Is Mind Fundamental?

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Matt J
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Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Matt J » Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:10 am

In another thread, the issue was raised: is mind fundamental? I thought it would be fun to revisit this as it is something I am actively working on.

I would say that mind is fundamental. I think in a basic sense, all that we experience is mind or transformations of consciousness. For example, a scientist will tell us that light is composed of photons vibrating at a certain wavelength, and when they strike the sensors in the eye, which generates signals to the brain, which conjures up an image of a red rose. But that is just a set of concepts that we have learned. What we actually experience is the visual sensation of red and green and various colors in between (as a part of a larger field of flowing, shimmering colors, I would add--- but we focus on some of these colors and apply the label "rose."). Only sentient beings experience the redness of red or the heat of fire. Without sentient beings, there would be no color, sound, touch, taste or smell. And we never experience photons bouncing off the eye for instance, or electric signals humming in our brain. We experience RED.

So are these qualities mental? I would say so. The quality of waking experience and the quality of dream experience is the same. Both are composed of colors, sounds, etc. Thoughts are similar, too. Not only this, must experience changes form mind to mind. Two beings looking at the same rose will have two different experiences. One may think the rose is beautiful, while another might be bored. A beetle might see it as food, while another bug might see it as a house. It will be huge to tiny creatures and tiny to huge creatures. While It is supposedly the same rose, it has no enduring essence. The difference must be based on the different minds.

Is there anything beyond these qualities or appearances? That is at best unknown. Modern materialists suggest that something outside the mind, and independent of the mind, gives rise to the mind. But this lies on a network of concepts and assumptions that can never be proven. We cannot step outside of the mind to see how things are independently of the mind--- this is a flat contradiction. Further, the idea of matter is based on inference, and inferences are always open to falsification. In fact, scientists who used to believe that matter was solid and enduring because it was composed of indestructible atoms soon learned that this was not the case at all. In fact, the idea of some sort of enduring matter may be another form of selfing.
SunWuKong wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:09 am
krodha wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:58 pm

At the end of the day mind is fundamental, and matter is a byproduct of incorrectly cognizing mind's own display...
really? where's the proof of that?
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:27 am

The fact that awareness occurs cannot be denied.
Awareness is activity of mind.
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muni
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by muni » Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:01 am

Yes. Mind is fundamental for everything and all and all. Its Nature is all inclusive and impossible to divide other than by delusions' pollution, creating the idea of a restricted nature on itself. That is dream.
Our mind is the basis of everything, and from our mind everything arises, Samsara and Nirvana, ordinary sentient beings and Enlightened Ones. Consider the way beings transmigrate in the impure vision of Samsara: even though the Essence of the Mind, the true nature of our mind, is totally pure right from the beginning, nevertheless, because pure mind is temporarily obscured by the impurity of ignorance, there is no self-recognition of our own State. Through this lack of self-recognition arise illusory thoughts and actions created by the passions. Thus various negative karmic causes are accumulated and since their maturation as effects is inevitable, one suffers bitterly, transmigrating in the six states of existence. Thus, not recognizing one's own State is the cause of transmigration, and through this cause one becomes the slave of illusions and distractions.
“ Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek. ”
H H Dalai Lama

"Relax." nirvana-samsara do not stray from spaciousness.

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Grigoris
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Grigoris » Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:35 am

Matt J wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:10 am
Without sentient beings, there would be no color, sound, touch, taste or smell.
I disagree. I believe that mind is mainly involved in labeling phenomena when it comes to sensation. Not creating. It is involved in creating insofar as it is involved in conceptualising the reorganisation of existing forms/phenomena into different combinations. But it is not involved in creation like the Abrahamic God is in the Book of Genesis.

So I believe light exists, but mind gives it's wavelengths names like "red" or "yellow". And even if beings were not present, there would be this thing that we call "light".

Of course your philosophising is pretty pointless though, because sentient beings have always existed. ;)
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

Simon E.
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Simon E. » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:37 am

Cough.

Define 'mind'.
Taking advantage of a temporary situation. Back for a short time only folks.

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Malcolm
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Malcolm » Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:07 pm

Simon E. wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:37 am
Cough.

Define 'mind'.
Clear and knowing.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

Simon E.
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Simon E. » Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:11 pm

Ok, so in terms of the OP?
Taking advantage of a temporary situation. Back for a short time only folks.

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Malcolm
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Malcolm » Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:37 pm

Matt J wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:10 am
In fact, the idea of some sort of enduring matter may be another form of selfing.
The idea of some enduring anything is a a self-view.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

krodha
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by krodha » Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:51 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:35 am
Matt J wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:10 am
Without sentient beings, there would be no color, sound, touch, taste or smell.
I disagree. I believe that mind is mainly involved in labeling phenomena when it comes to sensation. Not creating. It is involved in creating insofar as it is involved in conceptualising the reorganisation of existing forms/phenomena into different combinations. But it is not involved in creation like the Abrahamic God is in the Book of Genesis.

