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All this spiritual stuff
Posted: 31 October 2006 08:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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[quote author=“JustThis”]Unsmoked,
I don’t know who did the translation of the Dhammapada that you quoted but that statement makes no sense to me at all. Based on what I observe in my practice all your statements about what thought can do are wrong. Thought is that inner voice that mostly chatters away without a whole lot of rhyme or reason combined with images or pictures that relate to whatever subject is being talked about.

Just This, probably if you saw that remark in context with the rest of those pages, and along with the translator’s comments, it would make more sense to you.  It was translated directly from the original Pali Canon.  The translator, Thomas Cleary, ‘has studied Zen Koans for thirty years, and has long been acknowledged worldwide as a master translator of Zen texts.  His acclaimed translations of Buddhist and Taoist classics, renowned for their unusual lucidity, have been adopted as international standards for retranslation into seven major European languages and Turkish.  The new accessibility of Eastern ideas through Dr. Cleary’s expert translations has extended their audience beyond the cultural fringes of Western civilization to the vanguard of modern thinking in science, education, business, and diplomacy’.

Communicating like this we are bound to get into word tangles, especially when dealing with concepts like self, thought, I, me.  You say that based on what you observe in your practice, all my statements about what thought can do are wrong.  We learn from watching our own thoughts (or thought watching itself), not from reading someone else’s comments.  ‘Trust yourself, there is no one else to trust’.

In his translation of the Dhammapada, Thomas Cleary interjected this comment:

“It has often been imagined that Buddhism denies self and preaches self-abnegation as the highest ideal.  A writer claiming to be an adept at inner and outer yoga even claims that Buddhism is inherently authoritarian and therefore intrinsically abusive because it regards selflessness as the summum bonum.  While there may be unscrupulous people who use this idea to control, suppress, or bully others, that is not Buddhism but an aberrant abuse of a misconstrued idea.  The seventeenth-century Zen master Suzuki Shosan wrote, “Stand up and be responsible for yourself . . . Beware of your mind, and take responsibility for yourself.”  In the sam vein, he also wrote, “Be aware of yourself and know yourself . . . If you don’t know yourself, you cannot know anything else.”

Krishnamurti commented:

“Right thinking comes with self-knowledge.  Without understanding yourself, you have no basis for thought; without self-knowledge what you think is not true.”

Believe me, I don’t expect any of my remarks or quotations to contribute to the self-knowledge of anyone else.  Many, perhaps most zenbos on the Forum prefer to keep quiet about such topics.  “Why add another rat dropping to the soup?”, as they sometimes say in Rinzai Zen.  However, everyone is different.  “Today I have dragged through the mud and water - again, it’s for lack of alternative.”  (Ta Hui)

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“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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Posted: 04 November 2006 02:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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I have been told that ‘prayer is talking to God, and meditation is listening to Him.’  I have prayed throughout much of my life, and always felt a little phony.  I didn’t feel as though I were really praying, whole-souled, to the God of the judeo-christian bible.  I felt like I was pretending—talking to nobody.  But when I attempt to meditate, it feels totally different.  Like something is there.  Something real.  And I have a sense that I am not pretending.  That I am really participating.  And whether I ever advance to the state of being beyond thought, or achieving ‘pure being’ (which, in ‘I Heart Huckabees, Mark Wahlberg referred to as “the ball thing”) I don’t worry about.  I am not a virtuoso violinist, but I can play a few camp songs on the harmonica.  Either way, at the heart of it, there is music.  Oh, and happy little dancing fish too.  Meditation is an excellent place to visit.

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Posted: 04 November 2006 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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Woofy, if I had a choice between attending a concert hall to hear a master violinist, or sitting by a campfire in the wilderness to hear one simple song on a harmonica, I might chose the campfire.  However, one song would be enough, as it is even better to hear the sound of the fire, or the stream, the wind in the trees,  the frogs, owl, and other rustlings.

Consciousness and the normal mind = enlightenment, but most people don’t know it or appreciate it because of greed - the pervasive urge of the conditioned mind for MORE.

“All is all there is,
you surely wouldn’t ask for more.”  - the poet, Bill Thomas

You bring up an interesting topic - the difference between prayer and meditation.  More people might respond to this if you introduced it as a new subject.  Another word is ‘vow’.  Buddhist monks vow, “Sentient beings are numberless, I vow to save them all.”  I once asked a Zen teacher, “Why make such a vow when you know it isn’t possible to save everyone?”  He replied, “It is the intention that is important.”

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“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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Posted: 04 November 2006 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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[quote author=“unsmoked”]Woofy, if I had a choice between attending a concert hall to hear a master violinist, or sitting by a campfire in the wilderness to hear one simple song on a harmonica, I might chose the campfire.  However, one song would be enough, as it is even better to hear the sound of the fire, or the stream, the wind in the trees,  the frogs, owl, and other rustlings.

I would tend to agree, unsmoked, in the sense that music, especially by way of electronic gadgetry, has pretty much infiltrated our society to the point of being obnoxious at times and just wallpaper the rest. Nature’s sounds seem virtuosic in comparison to most of what’s peddled and successfully $old these days as music.

