"...most of our mental states are unconscious most of the time..."

Collapse
X
 
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts
  • Ryumon
    Member
    • Apr 2007
    • 1689

    "...most of our mental states are unconscious most of the time..."

    That quote is from an article in the latest New York Review of Books by John Searle. He is reviewing two books about computers and artificial intelligence.

    As we know, that quote represents the truth; it has been shown that most of our mental states are indeed unconscious.

    How does Zen see this? I don't recall ever coming across any discussion of this in the Zen literature.

    Gassho,

    Kirk


    (Posted from my iPhone; please excuse any typos or brevity.)
    ---
    Ryūmon (Kirk)
    流文

    SAT/LAH

    I know nothing.
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39065

    #2
    Hi Kirk,

    I believe that Buddhism has spoken for centuries about aspects of mind that are not readily visible to us. For example, the "storehouse consciousness", where the "seeds" of our past actions and tendencies ripen into future behavior. (I think that a rather dated and quaint model of the mind, by the way, but still useful).



    However, there is certainly nothing about what modern science is discovering about human psychology and the brain that conflicts with Buddhist belief, as far as I know. Much of our thinking and decision making is below the surface.

    The subconscious brain is more active, independent and purposeful than once thought. Sometimes it takes charge.


    I believe that Zen Practice does allow us to gain some control and mastery over even many aspects of our thinking and emotions that are not seen at the surface.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-04-2014, 04:21 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    Comment

    • Geika
      Treeleaf Unsui
      • Jan 2010
      • 4971

      #3
      Very interesting! I'll be watching these reptilian brain motives, if I can. Thanks for posting, Kirk and Jundo.

      Gassho
      求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
      I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

      Comment

      • Shinzan
        Member
        • Nov 2013
        • 338

        #4
        For example, just our reliance on language, on the formations of nouns, verbs etc., I feel is a deeply embedded unconscious functioning of the mind. It forms how we see and label the world. This all happens at age 2. Then the belief systems about ourselves and our family and our world that result from those language formations come next. All really unconscious stuff, ne? It digs down into Right Speech to investigate this stuff.

        _/\_ Shinzan

        Comment

        • Ugrok
          Member
          • Sep 2014
          • 323

          #5
          Hello !
          I'm a linguist (got my phd in pragmatics last december) and a fan of John Searle. It's fun because practicing zazen questions my way of seeing language and thoughts that are made of it. Nowadays i think our conventional identities are mostly unconscious, language based stories that run automatically in the background most of the time ; systems of beliefs, often working in pairs of opposite, structure the whole thing. What zazen, and also some form of therapies (i'm thinking of psychoanalysis there) allows is to be conscious of the story, but also be conscious that the story itself exists in an undefined, infinite space of awareness. This is good for two things : first, we can and will discover ways of writing our own stories (literally - making more conscious choices and right choices) ; and second, at the same time we can see our story from this space of awareness in which they take place : just stories, not ultimate truth, and so we can accept that sometimes things seem totally contradictory in our selves. That does not mean that our story is not important, on the contrary ; the story itself is part of this awareness as much as everything else, it should be taken care of, but not too much clinged to... What i find important to see is also that not only is our story important in what it tells, it's also very important in the way it tells it. We can tell ourselves stories of happiness in a very agressive way. On the contrary, we can tell ourselves sad stories in a very gentle way.

          That's why i think silence is great, first because it allows to be "storyless" for a bit, but also because it allows to explore what language is for us. When we think about it, language and silence are really good examples of "emptiness is form, form is emptiness".


          PS : here is Searle's last book, in which he explains how physical reality is taking form in thoughts, institutions, and society (very interesting for us zennies) :

          Last edited by Ugrok; 10-08-2014, 01:39 PM.

          Comment

          • Ugrok
            Member
            • Sep 2014
            • 323

            #6
            I mean, here is an excerpt from the book's presentation on amazon :

            "The paradox he addresses in Making the Social World is that these facts only exist because we think they exist and yet they have an objective existence."

