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Thread: All sentient beings: panpsychism.

  1. #1

    All sentient beings: panpsychism.

    Panpsychism is crazy, but it's also most probably true.
    Philip Goff
    Aeon


    Common sense tells us that only living things have an inner life. Rabbits and tigers and mice have feelings, sensations and experiences; tables and rocks and molecules do not. Panpsychists deny this datum of common sense. According to panpsychism, the smallest bits of matter – things such as electrons and quarks – have very basic kinds of experience; an electron has an inner life.
    This is a new-to-me label for a concept that is held in multiple philosophical systems. Although the author makes a number of underdeveloped, sophomoric statements (outside their field), I enjoyed the discussion of panpsychism, the notion that all that is matter has an inner life. I found that the article stimulated ideas for pursuit in dharma and discourse, such as what might the inner life of a pebble be?, how do we serve the inner life of all beings?, what is sentience? and what is my inner life? As we prepare for Ango, what could be more basic for us than to ponder the meaning of all sentient beings?

    Gassho,
    然芸 Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.

    You deserve to be happy.
    You deserve to be loved.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Nengei View Post
    Panpsychism is crazy, but it's also most probably true.
    Philip Goff
    Aeon




    This is a new-to-me label for a concept that is held in multiple philosophical systems. Although the author makes a number of underdeveloped, sophomoric statements (outside their field), I enjoyed the discussion of panpsychism, the notion that all that is matter has an inner life. I found that the article stimulated ideas for pursuit in dharma and discourse, such as what might the inner life of a pebble be?, how do we serve the inner life of all beings?, what is sentience? and what is my inner life? As we prepare for Ango, what could be more basic for us than to ponder the meaning of all sentient beings?
    The only thing I might offer on this is ... it is still too early to say for sure. The origin and nature of consciousness and sentience is still too little understood. There does seem to be some sliding scale of consciousness and sentience from an ant hill, to my cat, to you and me, and that consciousness and sentience is somehow an emergent property at some level of brain complexity. But that does not strike me as evidence for the proposition that the sliding scale continues onward so that, in some sense, trees and rocks and individual atoms are conscious and sentient too. Traditionally, they were not considered to be so in Buddhism, and even when Master Dogen and the Tendai masters said things like "trees and tiles are sentient beings" they did not mean that quite literally. They meant it to speak to the deep interconnection and interdependency of all things in the universe including our lives, but they were good Buddhists who also felt that "sentient beings" means people and maybe some higher animals.

    Emergent properties are tricky, e.g., hydrogen and oxygen make liquid water, which combined with cold temperature suddenly turns to ice, but that does not mean that liquid water is already somehow "ice" inside at warm temperatures. (Master Hakuin once chanted, "Like water and ice, without water no ice," but never said that water is ice even if ice is water ).

    Personally, if you press me for a guess, I would think that there is truth to the proposition that consciousness, sentience and intelligence is somehow an inherent, emergent property of the universe somehow built into the system much as gravity and light, and even that the basic early structure seems to have paved the way for, and anticipated, the later emergence of sentience and intelligence. It seems quite probable to me that the foundation anticipated the later course of events. Strikes me that too many preliminary factors had to be just right even at the time of the "Big Bang," and to later work out right over billions of years in subsequent events, in order for us to be here now reflecting in our self-awareness about how right it all was to allow us to do so (unless, of course, one simple buys a "multi-verse" argument that we just lucked out in the greatest Crap Shoot of all. I think our being here thinking about is just a little too convenient outcome.) In fact, we exist as "sentient" precisely because there is gravity and the other forces to keep the atoms together, and light for us to see with the eye and thus have sentience of seeing. But it is just not clear that the "Whole Cosmos" (let alone the trees and stones) are "conscious" in a way that we can relate to. The jury is still out.

    If trees and water are somehow a little sentient, nonetheless "chop wood and fetch water," just sit Zazen and get on with life. And if trees and water are --not-- sentient, still "chop wood and fetch water," just sit Zazen and get on with life.

    I have become a bit skeptical of some of the claims in articles on the Aeon page, by the way.

    However, you may be interested in this article on some experiments I posted in our "Science" thread this week.

