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The concept of mind in Buddhism is central and as such it controls and commands all intellectual and existential activities. As such it is a challenge to any religion, science or thinking that ...

The concept of mind in Buddhism is central and as such it controls and commands all intellectual and existential activities. As such it is a challenge to any religion, science or thinking that considers what it "thinks" is not a model of reality but the truth about reality. It challenges all religious approaches of the world as being a creation of some god since it states there is no creator and that we do not possess any soul, or divine component in us. Frustrating for those who cannot think without a starting point, be it some Big Bang that states for many that before there was nothing as if anything could come from nothing. We are far from knowing where this universe comes from, if it comes from anything. For the Buddha the world is the real reality like the bus of Karl Marx, but he believes the world will be what we mentally want it to become individually and collectively. Enjoy the prospect of a future produced by human everyday acts, thoughtful or thoughtless as they might be.

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Sari2014 Sari2014 Presentation Transcript

  • BUDDHISM AND THE MENTAL CHALLENGE - or - THE ABHIDHAMMA AND THE ECOLOGY OF THE MIND Dr Jacques COULARDEAU Synopsis Paie (Nice) – CEGID (Boulogne- Billancourt) Cergy June 5-6, 2014
  • 2 Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast. William Shakespeare (1564–1616) The Comedy of Errors (Act III, Scene 1)
  • 3 1- The background is material reality BUT it does not mentally exist for man if man does not conceptualize it. 2- Man is a plain animal that has a special potential in his central nervous system. It can discriminate patterns, identify them and eventually name them with a language he invents with and in his mind. 3- The five sensorial senses are the doors through which the outside world communicates with us. Alone they amount to little apart from sensations. 4- The sixth sense, the mind, is needed to make sense of all these sensations and turn them into perceptions, just as much as it can deal with abstract elements. 5- This mind is a construct from the potential of the architecture of the brain. This mind has to construct first of all some language to name what it discriminates and identifies. 6- The mind thus develops in itself the power to conceptualize. For the mind the model it contains of the material world is entirely mental and is nothing but an abstract construction.
  • 4 The mind for Buddhism is clearly the potential that gives us the power to discriminate-identify-conceptualize but based on the ability to observe-experiment-speculate. Citta or Mana is the conceptualizing level of the mind Cetasikas are the various mental states that both emerge and support any exploration of the world. BUT The mind seen as the conceptualizing power has to be understood as a self-constructing ability that can only emerge from the fully samsaric and developing set of cetasikas via the constant confrontation of each individual with the fully samsaric reality of the world.
  • 5 “The fifty-two states that are associated with consciousness, that arise and perish together with consciousness, that have the same object and basis as consciousness, are known as Cetasikas (mental states). 1. Cetasika = Ceta + s + ika That which is associated with the mind or consciousness is Cetasika. (Sanskrit – Caitasika or caitti). Definition – Cetasika is: (i) that which arises together with consciousness, (ii) that which perishes together with it, (iii) that which has an identical object with it, (iv) that which has a common basis with it.” (Nārada Mahā Thera, A Manual of Abhidhamma, Buddhist Missionary Society, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1979 , p. 76) “cetasika: 'mental things, mental factors', are those mental concomitants which are bound up with the simultaneously arising consciousness (citta = viññāṇa) and conditioned by its presence . Whereas in the Suttas all phenomena of existence are summed up under the aspect of 5 groups: corporeality, feeling, perception, mental formations, consciousness (see khandha), the Abhidhamma as a rule treats them under the more philosophical 3 aspects: consciousness, mental factors and corporeality (citta, cetasika, rūpa). Thus, of these 3 aspects, the mental factors (cetasika) comprise feeling, perception and the 50 mental formations, altogether 52 mental concomitants. Of these, 25 are lofty qualities (either kammically wholesome or neutral), 14 kammically unwholesome, while 13 are as such kammically neutral, their kammical quality depending on whether they are associated with wholesome, unwholesome or neutral consciousness.” (Nyamatiloka Matathera, Buddhist Dictionary, Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, 2006) CETASIKA
