Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

In terms of the philosophy of mind, is Buddhism essentially dualistic?

DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

I think the other main options philosophically would be materialism and idealism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism_(philosophy_of_mind)

«1

Comments

  • I think the Mahayana is called non-dualistic but perhaps that is not a sanskrit word.

  • Khenpo Gyamptso Tsultrim Rinpoche in one of his songs said that thinking mind and body are separate is suffering.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited February 2015

    Jason I think consciousness in that example is conditioned consciousness because it leads to birth and death. The conciousness dwelling in nirvana so to speak does not have qualities of ignorance etc (12 nidanas).

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    I asked my teacher once whether Zen were dualistic. "No," he replied. "Well, then, is it monistic?" And again he replied, "No." So how then, I asked, would he describe it? His face sort of scrunched up before he replied: "Maybe it's sort of like a pointless point."

    I look back on our little q and a and it's hard not to snicker.

    JeffreylobsterEliz
  • @genkaku did he mean like a mathematical point or a 'point' of an argument?

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    @Jeffrey -- Are you joking?

    Is there a point -- any point at all -- to what is alive?

  • Not joking :)

    My teacher uses points making up a line as an analogy to awareness. The points are dimensionless and the mind connects them and so forth. I don't really understand this teaching much but I hear it in her talks. So I wondered if your teacher was doing likewise. My teachers husband is a former physicist and now is the head of the longchen foundation (a Dzogchen lineage)

  • @SpinyNorman said:
    I think the other main options philosophically would be materialism and idealism.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism_(philosophy_of_mind)

    OP, this is over my head. All I know is that in TB class at university, we were taught the dualisms upon which TB is based: male/female, compassion/wisdom, action/meditation, similar to yin/yang. However, the goal (Enlightenment) is to realize the ultimate absence/emptiness of duality in all phenomena.

  • @SpinyNorman said:
    I think the other main options philosophically would be materialism and idealism.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism_(philosophy_of_mind)

    In terms of the philosophy of mind, is Buddhism essentially dualistic?

    Good question. I have not studied philosophy sufficiently to answer, so will be interested in those that have and can apply a bit of plurivalent logic . . .
    http://aeon.co/magazine/philosophy/logic-of-buddhist-philosophy/

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @Jason said:> I would say no. Generally speaking, mind and body are interconnected, so they're not entirely separate, but they're not entirely the same, either. I'm thinking here of the sheaves of reeds analogy:
    It's a subtle difference, to be sure; but I conceive of it as a philosophical middle-way between idealism and dualism.

    Yes, I see, though that seems to be describing a mutual dependence, so it's a form of dualism. In any case not the same, so not monist.

    I think idealism would be like the Yogachara "mind-only" school. Materialism might be like the view of Secular Buddhism, but I'm still trying to work out these philosophical positions.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    It's kind of odd because I can see it fitting in with all three depending on the tilt.

    We can take it, test it and work with it so it could be material in that sense.

    Ideally, it seems to me that one of the goals is to see through duality to DO and interconnectedness.

    Could that possibly be monist?
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited February 2015

    @SpinyNorman one difference I see between yogacara and idealism is that idealism is just a philosophy whereas yogacara is mainly a practice of meditation with the goal of enlightenment with an associated supporting philosophy. In yogacara the yogic experience of practitioners is the center whereas any philosophy is supporting cast. Also the root of yogacara is also based on madyamaka via Nagarjuna which I think the western idealism lacks??

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madhyamaka

    I don't see a discussion of the 'emptiness-other' school in the wiki link. So maybe that is missing information?

  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran

    Monism is fated to extinguish itself; Dualism results in triage dude!

    911

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    In the meetings I've watched between HHDL and the scientists with the Mind and Life Institute, I'd say his position is a form of dualism. As I understand him he says that the senses are originated in the body but seems to hold the view that other mental processes such as thoughts and emotions are a subtler form of mind and not generated by the brain but rather it acts as a receiver. The TB view of mind separates it into gross, subtle and very subtle. I'm not totally sure how they breakdown but gross starts with the senses, that and the subtle mind dissolve at death and it is only the very subtle mind that continues on to the next life.