            This is the heart sutra ! Ahah !

            But still, i am really surprised that "western" philosophers don't know more about buddhism. Because the questions they ask themselves really seem to be "solvable" with buddhism 101. In his book, Searle, for example, makes a distinction between what he calls "mind dependent" and "mind independent" phenomena. He says, for example, that pain, emotions, are mind-dependent phenomena ; but that mountains, particles, etc, are mind-independent phenomena. This could really be thought better with buddhism, isn't it ?
            Last edited by Ugrok; 10-08-2014, 01:56 PM.

            Comment

            • AlanLa
              Member
              • Mar 2008
              • 1405

              #7
              An article from the NY Times that says even our consciousness is "delusion" in western science and philosophy terms.
              Last edited by AlanLa; 10-11-2014, 02:51 AM.
              AL (Jigen) in:
              Faith/Trust
              Courage/Love
              Awareness/Action!

              I sat today

              Comment

              • Myosha
                Member
                • Mar 2013
                • 2974

                #8
                Hello,

                Thank you for the link. Good fun.


                Gassho,
                Myosha
                "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39065

                  #9
                  OF the three most fundamental scientific questions about the human condition, two have been answered.

                  First, what is our relationship to the rest of the universe? Copernicus answered that one. We’re not at the center. We’re a speck in a large place.
                  Buddhist viewpoints can successfully challenge both of these "answered" viewpoints. First, since it is impossible to say where is the "center of the universe" (in fact, since all reality sprang simultaneously from the Big Bang, and physicists will tell you is still expanding from every single point, we might say it is "all the center". or that any one point is as much the center as any other place), then all things are simultaneously their own center. This is the view of "Indra's Net". Further, it is totally a subjective human value judgement to say that any one point is more or less valuable than another. Who is to say that a big thing like a star, for example, is more precious than a single atom? In fact, the universe holds all of that, each in its place ... both its atoms and stars ... so we might say that each thing of the universe is a precious jewel in its own way. Buddhism further goes on to say that, in a very real sense, each contains all the others and the whole too.

                  More on this here:


                  Second, what is our relationship to the diversity of life? Darwin answered that one. Biologically speaking, we’re not a special act of creation. We’re a twig on the tree of evolution.
                  Again, a human value judgement asserting that one twig is more or less valuable than all the other twigs. In fact, all together are the tree, each with its own place and claim.

                  Further, there may in fact be something very special about the existence of intelligent life, human life and, perhaps, even our personal existence. Why? While it all may have been just a random hick-up of cosmic events which resulted in your being here now, another way to look at your being here now is as the amazing outcome of every physical, astronomical, chemical, biological, planetary and historical event for 13.7 billion years. In other words, every single time ... without one vital miss (for if there had been even one miss you would not be here now to think about it), every crossroads of the cosmos where events could have gone left or right DID go the needed left or right, and in the precise sequence and right on time, for you to be here now looking back on it all. So, one might say that ... whether by random chance or some loaded dice or something between ... the entire history of the universe led right to your doorstep. This is only amazing when one considers that, for but a single missed twist or turn of events ... even one, or just a moment too late ... history seemingly should have missed you completely (me too).

                  More on that here:
                  Just a quick question. I heard Brad Warner say that Dogen didn't believe in any form of Reincarnation or Rebirth.... ...isn't that like a Christian not believing in the Resurrection? It renders Buddhism useless as there are no future consequences or explanations for current circumstances? Thanks, Tony...


                  Finally, the central premise of the article seems to partly miss some point too from a Mahayana Buddhist perspective.

                  awareness is an erroneous impression
                  Buddhism 101 would concur that the sense of "me, a separate self" is something of an illusion. The sense of separation from all the rest of the world we consider "not myself" is, on one level, an illusion. Further, Buddha would have no problem with the idea that "me" is a kind of illusion cooked up in the brain. In one sense, it most certainly is!