    Lab-Made Mini Brains Produce Brain Waves Just Like Those of Preterm Babies

    ... While the cells were dividing and differentiating, they eventually began to "self-organize into something that resembles the human cortex," Muotri said. The cortex is the outer layer of the brain, which plays an important role in consciousness. ...

    ... After a couple more months of development, the brains fired signals at different frequencies and more regularly, indicating more-complex brain activity, Muotri said.... The scientists then fed the brain wave patterns from the mini brains into the algorithm and found that after 25 weeks of mini brain development, it could no longer distinguish the data coming from the human brain from that deriving from the lab-grown brain. ...

    ... While a human embryo is connected to the mother and thus receives signals from the outside, these lab-grown brains aren't connected to anything. "These cells have no input or no output they cannot recognize anything happening in the world," Hartung said. So they are "definitely not" conscious.

    That's what most scientists would agree on, but "it's hard to say," Muotri said. "We neuroscientists don't even agree [on] what are the measurements that one can do to actually probe to see if they're conscious or not."

    The human brain sends its signals to help us interact with our environment. For example, we look at a bug, the eyes send signals to brain cells, which signal to each other and let us know that we are seeing a bug. ...

    https://www.livescience.com/mini-lab...uce-waves.html
    Gassho, J

    STLah

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-04-2019 at 03:42 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Member Anna's Avatar
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    The original inhabitants of so-called Australia believe that the land and everything that makes up the land are living things. Their dreaming stories often explain features of the land in terms of those features either having or having had life stories themselves.
    Gassho
    Anna

    Sat today/lent a hand
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  4. #4
    The article referred to evidence but didn't present any. I'd need to understand the rationale for the claim - beyond just "Bertrand Russell believed this so there must be something to it" - before I could say anything about. On the surface I don't believe it.

    To me consciousness is a kind of logical outcome of the way physics works. The fact that the universe seems just right for the development of sentience can be chalked up to the anthropic principle, I think.

    If trees and water are somehow a little sentient, nonetheless "chop wood and fetch water," just sit Zazen and get on with life. And if trees and water are --not-- sentient, still "chop wood and fetch water," just sit Zazen and get on with life.
    Parenthetically this is also basically how I approach the free will debate. It feels like I have free will so whether I do or not is irrelevant because my actual experience is thus and at the level at which I have experiences and use language there is free will - regardless of what might or might not be "ultimately" true.

    Gassho,
    Kevin
    Sat
    Last edited by Kevin M; 09-04-2019 at 12:19 PM.

  5. #5
    For me, the litmus test for what constitutes a sentient being involves a consciousness of choice. What I think is apparent if we examine other forms of life, at least those we are aware of is that as we move up or down the ladder of degrees of consciousness, the degree of choice in how we use that sentience varies. For example, animals seem to be much more subject to the behavioral aspects of instinct, but certainly do seem to have emotions, and limited thought patterns which can vary from say dolphins and orcas , to chimpanzees, to dogs and cats to mice etc. If, and that's a big if plants and rocks, and material substances also possess a kind of consciousness, they seem fairly locked in place compared to "higher" form of life. When it comes to molecules, there are some fairly well know experiments which suggest that molecules adapt to how OUR consciousness chooses to view them.
    At any rate, it is this very nature of our consciousness that might be so to speak the curse of it as well. Instead of seeing water or ice, we see that darn water that is flooding our basement, or reminds me of how angry my Mom was when washing my hair, or is in a trendy designer bottle that makes me feel so much more superior than just drinking it out of the faucet; rather than just seeing the thusness of water liquid or solid. We can carry water.. or we can CARRY water. It doesn't seem to me we need to worry too much about rocks and trees having a similar dilemma.
    I suppose one could make the argument that despite their obvious ability to be conditioned, not necessarily of their own volition, it can fall on us to try to heal the suffering inflicted on so many animals who do have a capacity for suffering.

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat Today/Lah
    Grateful for your practice

  6. #6
    Hi guys,

    What I am about to say is purely personal opinion and based in no evidence at all. I have no science to back this up. It's just a guess and a "feeling" which can be discarded at any moment.

    In many Native peoples in the Americas, like the (Aztecs, Toltecs, Navajo, Quechua or Mayans), everything around us has a consciousness. In order to exist, any entity must have feedback of the universe around it. Take a rock, for instance. A rock doesn't think or speaks, but it has a place in the universe thanks to physics. It creates a relationship with the world and creatures around it and it exists. Its existence goes beyond the word "rock" because it just is what is. A rock needs an observer and a universe in order to exist, as much as we need an observer to interact with. We could say that yes, a rock has an inner life. It does what a rock does. In this way, everything has a consciousness and it's part of a bigger thing.

