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Buddhist View of Mind and Emotion. September 2003 Gross Lab presentation. Scientific Method.

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Buddhist View of Mind and Emotion

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Buddhist view of mind and emotion l.jpg

Buddhist View of Mind and Emotion

September 2003

Gross Lab presentation


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Scientific Method

  • “Principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.” Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Does Buddhism include this procedure in its inquiry into the nature of the mind and consciousness?

  • Fundamental spirit of empiricism and skepticism

  • Repeated examination of philosophical views, third-person reports, and first-person experience


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Framework of Buddhist theory and practice: Four Noble Truths

The truths of suffering

  • recognize the nature and full range of conditioned suffering to which humans are vulnerable

    The source of suffering

  • hypothesis that the fundamental causes of suffering are to be found within the mind, specifically in terms of cognitive, emotional, and attentional imbalances

    The cessation of suffering together with its source

  • afflictive tendencies can be incontrovertibly dispelled from the mind

    The path leading to that cessation

  • detailed procedures for collecting data by observing mental processes and experimenting with techniques for understanding core mechanisms and then adjusting mental processes and dissolving the potency of afflictive components


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The Buddhist Endeavor

  • Primary emphases

    • Normal mind is habitually conditioned to specific modes of attentional, emotional, and cognitive imbalances, but is not intrinsically or irrevocably dysfunctional

    • Identification and extrication of primary cause of confusion: invalid cognitions about ontological status of self and objects

    • Facilitate development of long-term beneficial qualities

      (i.e., patience, compassion, skillful means, clarity, insight, spontaneity)

  • Fundamentally pragmatic orientation:

    • Ethical conduct (ahimsa - not harming others and self)

      • self-regulation of behavior, thought, and emotion

    • Mental concentration (agility and awareness)

      • attention training to dispel imbalances of laxity and excitation, and to attain stable, lucid, and calm mind

    • Wisdom understanding nature of existence (flexibility, non-dual perception and cognition)

      • free the mind of afflictions, obscurations, misconceptions


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Is it possible to observe mental states and processes with the mind?

Even with no mental training, we can detect:

  • Emotional states

  • Observe thoughts and images arising in the mind

  • Introspectively recognize from moment to moment whether our minds are calm or agitated

  • Perceive that we are consciously aware of:

    • objects of consciousness

    • the presence of our own consciousness of other things


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Madhyamaka “Middle Way” View

  • Pinnacle of Buddhist philosophy

  • Both physical and mental phenomena have no independent or permanent ontological status

  • Mere localized appearances emerging from a network of non-local correlations

  • Things exist as dependently related events, not as autonomous, inherently existent, localized entities


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5 Aggregates of Personhood

  • Forms

  • Feelings

  • Discernments

  • Compositional factors

  • Consciousness


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Consciousness

  • Mind: cognizes the mere entity of an object

    • 6 types: visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, sensory, mental awareness

  • Mental factors: cognizes features of an object

    • 5 omnipresent, 5 determining, 11 virtuous,

    • 6 root afflictions 6 root afflictions, 20 secondary afflictions,

    • 4 changeable


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5 Omnipresent Mental Factors

Necessarily accompany all levels and states of mind

All 5 are needed to experience an object

  • Feeling

    • pleasure, pain, neutrality – the fruitions of previous virtuous and non-virtuous actions

  • Discernment

    • Differentiation and identification of objects

  • Attention

    • Moves and directs mind towards its object in general; mental action of intention

  • Contact

    • Serves as basis for feeling and distinguishing an object as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral

  • Mental engagement

    • Directs min to a specific object


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5 Determining Mental Factors

  • Aspiration

    • Observes a contemplated object and seeks it

    • Serves as basis for initiation of effort

    • Faith, aspiration, effort and pliancy are the antidotes to laziness

  • Belief

    • Keeps the mind from being captivated by another view

  • Mindfulness

    • Non-forgetfulness, non-distraction for a familiar object

  • Stabilization

    • One-pointedness of mind for an imputed object; mental equipose; serves as the base for vipassana (special insight)

