Chapter 8, Buddha Science, Science of the mind
Chapter 8a, Science of the mind,
To be or not to be an animal?
¶a1 “Ever since Darwin began the evolution revolution, we have struggled to apply or reject “survive of the fittest” to the progress of society . …”
¶a2 “The middle way of Buddhism escapes this dilemma by taking the approach that if we see and recognize our true (Buddha) nature we’ll understand that our animal nature does not give us a true picture of Reality.
Think about those words, our “Buddha nature” and our "Animal nature.” What do they actually say about what we are?
Animal nature sounds like something bestowed upon us. But the fact is, we are evolved biological sensing creatures. Meaning our bodies are animal nature through and through.
Our brains are like most other mammalian brains, but with a slight twist that made all the difference in the world. Perhaps this is the source of our developed Buddha Nature.
Folds within folds. Rather than simply being aware of our world, we gained the facility to remember, to file away, to recall with increasing efficiency. We enhanced those facilities with effective learning, weaving together memories, calculating into the future and dreaming. Each advance building upon previous achievements.
Until our human/Buddha mind learned to tame, or at least strive to somewhat tame our animal nature.
¶ “We’ll see that our thoughts and ideas are merely conceptions, a result of causes and conditions. …”
¶a4 “This approach follows from the scientific idea that we can separate ourselves from our objects of study, even if that object is ourselves. … subject and object of study, … or do our minds function at such an unconscious and instinctual level that we can never remove the “log from our own eyes” In order to clearly? If the log is invisible to us, is it still possible to remove ourselves sufficiently to see it in the eyes of others.
Excellent point. Subordinating the Ego making honest understanding the priority. Making the willful choice to evaluate as much information as available. Fact driven outcomes, dealing with the cards where they fall, learning from one’s own mistakes, licking wounds and moving on.
¶a7 “Buddha Science says that the reason we cling and therefore suffer is that we fail to see the world clearly. We do not see the impermanence of pleasure. …
It doesn’t work that way for an Earth Centrist, we savor the passage time and rhythms of life. Appreciating that I am the product of millions of generations worth of change, my animal body and the mind it created. A mind capable of imagining deep time and Earth's pageant of Evolution.
A most amazing animal, capable of introspection, learning, memory and recall, one with a mind driven by a body/brain built for mastering the world.
From my perspective the Buddha Nature grew out of countless generations of experience. When a new ability entered our lineage’s repertoire, the ability to stop our impulse to act, to process thoughts first, then act. It was the birth of complex planning and will-power.
As Dr. Mark Solms explains, we humans may not have Free Will, but, we have evolved a Free Won’t ! That is, slowing down internal time for a moment, taking a few beats; “considering” options and consequences - allowing the feeling that those “considerations” elicit, to dictate one's actions, as opposed to being a slave to reflex action.
¶a12 “Buddha did not present the eightfold path as a way to perpetuate society but as a way to eliminate suffering in the world. It was not a formula to eliminate physical pain and illness, but to eliminate the sense of dissatisfaction we experience when life does not meet our mental image of what it should be
That’s a good point.
Earlier I shared my idea that “expectations” was perhaps our greatest source of unhappiness.
¶a13 “What is craving for existence? In general, it is the need to cling to our beliefs in an unchanging and permanent self.
To deeply appreciate what it means to be an evolved biological animal with a body/brain, mind and the product of Earth’s Evolution.
That was an amazing clarifying moment for me, a lot of lingering loose ends regarding philosophical pronouncements and religious lines of thought, pretty well dissolved into a fully coherent understanding, one that pre-modern philosophers couldn't have possibly dreamt of.
Getting used to the impermanence of life is a fundamental part of growing up.
For you the person, life means as much, or as little, as you yourself choose.
My choice has been to nurture my curiosity and growing awareness that I was endowed with, and to enjoy this fantastical Earth and her creatures as well as I can during my moment of existence, and it has been a heck of good ride.
¶a16 “The self that we consciously think of is not only constantly changing and inconsistent, but it represents a mere fraction of the complex processes that drive our actions, thoughts, and beliefs. …
Seems self evident. How else could it be?