    Master Dogen said that blue mountains move. I think he was right. They do and they do what mountains do. It takes stillness and silence to realize this.

    So, I can only speak for me and again, I have no way to back this up, but I think everything around us has a consciousness and knows they are part of a cosmic Wholeness.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Sat/LAH
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    Hi guys,

    What I am about to say is purely personal opinion and based in no evidence at all. I have no science to back this up. It's just a guess and a "feeling" which can be discarded at any moment.

    In many Native peoples in the Americas, like the (Aztecs, Toltecs, Navajo, Quechua or Mayans), everything around us has a consciousness. In order to exist, any entity must have feedback of the universe around it. Take a rock, for instance. A rock doesn't think or speaks, but it has a place in the universe thanks to physics. It creates a relationship with the world and creatures around it and it exists. Its existence goes beyond the word "rock" because it just is what is. A rock needs an observer and a universe in order to exist, as much as we need an observer to interact with. We could say that yes, a rock has an inner life. It does what a rock does. In this way, everything has a consciousness and it's part of a bigger thing.

    Master Dogen said that blue mountains move. I think he was right. They do and they do what mountains do. It takes stillness and silence to realize this.

    So, I can only speak for me and again, I have no way to back this up, but I think everything around us has a consciousness and knows they are part of a cosmic Wholeness.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Sat/LAH



    kim
    st lh

  8. #8
    This is a very interesting philosophical question and I have no answer to give. One the one hand, to say that the universe is conscious and even that it has consciously created the conditions for life seems to anthropomorphize things. I find it easy to say this from a human perspective, ex post facto. But to say that life wasn’t created, but rather fought its way into existence in a universe that don’t care for it also seems equally plausible.
    At least I think Kevin is right in that it is of really scientific importance, but also doesn’t directly affect our lives and practice.
    On the free will debate, I have yet to see a good philosophical argument in defense of free will. If everything have a cause, than there is no room for uncaused free will. We can compatibilize it with causality, but all attempts so far have reversed to some cause for our wills (emotions, desires, instincts, impulses, thoughts, etc.). I have yet to see an act of absolute free will, that is, a will with no cause at all for it to exist. I find the very idea counterintuitive, as we always want to know what led somebody to act in a way or another. And in myself, if I think long enough, I always find an emotion, desire, impulse or thought in the origin of my willful acts.
    Well, just my opinion about this. No pretense to know anything really, as I must confess that it is not my area of philosophical studies and research (which are legal and political philosophical issues).
    Gassho,
    Mateus
    Sat today/LAH

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by mateus.baldin View Post
    On the free will debate, I have yet to see a good philosophical argument in defense of free will. If everything have a cause, than there is no room for uncaused free will. We can compatibilize it with causality, but all attempts so far have reversed to some cause for our wills (emotions, desires, instincts, impulses, thoughts, etc.). I have yet to see an act of absolute free will, that is, a will with no cause at all for it to exist. I find the very idea counterintuitive, as we always want to know what led somebody to act in a way or another. And in myself, if I think long enough, I always find an emotion, desire, impulse or thought in the origin of my willful acts.
    Well, just my opinion about this. No pretense to know anything really, as I must confess that it is not my area of philosophical studies and research (which are legal and political philosophical issues).
    Gassho,
    Mateus
    Sat today/LAH
    Nishijima Roshi had a very simple, but (I choose to feel ) good view on "free will." I think most brain research is pretty much in accord these days. Because we are on the razor's edge, the cutting edge, of past and future, we actually have "free will" because our brains are the "choice machines" in which a vast (and often random, chaotic, unpredictable) variety of past and present factors come together to produce a new and virtually unpredictable choice. It is not really "determined" by past factors and current circumstances because such an avalanche of varied variables is coming together to produce the choice in this moment, that something totally new is being created with us as the vehicle of that creation. Also, the values and preferences that are often the deciding factors are precisely who we are as individual people. The future is the open space into which the results pour forth from the avalanche in way that, although "caused" in one sense, are also practically sui generis because of the chance, complexity, chaos and our personal individuality that produced them.

