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Mind and Brain

Dualistic nature


Some people think that the mind and the brain are the same things. Other people think that the mind is s function of the body.


The brain is a part of the body that is a physical thing that can be seen with the eyes and that can be photographed or operated on in surgery.


The mind, on the other hand, is not a physical object. It cannot be seen with the eyes, nor can it be photographed or repaired by surgery.


There is nothing within the body that can be identified as being our mind because our body and mind are different entities. For example, sometimes when our body is relaxed and immobile, our mind can be very busy, darting from one object to another. This indicates that our body and mind are not the same entity.


Is the self equated with the mind?


Can the self be distinguished from the mind?


Most people believe in the existence of some kind of entity inside of our bodies such as soul, spirit, or consciousness. On the other hand, most scientists and neuroscientists do not hold this view.


Are mental states and states of the physical brain the same?

Some believe that there is no independent substance. There is just the brain that is controlling all our physical and mental activities. It is still not proved how the brain produces consciousness and memory.


Most contemporary scientists do not support dualism. The reason behind that has to do with the dependencies between psychological states and changes in brain states that we can observe and quantify. There are very close relationships between brain states, phycological states, and external circumstances.

Scientists believe that the memory and brain are closely interconnected, but then how the subtle consciousness is caring karmic traces to the next life after death?


Buddhist position


From the Buddhist point of view, humans and animals are similarly endowed with consciousness.

The Buddhist picture of mind and body is neither dualistic nor monistic, but rather phenomenological in recognizing them as two qualitatively different kinds of experiences.


Buddhism believes that all things are interdependent, and reject the idea that things can exist in themselves.

“Thus, not only does this view reject the notion that the mind is an inherently existent substance or thing, but it similarly denies that physical phenomena as we experience them are things in themselves.”


Where Buddhism Meets Neuroscience

The Dalai Lama

According to Tibetan Buddhism, physical and mental phenomena exist in relation to our perceptions and conceptions. The Madhyamika view emphasizes the disparity between appearances and reality, but in a radically different way.


Buddhist believe that mental events are no more or less real than physical events.


States of mind


It is very important to be able to distinguish disturbed states of mind from peaceful states. Disturbing states of mind - are the states that disturb our peace of mind, such as anger, jealousy, and desirous attachment. These states are the main causes of all our suffering.

We may think that our suffering is caused by other people, by poor material conditions, or by society, but in reality, it all comes from our own deluded states of mind and our karma. The essence of spiritual practice is to reduce and eventually eradicate altogether our disturbed states of mind, and to replace them with permanent inner peace. Bodhicitta is really important. Your goal should be to help all sentient beings to illuminate all the suffering and break from samsara.


The essential point of understanding the mind is that liberation from suffering cannot be found outside the mind. Permanent liberation can be found only by purifying the mind and studying Dharma. Therefore, if we want to become free from problems and attain lasting peace and happiness we need to increase our knowledge and understanding of the mind.


The two main types of mind are explained as the conceptual and the non-conceptual. The conceptual is the "normal" mind aspect we use to survive in daily life but is ultimately mistaken about the way in which reality exists. The non-conceptual type of mind is also called the Buddha-nature - rigpa in Tibetan. Rigpa is the fundamental pure nature of the mind that realizes emptiness.

In Tibetan Buddhism, often the so-called 'clear-light mind' is mentioned. This is the most subtle level of mind, which we are normally not even aware of. A non-conceptual, 'primordial' state of mind appears to the very advanced meditator and during the death process.

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