Nama-Rupa -the Buddhist Body and Mind concept is not non-duality, It is the embodied Mind
Posted on October 22nd, 2018

Modern Buddhism

The history of the embodied approach in cognitive science (sometimes misleadingly called Embodied Cognitive Science) is woven with Buddhist links and references. There were indications that perception, language, thought and consciousness are fundamentally embedded in living bodies and in their relations with their environments.

Although the conditions for moving into a second phase in cognitive science matured through debates within the scientific community, early articulations of both criticism and the alternatives were raised in connection with Buddhism. The idea that the mind is a living and embodied entity, not a disembodied reasoning mechanism, has been expressed in the Buddhist inspired Shifting Worlds Changing Minds (Hayward, 1987), and more so in The Embodied Mind (Varela, et al., 1991). Hayward, Varela, Thomson and Rosch all drew on existing discussions in cognitive science and endeavoured to link them to aspects of Buddhist philosophy and practice. The Embodied Mind became a classic in the philosophy of cognitive science and is widely cited.

The question that concerns us here is the actual Buddhist contribution to the development of the embodied approach that is suggested in The Embodied Mind. The authors call for a revolution in cognitive science and bring forward a radical critique of the. Their criticism is directed at the assumed division between an independently existing «external» world of objects and events, and their «internal» representation in the symbolic computational environment of the brain or mind. They suggest that both scientific findings and Buddhist thought challenge this idea and suggest an alternative.

The alternative consists of an «enactive» account in which mind is embodied, not detached, and the «world» is being created and is not pregiven. This insight, they suggest, cannot be fully achieved without exercising «mindfulness», a practice directly absorbed from Buddhism, which will cause the practitioner «to experience what one’s mind is doing as it does it» (Varela, et al., 1991: 23). In other words, mindfulness meditation is the missing phenomenological link in cognitive science; it is a method for exploring and knowing what human experience is. This conception, that Buddhist mindfulness meditation is a valid scientific tool for investigating experience, appears also in Shifting Worlds Changing Minds (Hayward, 1987: 192-194), and is echoed in later discussions (Rosch, 1997), and more recently in the writing of Alan Wallace.(9)

Is it true that the «revolution» suggested in The Embodied Mind entailed a Buddhist input? Looking backwards on this publication, it is clear that the embodied approach in cognitive science was part of a bigger movement that was promoted by thinkers who had no affinity with Buddhist thought.

What Buddhism Taught Cognitive Science about Self, Mind and Brain
Posted on May 30th, 2016

Asaf Federman, Institute of Advance Study & Department of Psychology, Warwick University

What Buddhism Taught Cognitive Science about Self, Mind and Brain

4 Responses to “Nama-Rupa -the Buddhist Body and Mind concept is not non-duality, It is the embodied Mind”

  1. Charles Says:

    Call it a Cognitive science why does one want to call it Buddhism. Mindfulness is one step in the Buddhist path to emancipation from what is called Samsara. If the wise men of the West want Buddhist terms to pursue their new religion do not say that those terms come from Buddhism. It is best they leave Buddhism alone. Mother Theresa too used kindness and her catholic prayers to give relief to suffering people dying alone in India. She never hid from her religion to ive the those people relief from pain. She held their hands and prayed God to help the soul of those dying men.

  2. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Charles! A somewhat selfish statement from Buddhist perspective

    You don’t have to change name of Buddhist philosophy to Cognitive science whenever they overlap each other. We should let people to get benefit out of Buddhist practice even for mundane results.

    Buddha also has used these techniques for pain management

    Once Buddha asks Ven Sariputta to take over the teaching, so that he can relieve his back through jhana meditation.

    Then in Anathapindikovada Sutta: Instructions to Anathapindika Ven Sariputta and Ven Ananda went to help Aanathapindika in the pain management.

    According to Sutta it says; …

    Then Ven. Sariputta, having put on his robes and, taking his bowl & outer robe, went to the home of Anathapindika the householder with Ven. Ananda as his attendant. On arrival, he sat down on a prepared seat and said to Anathapindika the householder: “I trust you are getting better, householder? I trust you are comfortable? I trust that your pains are lessening and not increasing? I trust that there are signs of their lessening, and not of their increasing?”

    [Anathapindika:] “I am not getting better, venerable sir. I am not comfortable. My severe pains are increasing, not lessening. There are signs of their increasing, and not of their lessening. Extreme forces slice through my head, just as if a strong man were slicing my head open with a sharp sword… Extreme pains have arisen in my head, just as if a strong man were tightening a turban on my head with a tough leather strap… Extreme forces carve up my stomach cavity, just as if an expert butcher or his apprentice were to carve up the stomach cavity of an ox with a sharp butcher’s knife… There is an extreme burning in my body, just as if two strong men, seizing a weaker man with their arms, were to roast and broil him over a pit of hot embers. I am not getting better, venerable sir. I am not comfortable. My severe pains are increasing, not lessening. There are signs of their increasing, and not of their lessening.”

    [Ven. Sariputta:] “Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: ‘I won’t cling to the eye; my consciousness will not be dependent on the eye.’ That’s how you should train yourself. ‘I won’t cling to the ear… nose… tongue… body; my consciousness will not be dependent on the body.’ … ‘I won’t cling to the intellect; my consciousness will not be dependent on the intellect.’ That’s how you should train yourself.
    “Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: ‘I won’t cling to forms… sounds… smells… tastes… tactile sensations; my consciousness will not be dependent on tactile sensations.’ … ‘I won’t cling to ideas; my consciousness will not be dependent on ideas.’ That’s how you should train yourself.

    “Then, householder, you should train yourself in this way: ‘I won’t cling to eye-consciousness… ear-consciousness… nose-consciousness… tongue-consciousness… body-consciousness; my consciousness will not be dependent on body-consciousness.’ … ‘I won’t cling to intellect-consciousness; my consciousness will not be dependent on intellect-consciousness.’ That’s how you should train yourself.

    Read full sutta https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.143.than.html

  3. Charles Says:

    NMY Yes the most Compassionate Buddha and his Disciples used different ways to treat pain : Girimananda Sutta is another way.

    Cognitive Sciences may be appropriate to justify Biddhist teachings taken off its context, because it is handled by learned Western Monks highly qualified in psychology etc to adopt it to a non religous means of mental treatment to find relief from pain.

    I have nothing against it I just made a remark , perhaps inppropriiate . Sorry for that NMY.

    Mother Theresa too found a way with the poor people in India and she ofcourse invoked the love of God. Perhaps that too worked to help the people die peacefully perhaps with less pain.

  4. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Charles

    Yes, in Girimanada Sutta the Blessed One has asked Ven. Ananda to introduce a pain management meditation by requesting Ven. Girimananda who was diseased, in pain, severely ill to contemplate on the ten perceptions as part of the mindfulness of in-&-out breathing.

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