Category Archives: Mindfulness

The Reality of Mind

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

When the mind operates from the viewpoint of emptiness, it sees things as they are. This is the objective reality. We perceive objective reality directly through our physical perceptions of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. The mind then assimilates these perceptions ensuring consistency, harmony and continuity. The enduring aspects of this assimilation, based on generations of experience, become wisdom or common sense.

The degree of mental assimilation depends on consistency, harmony and continuity.

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Objectivity

The objectivity depends on seeing things as they are. The word objective is derived from object that has the sense of “something perceived”. Objective reality is not only made tangible through the physical perceptions, but also made logically consistent by the mental perception. The objective reality is that which has been tested and verified and cannot be argued with. It is the same for all people when all known inconsistencies have been resolved.

The subjectivity is different for different people and it may be argued with. The word subjective is derived from subject that has the sense of “open to inspection”. Subjective reality depends on individual viewpoint. It is characterized by inconsistencies among viewpoints that still need to be resolved. As inconsistencies are resolved the subjective reality becomes increasingly objective.

There is, however, a misconception that all perceptions processed through the mind are subjective. The fact is that perceptions are assimilated to different degrees in the mind. Completely assimilated perceptions are objective. As the degree of assimilation reduces, so does the objectivity. The conclusion then become increasingly subjective.

Objectivity depends on the assimilation of perceptions in the mind. To the degree perceptions are not assimilated there is subjectivity.

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The Basis of Mind

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

The mind deals with phenomena. A phenomenon is anything that you become aware of.  A phenomenon can be physical, mental, spiritual, real or imaginary. To assess the nature of a phenomenon completely you must view it from a point beyond phenomena.

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Emptiness

That viewpoint which is beyond all phenomena is the viewpoint of emptiness. The Heart Sutra in Buddhism defines EMPTINESS as no Birth no Death, no Being no Non-being, no Defilement no Purity, no Increasing no Decreasing.  

The viewpoint of emptiness is just that. It is totally fresh. It is completely clean. There are no preconceived notions, no fixed ideas, and no bias. In short, the concept of emptiness is not viewed through any filters. It is simply what it is.

From a scientific viewpoint, emptiness is like the zero of a scale on which all phenomena may be plotted. Emptiness itself is not a phenomenon, just like zero is not a value. Thus, emptiness provides a reference point from which it is possible to give an objective meaning to any phenomena.

The purpose of a reference point is to align everything that follows. In the absence of a reference point things devolve into confusion. It is common to assume an arbitrary reference point just to avoid the immediate confusion, even when it can’t resolve everything.

GOD is such a reference point. It is there to resolve the confusion of physical reality. But it cannot resolve the reality of itself. To understand the reality of GOD a more basic reference point is needed.

Emptiness is that basic reference point. It has the property of being inherently understood because it denotes the absence of all phenomena. No other reference point is required to understand emptiness.

The basis of mind is emptiness. To see things as they are, the mind must view them from the reference point of emptiness.

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The Structure of Mind

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

Looking at the long history of the universe we observe that there is a continual evolution in terms of increasing order. Underlying this evolution is a power. This same power underlies the mind.

The purpose of the mind, therefore, is to evolve the organism and the environment toward greater order. The primary function of the mind is to coordinate the activities of the body and the environment so they evolve. When there are anomalies, the mind resolves them so there is greater order in terms of consistency, harmony and continuity.

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The Mental Matrix

Mind is not the same thing as brain. The brain is part of the body’s hardware; mind is the body’s software. To understand the structure of the mind we need to first understand how it operates.

The mind operates by drawing on experience. This experience is derived from the perceptions received continually by the mind. In a normal functioning mind, the perceptions are received through the senses of touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell. These perceptions break down into fine data elements, which are then arranged in a matrix type structure.

A matrix is made up of nodes where each node is in some relationship with every other node. In the mental matrix the nodes are made up of data elements that are related to each other by the properties perceived. For example, in an animal mind, these data elements may be related by the properties of how safe and edible the things perceived are.

The human mind is more complex than the animal mind. The perceptions from the environment get refined rapidly as patterns of data elements. For example, the property “red” may be expressed as part of the color scale. This makes the matrix of the human mind extremely refined and complex. Errors creep in only when perceptions do not get refined and assimilated into this mental matrix.

The mind is a matrix made up of elements derived from the perception of the environment.

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Earlier Models

The present work proposes this “matrix” model for the mind. Looking at earlier models, we find Freud’s model of conscious and unconscious mind proposed in 1890s, and Hubbard’s model of analytical and reactive mind proposed later in 1950s.

In the matrix model, the greater is the refinement of the data elements and the relationships among them, the higher is the consciousness. Thus human consciousness is much higher than the consciousness in animals. When perceptions from the environment are not refined into patterns of data elements they are just lodged into the mental matrix as “unassimilated nodes”. The person is not conscious of such unassimilated experiences. This describes the concept of “unconscious mind” proposed by Freud.

The “unconscious mind” of Freud is made up of “unassimilated nodes” in the mental matrix.