  • 6 vedanā (feeling) “According to its nature, it may be divided into 5 classes: (1) bodily agreeable feeling (kāyikā sukhā -vedanā= sukha); (2) bodily disagreeable feeling (kāyikā dukkhā-vedanā = dukkhā); (3) mentally agreeable feeling (cetasikā sukhā -vedanā = somanassa); (4) mentally disagreeable feeling (cetasikā dukkhā-vedanā = domanassa); (5) indifferent or neutral (adukkha-m-asukhā vedanā = upekkhā, q.v.).” (Nyamatiloka Matathera, Buddhist Dictionary, Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, 2006) saññā (perception) “1. 'perception', is one of the 5 groups of existence (khandha, q.v.), and one of the 7 mental factors (cetasika) that are inseparably bound up with all consciousness (saññā cetanā). It is sixfold as perception of the 5 physical sense-objects and of mental objects (6 classes: perception of form, sound, odour, taste, bodily impression, and mental impression). It is the awareness of an object's distinctive marks ("one perceives blue, yellow, etc.," Saṃyutta Nikāya XXII, 79). If, in repeated perception of an object, these marks are recognized, saññā functions as 'memory' (see Abhidhamma St., p. 68f.). 2. saññā stands sometimes for consciousness in its entirety, [. . . ] 3. saññā may also refer to the 'ideas', which are objects of meditation, [. . . ]” (Nyamatiloka Matathera, Buddhist Dictionary, Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, 2006)
  • 7 saṅkhāra “This term has, according to its context, different shades of meaning, which should be carefully distinguished. (I) To its most frequent usages (s. foll. 1-4) the general term 'formation' may be applied, with the qualifications required by the context. This term may refer either to the act of 'forming’ or to the passive state of 'having been formed' or to both. 1. As the 2nd link of the formula of dependent origination, (paṭiccasamuppāda, q.v.), saṅkhāra has the active aspect, 'forming’, and signifies kamma (q.v.), i.e. wholesome or unwholesome volitional activity (cetanā) of body (kāya- saṅkhāra), speech (vacī- saṅkhāra) or mind (citta- saṅkhāra or mano- saṅkhāra). This definition occurs, e.g. at Saṃyutta Nikāya XII, 2, 27. For saṅkhāra in this sense, the word 'kamma-formation' has been coined by the author. In other passages, in the same context, saṅkhāra is defined by reference to (a) meritorious kamma-formations (puññābhisaṅkhāra), (b) demeritorious kamma-formations (apuññabhisaṅkhāra), (c) imperturbable kamma-formations (āneñjābhisaṅkhāra), e.g. in Saṃyutta Nikāya XII, 51; D. 33. This threefold division covers karmic activity in all spheres of existence: the meritorious kamma- formations extend to the sensuous and the fine-material sphere, the demeritorious ones only to the sensuous sphere, and the 'imperturbable' only to the immaterial sphere. . . ” (Nyamatiloka Matathera, Buddhist Dictionary, Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, 2006) In the Abhidhamma, this kamma orientation is not the primary meaning. Saṅkhāra is built on the prefix /saṅ/ or /saŋ/. A vast set of always changing mental states and attitudes toward what we are confronted with in the world, positive or negative or indifferent. The question of merit is from another plane.
  • 8 Citta - Mana “The first Paramattha or reality is Citta. It is derived from the root “citi,” to think. According to the commentary Citta is that which is aware of (cinteti = vijānāti) an object. It is not that which thinks of an object as the term implies. From an Abhidhamma standpoint Citta may better be defined as the awareness of an object, since there is no agent like a soul. Citta, Ceta, Cittuppāda, Nāma, Mana, Viññāna are all used as synonymous in Abhidhamma. Hence from the Abhidhamma standpoint no distinction is made between mind and consciousness. When the so-called being is divided into its two constituent parts, Nāma (mind) is used. When it is divided into the aggregates (Pañcakkhandha), Viññāna is used. The term Citta is invariably employed while referring to different classes of consciousness. In isolated cases, in the ordinary sense of mind, both terms Citta and Mana are frequently used.“ (Nārada Mahā Thera, A Manual of Abhidhamma, Buddhist Missionary Society, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1979 , p. 9) “citta: 'mind', 'consciousness', 'state of consciousness', is a synonym of mano (q.v.) and viññāṇa (see khandha and Table 1). Dhammasangaṅī divides all phenomena into consciousness (citta), mental concomitants (cetasika, q.v.) and corporeality (rūpa).” (Nārada Mahā Thera, A Manual of Abhidhamma, Buddhist Missionary Society, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1979 )
  • 9 BUDDHISM A MENTAL CHALLENGE (1) 1- The Buddha was a challenge in his own society. Refusing to support a war he took parivraja and became a parivrajaka, a spiritual wanderer. 2- Buddhism is a challenge to all religions built on the concept of God, since for Buddhists the universe was not created: it just is, hence there is no creator, divine or not. 3- Buddhism is a challenge to the concept of soul, a divine part of man, no part of man is in any way permanent or stable. Anicca and anattā, impermanence and non-self. Psychology must state a permanently changing self. 4- Buddhism is a challenge to the idea of a supernatural or innate intelligence in man, intelligence is a construct of, by and for the mind which itself is a construct of, by and for the brain. 5- Buddhism is a challenge to all social thinking that states any hierarchy between human beings, we are all equal in rights. 6- Buddhism is a challenge to truth based on force or power. The only truth is anicca-dukkha-anattā, i.e. impermanence, the cycle of satisfaction- dissatisfaction, non-self.