    My own opinion is a form of dualism. I view the brain as the generator of content of mind like the film of a movie projector and I think of the clear light mind that has the quality of knowing as like the light of the movie projector which shines the 'film' of the brain to make conscious experience.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited February 2015

    @Dakini said:
    OP, this is over my head. All I know is that in TB class at university, we were taught the dualisms upon which TB is based: male/female, compassion/wisdom, action/meditation, similar to yin/yang. However, the goal (Enlightenment) is to realize the ultimate absence/emptiness of duality in all phenomena.

    The debate is about the origins of mind, whether the mind is distinct from the body and brain or if the mind is wholly a product of the brain as is the belief in much of modern neuroscience. I think Idealism is the belief that there is only mind or something similar.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    I see the brain as a receiver and interpreter of mind. As if the mind sends signals to the brain like any other sense gate.
  • @person said:
    In the meetings I've watched between HHDL and the scientists with the Mind and Life Institute, I'd say his position is a form of dualism. As I understand him he says that the senses are originated in the body but seems to hold the view that other mental processes such as thoughts and emotions are a subtler form of mind and not generated by the brain but rather it acts as a receiver. The TB view of mind separates it into gross, subtle and very subtle. I'm not totally sure how they breakdown but gross starts with the senses, that and the subtle mind dissolve at death and it is only the very subtle mind that continues on to the next life.

    My own opinion is a form of dualism. I view the brain as the generator of content of mind like the film of a movie projector and I think of the clear light mind that has the quality of knowing as like the light of the movie projector which shines the 'film' of the brain to make conscious experience.

    I think rangtong and shentong have a difference here.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited February 2015

    @person said:I think Idealism is the belief that there is only mind or something similar.

    Yes, and I think materialism holds that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain and fully dependent on it.
    It's the old mind-body question which people have been debating for thousands of years.

  • 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

    Mind-brain-body......

    lobsterMigyur
  • ZenshinZenshin Veteran East Midlands UK Veteran

    As Shunryu Suzuki said - not one, not two.

    Buddhadragon
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    If we stick strictly to the first definition in the link ("In philosophy of mind, dualism is the position that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical, or that the mind and body are not identical."), no.

    Mind (mano) is considered one more sense, along with eye, nose, ear, tongue and body.

    "Consciousness whose arising depends on the mind (Mano) and ideas is called thought consciousness (Mano viñana)"

    “And what, bhikkhus, is consciousness? There are these six classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, mind-consciousness. This is called consciousness. With the arising of name-and-form there is the arising of consciousness. With the cessation of name-and-form there is the cessation of consciousness. This Noble Eightfold Path is the way leading to the cessation of consciousness; that is, right view … right concentration."

    (SN 22:56)

  • If there is one reality that interpenetrates of matter and mind then it is just a mental label 'this is my mind' and 'this is matter'. We say a lot of things 'that's on my mind' 'I can't keep it in mind' 'I can't stop thinking of it' 'I believe that wholeheartedly'. What is happening in all of these experiences?

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @DhammaDragon said:
    If we stick strictly to the first definition in the link ("In philosophy of mind, dualism is the position that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical, or that the mind and body are not identical."), no.
    Mind (mano) is considered one more sense, along with eye, nose, ear, tongue and body.

    Yes, but the fact that there is a separate consciousness for mind is significant. In the suttas there is a nama-rupa, mentality-materiality, which does suggest a mind-body duality. And a distinction is made between mental and bodily feeling.

  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    I think the other main options philosophically would be materialism and idealism.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism_(philosophy_of_mind)

    Could you give an example of a philosophy that you think is essentially dualistic?

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    Sorry but I'm not an expert on philosophy, I'm still grappling with these definitions myself.
    I think basically it's dualism as opposed to monism, where everything is the same "substance" and mind would be regarded as the same as matter.

    Perhaps a better question would be "How does Buddhism think about the relationship between body and mind?"

  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran
    edited February 2015

    Practically speaking, in the context of the DO I have discovered that there is a seemingly clear distinction between the body and mind. Just because the mind is clear the body can still be stressed out.

