How is the Mind-Body Problem Treated in Buddhism?

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
Post Reply
ItsRaining
Posts: 97
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 7:45 am

How is the Mind-Body Problem Treated in Buddhism?

Post by ItsRaining » Sun Nov 05, 2017 2:52 pm

Hey, so I just stumbled across some articles on the mind-body problem while browsing the internet and it made me try and think of how Buddhism (or the various schools) deal with it. But honestly I don't really know, form would be the first skhanda but how does it interact with the other skhandas of consciousness or sensation?

In the Verses on the Eight Consciousness Master Xuan Zang states "The five consciousnesses are all supported by organs of pure form." and a commentary states that organs of pure form are organs of pure mental substance that which really perceive things. How would this work? How does a consciousness arise from touch, smell, hearing, etc and how do mental "organs of pure form" reside in physical organs and interact with each other?

Finally, what role does the Alaya play in this? If everything only delusion arising of the seeds in the mind does that mean all these organs are in reality residing in the alaya?

Tolya M
Posts: 218
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:26 pm

Re: How is the Mind-Body Problem Treated in Buddhism?

Post by Tolya M » Sun Nov 05, 2017 3:58 pm

There is no body-mind problem in buddhism. It is wrong question from predication of substance to the descriptive-phenomenological units. Maybe Xuang Zang writes about rupa prasada\subtle rupa which 5 senses are made of. Actually I do not hold the view that there is asamjna sattvas devoid of mind and arupa brahmas devoid of rupa. There are many schools (see Kosha, Vijja Dhammakaya) with the view that subtle-mind and subtle rupa exists on this levels. So there is always nama-rupa through all universes of s/beings. It is not so contradictory and doesn't change the main doctrinal topics.

passel
Posts: 196
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:30 am

Re: How is the Mind-Body Problem Treated in Buddhism?

Post by passel » Sun Nov 05, 2017 5:19 pm

I’ve always dug the approach you see in a lot of the early Pali- especially in the Samyuta Nikaya. Sense object, sense faculty, and sense consciousness simultaneously co-arise as contact. And there’s always contact.

I don’t know how convincing non-meditators would find this, but I think it’s phenomenologically on point. It’s essentially nondual, but accounts for ordinary experience. It’s pretty damn accessible. And you’ve got both samsara and nirvana right there.
"I have made a heap of all that I have met"- Svetonious

ItsRaining
Posts: 97
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 7:45 am

Re: How is the Mind-Body Problem Treated in Buddhism?

Post by ItsRaining » Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:16 pm

passel wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 5:19 pm
I’ve always dug the approach you see in a lot of the early Pali- especially in the Samyuta Nikaya. Sense object, sense faculty, and sense consciousness simultaneously co-arise as contact. And there’s always contact.
But how would mental phenomena like the sense consciousness interact with the sense faculty?

Tolya M
Posts: 218
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:26 pm

Re: How is the Mind-Body Problem Treated in Buddhism?

Post by Tolya M » Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:18 pm

ItsRaining wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 2:52 pm
But honestly I don't really know, form would be the first skhanda but how does it interact with the other skhandas of consciousness or sensation?
They are accociated in a process of cognition. Never separate. But the traditional view on asamjnasattva plane and arupa plane is the only rupa and only mind are there.
ItsRaining wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 2:52 pm
How would this work? How does a consciousness arise from touch, smell, hearing, etc and how do mental "organs of pure form" reside in physical organs and interact with each other?
Consciousness arises very simply: you see the object and this is the consciousness of the object. It is not meant that at first there was no consciousness. There was no initial term but there was another consciousness, it's object and another process of cognition.
ItsRaining wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 2:52 pm
Finally, what role does the Alaya play in this? If everything only delusion arising of the seeds in the mind does that mean all these organs are in reality residing in the alaya?
Try to read Mahayanasamgraha of Asanga translated by E. Lamotte. Its role is the first two Truths but explained from Mahayana perspective in several chapters.

Tolya M
Posts: 218
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:26 pm

Re: How is the Mind-Body Problem Treated in Buddhism?