So I believe light exists, but mind gives it's wavelengths names like "red" or "yellow". And even if beings were not present, there would be this thing that we call "light".

Of course your philosophising is pretty pointless though, because sentient beings have always existed. ;)
Your position is that phenomena are established an an external environment and that we as sentient beings merely inhabit and encounter this pre-existing environment?

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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Grigoris » Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:08 pm

krodha wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:51 pm
Your position is that phenomena are established an an external environment and that we as sentient beings merely inhabit and encounter this pre-existing environment?
Nope. I believe that we are just as much a part of this environment as other phenomena (we are just a phenomenon anyway, we differ in that we possess sentience too: form AND mind).
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Malcolm
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Malcolm » Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:10 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:08 pm
krodha wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:51 pm
Your position is that phenomena are established an an external environment and that we as sentient beings merely inhabit and encounter this pre-existing environment?
Nope. I believe that we are just as much a part of this environment as other phenomena (we are just a phenomenon anyway, we differ in that we possess sentience too: form AND mind).
I think what he is asking you is of you think the universe exists independently of minds.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Grigoris
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Grigoris » Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:15 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:10 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:08 pm
krodha wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:51 pm
Your position is that phenomena are established an an external environment and that we as sentient beings merely inhabit and encounter this pre-existing environment?
Nope. I believe that we are just as much a part of this environment as other phenomena (we are just a phenomenon anyway, we differ in that we possess sentience too: form AND mind).
I think what he is asking you is of you think the universe exists independently of minds.
I think that the universe exists independently of our perception of it. It's not like Antractica vanishes just because I am unaware of it. Thing is, as I said earlier, there has never been a point where there was no mind present in this universe so...
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Sherab
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Sherab » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:44 pm

Grigoris wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:15 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:10 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:08 pm
Nope. I believe that we are just as much a part of this environment as other phenomena (we are just a phenomenon anyway, we differ in that we possess sentience too: form AND mind).
I think what he is asking you is of you think the universe exists independently of minds.
I think that the universe exists independently of our perception of it. It's not like Antractica vanishes just because I am unaware of it. Thing is, as I said earlier, there has never been a point where there was no mind present in this universe so...
This looks like mind-body distinction/dualism. There is a problem with this. (See 4. The Mind-Body Problem in this link http://www.iep.utm.edu/descmind/ ) I think it was because of this problem that most scientists are materialists and hold that the mind is only an emergent property of the brain.

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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Grigoris » Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:23 am

Sherab wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:44 pm
This looks like mind-body distinction/dualism.
Ummmm... Yes and no. The Buddha described human existence as the combination of mind and form. Was he also a mind-body dualist? But, realistically speaking: if there can be formless existence, then it means that there can be a mind-body dualism, right? Mind may not be an emergent quality of the brain but, for humans, it seems you do need both.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

krodha
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by krodha » Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:06 am

Grigoris wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:15 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:10 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:08 pm
Nope. I believe that we are just as much a part of this environment as other phenomena (we are just a phenomenon anyway, we differ in that we possess sentience too: form AND mind).
I think what he is asking you is of you think the universe exists independently of minds.
I think that the universe exists independently of our perception of it. It's not like Antractica vanishes just because I am unaware of it.
Antarctica can be generated by mind without vanishing when it isn't cognized. This is the entire import behind the Yogācāra principle of a container universe, which is also implemented in Vajrayāna.

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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:14 am

Sherab wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:44 pm
This looks like mind-body distinction/dualism. There is a problem with this. (See 4. The Mind-Body Problem in this link http://www.iep.utm.edu/descmind/ ) I think it was because of this problem that most scientists are materialists and hold that the mind is only an emergent property of the brain.
Well, Descartes was close.
His flaw is starting with a premise that mind is a thing, and body is a thing, and that these two things are doing their thing together.
But Buddhist logic demonstrates that there is nothing that arises that can be called, intrinsically, mind
and that there is nothing that arises that can be called, intrinsically, body.

The problem with the assertion that mental activity (cognition) is purely a by-product of brain activity
is essentially the problem of having a computer that somehow manufactures the person using it.
The human brain is made of water, salt, fat, and amino acids.
None of them thinks, or can combine to think. That's akin to animism, isn't it?
The belief that rocks and water and other physical things possess consciousness.
So, it's kind of funny that "strict materialists" often assert that.

