Author Topic: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?  (Read 6195 times)

Hulk Hoagie

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Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« on: June 20, 2009, 02:08:43 PM »
Perhaps I am misinterpreting what is meant by 'you are not your thoughts.' I presently believe that I am empty, that my thoughts do not define me, and that getting lost in them is a mighty trap. But as they arise at least in part from the transient state of being that is 'me,' it would seem fair to say that they are one part of who I am. Is this not correct?

pamojjam

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2009, 03:20:49 AM »

Hi Hulk,

if you observe your thoughts you may see how they arise - but only to pass away.
Same with your body, your feelings, all fabrications and the your consciousnesses arising with these other aggregates as their basis. They all arise only to pass away. Ceaselessly, once you're observing these processes ceaselessly.

You could even see that your present believe hasn't been before, now undergoes modulations, and from experience could induce that it too will pass, as everything before having arisen.

So one could conclude you're consisting of countless parts having passed, and countless part coming to existence in an inmeasurable future - and only a tiny micro part in the now, which as I type, already has changed in ways beyond your control: arising and passing thoughts, feeling, fabrications, bodily states and conscious moments.

Where in all of this is the 'me', which thoughts could be part of? Could the 'me' be beyond all of these fabrications, than what they've got do with it? But if 'me' is not beyond, how much sence does a constantly arising and passing 'me' make?

I believe there is no right or wrong here. The question is rather, were could the 'I' thought, ceaselessly recreated, lead to?
Could it be, as the Buddha said, that this would ceaselessly lead to old age, sickness and death? And this whole mass of suffering?

And where could the understanding - that all those thoughts, feelings, fabrications, bodily states, and consciousnesses couldn't ever be 'me', 'mine' or 'what I am' - lead to?

In the end we all will experience were either will have led us.

kind regards..

Hulk Hoagie

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2009, 03:30:40 AM »
your response essentially leads me to believe that i got lost in the semantics of things. if  someone had ever simply said to me 'your thoughts are no more a part of 'you' than is your body and as we all know there is no 'you' in the first place,' it would have made perfect sense. when i simply heard people saying 'you are not your thoughts' i erred and believed that thoughts were somehow alien or external.
good.

thank you

ryan ('my' 'real' name)

Matthew

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2009, 06:12:23 AM »
I does not exist except as a concept.

(My words are starting to sound like Ali G)
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

pamojjam

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2009, 01:13:18 PM »

... believe that i got lost in the semantics of things.

dict: .. relating to the study of meaning and changes of meaning

please note the difference to western, when it comes to buddhist thought. Meanings are not only an end to it self, to be used in discussions to the only end that one or the other is determined either 'right' or 'wrong'.

But, in the course of their organic changing through ceaseless introspective observation within the field of all experiences, the primary means to liberation.
Which then would be called 'samma ditthi'. Which I prefer to translate 'wholesome views', since this then intrinsically would be the understanding of the 4 noble truths, and the ending of suffering.

... i erred and believed that thoughts were somehow alien or external.

Quote
excerpt of Maha-satipatthana Sutta

"In this way he remains focused internally on the mind in & of itself, or externally on the mind in & of itself, or both internally & externally on the mind in & of itself. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to the mind, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to the mind, or on the phenomenon of origination & passing away with regard to the mind. Or his mindfulness that 'There is a mind' is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance. And he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the mind in & of itself.

One finds this paragraph at the end of each of the 13 chapters of the 'Maha Satipatthana' Sutta - with 'mind..' changed to 'body', 'feelings' and 'mental qualities' therefore its importance. This for me,  sums it up where satipatthana, or vipassana meditation can lead to: '.. he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world'

Exactly because of the non-distinction of anything internal or external - mine or yours - due to their exactly same ultimate nature of 'anicca', 'dukkha' or 'anatta' - an lack of an inherent self-nature through the co-dependent origination of everything - is fundamentally seen through and understood here.

And this not only may lead to non-clinging, but moreover to a completely new meaning of experienced 'compassion'.

regards..

Flipasso

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2009, 02:49:08 PM »
This is where advaita and buddhism have a huge difference...
In buddhism there's not me to make responsible for the appearance of thoughts, feelings, etc...
In Advaita it is said that behing all these, there is an everlasting, never-changing me.

BTW - Pammojam, what is meant in the Maha Satipatthana Sutta, by internaly and externally (or as I have read elsewhere, in himself, and in others)?
Does it mean that one should observe the effects of aggregates arising and passing away in others aswell??

pamojjam

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2009, 06:54:23 PM »

Don't think this is necessary for the following 2 reasons:

First, it may seem inconsistent, if the Satipatthana talks first in each chapter only about observation of objects which are  subjective: my body, feelings, mental states and qualities - but then concludes that this observation may not only concern my own, but those of others too and on par.

