Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mindfulness, Primacy of Brain?

David BoulterI would appreciate any advice you guys have on the practice of mindfulness. Specifically, where is the most effective place to focus the attention: in the body or out into the environment?
Like · · December 7, 2013 at 10:39pm near Normanton, United Kingdom

    Soh I think starting with the breathe is one of the easiest ways. That can be your main focus for sitting meditation first. Then extend mindfulness to everything experienced at every moment...
    December 7, 2013 at 10:51pm · Edited · Like · 1
    David Boulter My meditation practice is reasonably well established. My question was more about mindfulness in daily life.
    December 7, 2013 at 10:54pm · Like
    David Boulter But do I gather from your response, Soh that mindfulness is most effective if it encompasses bodily sensation AND everything else outside the body that one becomes aware of.
    December 7, 2013 at 10:58pm · Like
    Soh Yes all and everything. When eating fully experience the taste with mindful alertness... when walking being mindful of each step and the environment mindfully... each moment has a unique experience that can be mindful of.
    December 7, 2013 at 11:02pm · Like · 1
    David Boulter Great. Thank you.
    December 7, 2013 at 11:10pm · Like
    Faraz Ahmed I think it is also important to keep seeing defilements as they arise. ajahn brahm says that we should be focused on the space between observer and observed,because that is where the 5 hindrances come up.
    so if I notice pain, I also notice the aversion I have to the pain and put peace and stillness there.
    and I should keep doing this throughout the day. so my focus should be on seeing the hindrances/defilements arise and to put peace there instead. Ofcourse, it's difficult to do but I am trying to do this as much as i can.
    December 7, 2013 at 11:40pm · Edited · Like · 1
    Jackson Peterson David Boulter, there is "nothing outside the body". All perceptions occur within your brain and skull. No one has ever experienced anything "out there". That means being mindful to the occurrences of the five senses and arising of thoughts. First stage: mentally note: "seeing red", "feeing pressure In my feet", "warmth on my fingers", "sound of a car", "thought arising".. Etc. Then more general: "seeing", "hearing", "feeling/pressure", "tasting", "smelling", "thinking", "walking", "talking", "eating", "washing" etc. then just being present to experience consciously without mental notation.. Then no mindfulness affected at all..,
    December 7, 2013 at 11:46pm · Like · 1
    Jackson Peterson David Boulter, I feel mindfulness of mental phenomena as they arise, can reveal how the mind goes about weaving its fictitious stories that are the source of all suffering.
    December 7, 2013 at 11:56pm · Like · 1
    John Ahn Ok, Jackson wrote-->"there is "nothing outside the body". All perceptions occur within your brain and skull. No one has ever experienced anything "out there." Jackson can't read my posts because he has blocked me, so if someone can copy and paste this it'd be good, but anyway it's not necessarily written towards him.
    December 8, 2013 at 1:40am · Like · 1
    John Ahn When we have this idea, there is "nothing outside the body" and that all perceptions "happen in the body"/i.e. skull and brain, actually it is a very contradictory statement. According to this line of reasoning, since your body is also a part of your perceptions, there is no grounds for you to establish that in fact there is a skull and brain/body in which these perceptions occur. So this is a very dangerous line of inquiry that can lead to solipsism.
    December 8, 2013 at 1:44am · Edited · Like · 1
    John Ahn As my friend once put it: "Experiences don't happen in the brain. That's just your assumption. You should question that assumption. One good question you can ask yourself is this: if experiences happen in the brain, where does the brain happen? If the brain is a container for experiences, then it must be external to the experiences it contains. If the brain is outside experience, then how do we know about the brain?"
    December 8, 2013 at 1:52am · Like · 1
    David Boulter John Ahn write this and asked for it to be copied.

    Ok, Jackson wrote-->"there is "nothing outside the body". All perceptions occur within your brain and skull. No one has ever experienced anything "out there." Jackson can't read my posts because he has blocked me, so if someone can copy and paste this it'd be good, but anyway it's not necessarily written towards him.

    When we have this idea, there is "nothing outside the body" and that all perceptions "happen in the body"/i.e. skull and brain, actually it is a very contradictory statement. According to this line of reasoning, since your body is also a part of your perceptions, there is no grounds for you to establish that in fact there is a skull and brain/body in which these perceptions occur. So this is a very dangerous line of inquiry that can lead to solipsism.