    In for example dealing with tinnitus, It does not go away just because I calm the mind. Long practice with focus on the sound faculty is needed to convince the body to stop listening to the tinnitus.

    The same applies to grinding teeth in your sleep.

    But I think some things are closer to being mind governed than others. Like the heart rate, body temperature and bleeding.

    Looking from the other side. Many feelings and moods are governed and initiated by the body. If you meditate on desire it typically starts of in some part of the body but ends up steering the mind.

    Try experimenting on the desire to breath in and out and you will see what I mean but it extends to all form of desires and other mental processes.

    But on the third hand the desire rooted in the body and extended to the mind is conditioned through learning I believe.

    So in that way the body and mind are inseparably linked.

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran
    edited February 2015
    I can't quote on the cellphone, Spiny.
    About your comment above on my comment, yes but no.

    In abhidhamma, consciousness is still one more skandha, not different nor more salient than nama rupa or feelings, etc.

    In Western philosophy, the mind and its processes are revered as what make as distinct (read superior) to the animals, for instance.
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @Victorious said:
    So in that way the body and mind are inseparably linked.

    Yes, clearly so, and it's fascinating to explore this relationship in the context of Buddhist practice. It's interesting that in deep meditative states awareness of the body diminishes and awareness of the mind increases.

  • @SpinyNorman said:
    Perhaps a better question would be "How does Buddhism think about the relationship between body and mind?"

    It is a good question.

    My own experience is that the mind can be realised but the body and emotions still be on the monkey level of awareness.

    The Buddha as an advanced yogi ascetic had trained mind, body and then had his epic three day battle with the emotional taunts of Mara. The Buddha had to deal with further realisation/stabilisation during the dance of Mara and his naughty dancing daughters, bless them all. God and Devas was Gotama glad to get enlightened finally . . . phew . . . ;)

    I would suggest that as we progress 'Mind' incorporates expression (Mind, body, speech) and other triads. Eventually 'Mind' becomes our field of being or interaction with experience.

    Where is the Buddha for the awake? Everywhere, even in ignorance. Gosh. B)

  • 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

    @Victorious said:... > In for example dealing with tinnitus, It does not go away just because I calm the mind. Long practice with focus on the sound faculty is needed to convince the body to stop listening to the tinnitus.

    Not so. After a while, the Mind becomes so used to listening to the tinnitus, it merely permits it to fade into the background as a normal event, nothing to be worried about. I have tinnitus, but I barely ever listen to it, because frankly, it is so much a part of me, it's now normal.

    The same applies to grinding teeth in your sleep.

    No.
    Grinding teeth at night ('Bruxism') is an involuntary physical action, as opposed to (tinnitus) being a neural anomaly within the head....
    Bruxism normally arises because of stress.
    Stress, one can deal with. as a result, Bruxism will cease.

    I was prone to this too.... Had a tooth removed because of this very affliction.

    But I think some things are closer to being mind governed than others. Like the heart rate, body temperature and bleeding.

    'bleeding'...How so?

    Looking from the other side. Many feelings and moods are governed and initiated by the body. If you meditate on desire it typically starts of in some part of the body but ends up steering the mind.

    No. Desire always begins in the Mind. Always. Infallibly, unfailingly.

    Try experimenting on the desire to breath in and out and you will see what I mean but it extends to all form of desires and other mental processes.

    Not so.
    Breathing is a reflexive action. It has nothing to do with 'desire' or otherwise.
    We breathe because of a reflexive impulse. We INHIBIT this impulse by holding our breath, but this is unsustainable.

    But on the third hand the desire rooted in the body and extended to the mind is conditioned through learning I believe.

    No, because we first have to learn about that craving and desire; only then, having first absorbed the idea mentally, do we process it, and then it is MANIFESTED physically.
    But it all begins in the Mind.

    So in that way the body and mind are inseparably linked.

    Not so.

  • No. Desire always begins in the Mind. Always. Infallibly, unfailingly.

    It does? Not my experience, I can think of many manipulations of the body that effect the mind. Perhaps you can say more about this?