On the other hand, nothing short of human voice compares to a master violinist at work. Sam Harris mentions in his Letter that participation in art and music can seem to equate to serious meditation. I can vouch for the effects of sitting in a competent orchestra section, though I’ve never been much of a soloist. It’s one of those experiences that are unspeakably compelling. Even as an audience member, I was once drawn into a powerful trance I’ve never forgotten while the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra was playing some coronation piece by Haydn. Other experiences, though less powerful, have arrived by way of Asian and African percussion techniques.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 04 November 2006 04:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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Homunculus,

speaking of music and orchestras, once I was alone in a mountain cabin for a long time.  The loft had just enough room for a sleeping mat, and beside the mat was a window that opened to a view of a massive, glacier- covered slumbering volcano.  The sound of a rushing glacial river came up from the valley far below.  I didn’t have electricity, phone, radio, or any contact with the outside world.  After several weeks my mind, on its own volition, began to hear music.  One night, lying in bed looking at the moon rising over that mountain, a wonderful symphony began to play in my head - something I had never heard before, complete with all the instruments.  At the time I thought, “If I knew how to write music, could I set this down on paper?”  Later, when I saw the film, ‘Amadeus’, I could imagine what it must be like to be able to write music, for all the instruments, as it comes into one’s head.

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“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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Posted: 05 November 2006 04:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
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Unsmoked—
    I like your suggestion that consciousness + normal mind = enlightenment.  Sometimes discussions about meditation and consciousness and enlightenment can make it all seem so inaccessible.  It seems there is often an effort to overcome or move beyond the realm of the senses. The word transcendence comes up alot.  I like the idea of day to day, normal mind-type consciousness.  Just being aware, as much as possible, moment to moment, of the realm of the senses as well as the realms beyond… thought, no-thought; being, non-being;  all that stuff I don’t understand. 
    It sounds like you’ve had some wonderful adventures in nature.  I have always felt closest to “transcendency” when I focus all my attention on the patterns of nature.  They never fail to inspire.

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Posted: 05 November 2006 03:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
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Sitting down with the intention to just ‘be present’ or ‘pay attention is the basic idea behind meditation. However one soon finds out that intention is not enough, ‘the mind’ has a mind of it’s own and will go where it wants. Just ‘being present’ soon turns into one long daydream, one soon finds oneself drowning in the thought stream. So some sort of discipline or training is necessary, a practice must be developed and implemented on a regular basis. When the attention is no longer easily seduced by thoughts and can rest in the present moment meditation happens by itself. But the process is long, boring, and so unrewarding at first that most people cannot stick to it out. William James commented that the attention span of modern man is about 4-6 seconds, he was right on the money.

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“Every minute we spend oblivious to the value of a minute is a minute of unconsciousness. This isn’t some screwball scheme to latch onto the present moment in time, it’s simply what it means to be awake.”

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Posted: 15 November 2006 07:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
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Its all a function of groups of neurons firing in your own unique patterns.

Your sense of self, consciousness, your feelings of “spirituality”.

These things came into existence as your neurons connected they way they are, still being modified even as you read this, and will end when your neural funtion ceases.

I find no credible evidence for reincarnation, even if Mr. Harris seems to think there may be.  But at least he seeks for evidence.

The evidence is clear: conciousness is not causal, but caused, by neural function.

Here’s a good reference:

“Wider than the sky : the phenomenal gift of consciousness”
by Gerald M. Edelman. 
Yale University Press, c2005.

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Posted: 11 April 2007 01:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
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These parts of the book, while they go into more detail than needed, fill the function of stopping an attack point.

People clearly have these experiences and if we decline to talk about them in a scientific way we risk facing them as ‘proof’ of religous yada yada.

However it could easily have been summed up on 2 or 3 pages, that would have been enough to get the point across, while it might well be a very interesting topic the place for talking about it was not this book.

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Posted: 11 April 2007 05:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
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[quote author=“DNAinaGoodway”]Its all a function of groups of neurons firing in your own unique patterns.

Your sense of self, consciousness, your feelings of “spirituality”.

These things came into existence as your neurons connected they way they are, still being modified even as you read this, and will end when your neural funtion ceases.

I find no credible evidence for reincarnation, even if Mr. Harris seems to think there may be.  But at least he seeks for evidence.

The evidence is clear: conciousness is not causal, but caused, by neural function.

Here’s a good reference:

“Wider than the sky : the phenomenal gift of consciousness”
by Gerald M. Edelman. 
Yale University Press, c2005.

The evidence is not clear.  The fact that, so far as we know, without neural functioning there is no self-consciousness doesn’t imply causality.  To say that consciousness is caused by neural functioning is like saying that the symphony coming across my radio is caused by the functioning of the transistors in the radio, rather than saying that the functioning of the transistors provides the opportunity for the symphony to manifest.

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Posted: 11 April 2007 05:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”][quote author=“DNAinaGoodway”]Its all a function of groups of neurons firing in your own unique patterns.

Your sense of self, consciousness, your feelings of “spirituality”.