  • 10 BUDDHISM A MENTAL CHALLENGE (2) 7- Buddhism is a challenge to any use of violence against any living being, including the universe. Buddhism is the practice the four boundless states (appamaññā): loving kindness (mettā), compassion (karuṇā), altruistic joy (muditā) and equanimity (upekkhā). 8- Buddhism is a challenge against all weapons, making of weapons, possession of weapons or use of weapons, including for self defense. It thus is a challenge to 2nd amendment to the US Constitution. The best defense is in prevention and appamaññā. 9- Buddhism is a challenge to all empirical philosophy and science. Human truth is in the human eye as it beholds the real world. 10- Buddhism is a challenge to all causal rational thinking because material or mental development is a samsaric reality in which enything new emerges by subduction from a samsaric accumulation of simultaneously parallel elements 11- Buddhism is a challenge to all self-centered ideology, psychology or science, including genetic biology. Anattā or non-self. It is the most challenging principle for the western belief that most human characteristics are genetically governed, including language if we follow Noam Chomsky.
  • 11 “Sabbe tasanti daṇaḍassa sabbe bhāyanti maccuno Attānaṃ upamaṃ katvā na haneyya na ghātaye.” (Dhammapada, 129) All tremble at the rod. All fear death. Comparing others with oneself, one should neither strike nor cause to strike. [When the comparing is fulfilled then our resolve to neither strike nor cause to strike may eventually emerge.] RAPPEL 2013 PRETERIT PARTICIPLE
  • 12 Attānaṃ upamaṃ katvā Accusative accusative preterit Participle na haneyya na ghātaye Neg. optative Neg.optative hanati 3rd Sing ghāteti 3rd Sing. Participle Clause: No subject, concatenated to the main clause hence attached to the subject of the main clause Main Clause: two conjugated verbs, no independent subject, generic personal finite suffix. (Dhammapada, 129), Comparing others with oneself, one should neither strike nor cause to strike. “now that one has compared oneself to others, the main action (no matter what it may be and it here concerns a generic subject) may (not permission but eventuality) emerge.” RAPPEL 2013 PRETERIT PARTICIPLE
  • 13 Idaṁ pure cittam acāri cārikaṁ Yena’icchakaṁ yatthakāmaṁ yathāsukhaṁ, Tadajj’ ahaṁ niggahessāmi yoniso, hatthippabhinnaṁ viya aṅkusaggaho. Literal translation: This in the past mind used to venture on ventures Of its own liking, wherever it wanted to go, just the way it favored So that now I am going to bring it back to where it belongs Like the elephant driver the elephant in reproductive rut. The Dhammapada, Verse 326 Chapter 23, Nāga Vagga, The Elephant, verse 7
  • 14 cittam acāri cārikaṃ nominative verb accusative subject aorist object yena’icchakaṃ yatthakāmaṃ yathāsukhaṃ nominalized relative nominalized relative nominalized relative accusative object accusative object accusative object ahaṃ niggahessāmi yoniso 1st Singular verb 1st Singular ablative nominative future destination hatthippabhinnaṃ aṅkusaggaho accusative object nominative subject pureidaṃ tad ajja viya
  • 15 om mani padme hūṃ ‘Fare thee well, great heart’ William Shakespeare (1564–1616) The First Part of Henry IV, Act V. Scene 4
  • 16 “Fare thee well, king: sith thus thou wilt appear, Freedom lives hence, and banishment is here.” William Shakespeare (1564–1616) King Lear, Act I. Scene 1 For Die Hard Speakers . . .