    For example, let us say I choose to have a glass of milk rather than eat a ham sandwich. A small sample of the vast and tumultuous array of factors coming together might be the hot weather producing thirst, my lactose intolerance that will cause hickups from the milk, a memory of a glass of milk from my mother as a child, a cute cartoon I saw about pigs yesterday, a comment about vegetarianism on treeleaf, some ancient guilt at eating Kosher from my cultural background, the Precept on taking life, a neutron that passes through my brain in that moment and triggers an electrical firing in one neuron, my love of the taste of ham, the fact that the ham is near the front of the refrigerator but the milk is near the back, chemical and vitamin deficiencies for calcium and protein in my body, a random bird noise outside, the phone ringing, just where my eye happens to land ... and 10,000,000 more factors ...

    ... which factors all get shook up in a bag somewhere in my brain and nervous system (most of it below our conscious awareness, the choice being already made deep within even before I am aware of the experience of choosing), causing me to choose the milk and not the sandwich.

    Although one might say that all the factors "caused" my choice, at the same time, the combination of factors coming together is so unique, jumbled, chaotic in combinations, unpredictable in timing and relative effect on each other, that the outcome could not and did not exist until we (who are the bag) produce a choice. So many factors came together that really the outcome is practically (if not totally) unpredictable and free.

    Moreover, my personal values, my personal likes and dislikes, aversions and attractions, preferences and moral sentiments that are the basis of choosing are "me," are very much integral to who I am, no matter how they came to be me from past causes. The values and preferences are necessary to making a person into a "person," and no person is a person without their values and preferences (they would be a kind of zombie or emotional vegetable without). I act from them and live them, and they are the deciding factor on most choices. That choosing is our life. The choice and outcome did not exist before "the bag that is me was shook" within our psyche while coming to hold those personal values and preferences that are precisely "me," and I implement what popped out. Thus we human beings are, and are responsible for, our aversions and attractions that lead to our choosing and must bear responsibility therefor (something like how, if my car breaks fail and cause an accident, I am responsible legally for the accident that results because it is "my car" even though not "me." I am responsible for my driving, and I am responsible for my choosing, my decisions to make left or right turns in life and all the good or harm which result). That shaking of the bag and acting upon our values and preferences is our "job" as living creatures, and we are those "choosing machines" with (practically) free will because of the originality of the choice that must result from its randomness and chaos of circumstances and factors in contact with the "who we are" values and preferences. Thus, we also have a good deal of moral control when we follow or deviate from our values and preferences (e.g., it is my own heart and feelings that wrestle with the question and lead me to eat meat rather than to be a vegetarian).

    I believe the above is in keeping with Buddhist beliefs on our being influenced by "Karma" (past actions) and other historical and environmental factors, yet also "free agents" who are not prisoners of Karma.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-05-2019 at 02:16 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Thank you for this excellent discussion!

    My only addition from personal experience would be that after so much time immersed in animal behavior, it has become silly to me how much weight we give to the concept of "anthropomorphizing." Yes of course other sentient beings have their own agenda which differs from ours, but we spend so much time trying to analyze and deny our similarities that we create a lot of separation where there is none. (Humans have long wanted to separate themselves from the universe as somehow extra-special and superior to everything else). When we see a behavior we relate to in another species, there's a good chance that we relate to it because it is similar to something we do. And we can extend this to plant life and even geology, because we are shaped by coming from the same material origins, subjected to the same physical forces, the same mathematical randomness (Jundo is right on, that randomness is actually a very important element) and eventually melting back into the pot to be recycled into something else.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  11. #11
    Member Anna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    Thank you for this excellent discussion!

    My only addition from personal experience would be that after so much time immersed in animal behavior, it has become silly to me how much weight we give to the concept of "anthropomorphizing." Yes of course other sentient beings have their own agenda which differs from ours, but we spend so much time trying to analyze and deny our similarities that we create a lot of separation where there is none. (Humans have long wanted to separate themselves from the universe as somehow extra-special and superior to everything else). When we see a behavior we relate to in another species, there's a good chance that we relate to it because it is similar to something we do. And we can extend this to plant life and even geology, because we are shaped by coming from the same material origins, subjected to the same physical forces, the same mathematical randomness (Jundo is right on, that randomness is actually a very important element) and eventually melting back into the pot to be recycled into something else.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    ��

    Gassho
    Anna
    Sat today
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.