These things came into existence as your neurons connected they way they are, still being modified even as you read this, and will end when your neural funtion ceases.

I find no credible evidence for reincarnation, even if Mr. Harris seems to think there may be.  But at least he seeks for evidence.

The evidence is clear: conciousness is not causal, but caused, by neural function.

Here’s a good reference:

“Wider than the sky : the phenomenal gift of consciousness”
by Gerald M. Edelman. 
Yale University Press, c2005.

The evidence is not clear.  The fact that, so far as we know, without neural functioning there is no self-consciousness doesn’t imply causality.  To say that consciousness is caused by neural functioning is like saying that the symphony coming across my radio is caused by the functioning of the transistors in the radio, rather than saying that the functioning of the transistors provides the opportunity for the symphony to manifest.

There was a fun little book called “The Dancing Woo Lee Masters” that touched on the idea of the brain as a receiver of consciousness analogous to a radio as a receiver of broadcasts. Perhaps today, the internet provides a better analogy, with individual brains participating in the give and take, the reciprocity of consciousness, each being a part of it, but the whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts.

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Posted: 11 April 2007 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
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[quote author=“mentor”]the reciprocity of consciousness, each being a part of it, but the whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Yeah, and the (ass)whole is more than the sum of its farts.

[quote author=“burt”]To say that consciousness is caused by neural functioning is like saying that the symphony coming across my radio is caused by the functioning of the transistors in the radio, rather than saying that the functioning of the transistors provides the opportunity for the symphony to manifest.

And the atmosphere of Jupiter is largely composed of methane. Likewise your profundities. With some hydrogen sulfide thrown in for fragrance. The sound of the symphony is caused by musicians. The functioning of the radio is dependent on the functioning of transducers elsewhere. You might as well tune your radio to Imus.

Burt, you are a gasbag like Jupiter in the same way, and to the same extent, that a brain is like a radio for consciousness.

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Posted: 11 April 2007 12:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”][quote author=“mentor”]the reciprocity of consciousness, each being a part of it, but the whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Yeah, and the (ass)whole is more than the sum of its farts.

[quote author=“burt”]To say that consciousness is caused by neural functioning is like saying that the symphony coming across my radio is caused by the functioning of the transistors in the radio, rather than saying that the functioning of the transistors provides the opportunity for the symphony to manifest.

And the atmosphere of Jupiter is largely composed of methane. Likewise your profundities. With some hydrogen sulfide thrown in for fragrance. The sound of the symphony is caused by musicians. The functioning of the radio is dependent on the functioning of transducers elsewhere. You might as well tune your radio to Imus.

Burt, you are a gasbag like Jupiter in the same way, and to the same extent, that a brain is like a radio for consciousness.

Come on Salty, I think you protest a bit too much! I take it that you do not approve of Harris’ wanderings into spirituality?

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Posted: 11 April 2007 02:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
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[quote author=“mentor”]Come on Salty, I think you protest a bit too much! I take it that you do not approve of Harris’ wanderings into spirituality?

Yes, but what I am protesting is the scope of your claims.

I’m not the one making grandiose claims of “consciousness” according to the ‘dancing wu li masters’ that the brain might be a sort of radio. Consider that the quantity of data available to support such a hypothesis is zilch. If there were experimental results of this nature, people would be all over each other to reproduce them. There would be a copious literature in peer-reviewed scientific journals that simply dealt with reporting those results.

Go ahead. Make a claim or two yourself - about somebody’s ‘consciousness’ other than your own. Then demonstrate their validity, with me present in the room. I think you can do it, but I think the gradiosity of the claims you opt to demonstrate will be somewhat diminished in scope.

My opinion of Sam Harris’ “wanderings’ is not relevant.

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Posted: 11 April 2007 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”][quote author=“mentor”]the reciprocity of consciousness, each being a part of it, but the whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts.

Yeah, and the (ass)whole is more than the sum of its farts.

[quote author=“burt”]To say that consciousness is caused by neural functioning is like saying that the symphony coming across my radio is caused by the functioning of the transistors in the radio, rather than saying that the functioning of the transistors provides the opportunity for the symphony to manifest.

And the atmosphere of Jupiter is largely composed of methane. Likewise your profundities. With some hydrogen sulfide thrown in for fragrance. The sound of the symphony is caused by musicians. The functioning of the radio is dependent on the functioning of transducers elsewhere. You might as well tune your radio to Imus.

Burt, you are a gasbag like Jupiter in the same way, and to the same extent, that a brain is like a radio for consciousness.

When dealing with consciousness, the experiments have to be carried out in first person.  So long as you are wearing your pseudo-rational blinders you will see no reason to carry out these experiments because they take time and effort and your narrow mindset will not allow the possibility that there will be any result.  I’m trying to decide if you are a disillusioned idealist or a resentful perfectionist, or both, but whatever, your own thoughts keep you in prison. 

In asylum committed she paints on the wall
scenes of day seen through a barred window.
Hu would know her if she would step into day
through painted walls of sorrow
but who can tell what private hell
bars thresholds of tommorrow.

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