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A fresh look at the 3NT

A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby chankin1937 on Sun Feb 22, 2015 3:36 pm

As recommended in the last few lines of the “Surangama Sutra” (Page 72 of D T Suzuki's “Manual of Zen Buddhism”).it is recommended that we develop a “clear, logical, penetrating understanding” of why meditation works.. Working from the premise that we have appetites which must be satisfied, two statements can be made:
A/ When an appetite is satisfied we abstain from the conscious mental activity required to accomplish it. The goal is reached. “Thinking” has done its job.
B/ When an appetite is satisfied we can normally expect to experience a degree of happiness.
Because we are talking about the same mind at the same point in time and because statement A is the objective description of what happens when we satisfy an appetite (essentially fewer neurones fire) and statement B is what it feels like when this happens (the subjective description), we can derive a third statement from A and B above:
C/ Any increase in the level of happiness which we experience is the direct result of a reduction in the level of conscious mental activity in our mind.
Statement C describes the mechanism of happiness in creatures with our kind of nervous system. (Note that reducing conscious mental activity does not entail a reduction in the level of our awareness, which remains constant at an ordinary, every-day level.)
Now, if we extrapolate the relationship expressed in statement C to the extreme case, we arrive at the following statement:
D/ Perfect happiness is the total absence of conscious mental activity in the aware, alert brain of creatures with our kind of central nervous system.
It is my contention that the latter statement corresponds exactly in meaning to the statement made by Sakyamuni Buddha two and a half thousand years ago which has been translated as:
Nirvana is the extinction of desire.
Here we have, encapsulated in one short sentence the psychology of the common human goal - happiness
This understanding brings Buddhist practices into the realm of our everyday life. As we have to learn how to walk and talk, so we have to learn how to be happy.
We must limit conscious mental activity to its proper role in order to get our just and proper reward for successful action.
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Michaeljc on Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:49 pm

Hi Chankin

I feel that there is some validity in your hypothesis. The cessation of thought is well accepted as part of the process. Yet, IMO, this happens on multiple occasions throughout our day. Meditation may get much of its power by prolonging this state.

What's more difficult to explain is the abrupt explosion resulting from what has been described as the collapse of all concepts and conditioning. This cannot always be described as happiness.

One way of explaining it may be that each of our brains are born with certain attributes. Through these tendencies and specific characteristics of our environments, capabilities and action develop the individual brains in a certain way - just as a weight lifter develops different muscles to a dancer. Behind all this there may be capabilities (eg the capacity for instinctive creation as an artist) that are suppressed.

The 'abrupt awakening' may be the liberation of un-utilised capacities in the brain. This may explain the common shock related to awakenings and why the flavour of an awakening cannot be anticipated.

It is important to consider that brain conditioning over extended periods of time is normally required. Multiple awakenings of different flavours and intensities are the norm under prolonged meditation training. Years are usually required.

I believe that these changes are driven by identifiable physiological processes. Many see this approach as too clinical - excluding anything 'spiritual'. Spirituality relies on a degree of mystery. Humans feed off mystery as a form of reassurance.

Of late within quantum mechanics it has been scientifically proven that one object can be in two physical localities at a given time. Likewise, science is suggesting that everything is comprised from one energy source. A seemingly impossible connection between self and other is a common realisation associated with abrupt awakenings. Meditation may work through liberating brain functions that already know of such matters - or by being in another place at a given time - or by being receptive to other from a different place and/or time - or by being receptive to what has always been there, hidden.

Its all possible

Cheers

Michael
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Herbie on Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:20 am

chankin1937 wrote:... why meditation works.. ..

You can train physical fitness and you can train mental fitness. Muscles or consciousness, no difference. Training is conditioning.
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Michaeljc on Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:30 am

Yes - it has been well established that people who keep using their brains stay sharp and more tuned as they age. Two professions in particular are academics and musicians - as in composers. All the older professors at Uni felt young to me. If you look at classical conductors, they are commonly older than they look

BUT

Meditation is a different style of conditioning. very different. The other side of the coin really

They can be very complimentary
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Herbie on Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:39 am

Michaeljc wrote:BUT

Meditation is a different style of conditioning. very different....

Well I am subsuming all kinds of mental trainings under "mental fitness". So meditation, regardless what kind of meditation, is training mental fitness because "mental fitness" covers "mental flexibility" which is the ability of consciousness to work in different modes. So if you train a certain mode you train the capacity and therefore mental fitness/flexibility.
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Michaeljc on Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:47 am

Well, yes, but Zen meditation does not hone the brains ability to process. Quite the opposite in fact. It is nothing like sleep either. Meditation sets the brain/mind free. We lose control over it.

In saying that there are pro-active methods where focus on a simple observation does require control. I am no authority on these. Nevertheless, most Zen methods end up in the same place; un-inhibited mind, the true self.
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Herbie on Mon Feb 23, 2015 10:17 am

Michaeljc wrote:Well, yes, but Zen meditation does not hone the brains ability to process. Quite the opposite in fact. It is nothing like sleep either. Meditation sets the brain/mind free. We lose control over it.

