wrote, 'spiritual progress works according to certain principles, every time, like mathematics'.

As for Vietnamese Buddhism, it incorporates both Theravada insight meditation and the zen forms of meditation. If you go to a Vietnamese temple, you will probably encounter both and can see which way is most beneficial for you personally. There is another old saying - 'when the student is ready, the guru appears'. If nothing resonates there, just keep looking, there's a method and a teacher waiting for you somewhere.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 28, 2014 - 12:33pm PT
Another insight per "what we are doinig" is to abandon whatever precoceptions you have about how to approach the work. For instance, most people trowl around trying to get some mental picture of what is involved, whereas it is MUCH better to consider the initial phases of practice NOT as mental exercises, but as a physical discipline. You're not going to get anywhere with meditation till you can stabalize your awareness and attention and that is most easily acomplished by getting your nervous system to settle and the mind will follow. Trying to control the mind, and make it calm down, is tryig to use the mind to change the mind and it usually leads to prfound confusion.

So forget about the mental aspect entirely. Develop a good base (lotus or whatever), learn to sit with a straight spine, let your breathing settle, get used to a soft-focus gaze and not fidgeting and let yourself settle and let the mind run wild, running no kind of interference.

The mental part kicks in WAY later. Trying to start there, striving to "understand" everything mentally, is a common mistake. Get the physical part dialed. It will take you about two years on average.

JL

jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Jun 28, 2014 - 01:52pm PT
Trying to control the mind, and make it calm down, is trying to use the mind to change the mind and it usually leads to profound confusion (JL)

Quite possibly the same is true trying to use the mind to understand the mind.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Jun 28, 2014 - 01:55pm PT
It will take you about two years on average.

I can cut that down to 4 days with my program: Meditation BioHacked
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jun 28, 2014 - 03:24pm PT
Yes, and we thought the whole planet would get enlightened back in the 1960's, if everyone just took an acid trip or two. The Golden Age was just around the corner.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 28, 2014 - 03:55pm PT
One of the challenges of those approaching meditation from a bio-hackers perspective, trying to “Become the Best Version of Yourself,” is that meditation is not a self-improvement vehicle, but a way to see how we have been mistaken about who we are and what this life is.

Again, coming to the practice with expectations will only waste time. A brain or a mind does not meditate - a sentient human being meditates. Trying to reduce the practive down to just the "important" components to accelerate the process, make it more efficient, is once again, the evaluating mind imposing an agenda.

A teacher is there to keep drilling it into our thick skull that all our attempts to direct the practice is yet other circular mental kabuki.

Also, what John said - using the mind to undertand the mind is also a trap so long as "understanding" is arrived at through evaluating. Evaluating is only helpful with parts, nto the wole, and no one can grasp or evaluate their entire mind.

JL
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jun 28, 2014 - 04:20pm PT
....but a way to see how we have been mistaken about who we are and what this life is.
Well, that's certainly one take on it.
MikeL

Trad climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Jun 28, 2014 - 04:53pm PT
If you are a person who possesses little faith and essentially no wisdom, you are like the leading edge of running water downhill--you go anywhere you are led, taking anything said to be true, wanting to cry when you see others cry, wanting to laugh when you see others laugh.

Meditative stabilization (serenity) suppresses afflictions, while wisdom (insight) destroys inherent dormant tendencies. Serenity is blissful.

Serenity is necessary for insight because it constitutes a type of attention that approximates insight; when serenity generates pliancy, then it is insight.

Generating pliancy by setting attention on a single object--even if the object is emptiness--is nothing more than a way to achieve serenity; however, serenity alone does not count as attaining insight, . . . but insight demands serenity first.

Mind is like a space that is vividly aware. What is right in front of you is not important, but rather the open space that things and emotions occupy.

Holding the space in front of you vividly is very similar to the feeling or intense awareness you've had in the mountains right before a lightning strike.

The best meditators are the best teachers.
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Jun 28, 2014 - 04:59pm PT
Welcome back, Mike. Interesting post . . . as always.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Jun 28, 2014 - 05:03pm PT
Look, a brand new poster.

How did you originally become aware of ST? Family? friends? On the job referral ?

Of course your post is nebulous, formulaic, contradictory , and utterly lacking in persuasive potency.

But, hey , what else is new?

Don't worry, you're new, and we can work on those problems.
MH2

climber
Jun 28, 2014 - 05:18pm PT
If you are a person who possesses little faith and essentially no wisdom, you are like the leading edge of running water downhill--you go anywhere you are led, taking anything said to be true, wanting to cry when you see others cry, wanting to laugh when you see others laugh.

Meditative stabilization (serenity) suppresses afflictions, while wisdom (insight) destroys inherent dormant tendencies. Serenity is blissful.

Serenity is necessary for insight because it constitutes a type of attention that approximates insight; when serenity generates pliancy, then it is insight.

Generating pliancy by setting attention on a single object--even if the object is emptiness--is nothing more than a way to achieve serenity; however, serenity alone does not count as attaining insight, . . . but insight demands serenity first.

Mind is like a space that is vividly aware. What is right in front of you is not important, but rather the open space that things and emotions occupy.

Holding the space in front of you vividly is very similar to the feeling or intense awareness you've had in the mountains right before a lightning strike.

The best meditators are the best teachers. (MikeL)





Well, sure MikeL. Well said. Quite true. I think every parent knows that. But have you ever tried it while backing down the driveway taking both kids to school on your way to work trying to remember if the kids have all the stuff they need for the day and are you going to be at work on time and which route to drive according to the time it is and one of your kids asks you how to convert Fahrenheit to Centigrade?
go-B

climber
Cling to what is good!
Jun 28, 2014 - 05:35pm PT
Jan, back in Junior high we took some "L" and went to a hypnotist show in Hollywood and I held the legs of his 90lb female assistant whom he told was as stiff as a board and laid her between two chairs with nothing in between and then he stood on top of her which she did with ease, that was a trip!
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Jun 28, 2014 - 05:45pm PT
that meditation is not a self-improvement vehicle, but a way to see how we have been mistaken about who we are and what this life is.

In other words : there is no intrinsic worth to the individual in discovering he/she has been carrying around utterly mistaken notions about their identity and the true meaning of life?

Furthermore, discovering that meditation can somehow correct the condition of being
" mistaken" does not in fact lead or amount to self-improvement ?

I regard this as a dissonant, dysregulatory meme that clearly makes a claim of revelatory truth while simultaneously disavowing its ultimate relevance and value to the individual.
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Jun 28, 2014 - 06:20pm PT
Dissing the Taoists now, I mean, how low can you go?
:D
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jun 28, 2014 - 06:58pm PT
Mike L is not a brand new poster by the way, but an old timer here who has just been temporarily absent.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Jun 28, 2014 - 07:08pm PT
Mike L is not a brand new poster by the way, but an old timer here who has just been temporarily absent.

Yeah , I know. I was just being goofy. I have exchanged posts with MikeL on numerous occasions.

I hope his absence was not due to unfortunate developments; and I trust he and his family are safe and in good health.
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jun 28, 2014 - 07:15pm PT
I'm still trying to get used to American brazeness after Japanese subtlety, and now you're pulling irony on me?! You Americans are hard to figure.
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