In the matrix model, thinking occurs as the data elements associate with each other such that continuity, harmony and consistency are maintained at all times throughout the mental matrix. This forms the faculty of the mind to imagine and make projections in an analytical manner. In a refined and well-assimilated matrix the thinking is rational, or analytical. However, as more “unassimilated nodes” are activated in the mental matrix the thinking becomes irrational and reactive. This describes the concept of “reactive mind” proposed by Hubbard.

The “reactive mind” of Hubbard is also made up of “unassimilated nodes” in the mental matrix.

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Memory

The models of Freud and Hubbard imply that perceptions are stored “as-is” in the mind. However, the “matrix” model describes the storage of perceptions as patterns of data elements well-assimilated within the mental matrix. Since same data elements may be utilized many times in different patterns, the “matrix” model provides a more efficient way of storing perceptions in the mind. A “memory” is a pattern of data elements that is activated by attention. Memory is clear and precise when its pattern is made up of refined and well-assimilated elements. It would be difficult to recall a memory if it contains “unassimilated nodes”.

A “memory” is a pattern of data elements that is activated by attention.

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Summary

The matrix arrangement ensures that the data elements can be combined in infinity of unique ways to represent all possible experience. These combinations could be the formation of past memories upon recall. Or, they can be the formation of new visualizations needed to sort out anomalies created by “unassimilated nodes”.

The matrix arrangement provides a very efficient organization and storage of experience to support the activities of the mind.

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Exercise: Effortlessness

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

When you let it be, it becomes effortless. Effort comes into play only when there is resistance to letting it be. It is completely safe when you let the body and mind unwind gradually on their own. Trouble occurs only when you become anxious and start to dig for answers.

Meditation Exercise:

Effortlessness

Purpose:

To let meditation be effortless

Pre-requisites:

Complete Exercise: Contemplation.

Instructions:

In this exercise you practice effortlessness. You may do this exercise while sipping coffee in a café or strolling along a river. You may even find a place where you can sit comfortably for a while without being disturbed. Then patiently observe the world go by.

Prepare yourself as in earlier exercises. Observe the environment and the people in a casual, easygoing manner. Observe what is there in the environment using all your senses. Let various forms, sounds, smells, taste, touch, thoughts, emotions, impulses etc. come to you. Do not strain to perceive them.

Become aware of the body and stay aware of it without interfering with its natural movements, such as, that of breathing, or responding to natural impulses. Let physical reactions, such as, twitches in muscles, minor pains and aches, sleepiness, etc., come and go. Experience the body as a whole without resisting it.

Become aware of the mind and stay aware of it without interfering with its natural thought processes. Let your attention be non-judgmental. Let mental reactions, such as, memories, feelings, emotions, thoughts, etc., come and go. Experience the mind as a whole without resisting it.

Simply observe the physical and mental objects necessary to follow the trail of interest. Let the mind contemplate on anomalies (inconsistencies, disharmonies and discontinuities) as they present themselves.

Let your eyes be open, half-closed, or closed naturally and not be controlled. Keep this exercise as effortless as possible.

Continue this exercise for at least 20 minutes. You may repeat this exercise as many times as you wish.

End of Exercise:

When you can meditate effortlessly, then this exercise is passed.

NOTE 1: At any point you may return to a previous exercise if you feel that you need to complete it.

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Exercise: Contemplation

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

When mindfulness is practiced, thinking becomes contemplation. Problems are solved by looking at them non-judgmentally and recognizing the relationships. One looks around to get the missing information instead of trying to “figure it out”.

Meditation Exercise:

Contemplation

Purpose:

To contemplate thoughtfully.

Pre-requisites:

Complete Exercise: Name and Form.

Instructions:

In this exercise you contemplate thoughtfully. You may do this exercise while sipping coffee in a café or strolling along a river. You may even find a place where you can sit comfortably for a while without being disturbed. Then patiently observe the world go by.

Prepare yourself as in earlier exercises. Observe the environment and the people in a casual, easygoing manner. Observe name, form, characteristics and all possible associations.

When you perceive some anomaly (inconsistency, disharmony or discontinuity) become very alert. Do so even when explanations are provided. Look more closely around the subject area that seems out of place and focus on what does not make sense.

Be non-judgmental and follow the trail of what continues to be puzzling. The trail may take you to some childhood question that never got answered, or to some confusion in school that never got resolved. Apply all aspects of mindfulness to these unresolved questions, confusions and emotions. Consult references from books and Internet as necessary.

The trail may also take you to some traumatic incident that you feel emotional about. Let the attitudes, emotions, sensations and pain purge themselves out. Follow through with what does not make sense to the end of the trail. Exhaust all such trails until the missing piece is found.

Continue this exercise for at least 20 minutes. You may repeat this exercise as many times as you wish.

End of Exercise:

When you can contemplate thoughtfully by following all trails until they are exhausted, then this exercise is passed.

NOTE 1: At any point you may return to a previous exercise if you feel that you need to complete it.

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