  • Knowledge/wisdom

    • Differentiates faults and virtues of objects of analysis; overcomes doubt


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11 Virtuous Mental Factors

  • Faith (clarity, conviction, with to attain)

  • Shame

    • avoidance of misconduct due to one’s own disapproval)

  • Embarrassment

    • (avoidance of misconduct due to others’ disapproval)

  • Non-attachment (for this cyclic existence and its content)

  • Non-hatred (absence of intent to harm)

  • Non-ignorance (analytic prowess)

  • Effort (mental delight in virtue)

  • Pliancy (of mind and body towards virtue)

  • Conscientiousness (keeps mind from contamination, distortions)

  • Equanimity (evenness of mind)

  • Non-harmfulness (compassionate attitude)


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6 Root Afflictions

Cause mental imbalance

  • Desire (that generates suffering)

  • Anger (that intends to harm)

  • Pride (enhanced and mistaken self-view)

  • Ignorance (obscuration with respect to intentional action and their effects and to mode of existence of all phenomenon)

  • Doubt (ambivalence)

  • Afflicted view ( 5 types; self and others)


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Belligerence

Resentment

Concealment

Spite

Jealousy

Miserliness

Deceit

False countenance

Haughtiness

Harmfulness

Non-shame

Non-embarrassment

Lethargy

Excitement

Non-faith

Laziness

Non-conscientiousness

Forgetfulness

No-introspection

Distraction

20 Secondary Afflictions


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4 Changeable Factors

Become virtuous, non-virtuous, or neutral by the power of motivation

  • Sleep

  • Contrition (remorse, regret)

  • Investigation

  • Analysis


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Four Applications of Mindfulness

1) contemplation of the body as impure

2) contemplation of feeling as suffering

3) contemplation of thoughts as impermanent

4) contemplation of all phenomenon as devoid of inherently existing self


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Emotion in Varjayana Practice

  • Commitment not to reject the five poisons – the emotions of attachment, anger, ignorance, pride and jealousy – because they are the basis of realizing wisdom, since they will never be found anywhere other than in the emotions

  • Necessary to work with the different objects that give rise to emotional reactions in order to experience the corresponding wisdom

  • The very objects of attachment, hatred and so forth, become the means to liberation from emotional conflict

  • Extracting the energy, dissolving the affliction


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Buddhist View of Emotion

  • A definite feeling in the mind that is both a reaction and a driving force

  • A mental state that starts the instant the mind functions in a dualistic mode, long before the normal person is conscious of it

  • The habitual clinging that makes us automatically categorize our experiences according to whether our ego finds them:

    • attractive (desire, grasping at an object)

    • unattractive (anger, aversion, rejecting, repulsion)

    • neutral (ignorance that drives a view of reality that induces suffering; a definite state of mind which causes us to act in a certain way)

    • considering our own experience as predominant (pride)

    • judging our own position in relation to the object perceived (jealousy)

  • These are the 5 poisons because these reactions poison and obscure our mind and prevent the development of balanced mind and wisdom.

  • The more clinging there is, the stronger our reactions will be, until we reach a point where they finally break into our conscious mind and manifest as the obvious feelings we usually call emotions

  • Ideal qualities: spontaneous, instantaneous compassion, skillfulness and penetrating wisdom of all contexts, people, and states of mind


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Meditation and Immune Research Findings

  • randomized, controlled study 8-week mindfulness meditation stress reduction program applied in a work environment with healthy employees

  • significant increases in left-sided anterior EEG activation, a pattern previously associated with positive affect, in the meditators compared with the nonmeditators 4 months post-program

  • significant increases in antibody titers to influenza vaccine among subjects in the meditation compared with those in the wait-list control group

  • magnitude of increase in left-sided activation predicted the magnitude of antibody titer rise to the vaccine

    Davidson et al. Psychosom Med. 2003 Jul-Aug;65(4):564-70


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Eight-fold Path

  • right view

  • right thought

  • right speech

  • right action

  • right mode of living

  • right endeavor

  • right mindfulness

  • right concentration


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