Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When you dislike a person you only dislike your own feelings.

Sometimes two people see exactly the same person and can have two completely diffrent opinions. One may like the person and the other may dislike the person.

How does this happen?

What changes in the cognitive processing lead to these two completely different responses in the mind ?

We will first take an example to illustrate this. Supposing two people (A and B) see the same person (C), one may like the person C and the other one may dislike the person C. However these likes and dislike have nothing to do with the third person C. The person C is just an object that triggered a series of mental processes in each observer (A and B). The person C is completely unaware it.

Let us see how this happens. When the eyes of the person A and B meet the person C eye consciousness arises in both. The meeting of the the eye, the object and the eye consciousness will cause eye contact in each of them. This gives rise to perception, feeling and thought formation,* saying "I like you" in the person A and "I dont like you" in the person B. Previous memory about the person C is the critical factor for the differences in the opinion.The past memory of liking of the person C will influence the feeling and then the perception giving rise to positive thoughts. If the person A has never seen person C, some memory of familiarity to someone similar to C will influence the positive feeling. For example, the person A might think "she reminds me of my mother." The opposite mental process happens in person B. A past memory of dislike of person C will influence the feeling and negative thoughts. Again if the person B has never seen the person C, past memory of familiarity to some one similar will influence the negative feeling. For example the person B might think, "she looks like the person that always hates me."

It is clear that past memories inflence the feelings, perceptions and thereby subsequent series of thought formations. This way we may judge people too soon. The exact mechanism how this happens is explained in detail in previous posts like how the mind works, cognitive series andclinging.

The important thing to note here is that everything that happened was within the mind of the person A or B. The person C has nothing to do with it except being the trigger. It is not the person C that the person A likes or the person B dislikes. It is his own feelings the person A likes and it is his own feelings the person B dislikes. However the person A or B does not see it this way because of ignorance.

If you investigate this further you will find these are merely changes of "Name" phenomena (Nama Dhamma) of the "Name-and Form" (Nama-Rupa). They arise and fall away extremely fast speed with each sensory contact (please see the post on cognitive series). You will also find this all a mental process and there is no one really in control. There is no absolute free will. There is no person or a permanent self in charge. This is nothing other than the work of our six senses, working together with the five aggregates.

The same principal applies to everything we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think. The stress or suffering we cause ourselves has nothing to do with the another person or a thing. It is caused by our clinging to thoughts generated by our likes and dislikes and our perceptions based on previous memory. However it is very difficult for us to see this although it happens right here in our own minds even as I write this post (like) you read this post (like or dislike).

Only way to see this process clearly is through practice of mindfulness. We have already discussed this in a post called how to fix your mind.

*Please see the posts on mind works, cognitive series to understand the interaction between these mental processes such as consciousness, contact, feeling, perception and thought constructs (mental formations).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Is there free will or determinism ? The answer is neither

There is no absolute free will. But we have a will (intention).  The mind is like a random thought machine. Initial thoughts are triggered by our senses (for example; eye and object) are modified by our memories (see the post on cognitive series). Our likes, dislikes (feelings) and perceptions will modify our subsequent thought process (see the post on how the mind works). There is no self or a person in control of all these (see the post on the anatomy of a being). These are just the activities of the five aggregates (see the post on five aggregates). This creates a false sense of a self in control (see the post on personality view). This is just a process and therefore free will is not possible. There is now some scientific evidence* supporting this.

How about determinism? Everything does not depend on our Kamma (see the post on kamma). Kamma can be modified or extinguished (also see the post on how kamma works). There is no evidence that a God** is in control of our destiny either.

So we are deluded form the reality. The greed, hatred, delusion (ignorance) and fear put us off the tack from the path to awakening. The awaken one knows there is no self. This is just the work of the five aggregates. That's all. He knows that there is no self, no being or an external source in charge of him. He is fully mindful of all the thoughts as they arise and does not cling to a idea of permanent self. He knows for himself there is no permeant self by his own experience of internal investigation of the mind. He has the direct knowledge of the truth. This is the insight he gains through the practice of mindfulness meditation. There is no more ignorance, craving or even clinging. He is totally free and liberated within. There is no more birth for him.

** Related Discussions/Sutta:
1. "Buddhism and the God-idea", by Nyanaponika Thera. Access to Insight, 7 June 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/godidea.html . Retrieved on 24 November 2011

2. "Tittha Sutta: Sectarians" (AN 3.61), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 3 July 2010,http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.061.than.html . Retrieved on 24 November 2011.

3. Tevijja Sutta (DN 13): Page 9-21 and 78-91; Basic Teachings of the Buddha by Glenn Wallis, 2007, Modern Library, NY

* Related links:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

There is no separate entity called the subconscious mind.

The mind is not divided into two separate compartments called the conscious and subconscious minds. It is whether we see or not see the complete activity of the five aggregates: the form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness. We must see clearly how the five aggregates work together to generate our stress or suffering with insight. There is no person or self- it is just a process. It is the activity of the five aggregates. That is all. Everything that happens from the time you wake up till you go to bed is the arising and passing away of these five aggregates. There is nothing other than this. When you realize this within, with mindfulness practice and insight, you bring everything to the conscious awareness. Then there is no need for a separate entity called the subconscious mind.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The five aggregates: They are all activities of the mind

The five aggregates are all activities of the mind. It is obvious that the feelings, perceptions, and mental formations (thought constructs) are activities of the mind. Please see the mind works model. However it is not obvious that the form (body) is an activity of the mind. We feel our body through our somatosensory perceptions from the neuronal pathways. This therefore is an activity of the mind. This is the ongoing perception of the body. Furthermore our present body too is an activity of mind (kamma vipaka) in the previous birth. Our future body will be the result of the activity of the mind now (kamma formation/intention of thought constructs).

(Please click on the label five aggregates below to read the other posts on the five aggregates)