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What nature can tell us

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran

Have you considered that when a tree grows it starts from a seed, sprouts, becomes a sapling, then a tree and eventually it may break in a storm and it’s trunk then lies in the forest and decomposes back into earth... The tree from a small seed becomes a large organism capable of sustaining itself, until it dies and is recycled. All the things that tree learned to do from it’s environment, the ways in which it extracted nutrients and water from the soil and drew them up to its leaves to photosynthesise into starch, all of that vanishes again.

It makes me wonder about what part of our consciousness would survive the death of the body. Like the tree, our bodies get craggy and old, and at a certain moment fail and die and return to the soil. Like the tree, the things that we’ve learnt about our world likely will vanish as well. Our memories and patterns of behaviour probably will not survive... stories of how brain damage influences memory make that seem likely.

So what would survive? If the Tibetans are to be believed and after death we wander through the Bardo, what is it that wanders and perceives? Our consciousness and mind evolves along with our bodies as we live, and deteriorates as we get old. We don’t naturally remember our time in the womb, or as very young children. So that shows that many of the functions of the mind grow as we get older.

It’s curious that even for a tree there is dukkha... when a tree breaks in the storm and it’s trunk crashes down onto the forest floor, it’s functioning is disrupted, the pathways which carry juices from the ground up to its leaves are broken, it’s bark is torn, and the dysfunctional wreckage is left on the ground. For a while, as life fades, there is the tree-equivalent of pain and stress.

I find it interesting, looking at what nature can tell us.

rocala

Comments

  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran Veteran
    edited June 11

    @Kerome said:
    So what would survive? If the Tibetans are to be believed and after death we wander through the Bardo, what is it that wanders and perceives?

    I know the Buddha advised not to hold views about this subject, and as such Ajahn Achalo says the Theravadins are reluctant to answer. The Tibetans as you say are more specific, and Ajahn Achalo describes what they believe “wanders on” as “subtle consciousness”.

    Just to respond to one small part of your post.

    rocala
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    I don't think science has much of a grasp on what consciousness actually is. There is a widespread assumption that it arises as a result of physical processes, but there isn't really even the first sentence of an explanation as to why physical processes could or would give rise to an experience of "what it is like" to be those things.

    I do think science is our best tool for understanding the world but it doesn't know everything. I think consciousness is sufficiently anomalous and mysterious to take a "don't know" approach, rather than a "its entirely a product of physical processes" attitude.

    Sam Harris's wife Annaka just came out with a new book Conscious that seems to be getting good reviews, I'm thinking I'll probably check it out. Anyway she's been on both Sam's podcast and Dan Harris's (10% Happier) podcast talking about it if anyone is interested.

  • 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

    @person said: ... I do think science is our best tool for understanding the world but it doesn't know everything. I think consciousness is sufficiently anomalous and mysterious to take a "don't know" approach, rather than a "its entirely a product of physical processes" attitude.

    I second this. The 'I don't know' bit is the part of life that can still bring us moments of wonder and awe... I for one would hate to have an absolute sound, rock-solid explanation for everything.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @federica said:
    The 'I don't know' bit is the part of life that can still bring us moments of wonder and awe... I for one would hate to have an absolute sound, rock-solid explanation for everything.

    Its a complex question. On the one hand that is what science seeks to provide, and doing so would rectify much wrong thinking. On the other hand I’m very fond of the colourful nature of some of what’s out there, and I’d be sad to see it go.

    Some things seem to be beyond the reach of science, such as what was there before the Big Bang. And we can take some comfort in knowing that there will always be at least some mystery.

  • Lee82Lee82 Veteran Veteran
    edited June 11

    I believe there is a non-physical consciousness that is with us always and will continue when our body is long gone. Science doesn’t know how to detect it and probably never will. How do you know how to look for something that you don’t know is there or what form it takes!?

    As this consciousness or aura or whatever you want to call it is non-physical it can be anywhere or everywhere at the same time and is not governed by physical natural laws e.g. speed.

    I think all things have it, humans, animals, nature, and there is continuity of these things after death. I never thought such things a few years ago but my believe/understanding in this area has developed as my Buddhism and spirituality has developed.

  • QuidditchQuidditch Explorer Earth Explorer

    Yes, I agree with Lee82 somewhat.

    Everything is consciousness, it's the Observer. God, consciousness, source, whatever you want to call it.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    edited June 12

    I think an 'answer' could be that the nature of mind is always open, clear, and sensitive (trikayas). But that which comes into existence goes out of existence. So therefore the nature of mind does not come into existence and is beyond birth and death such as it is. But that's a thoughtful question "what is a being"? When you read this you know I am a being right? So what am I that you know I am a being?

  • pegembarapegembara Veteran Veteran
    edited June 12

    "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."

    Every beginning has an end. All experiences, feelings, memories etc. Mountains, rivers, oceans, planets and stars are the same although they may not appear to be so in comparison to the life span of humans.

    Eventually, nothing survives.

    How is it that this knowledge can end dukkha?
    :)

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @pegembara said:

    "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation.”

    How is it that this knowledge can end dukkha?

    “Make change your friend.”

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Thinking again of the example of the falling tree, it seems that there are long periods where life is going well, the pattern of living is being expressed, and then there are short periods of upheaval and change, before a new settled period comes. So when the pattern of living is being expressed and people do what they were meant to do, there is happiness in exertion. Then at a certain point a moment of upheaval comes along, together with stress and dukkha that follows afterwards.

    In a way the life of a plant is simpler than that of an animal. In an animal these periods of upheaval become unpredictable... a deer strays out of its range, and in a moment it can enter a period of upheaval and stress.

    So you could say that our habits and patterns protect us. They give us a daily routine within which we feel protected, and don’t have to think about the possibilities of stress and upheaval. Instead we can go and exert ourselves within our pattern and live in a good way.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @pegembara said:

    "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."

    Every beginning has an end. All experiences, feelings, memories etc. Mountains, rivers, oceans, planets and stars are the same although they may not appear to be so in comparison to the life span of humans.

    Eventually, nothing survives.

    This assumes everything has a beginning.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    What nature can tell us

    ...To mind our own business :)

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    What nature can tell us

    ...To mind our own business :)

    Except when it tells us when to poo, which kind of is our business.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Nature doesn't give a shit ;)

  • 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 June 15

    @Shoshin said:
    Nature doesn't give a shit ;)

    Quite so:
    Sign seen at a Pride Rally in Italy (because members of the LGBT community are constantly being told that what they do is against 'Nature'):

    "L'Unica cosa contro la Natura e l'ananas sulla pizza!"

    (Translation: "The only thing that goes against Nature is pineapple on a pizza!" Frankly, as a hot-blooded Italian, I couldn't agree more if I tried!)

    image

    Shoshin
  • KundoKundo Veteran Sydney, Australia Veteran

    Pineapple on Pizza is an abomination :awesome:

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    edited June 18

    Pineapple on Pizza is an abomination

    If it includes anchovies, it abomination is ... delicious 😋

    Full Disclosure:
    I am a wer-lobster, we are an abomination ;) ... also delicious on a pizza with fruit ... Yum ... B)
    (yes I am a cannibal) o:)

    ... and now back to learning about nature from the unnatural...

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