    As my friend once put it: "Experiences don't happen in the brain. That's just your assumption. You should question that assumption. One good question you can ask yourself is this: if experiences happen in the brain, where does the brain happen? If the brain is a container for experiences, then it must be external to the experiences it contains. If the brain is outside experience, then how do we know about the brain?"
    December 8, 2013 at 1:54am · Like · 1
    Jackson Peterson My response to John and his friend is that neuro-science has proven that our "experience" only occurs in the mind-brain. Nothing "outside the body" doesn't mean there is not a vast universe "out there", but we only experience what's "out there", in our skull. Perceptions come in through the body's senses, and then those signals are processed and the brain then creates the 3D movie that plays in our head. This is not new neuro-scinece. The rest of the comments are just "magical thinking"...
    December 8, 2013 at 2:00am · Like
    David Boulter I'll do this one more time for the sake of communication...

    Jackson wrote: My response to John and his friend is that neuro-science has proven that our "experience" only occurs in the mind-brain. Nothing "outside the body" doesn't mean there is not a vast universe "out there", but we only experience what's "out there", in our skull. Perceptions come in through the body's senses, and then those signals are processed and the brain then creates the 3D movie that plays in our head. This is not new neuro-scinece. The rest of the comments are just "magical thinking"...
    December 8, 2013 at 2:07am · Like
    Kyle Dixon Wrote this on another forum from before:

    If experience, or visual consciousness, is a representation created in the brain, meaning that seeing, hearing, tactile sensation etc., are located in the brain; how do you get around the fact that the brain itself is likewise only apprehended via those very same faculties?

    The implications that there is an external universe which is apprehended via the senses and translated by a brain are quite damning. If that is the case, since experience would never transcend its translation, there is no way to access or prove the existence of such an external universe, and so the logic would negate the initial premise. The other issue would be that the very 'brain' experience is apprehended by, would likewise only be accessible and apprehensible from within the very experience it (the brain), itself apprehends. If experience goes on inside the brain, and the brain goes on inside experience; establishing an ontological hierarchy which maintains that experience occurs in a brain (or is generated by a brain) is impossible. Therefore no brain which could possibly contain visual (or any other type of) consciousness has ever been encountered.

    This is akin to saying 'the chicken is an interpretation which only ever occurs inside the egg' ...but the egg was laid by a chicken, which itself hatched from an egg... which was laid by a chicken.

    Most of the modern world believes that their conscious experience is generated by their brain, which interprets an external and pre-existing universe that is separate from it. This is not the view held by Dzogchen, and even tÄ«rthika non-dual traditions do not hold the brain to be fundamental to experience.

    The notion that the brain is first and foremost is a byproduct of a long running paradigm, predicated on a materialist and physicalist interpretation of the universe. Science will tell you outright that the brain runs the show and generates consciousness, yet they have no idea how it performs such a feat... it is nothing more than a theory.

    I think anyone would be forced to agree that from the first person perspective, our own brains are surely not obvious.

    The implications of that, is that our personal brain based experience is an inference or logical deduction, a conclusion we arrive at. It's a sound conclusion and there's certainly evidence for it, but it's also open to scrutiny.

    The same principle from above still applies as well; if we only have access to the 'objective' brains (belonging to others) that we base our conclusion (about our own brain) on, (and this occurs) from within the confines of our own alleged brain; we're still only accessing the brain from within experience. That isn't to say one account is ontologically superior to the other, but it causes some inquiry, specifically, where and how do we draw the line? And once we draw that line, isn't it obvious that we're creating that line?

