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What is mind?

misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a HinduIndia Veteran
edited November 29 in General Banter

Hi All,
We can see our body. But what is this thing which we call our mind? Please suggest. Thanks.

Snakeskin

Comments

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran
    edited November 29

    I don't know what mind is, but it's awesome how it seems to work.
    Maybe it's an illusion. Part of mammals like us and a part of our evolution in the works.
    I <3 (my) mind.

    Snakeskin
  • What you experience is MIND.

    ay caramba ... it is all Mind! [lobster has to sit down for a while]

    Snakeskin
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    Thing?

    If Mind is a thing then we would be able to locate it.

    I've always thought of mind like a sensory organ minus the organ.

    It's the most beautiful process ever there was! But then, remember what told me that.

    BunksKeromeSnakeskin
  • CarlitaCarlita Om Vajrasattva Hum United States Veteran

    @misecmisc1 said:
    Hi All,
    We can see our body. But what is this thing which we call our mind? Please suggest. Thanks.

    I came to the conclusion that the neurons in the brain picks up information throughout the day. When the info stays in our memory, it gets recycled and replayed as thoughts. When we dream, we are more aware of our thoughts as they are, a huge mix, than we are awake. Using your mind is being aware/conscious of your thought patterns. Once you become more aware, you can watch your thoughts rise and fall without being attached to them. As for what that part of the "mind" is called, I honestly dont know.

    Snakeskin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited November 29

    What is mind?

    I think you already "know" @misecmisc1 ( the cryptic clue is in the " " ) :)

    "The mind is used to understand logic...But logic can't be used to understand the mind"

    Snakeskin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    What is mind?

    In one of Alan Wallace's youtube clips he mentioned something along these lines...

    "If you want to know what the mind is, just look at the many ways you /we use the word..eg, "I don't mind if I do" "Mind how you go" "Would you mind" "Mind out" "In mind" "Never mind" "I have a good mind to...." "Be mindful of..." "Mind you" (and my favourite) "Mind your own business" :)

    No doubt there are plenty more but nothing comes to "Mind" at the moment ;)
    Well apart from....
    "The most essential method which includes all other methods is to behold the Mind-The Mind is the root from which all things grow_If one can understand the MInd...Everything else is included!"

    ~Bodhidharma~

    Snakeskinmisecmisc1
  • jwredeljwredel Albuquerque Explorer

    Perhaps this is actually your question, but it is worth a post ... the much more pertinent question is not what is the mind, but how does the mind manifest - or, what is the essence of mind? This is what Bodhidharma trying to get us to investigate.

    Snakeskinmisecmisc1
  • What is mind?

    @misecmisc1
    Is it some sort of gibbering monkey mechanism? That is what does the processing/meditation/thinking for me.

    We might call that the sleeping 😴 little heedless monkey mind ...

    However the Awake Mind is ... what is the word ...

    Awake More clues in the usual places ...

    What is your mind like?

    Snakeskin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    The question 'what is Mind?' was apparently the one spoken by his Guru/Lama, to Sogyal Rinpoche, during meditation, which absolutely blew it.

    Mind is, as far as I can recollect, that infinitesimal space between thoughts; that void, that Emptiness which is anything but.
    Apparently, if we recognise that there is a pause, a gap, between one thought and the next, the objective in meditation (so I am told) is to reduce the thoughts in order to expand the Mind.

    Snakeskin
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Mind is the container for your thoughts. All the sense impressions go in, thoughts manifest inside in response, and actions come out...

    DhammaDragonSnakeskin
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Recidivist Samsarist Veteran

    Mind is one of the five aggregates, the mental sense organ, which includes experiencing and thinking, that is, the way we process outer reality and our own internal processing.
    In a wider sense, we create both sense experience, as well as our happiness and unhappines with our minds.
    The easiest explanation, though, can be found in this link:

    http://www.buddhanet.net/funbud14.htm

    HozanSnakeskin
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    Reminds me of this:

    Huike said to Bodhidharma, “My mind is anxious. Please pacify it.”
    Bodhidharma replied, “Bring me your mind, and I will pacify it.”
    Huike said, “Although I’ve sought it, I cannot find it.”
    “There,” Bodhidharma replied, “I have pacified your mind.”