But on a closer look this is only too natural and not really a contradiction, due to perceiving everything from our own perspective: Once an opinion is made, that my thoughts, feelings, fabrications and body are solid - from which a solid me can be construed - the same is also construed to be solid with others too.

But if through ceaseless introspection these are seen as ephemeral processes recreating them self, it would be very difficult to construe that it would be completely different with any other.

Therefore, the objects for observation outlined in the Sutta are only internal, and once this understanding has been developed internally - since nobody can avoid encountering others - this understanding can only comprehend the same externally, spontaneously.


Secondly, it has been my experience by only learning to observe internally at retreats, that the understanding developed therein couldn't be refrained from understanding the same with others externally too.

But I don't believe this would work the other way around. And it doesn't make sense to systematically include others in ones observation, as long as ones thougths appear solid, pleasurable and having anything to do with a self.

This is where advaita and buddhism have a huge difference...
In buddhism there's not me to make responsible for the appearance of thoughts, feelings, etc...
In Advaita it is said that behing all these, there is an everlasting, never-changing me.

I think the distinction is only that the advaida approach aims at ultimate existence - while Buddhist thought considers every existence ending with old age, sickness and death, and not really worthy to persue.

Beside this implications only showing up in possible after lifes, in everyday encounters the 'I' thought of advaita adherents also seems to transcents the common dichotomy between you and me.

However, though I mainly know about advaita only through encounters (and I can't be sure how pure advaita those encountered have been) if it comes to responsibility, I think in buddhist life it is imperative how ones relationship to thoughts, feelings, constructs are responsible for those reacreated after.

While in advaita, what for would a never-changing me could take responsibility for?

kind regards..

wrathfulblacktruemother

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Mind in Mind (Satipatthana Question)
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2009, 06:36:54 AM »
Is observing mind in mind the same as being aware of awareness or sati reflecting on itself without getting mixed up in the 6 senses?
« Last Edit: June 26, 2009, 06:39:19 AM by wrathfulblacktruemother »

Matthew

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2009, 09:04:44 PM »
Wrathfulblacktruemother

Welcome to the forum.

When mind is observing this is the same thing as awareness or sati. Mind will be observing mind - including it's inputs from the other sense organs and it's reactions to those inputs, until your mind is firmly and calmly focussed and tamed.

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Hazmatac

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2009, 11:27:44 AM »
I does not exist except as a concept.

All concepts have a referent. The referent of "I" is the person thinking or speaking.

Hazmatac

  • Member
Re: Mind in Mind (Satipatthana Question)
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2009, 11:29:00 AM »
Is observing mind in mind the same as being aware of awareness or sati reflecting on itself without getting mixed up in the 6 senses?

There are only 5 senses

Matthew

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2009, 11:44:51 PM »
I does not exist except as a concept.

All concepts have a referent. The referent of "I" is the person thinking or speaking.

No .. it is the FALSE sense of an inherent mental construct of self of the person thinking or speaking.

Is observing mind in mind the same as being aware of awareness or sati reflecting on itself without getting mixed up in the 6 senses?

There are only 5 senses

No the mind is the sixth sense. Nose senses smell. Skin senses touch. Eyes sense light. Ears sense sound vibration in the air. Mouth senses substances on the tongue. Mind senses mind objects. One could add a seventh perhaps, proprioception, but this is really an aspect of the mind sense sensing the body in space through the neural system.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: August 12, 2009, 11:47:13 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Hazmatac

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2009, 04:12:11 AM »
No .. it is the FALSE sense of an inherent mental construct of self of the person thinking or speaking.
In what way is the self that the "I" concept referring to false?
Quote
No the mind is the sixth sense...Mind senses mind objects. One could add a seventh perhaps, proprioception, but this is really an aspect of the mind sense sensing the body in space through the neural system.
According to dictionary.com, this is the definition of sense:
sense: "any of the faculties, as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch, by which humans and animals perceive stimuli originating from outside or inside the body."
Note that one of the essential parts of this definition is perceiving stimuli. When you think, you are not perceiving stimuli, you are doing something such as remembering, making rational decisions, or reasoning etc. which is not perceiving anything.

As for proprioception, that means "perception governed by proprioceptors, as awareness of the position of one's body." Feeling the position of your body is not a new sense, but is done through your "feeling" sense.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2009, 07:42:57 AM »
Rob,

The sense of the I concept that is false:

The "I" is the collection of thoughts, memories, feelings, stories, habits of body and mind that one has agglomerated around oneself to make sense of life in the usual way. This sense of self is totally transcended when these habits and the roots of them are cut and the true self is experienced.

According to dictionary.com, this is the definition of sense:
sense: "any of the faculties, as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch, by which humans and animals perceive stimuli originating from outside or inside the body."
Note that one of the essential parts of this definition is perceiving stimuli. When you think, you are not perceiving stimuli, you are doing something such as remembering, making rational decisions, or reasoning etc. which is not perceiving anything.

