What is familiarity?

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Thundering Cloud
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What is familiarity?

Post by Thundering Cloud » Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:38 pm

To my understanding, Buddhism teaches that it is incorrect to think of the universe as objectively extant, as a thing of substance "out there" with which we are interacting. It is better, instead, to think of reality as a byproduct of our experience, rather than the other way around. External phenomena do not have substance unto themselves.

Given this, how should the experience of familiarity be understood? How can I understand the experience of recognition of a loved one, or the comforts of coming home, without thinking of such things as having their own essence to be recognized and to trigger those feelings?

Jeff H
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Re: What is familiarity?

Post by Jeff H » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:50 pm

I’ll venture my understanding before the more experienced folks get here.

The primary causes are our karmic propensities cultivated by prior intentional actions. The triggers you refer to are the secondary causes. They stimulate our primary reactions in response to the environmental conditions and actions of other beings as we perceive them. They are not inherent in the world around us.

Ignorance is the factor that makes the world seem substantial. That substantiality takes the form of subject/object, us versus them, because our personal perspective makes it seem as if we ourselves are the center of the universe. Everything else is categorized as either helpful to us, harmful to us, or immaterial to our interests. We form our relationships and actions based on those three judgments.

That which we deem helpful is clung to as familiar, comfortable, and loving. That which we deem hurtful is to be avoided or eliminated. Everything else is treated with apathy.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

Thundering Cloud
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Re: What is familiarity?

Post by Thundering Cloud » Sun Oct 28, 2018 3:03 pm

Jeff H wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:50 pm
I’ll venture my understanding before the more experienced folks get here.

The primary causes are our karmic propensities cultivated by prior intentional actions. The triggers you refer to are the secondary causes. They stimulate our primary reactions in response to the environmental conditions and actions of other beings as we perceive them. They are not inherent in the world around us.

Ignorance is the factor that makes the world seem substantial. That substantiality takes the form of subject/object, us versus them, because our personal perspective makes it seem as if we ourselves are the center of the universe. Everything else is categorized as either helpful to us, harmful to us, or immaterial to our interests. We form our relationships and actions based on those three judgments.

That which we deem helpful is clung to as familiar, comfortable, and loving. That which we deem hurtful is to be avoided or eliminated. Everything else is treated with apathy.
What puzzles me is what causes one's thought experience of memory to align with one's sensory experience so as to produce an experience of recognition. What causes an experience of recognition or familiarity, exactly? From a conventional standpoint the phenomenon is very straightforward — there is an independently objectively-extant thing / place / person / etc out there in the world that you have encountered in the past, hence you recognize it. Simple. But if I abandon the view that my experiences originate from outside of myself, independently, and that they are substantive unto themselves, and that the past is just as "real" as the present, then what should I make of the experience of something familiar to me? What is the cause of this experience, versus the experience of something foreign?

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Aryjna
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Re: What is familiarity?

Post by Aryjna » Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:05 am

Thundering Cloud wrote:
Sun Oct 28, 2018 3:03 pm
Jeff H wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:50 pm
I’ll venture my understanding before the more experienced folks get here.

The primary causes are our karmic propensities cultivated by prior intentional actions. The triggers you refer to are the secondary causes. They stimulate our primary reactions in response to the environmental conditions and actions of other beings as we perceive them. They are not inherent in the world around us.

Ignorance is the factor that makes the world seem substantial. That substantiality takes the form of subject/object, us versus them, because our personal perspective makes it seem as if we ourselves are the center of the universe. Everything else is categorized as either helpful to us, harmful to us, or immaterial to our interests. We form our relationships and actions based on those three judgments.

That which we deem helpful is clung to as familiar, comfortable, and loving. That which we deem hurtful is to be avoided or eliminated. Everything else is treated with apathy.
What puzzles me is what causes one's thought experience of memory to align with one's sensory experience so as to produce an experience of recognition. What causes an experience of recognition or familiarity, exactly? From a conventional standpoint the phenomenon is very straightforward — there is an independently objectively-extant thing / place / person / etc out there in the world that you have encountered in the past, hence you recognize it. Simple. But if I abandon the view that my experiences originate from outside of myself, independently, and that they are substantive unto themselves, and that the past is just as "real" as the present, then what should I make of the experience of something familiar to me? What is the cause of this experience, versus the experience of something foreign?
What is the difference between an experience of familiarity specifically and any other experience? There is nothing more to make of it than there is of an other experience.

Jeff H
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Re: What is familiarity?

Post by Jeff H » Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:09 pm

Thundering Cloud wrote:
Sun Oct 28, 2018 3:03 pm
What puzzles me is what causes one's thought experience of memory to align with one's sensory experience so as to produce an experience of recognition. What causes an experience of recognition or familiarity, exactly? From a conventional standpoint the phenomenon is very straightforward — there is an independently objectively-extant thing / place / person / etc out there in the world that you have encountered in the past, hence you recognize it. Simple. But if I abandon the view that my experiences originate from outside of myself, independently, and that they are substantive unto themselves, and that the past is just as "real" as the present, then what should I make of the experience of something familiar to me? What is the cause of this experience, versus the experience of something foreign?
This moment is a personal experience to my awareness and it influences the experience of my next mental moment, which also influences the next and the next successively. I cannot access the continuum of your experiences -- that's foreign. But the continuum of mental moments that has produced my present experience is what constitutes familiarity for me.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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Naawoo
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Re: What is familiarity?

Post by Naawoo » Tue Oct 30, 2018 2:30 pm

Thundering Cloud wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:38 pm
To my understanding, Buddhism teaches that it is incorrect to think of the universe as objectively extant, as a thing of substance "out there" with which we are interacting. It is better, instead, to think of reality as a byproduct of our experience, rather than the other way around. External phenomena do not have substance unto themselves.

Given this, how should the experience of familiarity be understood? How can I understand the experience of recognition of a loved one, or the comforts of coming home, without thinking of such things as having their own essence to be recognized and to trigger those feelings?
Nothing exists by itself. When Mind arises, everything exists. If Mind does not arise, there is nothing existent.
Familiarity means that you are accustomed to it and does not mean that it actually exists.
Your mind that feels familiarity even does not exist if you do not bring up your mind.
So if Mind can not be said to be substantially existent by itself, how else will everything else exist?

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Queequeg
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Re: What is familiarity?

Post by Queequeg » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:31 am

TBH, neuroscience might be a better way to understand this.

It's just neural pathways lighting up in response to stimuli.

Abhidharma might be useful to refine the knowledge developed through scientific inquiry, particularly the subjective experience of those neural pathways.

This does not mean the Buddhist teachings are wrong, but they may need refinement in light of present knowledge.

I'm sure I'll get blow back for that.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

joy&peace
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Re: What is familiarity?

Post by joy&peace » Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:54 pm

There is something called quantum entanglement which you might look into.

Familiarity is a dharma; as, all things are dharmas.
Om Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate bodhi svaha

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