    Ha!

    HozanSnakeskinShoshin
  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    mind?a spark plug?the fuel is sugar?the brain the engine?im no mechanic.maybe not well thought out analogy.

    Snakeskin
  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    What is mind?

    In one of Alan Wallace's youtube clips he mentioned something along these lines...

    "If you want to know what the mind is, just look at the many ways you /we use the word..eg, "I don't mind if I do" "Mind how you go" "Would you mind" "Mind out" "In mind" "Never mind" "I have a good mind to...." "Be mindful of..." "Mind you" (and my favourite) "Mind your own business" :)

    No doubt there are plenty more but nothing comes to "Mind" at the moment ;)
    Well apart from....
    "The most essential method which includes all other methods is to behold the Mind-The Mind is the root from which all things grow_If one can understand the MInd...Everything else is included!"

    ~Bodhidharma~

    qot me thinking on that bodhidharma quote.so to behold the mind is possible nirvanna in brain dukka where it thinks it has no teacher or servant which is mind,its essential function.hmm,when i behold the mind ,it is at rest.when i dont behold it, brain function just does what it does.sorry for muddy it up about brain and psyche...

    Snakeskin
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    Just as a matter of semantics I use brain to talk about the physical part of the body where neurons fire and chemicals interact. I use mind to talk about the subjective experience we have when all that brain stuff happens.

    As to it's ontological status, for me that is still up in the air. There is essentially a %100 correlation between what the brain does and what the mind does so it could be an epiphenomenon of the brain. But a bunch of neurons firing isn't qualitatively identical to the "what it's like" experience of that firing that is mind, so is it all brain or is there some other unknown "mind stuff" that is needed to have consciousness?

    People have conviction and arguments both ways but I think if we're being honest we have to say it's an unknown.

    Snakeskinmisecmisc1Carlita
  • jwredeljwredel Albuquerque Explorer

    @person said:
    People have conviction and arguments both ways but I think if we're being honest we have to say it's an unknown.

    Exactly ... it's rather irrelevant to concern ourselves with what the mind is (in Zen it's called trying to bite your own teeth), but one can investigate it's activities. The Buddha addresses this in the Anupada Sutta, where he clearly lays out three distinct modes of cognition. (Actually, like any sutta, you have to dig those modes out.)

    SnakeskinHozanmisecmisc1
  • techietechie India Veteran

    Is there a mind at all, or is there only a brain?

    Food for thought.

    Snakeskinjwredelfederica
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Veteran

    I keep it simple. Mind is not body but, as @lobster pointed out, what I experience as body is the phenomenon mind. I'm with @person. Biological processes occur in the brain. They are measurable, observable by others. This is body. Content appears to occur within those processes. The content isn't, as yet, mechanically observable by others. This is mind. @techie makes a good point, because of the as-yet. While minds very much appear to result from biological processes, it also very much appears that minds influence the biological processes, a feedback loop, arising interdependently, conditioning each other. We don't know it's true nature. But, for biological organisms experiencing minds, it does raise another pertinent question. How should the minds be trained?

    lobster
  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran

    Thanks all for your replies.
    So based on the understanding of the above posts, now modifying the question - what is mind - to the question regarding the activities of mind.
    So now the question is - does mind arises when its object (thought, emotion, feeling etc) arises? If yes, then when its object does not arise, then where is mind? If no, then when does the mind arise, if it is not based on its object's arising?
    Please suggest. Thanks.

    Snakeskin
  • jwredeljwredel Albuquerque Explorer
    edited November 29

    In the Anupada Sutta, the Buddha lays out three modes of cognition - in a sense, three modes of mind. And so, it's these individual modes that manifest (arise and disappear) depending on circumstance. There is perception (when Sariputta 'knows'), there is inference (when Sariputta 'understands') and finally there is a mode that goes unexpressed (we might think of it as engagement - where Sariputta is completely absorbed in the moment).

    And the Buddha does not give us any reason to believe that Sariputta is ever in any other than these three modes. So at any time Sairputta can be seen as flowing from mode to mode. Sometimes he perceives objects, sometimes he considers them and towards the end of the sutta he totally engages with them (beyond perception and thought).