Incorrect understanding. When a memory pops into your head that is a stimulus you perceive. When you have learned to dis-identify from your thought process and watch it you will see each thought becomes part of the stimulus for the next.

At the moment you are clearly very identified with "I" and your thinking. Practice can take you out of these identifications.

As for proprioception, that means "perception governed by proprioceptors, as awareness of the position of one's body." Feeling the position of your body is not a new sense, but is done through your "feeling" sense.

What is the "feeling" sense? Do you mean touch?

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Hazmatac

  • Member
Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2009, 11:28:24 AM »
The sense of the I concept that is false:

I am not arguing the "sense" of the concept, whatever that means. I am saying the referent is a valid one.

Quote
The "I" is the collection of thoughts, memories, feelings, stories, habits of body and mind that one has agglomerated around oneself to make sense of life in the usual way. This sense of self is totally transcended when these habits and the roots of them are cut and the true self is experienced.
"The I?" What do you mean by "The I?" I don't label my memories as "I," I label them as memories, and same with the other things you mentioned.

Quote
Incorrect understanding. When a memory pops into your head that is a stimulus you perceive. When you have learned to dis-identify from your thought process and watch it you will see each thought becomes part of the stimulus for the next.

Exactly how is my understanding incorrect? And all of your senses rely on nerves and sense receptors. If thinking involved *sensing* things with your nerves, than you could argue that your mind is a sense, but it does not.

Quote
What is the "feeling" sense? Do you mean touch?

Yes


Matthew

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2009, 02:24:17 PM »
Exactly how is my understanding incorrect? And all of your senses rely on nerves and sense receptors. If thinking involved *sensing* things with your nerves, than you could argue that your mind is a sense, but it does not.

Doesn't it? Are you sure? What is your brain made of? Nerves or .. something else?

I'll answer the other points later. Your brain is made of neurons, nerves, which have multiple receptors triggered by chemical reactions from other neurons. The synaptic junctions and receptors are the sense organs of the nervous system.

So .. thinking does involve "*sensing* things with your nerves" and therefore fits your definition of a sense and the brain/spinal cord/nervous system is one big sense organ, the mother of them all. The Buddha taught this, see below.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew

Quote from: Wikipedia
Āyatana (Pāli; Sanskrit) is the Buddhist term for a "sense base" or "sense sphere." In Buddhism, there are six internal sense bases (Pali: ajjhattikāni āyatanāni; also known as, "organs", "gates", "doors", "powers" or "roots"[2]) and six external sense bases (bāhirāni āyatanāni or "sense objects"; also known as vishaya or "domains"). Thus, there are twelve sense bases in total (listed below in sense organ-object pairs):

eye and visible objects
ear and sound
nose and odor
tongue and taste
body and touch
mind and mental objects

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayatana
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Hazmatac

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2009, 04:37:03 PM »
Well, I just checked wikipedia, and it said "here is no firm agreement among neurologists as to the number of senses because of differing definitions of what constitutes a sense." So it can be argued that there are more than 5 senses. But thinking was not among the senses listed in that article.

Quote
Mind senses mind objects.

What do you mean by "mind object?"
« Last Edit: August 13, 2009, 04:42:38 PM by Hazmatac »

Matthew

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2009, 08:08:19 PM »
Quote
Mind senses mind objects.

What do you mean by "mind object?"

Thoughts are a good example. "I" is a mind object or "mental object". It has no reality outside of the mind. That should aid comprehension of the irrelevance of the thought "I want", for example, when discerning what you truly want.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Hazmatac

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2009, 11:19:40 AM »
I did not say you have to think "I want" in order to want something. I think you can want something just by identification.

Matthew

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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2009, 04:03:13 PM »
But who? Where is this "I"? It only exists in YOUR mind.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Hazmatac

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2009, 04:16:44 AM »
What are you talking about? That didn't relate to what I previously wrote, so I will restate it. All it takes for desire or wanting is identification and rational thought. The thinking is what determines what is good for you by the standard of your life, while the identification is simply observation, I guess.

pamojjam

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Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2009, 12:09:23 AM »
Not that I think that our nature could be comprehended other than through meditation..

... while the identification is simply observation, I guess.

Hazmatac, I'm not really sure what your definitions for 'identification' or 'simple observation' are.

For me 'simple observation' is when I observe how the thought 'I want' arises, changes over time, and ultimately passes away.

The next day I might observe a similiar 'I want' thought arising, and passing again.

Something much more than 'simple observation' is 'identification', by taking it for granted that the 'I' in the 'I want' yesterday would be identical to the 'I' today. For which there is no effidence other than identification based on presumptions.

kind regards..

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Why are my thoughts not a part of me?
« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2009, 01:04:33 AM »
I did not say you have to think "I want" in order to want something. I think you can want something just by identification.

This "I" that thinks and desires exists only in your head.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

 

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