Is Mind Fundamental?

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
[N.B. This is the forum that was called ‘Exploring Buddhism’. The new name simply describes it better.]
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
Posts: 2961
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:42 am

There may be some confusion here because
All appearances are mind.

"All of your perceptions are merely projections of your own mind".
This is often understood as,
"Everything you perceive is a projection of your own mind'.

The difference is that, the first sentence is really referring to the impression you have of the world around you.
The second sentence sort of suggests that we are referring to the nature of external objects, implying that "everything" is nothing but a figment of the imagination. But this is a misunderstanding.

At the same time, the nature of mind, and of phenomena, both are emptiness.
But this too doesn't mean they are the same thing.
A car is simply made of parts and a sandwich is likewise simply made of parts, but a car is not a sandwich.
So, one shouldn't think, "mind is emptiness, phenomena is emptiness, therefore, phenomena is mind and mind is phenomena".
(although, mind itself is just another kind of phenomena).

A very clear teaching regarding this is the book, Vivid Awareness The Mind Instructions of Khenpo Gangshar By Thrangu Rinpoche.
.
.
.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.

User avatar
Matt J
Posts: 693
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:29 am

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Matt J » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:23 am

Not at all--- I'm not proposing subjective idealism. I'm just pointing the basic fact of experience--- everything we experience is generated like a dream by the mind (or if you prefer, consciousness). Everything that is experienced is experienced by the mind. The mind gives rise to and know appearances. And appearances cannot be disputed--- they are self-evident.

What IS in dispute is what causes this dream to arise, and what is going on outside the mind. Materialists say that the brain is what generates our conscious experience. Buddhists may propose Model A and Model B summarized by Malcolm. This is the question about ontology--- what is going on apart from the mind. Is the universe mind, or matter, a mix or something else? Let's call the universe as it happens outside of my mind X. I can never, by definition, know X directly--- knowing necessarily involves the mind.

In other words, we cannot KNOW anything other than through the mind. That doesn't mean that there IS nothing but mind. Two different things.

Grigoris wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 4:06 pm
Again you seem to confound what we perceive, with what exists. Now, just because I am saying that I believe matter can exist independently from mind does not mean that I believe there is self-existing matter, matter arises (or is destroyed) based on cause and condition; all I am saying is that I believe that mind is only one of the conditions for the existence of matter, and it is not a necessary one, as perception=/=creation, as far as I am concerned.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

krodha
Posts: 2286
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:30 pm

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by krodha » Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:05 am

Like Malcolm mentioned, there are two models. The latter model is indeed that there is no substantial external world, and that the appearances that are misconstrued for an external condition are generated by the minds of sentient beings with like karmic constitutions.

This means everything you experience is an appearance of mind, and there is no actual artifact-like world that lies beyond said appearances.

User avatar
Matt J
Posts: 693
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:29 am

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Matt J » Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:21 pm

What is the source of the models, anyway? I assume that most people don't actually see bijas in the alayavijnana forming into material things, or seeing objects contacting sense organs leading to visual consciousness. Are these models established inferentially, with yogic perception, or simply through scripture?
krodha wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:05 am
Like Malcolm mentioned, there are two models. The latter model is indeed that there is no substantial external world, and that the appearances that are misconstrued for an external condition are generated by the minds of sentient beings with like karmic constitutions.

This means everything you experience is an appearance of mind, and there is no actual artifact-like world that lies beyond said appearances.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 16563
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Grigoris » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:31 pm

Matt J wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:21 pm
What is the source of the models, anyway? I assume that most people don't actually see bijas in the alayavijnana forming into material things, or seeing objects contacting sense organs leading to visual consciousness. Are these models established inferentially, with yogic perception, or simply through scripture?
Scripture is based on yogic perception. If one is not capable of seeing for oneself, they can rely on the accounts of those that are.
"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

User avatar
Matt J
Posts: 693
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:29 am

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Matt J » Fri Mar 09, 2018 8:29 pm