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited February 2015

    The need to carry out basic bodily functions clearly originates in the body. I don't think those basic biological functions could really be described as desire originating in the mind.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @federica said:Not so. After a while, the Mind becomes so used to listening to the tinnitus, it merely permits it to fade into the background as a normal event, nothing to be worried about. I have tinnitus, but I barely ever listen to it, because frankly, it is so much a part of me, it's now normal.

    Me too. I rarely notice my tinnitus these days. I am noticing it right now, but that's only because I am thinking about it. ;)

  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran
    edited February 2015

    @federica said:
    Not so. After a while, the Mind becomes so used to listening to the tinnitus, it merely permits it to fade into the background as a normal event, nothing to be worried about. I have tinnitus, but I barely ever listen to it, because frankly, it is so much a part of me, it's now normal.

    Yes you can get so used to tinnitus that you barley hear it. But in times of stress, sleep deprivation and exhaustion it will reaper. This is my experience.

    But if you apply basic bhavana practise to it it will actually disappear out of reach for reappearance. I have done that twice.

    The last time I got tinnitus I have let it slide to the almost not discernible category you mention. But as you well know it is still there and not really gone. Right?

    No.
    Grinding teeth at night ('Bruxism') is an involuntary physical action, as opposed to (tinnitus) being a neural anomaly within the head....
    Bruxism normally arises because of stress.
    Stress, one can deal with. as a result, Bruxism will cease.

    Relieving stress is actually the path to stop grinding your teeth. So I do not really get what the big fat "No" was for?

    My dentist don't really believe that I can stop it. She says anybody who can stop something in their sleep should get a Nobel price. So I am expecting to be nominated any day now.

    'bleeding'...How so?

    It is a mythical ability of the Nojds in Sweden. I heard my spouses mother speaking about it some years ago, so some days later when I happened to cut my finger in the kitchen I tried it out.

    I stopped the flow of blood from the wound and then restarted it. Then stopped it again. 2-3 times. I used the feeling of the chi flow in my fingers developed in the standing pole exercise.

    Not so.
    Breathing is a reflexive action. It has nothing to do with 'desire' or otherwise.
    We breathe because of a reflexive impulse. We INHIBIT this impulse by holding our >breath, but this is unsustainable.

    What are you saying? And why?

    Inhibiting your breath does not lead to a imminent desire to breath?

    Really? Really really?

    Well I must be one of a kind then. (EDIT: Sorry @federica. That was some intentional drollness there.)

    No, because we first have to learn about that craving and desire; only then, having first >absorbed the idea mentally, do we process it, and then it is MANIFESTED physically.
    But it all begins in the Mind.

    I think craving and desire exists pretty much whether we THINK it exists or not or whether we put words on these concepts or not.
    If you do not believe me I would suggest you ask your neighborhood Cat or any Dog you pass by.

    Not so.

    Uhum. B)
    (EDIT: @federica. Ooops. There I go again. ;))

  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran
    edited February 2015

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Yes, clearly so, and it's fascinating to explore this relationship in the context of Buddhist practice. It's interesting that in deep meditative states awareness of the body diminishes and awareness of the mind increases.

    I am aware of when the mind pervades the entire body. Or when the focus is so intent that everything else fades.

    But you are speaking of something else?

    How do I get there?

  • 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

    @lobster said:
    It does? Not my experience, I can think of many manipulations of the body that effect the mind. Perhaps you can say more about this?

    @SpinyNorman said:
    The need to carry out basic bodily functions clearly originates in the body. I don't think those basic biological functions could really be described as desire originating in the mind.

    >

    Ah.

    Hang on....

    I think it's important to clarify the distinction between Brain and Mind, and perhaps it is I who is at fault here, because all bodily functions and bodily desires originate in the BRAIN, as impulses generated by aspects of memory and senses...

    How this brain-activity connects to MInd-workings is perhaps something to further discuss....

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    Strictly speaking it would be the central nervous system, of which the brain is the major component. And there are parts of the brain which deal with the basic biological functions, much of which is done "automatically" without our conscious involvement.

    Consciousness arises in dependence on electro-chemical activity in the brain, but is not identical with that activity ( an arguable point though! ). Consciousness seems to be basis for mental activity or mind. Roughly speaking anyway. ;)

  • 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 February 2015

    I had to read the second paragraph a couple of times to make sure I got it, and even now, I'm not sure....