                  However, that is again, only one way to look at things. Another is that the "self" most certainly exists, and though something of a dream, it is a precious dream, a very real and wonderful dream. Therefore, we should dream the dream well!

                  More on that here:
                  How do we know that what we consider to be our waking life is not a dream? And that our dreams are not reality? Gassho, Kirk (Posted from my iPhone; please excuse any typos or brevity.)


                  Gassho, J
                  Last edited by Jundo; 10-12-2014, 02:45 AM.
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • Christopher
                    Member
                    • May 2014
                    • 45

                    #10
                    "But the brain computes models that are caricatures of real things. And as with color, so with consciousness:"

                    Take Professor Graziano's argument about light to its logical ending and you can see the snake oil salesman's pitch is being very carefully selected. The most striking observation of light here is that the subjective version we create in our minds from the raw spectral data our brains receive has no connection with the creations in other minds. (Actually a contrarian observation I have cherished for many years.) But he sticks to the more acceptable white light image.

                    If there is no common measurement for these 'caricatures' from brain to brain, my totally internal image of the light spectrum called 'blue' may be your totally internal image of the image I call 'red' etc etc. There is no common standard in this theory to "standardise" them.

                    Does your Blue grass grow as well as my green grass? I don't see why not when our totally independent intuitions are the only judge. (Mind you, these are very interesting speculations and theories he presents.)

                    Gassho
                    Christopher.

                    Comment

                    • Jundo
                      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                      • Apr 2006
                      • 39065

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Jundo
                      Buddhist viewpoints can successfully challenge both of these "answered" viewpoints. First, since it is impossible to say where is the "center of the universe" (in fact, since all reality sprang simultaneously from the Big Bang, and physicists will tell you is still expanding from every single point, we might say it is "all the center". or that any one point is as much the center as any other place), then all things are simultaneously their own center. This is the view of "Indra's Net". Further, it is totally a subjective human value judgement to say that any one point is more or less valuable than another. Who is to say that a big thing like a star, for example, is more precious than a single atom? In fact, the universe holds all of that, each in its place ... both its atoms and stars ... so we might say that each thing of the universe is a precious jewel in its own way. Buddhism further goes on to say that, in a very real sense, each contains all the others and the whole too.

                      ...

                      urther, there may in fact be something very special about the existence of intelligent life, human life and, perhaps, even our personal existence. Why? While it all may have been just a random hick-up of cosmic events which resulted in your being here now, another way to look at your being here now is as the amazing outcome of every physical, astronomical, chemical, biological, planetary and historical event for 13.7 billion years. In other words, every single time ... without one vital miss (for if there had been even one miss you would not be here now to think about it), every crossroads of the cosmos where events could have gone left or right DID go the needed left or right, and in the precise sequence and right on time, for you to be here now looking back on it all. So, one might say that ... whether by random chance or some loaded dice or something between ... the entire history of the universe led right to your doorstep. This is only amazing when one considers that, for but a single missed twist or turn of events ... even one, or just a moment too late ... history seemingly should have missed you completely (me too).
                      For some reason, I just felt to put this story and these breathtaking images here. Every cell, every atom, is the whole universe ... all connected as Indra's Net ...

                      Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.


                      Gassho, J
                      Last edited by Jundo; 10-27-2014, 03:04 PM.
                      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                      Comment

                      • Myosha
                        Member
                        • Mar 2013
                        • 2974

                        #12
                        Hello,

                        Ditto.^^

                        And enjoy a feel-good article:

                        "Indra’s net is in fact an ancient precursor to recent research in the hard sciences, where physicists have proven Bell’s Theorem – where events happening in one place can have an instantaneous impact on other particles that are not connected in any way to them in space. Therefore atoms (just like us) are not discrete entities, islands unto themselves, but part of a field of reality where everything is interwined with everything else."


                        http://www.nickjankel.com/?p=84


                        Gassho,
                        Myosha

                        P.S. As it's hard science please take it with a grain of salt.^^
                        "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

                        Comment

                        Working...