Post by Tolya M » Sun Nov 05, 2017 10:44 pm

passel wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 5:19 pm
And you’ve got both samsara and nirvana right there.
Only samsara. Nibbana is evident through magga- and phala- cittas on four levels of saint-hood when Sila-Samadhi-Panna are in play. Or in nibbana-phala-samapatti of saints.

User avatar
anjali
Global Moderator
Posts: 1225
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:33 pm

Re: How is the Mind-Body Problem Treated in Buddhism?

Post by anjali » Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:53 pm

ItsRaining wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 2:52 pm
In the Verses on the Eight Consciousness Master Xuan Zang states "The five consciousnesses are all supported by organs of pure form." and a commentary states that organs of pure form are organs of pure mental substance that which really perceive things. How would this work? How does a consciousness arise from touch, smell, hearing, etc and how do mental "organs of pure form" reside in physical organs and interact with each other?

Finally, what role does the Alaya play in this? If everything only delusion arising of the seeds in the mind does that mean all these organs are in reality residing in the alaya?
From Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche's commentary on Pointing out the Dharmakaya,
The alaya consciousness arises as apprehended objects and an apprehending subject. The seventh consciousness fixates on the appearance of the apprehending subject as a self and, then, on the appearances of apprehended objects as other. In that way, through the action of these consciousnesses, the appearances of body and mind arise as distinct from one another, in the sense that the body appears as an apprehended object, while the mind appears as an apprehending subject. They're distinct in appearing that way, but they're not, in fact, different from one another, since they are merely two aspects of a single appearance that arises through the projection of the alaya consciousness. In that sense, as well, they are beyond being the same or different.

User avatar
aflatun
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:21 am
Location: Bay Area, CA

Re: How is the Mind-Body Problem Treated in Buddhism?

Post by aflatun » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:29 am

anjali wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:53 pm
ItsRaining wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 2:52 pm
In the Verses on the Eight Consciousness Master Xuan Zang states "The five consciousnesses are all supported by organs of pure form." and a commentary states that organs of pure form are organs of pure mental substance that which really perceive things. How would this work? How does a consciousness arise from touch, smell, hearing, etc and how do mental "organs of pure form" reside in physical organs and interact with each other?

Finally, what role does the Alaya play in this? If everything only delusion arising of the seeds in the mind does that mean all these organs are in reality residing in the alaya?
From Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche's commentary on Pointing out the Dharmakaya,
The alaya consciousness arises as apprehended objects and an apprehending subject. The seventh consciousness fixates on the appearance of the apprehending subject as a self and, then, on the appearances of apprehended objects as other. In that way, through the action of these consciousnesses, the appearances of body and mind arise as distinct from one another, in the sense that the body appears as an apprehended object, while the mind appears as an apprehending subject. They're distinct in appearing that way, but they're not, in fact, different from one another, since they are merely two aspects of a single appearance that arises through the projection of the alaya consciousness. In that sense, as well, they are beyond being the same or different.
Great passage anjali, thank you for that
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

ItsRaining
Posts: 97
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 7:45 am

Re: How is the Mind-Body Problem Treated in Buddhism?

Post by ItsRaining » Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:56 am

anjali wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 11:53 pm
ItsRaining wrote:
Sun Nov 05, 2017 2:52 pm
In the Verses on the Eight Consciousness Master Xuan Zang states "The five consciousnesses are all supported by organs of pure form." and a commentary states that organs of pure form are organs of pure mental substance that which really perceive things. How would this work? How does a consciousness arise from touch, smell, hearing, etc and how do mental "organs of pure form" reside in physical organs and interact with each other?

Finally, what role does the Alaya play in this? If everything only delusion arising of the seeds in the mind does that mean all these organs are in reality residing in the alaya?
From Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche's commentary on Pointing out the Dharmakaya,
The alaya consciousness arises as apprehended objects and an apprehending subject. The seventh consciousness fixates on the appearance of the apprehending subject as a self and, then, on the appearances of apprehended objects as other. In that way, through the action of these consciousnesses, the appearances of body and mind arise as distinct from one another, in the sense that the body appears as an apprehended object, while the mind appears as an apprehending subject. They're distinct in appearing that way, but they're not, in fact, different from one another, since they are merely two aspects of a single appearance that arises through the projection of the alaya consciousness. In that sense, as well, they are beyond being the same or different.