    And, as an side, the purpose of meditation is to eventually validate these modes for yourself and to ultimately understand how and when attachments gum up the works (cause suffering).

    misecmisc1lobsterSnakeskinDhammaDragon
  • CarlitaCarlita Om Vajrasattva Hum United States Veteran

    @misecmisc1 said:
    Thanks all for your replies.
    So based on the understanding of the above posts, now modifying the question - what is mind - to the question regarding the activities of mind.
    So now the question is - does mind arises when its object (thought, emotion, feeling etc) arises? If yes, then when its object does not arise, then where is mind? If no, then when does the mind arise, if it is not based on its object's arising?
    Please suggest. Thanks.

    Our conscious, our brain, is always recieving information. So all is arising and falling" via all our sense organs. Our subsconcious is in constant flux-our perceptions., emotions, how we make sense of the world, and our actions. Our mind, our subconcious activity, rise and fall because of the concious activity we take in and transmit. The mind is "empty" when it doesnt identify concious activity as permanent. There is no "mind" at the same time there is. (Heart sutra)

  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Veteran

    @misecmisc1 said:
    So based on the understanding of the above posts....

    I don’t even understand my own post, much less anyone else's. So, I’m just gonna look at the logic of it.

    So now the question is - does mind arises when its object (thought, emotion, feeling etc) arises? If yes, then when its object does not arise, then where is mind?

    It would seem to me that if we say mind arises with object, then that would preclude the existence of mind apart from object.

    Digression:
    I had that thought a while ago, but had used the term “awareness.” I had speculated awareness doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It only occurs in relation to an object. Nibbana would be an object upon which awareness arises. @jwredel, does that contradict your understanding of the Anupada Sutta? Am I equivocating awareness and mind? Not asking if it’s correct or not, just whether it contradicts your understanding of the sutta.

    If no, then when does the mind arise, if it is not based on its object's arising?

    If we say mind does not arise with object, then we are saying mind can exist in a vacuum, in which case “when” would be impossible as time wouldn’t exist, only mind … I think.

    lobsterjwredel
  • jwredeljwredel Albuquerque Explorer

    @Snakeskin said:
    I had that thought a while ago, but had used the term “awareness.” I had speculated awareness doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It only occurs in relation to an object. Nibbana would be an object upon which awareness arises. @jwredel, does that contradict your understanding of the Anupada Sutta? Am I equivocating awareness and mind?

    So this is awesome. Getting back to the idea of three modes of cognition, we perceive when we are in the mode of perception. Consider when you are immersed in mental activity (say a crossword puzzle). Did you notice the leaves against the window, the heat kicking on? Probably not. You would not notice them until there was a lull in your thinking.

    As inference activities end, we naturally enter the mode of perception. (In a sense, we have to go somewhere.)

    At this time we might then become open to a thought of nibbana. (The mind is the sixth sense base, and we 'perceive' thoughts just as we might perceive a sound.) You can sort of imagine that the thought of nibbana was lurking while were working the crossword puzzle, just being ignored. As the inference activities end, we might also become aware of the cat and the myriad of other objects that were being ignored while working the puzzle. So the answer to your question then becomes 'sort of'. In a certain sense, the mode of perception must arise before we can then become open to the objects of perception, at which time a kind of focus of perception arises and settles on this thought (as you say) to the exclusion of all the other objects available at that moment.

    A final note. Of course we can be deeply involved in a crossword puzzle and be rudely pulled out by a slamming door or a honking horn. This is a slightly different mechanism.

    Hope this helps.

    lobsterSnakeskinperson
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Veteran

    @jwredel said:
    Consider when you are immersed in mental activity (say a crossword puzzle).