Take comfort, if you keep doing the homework, you can’t help but grow.
… The modular model suggest that, whether we are consciously aware of it or not, we are genetically programmed to prefer actions and hold beliefs in concepts that will help our genes survive. … Buddha Science says: we crave existence.”
We needed to, or we’d have become someone’s lunch long ago.
(Next paragraphs get into addiction & recovery. It’s interesting enough, but beyond my scope, so I’m moving on.)
¶a29 “In the previous chapters, we began from the scientific perspective of objective measure and looked at how the observation of Buddha Science related to those findings. You may have noticed that so far in this chapter, we have taken the opposite approach. We started from the Four Noble Truths of this Buddha and asked if they were consistent with psychological findings. We have taken this approach for three reasons: … (see page 107)
¶a30 “Is there a way to get at this more directly, a way to look at some physical systems to understanding the nature of the brain, mind, and perhaps of consciousness itself? …
Chapter 8b, Science of the mind,
Brains and minds and self, oh my!
Not much for me here, though I can offer links to a few excellent lectures by genuine pioneering experts, take a listen and see how it's consistent with the drift of Daut's story and Earth Centrism.
¶b1 “First, what do we mean by brain, mind, and consciousness? … the soft nervous tissue… coordinating center of sensation and intellectual and nervous activity. …”
Consciousness and the Mind Body Connection – Professor Mark Solms (March 25, 2022)
¶b2 “Definitions of mind are more variable, … the totality of conscious and unconscious brain processes and activity. …”
Antonio Damasio on Feelings, Thoughts, and the Evolution of Humanity (April 29, 2019)
Self comes to mind. A dialogue with Antonio Damasio (October 15, 2014)
¶b3 “Consciousness is the most problematic of the three, … the property that allows us to be aware of the physical mental activities that we are performing. …”
What Do Our Brains Do When We're Dreaming? - Mark Solms ( July 22, 2021)
¶b4 “Roger Wolcott Sperry (1969) understood consciousness to be a special kind of property that is itself non-physical, but which emerges from physical systems, such as the brain, once it attains a certain level of activity. … consciousness as an emergent property of the brain.”
¶b6 “B. Allen Wallace has said that the mind itself is an emergent process, though its source my not be purely physical. ..."
Mind’s source is the biology of body/brain interacting with physical Reality, as for the Mind itself, that’s what’s ‘not purely physical,' is it?
¶b7 “If consciousness is defined as “the self in the act of knowing” as neurologist Antonio Damasio suggests and if “self” is a dynamic, emergent process rather than a static one, permanent thing, then by the time we know what a specific moment of consciousness was, it has already changed. ..."
As children we are intrigued by the clock’s second hand, never stopping, soon as you call out the time, it moves and a new time comes around, never ending.
There was never a motion picture made that wasn’t a collection of single images, yet when played back over time, they tell a coherent changing story. Which is about the only way to tell a story that I know of.
How else are our brains going to deal with the constant movement that is life?
¶b8 “… How do we get from the purely physical processes in the brain to the emergent properties of mind and consciousness?”
¶b9 “You’ll note that by asking the question in this way, we’re making the assumption that consciousness is somehow related to physical phenomena, rather than as some sort of universal property that exist independent of the physical universe."
For me that’s simple. Consciousness serves a purpose. Out there in the vast reaches of space the only thing unfolding is the cosmic interplay of gravity and physics in motion, no need to think, or decide - physics already dictates everything.
Only where biology springs into existence, is there a chance for life. Only with life is there the need for consciousness.
Evolution wouldn’t have made it to first base, without time and creature awareness driving increasing consciousness.
¶b10 “… However, because mental formations are involved, consciousness does not arise purely from the brain either. …”
Consciousness is a choreography between body, brain, interacting with senses, interacting with the environment, and itself, interacting with the situation of the moment, then moving on to the next.
“… What we don’t know is whether one gives rise to the other, or if they are related in some other way.”