In saying that there are pro-active methods where focus on a simple observation does require control. I am no authority on these. Nevertheless, most Zen methods end up in the same place; un-inhibited mind, the true self.


Well, see how it is interpreted from a more scientific perspective and how it is interpreted by a subject conditioned by religious thought, these two perspectives of course entail different linguistic expressions.
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Michaeljc on Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:08 am

The crucial nature of Zen practice is that we do not know where it will lead. It is not subject to linguistic expression. Rather than trying to intellectualise ultimate truth why not allow it to manifest its' self? The important feature here is that it will be you, personally, that is exposed with no input or influence from others. Is this not better than reading burble from the likes of me?

What can our mind expose when we allow it complete freedom?

Sorry Herbie, but you will no get any further with this unless you are prepared to practice Zazen or something similar within a serious regime

Without this commitment you are not going to understand Zen linguistic expression - which is only a finger pointing at the moon anyway

If you want to be free of 'non-existent conditioning' there is no other way - that I know of. Telling yourself that self does not exist will never work, even though you may believe this. It has to be experienced

m
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Herbie on Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:19 am

Michaeljc wrote:The crucial nature of Zen practice is that we do not know where it will lead. It is not subject to linguistic expression.

Nothing is subject to linguistic expression, because linguistic expression is subject to creativity. There is nothing behind words but creativity.

Nothing is here and
Nothing is there.
And even "here" and "there" are not.
Nothing but creativity.


Michaeljc wrote:Rather than trying to intellectualise ultimate truth ...

"ultimate truth" is expression of your creativity.

Michaeljc wrote:Sorry Herbie, but you will no get any further with this unless you are prepared to practice Zazen or something similar within a serious regime

Exactly! I will never get any further with this even if I " practice Zazen or something similar within a serious regime"! :lol2:

Nowhere to go and
Nowhere to stay.
Location, direction coalesced.
Nothing abundantly everywhere.
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby desert_woodworker on Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:26 pm

Chankin1937,

Aren't there FOUR "NT"s?

And good to see that someone else still honors Prof. Suzuki's MANUAL!

Strong practice,

--Joe
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Anders on Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:38 am

Michaeljc wrote:Well, yes, but Zen meditation does not hone the brains ability to process. Quite the opposite in fact. It is nothing like sleep either. Meditation sets the brain/mind free. We lose control over it.


If, by process, we mean "ability of consciousness to work in different modes." then how on earth can you say Zen meditation doesn't hone this?
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"
--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Anders on Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:41 am

Michaeljc wrote:The crucial nature of Zen practice is that we do not know where it will lead. It is not subject to linguistic expression.


Really? I mean sure, in one sense it eludes concepts and therefore 'knowing' - But I'd say it is a pretty crucial element of Zen practise that we have close-to-rock-solid intuitions or convictions that it leads to things like happiness, peace of mind, etc. And does not lead to becoming a less moral person, more afflicted and suffering person and so forth. At least in the long run.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"
--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Anders on Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:47 am

chankin1937 wrote:As recommended in the last few lines of the “Surangama Sutra” (Page 72 of D T Suzuki's “Manual of Zen Buddhism”).it is recommended that we develop a “clear, logical, penetrating understanding” of why meditation works.. Working from the premise that we have appetites which must be satisfied, two statements can be made:
A/ When an appetite is satisfied we abstain from the conscious mental activity required to accomplish it. The goal is reached. “Thinking” has done its job.
B/ When an appetite is satisfied we can normally expect to experience a degree of happiness.
Because we are talking about the same mind at the same point in time and because statement A is the objective description of what happens when we satisfy an appetite (essentially fewer neurones fire) and statement B is what it feels like when this happens (the subjective description), we can derive a third statement from A and B above:
C/ Any increase in the level of happiness which we experience is the direct result of a reduction in the level of conscious mental activity in our mind.
Statement C describes the mechanism of happiness in creatures with our kind of nervous system. (Note that reducing conscious mental activity does not entail a reduction in the level of our awareness, which remains constant at an ordinary, every-day level.)
Now, if we extrapolate the relationship expressed in statement C to the extreme case, we arrive at the following statement:
D/ Perfect happiness is the total absence of conscious mental activity in the aware, alert brain of creatures with our kind of central nervous system.
It is my contention that the latter statement corresponds exactly in meaning to the statement made by Sakyamuni Buddha two and a half thousand years ago which has been translated as:
Nirvana is the extinction of desire.
Here we have, encapsulated in one short sentence the psychology of the common human goal - happiness
This understanding brings Buddhist practices into the realm of our everyday life. As we have to learn how to walk and talk, so we have to learn how to be happy.
We must limit conscious mental activity to its proper role in order to get our just and proper reward for successful action.


In rough lines, sure. But I think this fails to capture the nuances of what it means to be free from mental activity.