  12. #12
    My intent here is not to argue the point or reality of the potential "sentience" of inanimate objects. This discussion, in my opinion, digresses into topics of metaphysics, physics and other belief structures all rolled into one. I am suggesting however that perhaps the question we should really be asking ourselves here is what do we as Buddhists see as sentient beings. I am down with respecting all life and even honoring the innate nature of the universe in all things. I think we do that in many ways in our practice and do have an understanding of respect and interconnection of all things. Just as we have an understanding of the emptiness of all "things". But, if you chose to be the Bodhisattva of igneous rock I think you might find that task extremely hard ( pun intended). Perhaps the closet thing we can do to try to save the sentience of cups, mountains,and trees is not place our own delusion on those "things" and attempt to free ourselves from the tainted consciousness we often possess ON those things, which near as we can tell do NOT project delusion back of their own volition.

    Chan Master Sheng Yen has this to say about the meaning of sentient beings from a Buddhist perspective:



    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat Today/lah
    Grateful for your practice

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Ishin View Post
    ... what do we as Buddhists see as sentient beings[?]
    Prior to watching the video, and speaking only for myself, sentience implies "feeling" i.e. can the being experience suffering?

    For this I can only observe behavior and try to infer it. Animals of course. Insects? IMO no though some of them can react in a way that suggests a rudimentary awareness of danger but hard to guess at their subjective experience of that. Plants no but they sustain sentient beings and form part of the interconnectedness of life (as do bugs etc.)

    Gassho,
    Kevin
    Sat
    Last edited by Kevin M; 09-05-2019 at 01:36 PM.

  14. #14
    Hi Jundo,
    Reading your post I must agree with it with no oppositions. I liked Nishijima Roshi’s View on the issue. Thank you for sharing, Jundo.
    I never was a determinist like the old mecanicista physics and I believe in randomness and and choice in the universe and in our ability to choose and control our action.
    And thinking about the issue, I realize that my problem with free will perhaps derive from my rejection of the image of humans as godlike outsiders in the universe. Besides, I don’t like the political use of the idea of free will against minorities (“if they have free will, it is their free choice and so they must be punished for being who they are and not acting like everybody else”).

    Gassho,
    Mateus
    Sat today/LAH
    Last edited by mateus.baldin; 09-05-2019 at 02:15 PM. Reason: Little edition of bad phrasing.

  15. #15
    I recently read and article defending that some natural landscapes (forests, mountains, rivers and the like) could be considered legal entities with rights and interests that could be defended on court like companies and foundation. I found it a way to legally protect them with the need to actually see them as sentient in the same way that animals and human beings are seen by the law. I know it is not really connected to the discussion here, but just wanted to bring the idea. I’m very interested in legal issues like this and the possible connections between Buddhism and Law.
    Gassho,
    Mateus
    Sat today/LAH

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Ishin View Post
    My intent here is not to argue the point or reality of the potential "sentience" of inanimate objects. This discussion, in my opinion, digresses into topics of metaphysics, physics and other belief structures all rolled into one. I am suggesting however that perhaps the question we should really be asking ourselves here is what do we as Buddhists see as sentient beings. I am down with respecting all life and even honoring the innate nature of the universe in all things. I think we do that in many ways in our practice and do have an understanding of respect and interconnection of all things. Just as we have an understanding of the emptiness of all "things". But, if you chose to be the Bodhisattva of igneous rock I think you might find that task extremely hard ( pun intended). Perhaps the closet thing we can do to try to save the sentience of cups, mountains,and trees is not place our own delusion on those "things" and attempt to free ourselves from the tainted consciousness we often possess ON those things, which near as we can tell do NOT project delusion back of their own volition.

    Chan Master Sheng Yen has this to say about the meaning of sentient beings from a Buddhist perspective:

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat Today/lah
    Hi lshin,

    ln that video, Rev. Sheng Yen is talking about one meaning of "sentient beings," which would include human beings and possibly some animals like apes and dogs. That is a narrow meaning.