Evolution on Earth is all about complex interwoven web of feedback loops and environments, no one component gives rise to anything.
Isn’t it more likely a matter of time and each playing its role and collectively giving rise to each other, enabling, engaging, cooperating, competing, which drives change?
¶b11 “One way to study consciousness is to try and create emergent behaviors within computers.
It’s interesting as mathematical computing challenges, but I’m (as are increasing numbers of scientists) convinced it'll require an evolutionary-biological-genetic-historical approach to understand how evolved creatures found solutions to survival challenges, and it’s this interaction that drove creatures towards ever higher levels of awareness… ultimately arriving at today’s consciousness spectrum within Earth's animal kingdom.
¶b15 “Another factor that makes the brain different from computers stems from the basic structure of the brain itself. Brain is not a static piece of hardware, but an organic and interconnected cellular structure.
The brain is way more physically connected to our entire body than most folks appreciate. We are, in turn, more inter-connected to our respective environments, than most appreciate. (to our own detriment on both counts)
¶b18 “First of all, we know that there is definitely a link between brain and consciousness. …”
Okay, so that’s settled.
¶b22 “The point is: we have no idea what the physical world actually is, we only know how our bodies can sense it through equipment we have available to us. … (then on to sense the world)”
One of my points, exactly.
¶b31 “… As we suggested before, it is certainly possible that there is something out there called consciousness that exists independent of our brains, and that our brains are merely receptors of that consciousness, like a radio picking up electromagnetic waves from the air. …”
How? To what Purpose?
Why is such a thing "certainly possible" out there? Please think it through.
Where is the transmitter for this consciousness? How does it know what to transmit? For that matter, what's to sent it? How does that transmission know to coincide and keep up with the flood of varied physical and mental incidents that fill our days.
We need to spend more time really thinking about what consciousness is for. Consciousness is all about processing the experiences of a body to help it get through the day and get on with survival.
How can any cosmic something relate to our complexity?
Bodies reacting to the moment, in a real physical world full of unpredictable happenings. A world where an infinite array of consciousness interactions occur every moment, with many of them leading to unanticipated cascading consequences with further unintended consequences and so on.
¶b34 “In his book, The "Self-Aware Universe”, physicist Amit Goswami holds the view that consciousness creates the physical world, and that the universe itself has conscious awareness. … He proposes that the universe exist only in a state of subatomic phenomena which collapses into a particular state once an observer is introduced. …”
That’s the stuff of religion and philosophy, not science.
As for just so stories, I have my own imagined creation myth to toss into the collection plate:
It has been written:
"God, having no body, can only know God’s creation via the sensory/processing abilities of God’s creatures.
Creation is all about God constantly striving toward ever better awareness.
God kept striving, appreciating every advance, but always wanting more.
Then success, only through human eyes and longing and greed could God truly appraise the magnificence of God’s creation. And glory in God's own creation.
We are the Eyes of the Universe.
Sadly, God got too absorbed in God’s own self-glorification.
God forgot all about bestowing some wisdom into the hearts and minds of God’s most magnificent creature, these human beings.
It doesn’t have a happy ending. "
But that has nothing to do with facts, or science, it's a fiction like a million others we construct.
¶b36 “Over the millennia, we have developed many tools to help us understand bits and pieces of Reality, tools such as Buddha Science, formal scientific pursuits, philosophical, metaphysical, and religious. The best we can do is try to piece together the understanding gained from these various pursuits, and try to develop a better map, a map that may look a little more like the terrain of Reality than the one we have today.
¶b37 “In the concluding chapter, we will try to pull together what we have discussed here, and provide some thoughts and speculation about where we may be headed as we knit together these bits and pieces to try and answer the question we posed at the beginning of this book - What is Reality?
I appreciate Steve Daut for writing out these concepts and I thank him for allowing me to share them in this virtual discussion with his book.
Buddha Science, ©2016, For a copy contact Steve Daut:
This is another Cc's Student's Workbook, of sorts,meaning a little repetition is to be expected,honing concepts and descriptions.Offering food for thought.
Is there anybody out there?
citizenschallenge at gmail