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  • hardie karges 12:05 pm on October 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , neuroscience, , , , Right Thought, Samma sankapppa   

    The Role of Thought in Buddhism… 

    The Buddha never taught or recommended No Thought, an idea popular in some Buddhist and all ‘non-dualistic’ groups, which should be labeled ‘non-pluralistic,’ btw, just saying. The Buddha taught Right Thought, samma samkappa. But don’t thoughts sometimes just pop up? Yes, they do. the issue here is not one of ownership, though, but the true nature of thoughts and feelings. For some reason, we tend to trust our feelings, but reserve much suspicion toward our thoughts. But are they any different, really?

    So, maybe they are as different as heart and head, but is that any different, either, really? Because those bodily locations have only been known since recently, but the concept of Mind, as citta, has been known since almost forever, and certainly since the time of Buddha. Indeed, during the Buddha’s time, and even later, there was considerable debate in Greece, and possibly India, over the location of the origin of thought, such that Plato placed it at or in the brain, while his student Aristotle placed it firmly in the heart.

    And if it seems obvious that the source of all sensations originating in the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth could only logically be mixed and matched somewhere nearby such as the gray matter that constitutes a brain, then it is equally plausible that the center could be where the pathways of the blood start and finish, itself perhaps the mechanism for mixing and matching those sensations into more complex feelings and thoughts. Modern neuroscience has come a long way since then, of course, but still we ‘listen to our hearts,’ even if we prefer to ‘use our brains’ for the heavy lifting, intellect being generally considered superior to intuition.  

    That distinction is sometimes used to differentiate men and women, to generally ill effect, but the fact remains that the two activities are intertwined. But to imagine that thoughts have no proper human origin nor intention, per the ‘non-dualist’ screed, is absurd and counterproductive, and for what purpose it is not clear. Even if Buddhism is technically non-dualist, in the sense that ‘we are one with everything’ like the joke about the monk ordering hot dogs, the modern ‘non-dualists’ go much too far in asserting that we are therefore nothing. That may pay well in the online debates, but it’s not what the Buddha said, and that is my only concern. Think good thoughts.

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  • hardie karges 6:30 am on May 15, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: autoplay, , , , , , , neuroscience   

    Buddhism, Meditation, and the Sounds of Silence 

    Words can do damage. We all know that instinctively. And silence never hurt anyone. We know that, too. So,  I would almost like to make this the Fifth Noble Truth, but I guess it’s too late for that, haha. It’s true, though, and I think the practice of meditation intuited this from the get-go, whether it was ever fully articulated or not, until recently. Because we now know about the language overload and barrage that we are subjected to every day, when such a thing might not have been so obvious two thousand years ago.

    But that’s the first thing that the neuroscience researchers asked me, when they interviewed me as a possible test subject for their research on meditation. “Can you stop the internal dialogue?” Hehe, that’s the whole point, IMHO. “Do you know what I’m talking about?” They asked again to make certain I understood. Yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about. And that’s really the only thing that stands out from the entire series of ‘Don Juan’ books written by Carlos Castaneda, in which the shaman Don Juan constantly implores the student to stop that same dialogue, among other things.

    But some people are sensitive to that, at least in sudden form, so it should not be forced. And that’s because we think in a language, or two. There is some debate about whether we thought before we had language, and I believe we did, but once we got it, there’s no turning it off, except deliberately. Otherwise it just goes on and on, seemingly endlessly, until death do us part. And yes, this is likely the origin and mainstay of the ‘duality’ that is such a popular topic in New-Agey forums, whether anyone knows what it means or not. That voice in the background must be the Self or Other, one or the other.

    But there is a social context, also, in which the air waves we all share are simply bombarding us with sound constantly. And if Autoplay on Internet is the worst offender, well, the bar down the street is not much better, nor are the loud-mouthed Americans down the hall at my bare-budget residencia  in Coimbra. Silence is no longer normal. And it should be. How can I quiet the voices in my head, when I can’t quiet the voices all around me? That’s what meditation is for, silent meditation, no app necessary…

     
    • quantumpreceptor 1:40 am on July 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply

      Yes silence is the key, and we must start with ourselves. We will never congregation the others do. I can only change me with the hopes that you might see a difference and say hey “this silence really has something”.
      Great post as always.

      QP

      • hardie karges 3:18 pm on July 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for your comments

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