The components of the brain simply form an apparatus that can produce electrical (neurological) activity. But that's all the brain does.
Nonetheless, that electrical activity is experienced as ideas, as memory, as, emotion, (accurately, or inaccurately) by awareness.
The "user" in this case, as the Buddha points out, is the illusion, the sense of "self" that we cling to as intrinsically "real".
The brain, itself, does not even know that it's a brain. it doesn't even know that it lives forever in darkness, inside a little round bone box.
It can be argued, in fact, that all of this is just a dream, and that no intrinsically physical reality is even really happening.
You can say, "prove it" all the way down the line, until you get to awareness itself.
There is no denying that awareness occurs.
Anyone who say that there is no awareness occurring is self-contradictory.
My understanding is that Mind is more of a process that depends on arising conditions, rather than a thing in itself.
So, awareness is fundamental, even the very basic awareness that requires no brain activity at all,
such as sperm purposefully swimming to the egg.

Mind is a manifestation of awareness.
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Grigoris » Sun Mar 04, 2018 8:31 am

krodha wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:06 am
Antarctica can be generated by mind without vanishing when it isn't cognized. This is the entire import behind the Yogācāra principle of a container universe, which is also implemented in Vajrayāna.
If it isn't being cognised, then how can it exist? If the mind that created Antarctica no longer cognises it and there are no other minds to perceive it, how can it continue to exist according to your version of Yogacara?

"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Matt J
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Matt J » Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:17 pm

I would think that mind also includes gross functions, such as seeing, hearing, etc. and subtle functions, such as thinking. So when no beings are experiencing Antarctica, Antarcatica is unseen, unheard, unfelt and so on. Are unseen colors, unheard sounds, unfelt sensations just floating in space until someone comes along to see, hear, and feel them? I would say not. What is an unseen color, anyway? And is the color we see in the waking state fundamentally different then color in a dream? I would say not. The only reason we downplay dreams is that we can see that they appear to be more impermanent than the waking state. We don't actually experience a mind-independent world upon waking, we experience two mind-dependent worlds. One seems to change less so we call it "real."

I don't think we need to deny the so-called external world, but if there is one, we really don't know what it is. How can we since knowing is mind? We have a real conundrum--- to experience (a function of mind) a mind-independent world (logically impossible already), we would have to step outside the mind and experience (function of mind) it. Note that this also posits some sort of "me" that exists apart from mind, a hidden self.

The problem with positing a mind-matter duality are many: first, the essence of everything is the same (i.e. emptiness), so there is no foundation upon which to posit a duality. If everything is empty, then so are boundaries, walls, divisions, and so on. Second, if things were truly separate, they could not interact or have any relationship. If they did, they wouldn't be separate. This is why Samkhya philosophy collapses, and why materialists love to take on Cartesian dualism--- it is logically inconsistent.
Grigoris wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 8:31 am
krodha wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:06 am
Antarctica can be generated by mind without vanishing when it isn't cognized. This is the entire import behind the Yogācāra principle of a container universe, which is also implemented in Vajrayāna.
If it isn't being cognised, then how can it exist? If the mind that created Antarctica no longer cognises it and there are no other minds to perveive it, how can it continue to exist according to your version of Yogacara?
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Grigoris » Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:36 pm

Matt J wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:17 pm
I would think that mind also includes gross functions, such as seeing, hearing, etc. and subtle functions, such as thinking. So when no beings are experiencing Antarctica, Antarcatica is unseen, unheard, unfelt and so on. Are unseen colors, unheard sounds, unfelt sensations just floating in space until someone comes along to see, hear, and feel them? I would say not.
Yes. The phenomenon known as Antarctica continue to exist when you are not perceiving it. Ask the penguins, they will tell you.
What is an unseen color, anyway?
Now you are making the mistake of confounding the object with it's designation.
I don't think we need to deny the so-called external world, but if there is one, we really don't know what it is. How can we since knowing is mind? We have a real conundrum--- to experience (a function of mind) a mind-independent world (logically impossible already), we would have to step outside the mind and experience (function of mind) it. Note that this also posits some sort of "me" that exists apart from mind, a hidden self.
I guess you'll just have to ask a Buddha, since apparently they function without reliance on a defiled conceptual or dualising mind.
The problem with positing a mind-matter duality are many:...
The Buddha was happy to do it so I cannot see what the problem is. Apparently he was omniscient.
If everything is empty, then so are boundaries, walls, divisions, and so on. Second, if things were truly separate, they could not interact or have any relationship. If they did, they wouldn't be separate.
Two Truths, remember?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Malcolm
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Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Malcolm » Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:19 pm

Matt J wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:17 pm


The problem with positing a mind-matter duality are many: first, the essence of everything is the same (i.e. emptiness), so there is no foundation upon which to posit a duality.
Ultimately, not conventionally.

If everything is empty, then so are boundaries, walls, divisions, and so on.
Ultimately, not conventionally.
Second, if things were truly separate, they could not interact or have any relationship. If they did, they wouldn't be separate. This is why Samkhya philosophy collapses, and why materialists love to take on Cartesian dualism--- it is logically inconsistent.

Samkhya has two problems: one, all effects exist in the cause. Permanent knower that is passive. But Samkhya is really more of a phenomenology than an ontology.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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