    Master Dogen sometimes also referred to even stones, mountains, fences and lanterns as "sentient beings," as he was influenced by Tendai and Huayan beliefs that emphasize the deep interpenetration and interdependence of the world. lt is not clear that he meant that they are actually "sentient" and alive, but he did feel that the human sentient mind is so interconnected and interdependent with the rest of the world, that the whole world is included in our sentience somehow and all speaks somehow with the voice of the Buddha. Maybe we might say that our human sentience sweeps in the whole world, and is interdependent with the whole world, so the world is us and we are the world ... thus the whole world is "sentient."

    So, while Dogen may not have meant that the stones and mountains are literally alive and "sentient," lt is a a bit more than Rev. Sheng Yen is referring to as "sentient."

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-05-2019 at 02:18 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi lshin,

    ln that video, Rev. Sheng Yen is talking about one meaning of "sentient beings," which would include human beings and possibly some animals like apes and dogs. That is a narrow meaning.

    Master Dogen sometimes also referred to even stones, mountains, fences and lanterns as "sentient beings," as he was influenced by Tendai and Huayan beliefs that emphasize the deep interpenetration and interdependence of the world. lt is not clear that he meant that they are actually "sentient" and alive, but he did feel that the human sentient mind is so interconnected and interdependent with the rest of the world, that the whole world is included in our sentience somehow and all speaks somehow with the voice of the Buddha. Maybe we might say that our human sentience sweeps in the whole world, and is interdependent with the whole world, so the world is us and we are the world ... thus the whole world is "sentient."

    So, while Dogen may not have meant that the stones and mountains are literally alive and "sentient," lt is a a bit more than Rev. Sheng Yen is referring to as "sentient."

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Thank you Jundo, that helps. I think in your "free time" you really would like reading some of what Robert Wright has to say about the science of the reality of that interconnection. For clarity, what would you or anyone else have to offer here about what we mean then when we save" all sentient beings"? Is it enough to simply say we are all interconnected with everything, so saving ourselves saves everyone, or does this imply something more? Is is a dual meaning for the entire universe AND those we might touch or teach?

    Gassho Ishin
    Sat Today
    Lah
    Grateful for your practice

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Ishin View Post
    Thank you Jundo, that helps. I think in your "free time" you really would like reading some of what Robert Wright has to say about the science of the reality of that interconnection. For clarity, what would you or anyone else have to offer here about what we mean then when we save" all sentient beings"? Is it enough to simply say we are all interconnected with everything, so saving ourselves saves everyone, or does this imply something more? Is is a dual meaning for the entire universe AND those we might touch or teach?

    Gassho Ishin
    Sat Today
    Lah
    This reminds me of the recent discussion we were recently having in another thread: https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...hisattva-ideal

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    This reminds me of the recent discussion we were recently having in another thread: https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...hisattva-ideal

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    Thank you Jakuden for showing me the interconnection of all threads. No further explanation needed.

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat Today Lah
    Grateful for your practice

  20. #20
    A few years ago I stumbled across an idea called the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness (IITC) which more or less puts forward the idea that wherever you have information assembled in a coherent way, you'll find consciousness. The implication here is that consciousness is a fundamental function of the universe like electromagnetism or gravity. Some physicists are even suspecting that consciousness may be a state of matter alongside solids, liquids, gasses, bose-einstein condensates, and quark-gluon plasma. To put it somewhat simply: If true, then even rocks have consciousness. So, then, consciousness isn't a matter of intelligence or ability to community. Human beings experience consciousness in a unique way, we have the great fortune of being born into minds and bodies that have intelligence, communication, memory, etc. And by some incredible stroke of luck, of all the possibilities, we have been born with an interest in the Dharma; this is called having a "Precious Human Rebirth" among the Tibetan Buddhists. A lot of people aren't interested in the Dharma or aren't capable of receiving it for one reason or another, but we do.

    This all seems to highlight and enhance (at least for me) the words of Dogen who said that when we sit in zazen we are Buddha. Sitting zazen is the activity of the Buddha. There is nothing else to 'do', nothing else to accomplish, nothing further to gain. We are already here. It's a bit funny that despite having a "Precious Human Rebirth" we still have to put in a little more effort to sit zazen but rocks are already there, rivers are already there, trees and fish and stars are already there. Mountains are Buddha, Sky is Buddha, Zafu are Buddha.

    Gassho,
    Sen
    SatToday

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