To simply reduce or eliminate mental activity is mere shamatha. A good thing that will most likely increase happiness a whole lot. But if we're talking about liberation, ie the more definitive revolution of happiness that Buddhism advocates, can not be defined as simply the absence of conscious mental actvity - But rather the correct realisation of said mental activity as being empty and not-self. In other words, regardless of its presence or absence, now also void of the ability to burden the mind with suffering. Being awake is not to be without mental activity but rather to be awake to the true nature of mental activity (and likewise the nature of what is there in its absence).
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"
--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Herbie on Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:07 am

Anders wrote:... But I'd say it is a pretty crucial element of Zen practise that we have close-to-rock-solid intuitions or convictions that it leads to things like happiness, peace of mind, etc. And does not lead to becoming a less moral person, more afflicted and suffering person and so forth. At least in the long run.

Now that's the disappointing thing about Zen, that convictions of this or that are involved ... and then ... those everyday common ideas like happiness and peace of mind you find in each and every advertisement to arouse desire. This is really chasing me off. I'd rather prefer to just sit. I don't understand what's the purpose of convictions and ideas for just sitting. I am going to ask my buttocks, maybe they know. :lol2:
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Michaeljc on Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:25 am

Anders wrote:
Michaeljc wrote:The crucial nature of Zen practice is that we do not know where it will lead. It is not subject to linguistic expression.


Really? I mean sure, in one sense it eludes concepts and therefore 'knowing' - But I'd say it is a pretty crucial element of Zen practise that we have close-to-rock-solid intuitions or convictions that it leads to things like happiness, peace of mind, etc. And does not lead to becoming a less moral person, more afflicted and suffering person and so forth. At least in the long run.


Mmm - fundamentally you are right. The risk is that someone coming on board here can think, 'There are plenty of ways I can achieve these attributes.'

By 'not knowing where it will lead' I was more meaning the colour or flavour of things revealing themselves along the path of practice i.e. they are personal and unique. Zen is so well explained (tongue in cheek) why bother practicing?

Hit the cushion guys. There's no way around it and its worth it :)
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Anders on Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:30 am

Herbie wrote:
Anders wrote:... But I'd say it is a pretty crucial element of Zen practise that we have close-to-rock-solid intuitions or convictions that it leads to things like happiness, peace of mind, etc. And does not lead to becoming a less moral person, more afflicted and suffering person and so forth. At least in the long run.

Now that's the disappointing thing about Zen, that convictions of this or that are involved ... and then ... those everyday common ideas like happiness and peace of mind you find in each and every advertisement to arouse desire. This is really chasing me off. I'd rather prefer to just sit. I don't understand what's the purpose of convictions and ideas for just sitting. I am going to ask my buttocks, maybe they know. :lol2:


It's say it's just regular common sense psychology - Why would you practise anything like this if it wasn't for your longterm welfare and happiness?

If anything, it isn't advertised very well. Zen doesn't really try to package the fact that in order to reap these longterm rewards, you might have to invest some hardship to get there. Possibly on the scale of many years. And of course, face the blossoming of hidden fears and suppressed traumas as they release and float to the surface along the way. That's why such conviction is relevant - The gains are not immediate or immediately obvious. So what's going to keep you on the cushion during hardships or when the bad stuff revealed by practise has your mind burning?

You are probably not sitting there thinking "just tough it out and you will be sure to reap the rewards in the end". And maybe the idea of the kind of welfare to be reaped from it is radically different from the common ideas of happiness - But some part of you has a great trust in the benign nature of the path you are on in order to be willing to endure these things for the sake of it.
Last edited by Anders on Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
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I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"
--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Chrisd on Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:30 am

I think it's possible to find Zen that doesn't emphasize "common ideas" like happiness and peace.
If you're really interested in finding, I'm sure you will! :) are you?
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Herbie on Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:39 am

Chrisd wrote:I think it's possible to find Zen that doesn't emphasize "common ideas" like happiness and peace.
If you're really interested in finding, I'm sure you will! :) are you?

See I have already found nothing and/but creativity. That's all.

Typically you guys direct to either books or a so-called "teacher" and advise "first do this then you will see that" or similar. But all I can find there is nothing but creativity again. :)
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Chrisd on Tue Feb 24, 2015 11:01 am

"you guys"? There's no "you guys"!

Maybe best to find one teacher/person that is an inspiration to you so you can develop with him/her. You don't need an entire system of ppl.
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Re: A fresh look at the 3NT

Postby Avisitor on Tue Feb 24, 2015 5:41 pm

Anders wrote:In rough lines, sure. But I think this fails to capture the nuances of what it means to be free from mental activity.

To simply reduce or eliminate mental activity is mere shamatha. A good thing that will most likely increase happiness a whole lot. But if we're talking about liberation, ie the more definitive revolution of happiness that Buddhism advocates, can not be defined as simply the absence of conscious mental actvity - But rather the correct realisation of said mental activity as being empty and not-self. In other words, regardless of its presence or absence, now also void of the ability to burden the mind with suffering. Being awake is not to be without mental activity but rather to be awake to the true nature of mental activity (and likewise the nature of what is there in its absence).

That sounds so close ... that I'll agree ... nah, better to sleep on it first ... :coffee:
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