    Forgive me for re-phrasing it slightly - it's just really for self-clarification. Could you confirm...?

    Consciousness arises WITH dependence on electro-chemical activity in the brain, but is not identical with that activity ( an arguable point though! agreed, it is....but not by me... :tongue: ).

    Consciousness seems to be the basis for mental activity or mind. Roughly speaking anyway.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    Yes, that sounds OK.

  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    It seems to me it leans towards dualism. From my perspective, "Self" is Mind Space (read: the space of the mind), everything else, including the body, is Other...

  • @federica said:
    I had to read the second paragraph a couple of times to make sure I got it, and even now, I'm not sure....

    Forgive me for re-phrasing it slightly - it's just really for self-clarification. Could you confirm...?

    Consciousness seems to be the basis for mental activity or mind. Roughly speaking anyway.

    This is interesting. How about this: the observer by observing causes the collapse of the wave function, so triggering a process by which a physical signal becomes an experience in the mind or consciousness. So the observer is the observed, and the observer continually causes the observed reality to exist by observing it, causing a continual wave function collapse at the observers point in time. By extension, Does then most human experience sit in the Heisenberg cut, between the quantum and the classical?

  • 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

    ... :eh: ....

    I got this bit, which I think pretty much nails it...

    So the observer is the observed, and the observer continually causes the observed reality to exist by observing it,

    but the bit before...? And the Heisenberg thingy?

    I have nooooo idea what you're talking about...... :D

  • OK, a wave function describes the quantum state of an isolated system, so it could be one particle or many particles, in this context I suggest many particles composing the system which we would recognise as reality or more specifically now or the moment, a transitory progression of moment particles each one consisting of the reality experienced by the observer at that point. The wave function for that system contains all the information about the sytem, so each particle doesn't have it's own wave function. The observer, by the act of observing causes the collapse of the wavefunction. There is an interpretation( von Neumann-winger interpretation) whereby consciousness causes the collapse of the wave function at the point of observation thus causing reality. The wave function is spread out into a probability wave of many different outcomes, until the point of observation when it collapses too one of several options. One question might be, what things have sufficient consciousness to cause the wave function collapse? An amoeba, a dog, a human? This is fine for quantum systems, but it's difficult to apply wavefunction theory to large classical systems which work fine with classical descriptions. This is where the Heisenberg Cut comes in (Werner Heisenberg) in essence it's a theoretical construct a 'cut' or interface between the quantum events and the observers knowledge, consciousness or awareness. Below the cut, things are governed by the wavefunction and above it, classical mechanics describes the behaviour of larger systems. Although theoretical, the 'cut' if it exists, might be the seat of all that we experience as now n the interface between the quantum and the classical.
    Reference: Heisenberg, Werner (1958). Physics and Philosophy. Harper & Row., p. 32: "[T]he measuring device has been constructed by the observer, and we have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning."

  • 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

    You lost me at "OK"......

  • I meant to answer, in my opinion, the original question, which I haven't, so here's a short version.

    Consciousness causes collapse of the wavefunction, which presupposes that consciousness is not in itself physical. So, that relies upon an interactionist form of Dualism. So, that's a yes to Dualism from me. I think. Anyway time to collapse the wavefunction of the tea pot.

  • 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

    You lost me again at 'I meant...."

    But you found me again at "tea pot"...!! :lol:

    No, seriously, I think I get that bit.....

  • Now, my actions in going to the kitchen caused a contraction in the probability density of finding a teapot, my expectation as an observer caused the wavefunction implicit to the teapot to disintegrate into a discrete state of being. Result, a nice cup of tea from my happy cow tea pot.

  • And we do all this without ever having been taught how to do it...( echoes of Alan Watts)....

    Earthninja
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited April 2015

    @JohnMac said:Does then most human experience sit in the Heisenberg cut, between the quantum and the classical?

    As far as I know all the evidence points to quantum mechanics only applying at the sub-atomic level, while our everyday world operates according to Newtonian mechanics.

Sign In or Register to comment.