    Or a sutta and a couple post. Lost track of time there. :lol: I think it finally clicked. Thanks. =)

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited November 30

    @misecmisc1

    In order for 'you' to get a clearer picture in your mind's eye...I would recommend spending more time studying "Dependant Origination/Arising" (The 12 links in the chain) & "The Five Skandhas" (Which involves "Consciousness" "Body" & "Mental Factors" ) and I guess, one might as well throw in the "Six Senses"

    Trying to pin down what mind is in words is like trying to grasp and keep hold of water with one's hands :)

    jwredellobsterSnakeskin
  • jwredeljwredel Albuquerque Explorer

    @Snakeskin said:
    Or a sutta and a couple post. Lost track of time there. :lol: I think it finally clicked. Thanks. =)

    Excellent, only realize that, in a sense this is just the beginning and not the end. Things that you will want to investigate:

    • What are the qualities of the self while thinking? while perceiving?
    • What about this third mode of cognition (engagement)? (You have undoubtedly experienced it already, but have probably not made complete sense of it yet.)
    • How does endless thinking and mindfulness fit into all this?
    • And on and on ...

    Happy hunting.

    ShoshinlobsterSnakeskin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    of the Snark...

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited November 30

    It came to me the other day, while meditating, that one cannot have 2 different thoughts arising simultaneously. ( I actually had the thought, "I can't think two Mantras at once....").
    You can only think one thing at a time. You might have two different thoughts in quick succession, or one thought can lead you into expansion and broadening that thought, and letting it escalate into something else; but you can't think two different things at once.
    I then tried it.

    "Om Mani Padme H'ng" and "Loving and benign".

    Can't be done.

    Lo and behold, last night I'm lying in bed, and I'm reading my little copy of Gil Frondsal's 'The Dhammapada', and I come to a verse in the chapter of 'Mind', which reads:

    "Far-ranging, solitary,
    Incorporeal and hidden
    Is the Mind...." (Verse not quoted in complete...)

    A note is attached.
    Turn to notes.

    Notes read (in part):

    "Ekacaram, here, translated as "solitary", literally means "walking or roaming alone." Using later Buddhist theories, The DhpA commentary explains that Consciousness occurs singularly, meaning no two conscious states occur simultaneously." (My bold.)

    Well I'm blowed. It's the first time in all my practice as a Buddhist, that I came to the same conclusion as The Buddha, before I knew that the Buddha had taught the same thing.

    After nearly 30 years of practice, I have made slight progress.

    lobsterShoshinpersonSnakeskin
  • I have made slight progress

    Better than Nothing :p

    Look what @IronRabbit has to contend with ... and he has his own pseudo-zendo <3
    Ay caramba! I blame meditation! B)

    Snakeskin
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Recidivist Samsarist Veteran

    @person said:
    Just as a matter of semantics I use brain to talk about the physical part of the body where neurons fire and chemicals interact. I use mind to talk about the subjective experience we have when all that brain stuff happens.

    Both the physical brain and the mind processes are covered under the blanket term "Mano," which among other things, is the word used in the first verses of the Dhammapada to describe thoughts and mental phenomena.

    "Mano" is the mental sense organ and the mental processes of experience, like feelings, perceptions, defilements and insight.

    In the Yogacara system, which influenced Mahayana, Chan and Zen, there is no self nor other, but mere conceptions occurring within a process of consciousness.

    In the process of consciousness, there is the All (the six senses, mind included, with their consciousness), what we take for reality, and our store consciousness (the past conditioning and habits of consciousness throught which we "distort" reality).

    Whatever arises in experience is our own mind.

    Snakeskin
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Veteran
    edited December 1

    @DhammaDragon said:
    Both the physical brain and the mind processes are covered under the blanket term "Mano,"

    I can’t comment on Yogacara and beyond, but I get the distinct impression from the Visuddhimagga that Buddhaghosa, and likely his contemporaries, didn’t think as highly of the brain as we do today.

    The Satipatthana Sutta leaves out the brain from the parts of the body. So, in the Visuddhimagga’s exposition of contemplating anatomy, Buddhaghosa includes brain (matthalunga) in bone marrow. Yup, bone marrow.

    Later, in the detailed description of snot, he says when a person is sick, the brain becomes “stale phlegm” and oozes into the nostrils.

    I don’t know their actual views at that time, but that which comprehends is … snot? I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they, Buddhaghosa at least, didn’t associate brain with thought. I sense this will be an interesting if not entertaining topic for further study.

    person
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