Although, of course, yogic experience is also be an experience of the mind, so the issue still remains. Plus, the fact that reasonable yogis disagree tells me perhaps the matter is not clear cut.
Grigoris wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:31 pm
Matt J wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:21 pm
What is the source of the models, anyway? I assume that most people don't actually see bijas in the alayavijnana forming into material things, or seeing objects contacting sense organs leading to visual consciousness. Are these models established inferentially, with yogic perception, or simply through scripture?
Scripture is based on yogic perception. If one is not capable of seeing for oneself, they can rely on the accounts of those that are.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

User avatar
Monlam Tharchin
Posts: 1667
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Fri Mar 09, 2018 8:52 pm

Matt, either you have faith in the Buddha and teachers or you don't. To be a Buddhist yet question the validity of the Buddha's perception by suggesting it's impossible to cut through illusory perceptions and attain omniscience, that seems counterproductive to me. Apologies if I've misunderstood your line of reasoning :reading:

User avatar
Grigoris
Global Moderator
Posts: 16563
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 9:27 pm
Location: Greece

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Grigoris » Fri Mar 09, 2018 9:10 pm

Matt J wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 8:29 pm
Although, of course, yogic experience is also be an experience of the mind, so the issue still remains.
Are you sure that yogic experience is an experience of dualising/relative/ignorant mind? I don't think so.
Plus, the fact that reasonable yogis disagree tells me perhaps the matter is not clear cut.
WTF is a "reasonable yogi"? And they disagree with what exactly?
"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

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 27259
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Mar 09, 2018 9:15 pm

Matt J wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:21 pm
What is the source of the models, anyway? I assume that most people don't actually see bijas in the alayavijnana forming into material things, or seeing objects contacting sense organs leading to visual consciousness. Are these models established inferentially, with yogic perception, or simply through scripture?
krodha wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:05 am
Like Malcolm mentioned, there are two models. The latter model is indeed that there is no substantial external world, and that the appearances that are misconstrued for an external condition are generated by the minds of sentient beings with like karmic constitutions.

This means everything you experience is an appearance of mind, and there is no actual artifact-like world that lies beyond said appearances.
The former is a theory taught in the sutras. The latter is simple conventional truth.
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

User avatar
treehuggingoctopus
Posts: 1492
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:26 pm
Location: Mudhole? Slimy? My home, this is.

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Fri Mar 09, 2018 9:51 pm

Matt J wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:23 am
I'm not proposing subjective idealism.
Well, you said
Matt J wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:00 pm
Without a doubt, Model B is much cooler. 😎
Since
Malcolm wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:54 pm
Model B is internally triadic, holds that percepts are the actually the activation of traces that provide the content of the world that we perceive as external.
I dare say you do belong in some sort of idealist camp. (Little wonder, too. I also think Model B is cool.) It might be the Kantian one, where you will find Longchenpa, or the Yogacarian one (which is Longchenpaless. I still like it more.)
. . . there they saw a rock! But it wasn't a rock . . .

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 27259
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Mar 09, 2018 10:47 pm

treehuggingoctopus wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 9:51 pm
Matt J wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:23 am
I'm not proposing subjective idealism.
Well, you said
Matt J wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:00 pm
Without a doubt, Model B is much cooler. 😎
Since
Malcolm wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:54 pm
Model B is internally triadic, holds that percepts are the actually the activation of traces that provide the content of the world that we perceive as external.
I dare say you do belong in some sort of idealist camp. (Little wonder, too. I also think Model B is cool.) It might be the Kantian one, where you will find Longchenpa, or the Yogacarian one (which is Longchenpaless. I still like it more.)
Lonchenpa and Dzogchen in general does not reject external objects.
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

User avatar
Matt J
Posts: 693
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:29 am

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Matt J » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:01 pm

No, that is not correct. I tend to avoid teachers who have such a fundamentalist attitude --- and there are many. The teachers I have encourage questioning--- it is a part of the path actually. True Dharma doesn't wilt under questioning like a half-baked philosophy. It has been practiced for thousands of years by very intelligent people. Questioning and trying the teachings out is actually an act of supreme faith. You know you can do it because it will hold up. Personally and professionally, I have found that when people shy away from honest, heartfelt questions, they usually have something to hide, or are trying to BS.
As the wise test the purity of gold by burning, cutting and examining it by means of a piece of touchstone, so should you accept my words after examining them and not merely out of regard and reverence for me.
--- Buddha https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... html#fn-10