    Things start to look rather arbitrary, and we find that instead of our previous conviction; that we're indeed referring to a pre-existing structure - we instead seem to be inferring that structure.
    December 8, 2013 at 2:07am · Like · 1
    John Ahn Hey David, I can see Jackson's posts. He just can't see mine. But thanks!
    December 8, 2013 at 2:08am · Like · 1
    David Boulter Which is how you saw what he wrote earlier. D'oh!
    December 8, 2013 at 2:10am · Like
    Kyle Dixon Jax's insistence of importing neuro-science into the dharma simply clouds and obfuscates the types of insights the dharma is capable of revealing. It's rather extraneous and unnecessary in my opinion.
    December 8, 2013 at 2:12am · Like · 1
    Kyle Dixon Same with me, I can see Jax's posts but he can't see mine. John and I are in the blocked 4 life crew.
    December 8, 2013 at 2:13am · Like
    John Ahn Hi Jackson, I'm glad I've been unblocked. Thank you! I think you are overestimating the extent to which neuroscience understands experience. For instance currently there is no understanding of how memory works via the brain. And only recently they have begun to understand the functions of sleep, and it is very elementary that we now understand sleeping give the brain the time to recover from toxins. Also traditional view of neuroscience which have split functions via left and right hemispheres are being thrown out as we speak. No neuoroscientist with peer reviewed research as come up with any conclusions about conscious experience or how awareness is generated either. So when there are so many developments happening in brain research, it's too early to place all of one's faith in a few theories in the field, of which the model you wrote about is just one model.
    December 8, 2013 at 2:16am · Edited · Like
    Jackson Peterson Huh?
    December 8, 2013 at 2:15am · Like · 1
    Jackson Peterson David Boulter you had said "everything else outside the body that one becomes aware of". My point is that the "aware of" occurs "in the body and brain". Just playing off of your comment...
    December 8, 2013 at 2:24am · Like
    John Ahn No spiritual tradition, perhaps only minor sects like Actual Freedom, holds that awareness is brain based, because this denies reincarnation. Since the main goal of Buddhism and Hinduism is to be liberated from reincarnation, holding physicalist views as some Western teachers are doing nowadays, led by popular writers like Stephen Batchelor, is not in line with the dharma, Buddhism, Hindu, Christian, Taoism, or whatever.
    December 8, 2013 at 2:29am · Edited · Like
    Jackson Peterson Oh...
    December 8, 2013 at 5:47am · Like
    Michael Zaurov Kyle Dixon I found your post pretty interesting. I studied philosophy and psychology in undergrad, so I've heard similar arguments before, and I've always been interested in this question. Though I do assert that there is no actual, empirical way to prove one way or another until death occurs, I am open to the Buddhist view and hope that materialism is not the case. I am curious if you've ever been under anesthesia? It's certainly valuable to ponder about these things, but it's wholly another matter to experience chemical changes to the brain and directly see the results. When I went under anesthesia for a minor operation, my awareness literally stopped. It was like blinking an eye, one second I'm in the operating room and the next I am in the recovery room. If my awareness was more than brain, wouldn't there still be a conscious existence in the interval between those two moments?

    "The implications that there is an external universe which is apprehended via the senses and translated by a brain are quite damning. If that is the case, since experience would never transcend its translation, there is no way to access or prove the existence of such an external universe, and so the logic would negate the initial premise"

    I do not see this as a valid argument. The fact that the external universe is a brain created symbol does not negate the initial premise that there is a universe which the senses perceive. The mind creates the universe, but there is still data being received by the senses. Whether or not you call that "external universe" or just vibrations, there is still something there, and that cannot be negated with any certainty.

    " Science will tell you outright that the brain runs the show and generates consciousness, yet they have no idea how it performs such a feat... it is nothing more than a theory."

    A theory with a lot of evidence. When the brain is functioning, we have a show. When the brain is not functioning, there is no show. Just because scientists do not know how consciousness is generated does not negate the evidence we have. There is a clear relationship between this electrified fatty meat in my skull and my experience. if you assert that your experience is not generated by the meat, then you could design a valid experiment to prove it. You could change the face of history. Maybe designing such an experiment is impossible, in which case one should not be so confident about their views, not until you die and actually find out directly what is the case.
    December 8, 2013 at 6:50am · Edited · Like · 1
    Kyle Dixon Michael, I'm of course not making any definitive statements, just some friendly inquiry. But for the sake of the discussion since it's very interesting; how would the external universe be proven? Or likewise an internal experience? I see what you're saying and it's a valid argument, I just personally feel that a model of that nature depends on a few presuppositions. Mainly, the inherency of sensory organs, fields and objects, objective and subjective experience, a sentient being and a universe, etc. It seems to me that these varying aspects of the equation are themselves open to scrutiny (something the dharma specializes in), and if those constituent aspects can be found to lack inherency, how would the model itself maintain its validity?

    Again, not saying anything is certain, but my personal experience has brought me to question the validity of these paradigms.

    The dharma definitely understands that the brain is special and maintains the integrity of certain functions. But the dharma in general does not accept that experience is generated by the brain, or I should say, it does not accept that the mind is relegated to (or product of) the brain.
    December 8, 2013 at 11:10am · Like · 2
    Dannon Flynn it seems that for every seemingly non-physical thing there is a seemingly material representation. There are chemicals that go with the experience of love, there are brain chemicals that go with every emotion, etc.... There are hormones that go with lust, passion. All we know is: when this arises, that arises. We know that they are related, but we cannot jump to the conclusion that the brain is the cause of experience. We simply know that they go together.

    We might assume that the radio receiver is singing the song we hear, when in fact it is only receiving radio waves that are broadcast from some remote location that carry the song. Yet we still need a radio to listen to it.

    Perhaps the brain is like a radio. If, when the brain dies, another brain will be born tuned to the same radio station that will be able to pick up the same signal.
    December 8, 2013 at 11:58am · Like · 2
    Ram Jayaram Keep it simple. Focus on the body's responses to the environment.
    December 24, 2013 at 12:02am · Like · 1</div>

No comments:

Post a Comment