Thanks!

User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 6702
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: How is the Mind-Body Problem Treated in Buddhism?

Post by Astus » Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:14 am

This relationship between body and mind is what falls under the so called unanswered questions regarding the identity of sarira (body) and jiva (soul). The short answer is that Buddhism has an experiential view, as shown in the teachings on the five aggregates and six sensory domains, where physical and mental phenomena are not substantially differentiated.

"If there is the view, 'The soul and the body are the same,' there is no living of the holy life; and if there is the view, 'The soul is one thing, the body is another,' there is no living of the holy life. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma by the middle: 'With birth as condition, aging-and-death.'"
(SN 12.35)

"Bhikkhus, when what exists, by clinging to what, by adhering to what, does such a view as this arise: 'The soul and the body are the same'?"
...
"Bhikkhus, when what exists, by clinging to what, by adhering to what, does such a view as this arise: 'The soul is one thing, the body another'?"
...
"But without clinging to what is impermanent, suffering, and subject to change, could such a view as that arise?"
"No, venerable sir."

(SN 24.13, 14)

"Master Gotama, what is the cause and reason why these various speculative views arise in the world: ... 'The soul and the body are the same' or 'The soul is one thing, the body is another'..."
"It is, Vaccha, because of not knowing form/feeling/perception/volitional formations/consciousness, its origin, its cessation, and the way leading to its cessation that those various speculative views arise in the world"

(SN 33.1-5)

"As to the various views that arise in the world, householder, 'The world is eternal' '" -these as well as the sixty-two speculative views mentioned in the Brahmajala: when there is identity view, these views come to be; when there is no identity view, these views do not come to be."
(SN 41.3)

"Vaccha, wanderers of other sects regard the eye thus: 'This is mine, this I am, this is my self.' They regard the ear . . . the nose . . . the tongue . . . the body . . . the mind thus: 'This is mine, this I am, this is my self.' Therefore, when the wanderers of other sects are asked such questions, they give such answers as: 'The world is eternal' . . . or 'The Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist after death.' But, Vaccha, the Tathagata, the Arahant, the Perfectly Enlightened One, regards the eye thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.' He regards the ear . . . the mind thus: 'This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.' Therefore, when the Tathagata is asked such questions, he does not give such answers."
(SN 44.7)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3513
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: How is the Mind-Body Problem Treated in Buddhism?

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:12 am

The modern mind-body problem is almost entirely a product of Rene Descartes’ dualistic model of matter and spirit. Have a look for the article, What Is and Isn’t Yogācāra, by Dan Lusthaus, which has a pretty good analysis of the whole matter.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

Tolya M
Posts: 218
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:26 pm

Re: How is the Mind-Body Problem Treated in Buddhism?

Post by Tolya M » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:43 pm

Subject-object dichotomy is not accurate for grahya-grahaka relationship. There is no consiousness without an object in general.

User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
Posts: 2900
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: How is the Mind-Body Problem Treated in Buddhism?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:56 am

I think that one of the challenges to understanding what is essentially mind-body co-arising
is the tendency to start with the premise that mind is an inherently self-existent thing
and also that the body is an inherently self-existent thing.
Even when we study dharma teachings and we understand that this is not the case, we still approach the issue
as though body and mind are two things.

Both mind and body are each a series of constantly changing events.
Mind doesn't rely on a constant, unchanging body
and body doesn't rely on a constant, unchanging mind.

So, to say that they actually arise together, while accurate as far as the appearance of things goes,
it's really sort of a misleading statement to begin with.
They happen with respect to each other due to conditions, just like a pond reflecting the trees growing next to it.

If we understand that they are never really stuck together in the first place,
then coming to terms with their separation really isn't a problem.
at least, this is my understanding, but I could be wrong.

.
.
.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider], Yahoo [Bot] and 34 guests