July 07, 2012

What is the mind, anyway?

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When we're in a cloud of thinking we aren't aware of our body. Often we are not aware of our surroundings. We may even forget who we are talking with and relate to them as if we were talking to someone else.

This seems more often the case than not for many if not most of us. In his 36th verse of the 37 Practices of the Bodhisattva, Ken McLeod, in his verse-by-verse commentary, begins by asking, "What is the mind, anyway?" If we'd like to be "constantly present and aware," as the verse advises, wouldn't it be good to know what it is that is present and aware?

So, how would you define the mind? Ken has a pretty straightforward answer in this week's video, so have a look. You can view also Ken's earlier commentaries here.

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Dominic Gomez's picture

"When we look into our own mind at any moment, we perceive neither color nor form to verify that it exists. Yet we still cannot say it does not exist, for many differing thoughts continually occur. The mind cannot be considered either to exist or not to exist. Life is indeed an elusive reality that transcends both the words and concepts of existence and nonexistence. It is neither existence nor non-existence, yet exhibits the qualities of both. It is the mystic entity of the Middle Way that is the ultimate reality."
According to 13th Century Buddhist Nichiren Daishonin, "mind" equates with the reality of existence (life) itself. The two are inseparable, i.e. non-dual.

robinson942's picture

"Mind," "self," "consciousness" are all brain processes created by the awake, healthy, living brain. The brain, of course, is intimately connected with the body, and the body is intimately connected with the environment. A good book which gives the latest findings from neuroscience explaining how this works is "Self Comes to Mind" by Antonio Damasio (New York: Pantheon Books, 2010). Needless to say, there is no ghost, spirit, god, or homunculus inside the head. It is all brain process, and that brain process is one with the natural world and one with the causal web of the universe. This is true whether we realize it or not.