Or consider:
“If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.”
--- HHDL, Universe in a Single Atom
Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 8:52 pm
Matt, either you have faith in the Buddha and teachers or you don't. To be a Buddhist yet question the validity of the Buddha's perception by suggesting it's impossible to cut through illusory perceptions and attain omniscience, that seems counterproductive to me. Apologies if I've misunderstood your line of reasoning :reading:
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

User avatar
treehuggingoctopus
Posts: 1492
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:26 pm
Location: Mudhole? Slimy? My home, this is.

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:16 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 10:47 pm
Lonchenpa and Dzogchen in general does not reject external objects.
I recall you saying that the Yogacarin model is kosher as well?
Matt J wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:01 pm
No, that is not correct. I tend to avoid teachers who have such a fundamentalist attitude --- and there are many. The teachers I have encourage questioning--- it is a part of the path actually. True Dharma doesn't wilt under questioning like a half-baked philosophy. It has been practiced for thousands of years by very intelligent people. Questioning and trying the teachings out is actually an act of supreme faith. You know you can do it because it will hold up. Personally and professionally, I have found that when people shy away from honest, heartfelt questions, they usually have something to hide, or are trying to BS.
:good:
. . . there they saw a rock! But it wasn't a rock . . .

User avatar
Monlam Tharchin
Posts: 1667
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:11 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:24 pm

Matt, I'm not sure I understand what your message is to me. Am I fundamentalist, not practicing true Dharma, shying away from questions, trying to BS? If not, why raise those criticisms in a reply to me? It seems very personal.

My point was that your posts to me look like you're saying it's impossible to know anything, which means the omniscience of buddhahood is also impossible, that there is no freedom from deluded perception (i.e. samsara) and so on.

If this isn't what you meant then I can chalk it up to a misunderstanding.

User avatar
Malcolm
Posts: 27259
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Malcolm » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:26 pm

treehuggingoctopus wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:16 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 10:47 pm
Lonchenpa and Dzogchen in general does not reject external objects.
I recall you saying that the Yogacarin model is kosher as well?
Yogacara Madhyamaka, ala Shantarakshita, not cittamatra.
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

User avatar
Matt J
Posts: 693
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:29 am

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Matt J » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:40 pm

How is Yogacara Madhyamaka different from Longchenpa? I'm thinking as explained by Mipham especially.
Malcolm wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:26 pm
treehuggingoctopus wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:16 pm
Malcolm wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 10:47 pm
Lonchenpa and Dzogchen in general does not reject external objects.
I recall you saying that the Yogacarin model is kosher as well?
Yogacara Madhyamaka, ala Shantarakshita, not cittamatra.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
Posts: 2961
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:41 am

Did the Dharma teachings occur before you had any concept of them?
If apparently "external" phenomena are purely a projection of mind according to one's karmic parameters,
and do not occur prior to the functioning of mind,
then how is this possible?

If the Dharma teachings did not occur prior to one's concept of them,
and are merely projections of the mind, then unless you are already enlightened,
how could they possibly bring liberation from samsara?
.
.
.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.

User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3739
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Mar 10, 2018 7:34 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:41 am
Did the Dharma teachings occur before you had any concept of them?
If apparently "external" phenomena are purely a projection of mind according to one's karmic parameters,
and do not occur prior to the functioning of mind,
then how is this possible?

If the Dharma teachings did not occur prior to one's concept of them,
and are merely projections of the mind, then unless you are already enlightened,
how could they possibly bring liberation from samsara?
.
.
.
I have been reading your posts on this and hope you will bear with me why I try and explain one point. You are assuming a realist view of the world in all of your comments on the matter. Of course it goes without saying that according to the realist view, the world existed before you and I were born, and everything in the big wide world carries on as it is, whether you and I know it or not. So from this realist point of view, the idea of 'mind-only' seems completely preposterous.

What you're not allowing for is that this realist picture of the world is also something that exists in the mind. Not your mind, in particular, although there, as well. But 'before' and 'after' and 'duration' and 'position' are all judgements that imply a perspective, a point of view. THE mind provides a scale, a perspective, a sense of duration and position, within which any judgement at all about what is or isn't real is made.

Now the 'realist' attitude simply assumes that this perspective or point of view or framework is 'how things really are'. It forgets its own role in perceiving what is there, and believes that what is there exists regardless of any perception or cognition on our part. But the Yogacara understanding is all about the role of the mind in creating all of these parameters, perspectives, timescales, and so on, within which judgement is made about what is and isn't real. It is a radical philosophy and it does call into question our instinctive realism:

Have a read of The Clenched Fist of Reason by John Michael Greer. He's not Buddhist, but it's a pretty good analysis:
...this thing we call “the world” isn’t something wholly outside ourselves, something we experience in a detached and objective way. It’s something we create moment by moment in our minds, by piecing together the jumble of unconnected glimpses our senses give us—and we do the piecing according to a plan that’s partly given us by our biology, partly given us by our culture, and partly a function of our individual life experience.
...and that analysis does sound, not too coincidentally, not unlike the abhidharma analysis.
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki-roshi

User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
Posts: 2961
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Sun Mar 11, 2018 1:43 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Mar 10, 2018 7:34 am
I have been reading your posts...
I appreciate very much your excellent and concise explanation, and I don't disagree.
I often use the example of a snail, a cat (or human) and a hummingbird in a garden.
Each perceives its own speed of movement as "normal" in relation to the world around them, and with regard to the other two:
The snail sees the cat moving super fast, just as the cat sees the hummingbird;
the hummingbird sees the cat moving very slowly, the way the cat sees the snail.
Hummingbirds debate whether snails are animals or rocks, as they cannot perceive the movement of snails at all,
and snails argue the existence of hummingbirds, being able to see them, except for a few snails who claim to have seen them,
but the other snails regard those ones as crackpots.

Our overall experience is a mental projection.
But a projection of...what?

Likewise, the realms that each type of beings experience are perceived as a solid reality,
even though their experience of that reality, of that solidity, is a projection of their own karma-driven minds.

I don't think, however, that this contradicts the ordinary, "realist" view with regards to things happening in our physical universe, within and without ourselves, that we have yet to discover. I think, it's really just a broader understanding of a greater, all-encompassing context.
The forest is a projection of mind, but the trees in the forest are not. That's How I see it.
.
.
.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.

User avatar
Matt J
Posts: 693
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:29 am

Re: Is Mind Fundamental?

Post by Matt J » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:04 am

Grigoris wrote:
Fri Mar 09, 2018 9:10 pm
Are you sure that yogic experience is an experience of dualising/relative/ignorant mind? I don't think so.
No, but it is an experience of mind. Althought, when we shade toward the ultimate, the whole concept of "mind" starts to break down.
WTF is a "reasonable yogi"? And they disagree with what exactly?
There's a broad range of Buddhist yogis--- consider Dolpopa on one end and Tsongkapha on the other. You have some who tend more to the Yogacara-Madhyamaka side of things (a lot of Kagyupas), and others who don't (a lot of Gelugpas). Many of them are properly trained, good meditators, etc. If there was some sort of objectivity to the world, then advanced yogis should all report the same thing, but the don't. This means that either some yogis are wrong, or the world is non-objective. I tend to side with "non-objectve."

I'm not sure that is the issue--- per most Buddhist models, mind-streams are beginningless and distinct. So Dharma teachings may have occurred previously in this mind-stream, or in others. Yogacara in its various flavors is not solipsism.
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:41 am
Did the Dharma teachings occur before you had any concept of them?
If apparently "external" phenomena are purely a projection of mind according to one's karmic parameters,
and do not occur prior to the functioning of mind,
then how is this possible?

If the Dharma teachings did not occur prior to one's concept of them,
and are merely projections of the mind, then unless you are already enlightened,
how could they possibly bring liberation from samsara?
.
.
.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 31 guests