Reply To: Introduction

  • Don Salmon

    September 10, 2022 at 2:44 pm

    Hey again, Matt, just thought of a question.

    I assume your work involves an understanding of yin and yang energy. If you feel like it, could you say something about how this relates to Iain’s writings?

    From my familiarity with Indian philosophy, there is actually one interpretation of the Sanskrit terms “manas” (usually translated as “mind”) and “buddhi” (usually translated as intellect) which track quite closely with LH and RH. Sanskrit words can have multi-leveled meanings, so there’s no one interpretation that is “the” correct one.

    But one way of understanding ‘manas” relates to recent neuroscientific research suggesting we cannot actually focus on more than one thing at a time. The manas, in the most ancient texts, has a kind of point-to-point kind of attention and divides the world into pieces. The buddhi (at least, the “awakened” buddhi, which is related to the term “Buddha”) sees the world both as “process” and as “whole.”

    To be very concrete, if you’re doing breath meditation, and you strain to focus on the movement of the abdomen, with a rather conceptual image/though of “the abdomen” moving, you’re employ the manas, in this sense. And then if you try to add the focal point of the tip of the nose, you’re likely to be alternating very rapidly, shifting your attention from the abdomen to the nose.

    On the other hand, if you “zoom out,” and take in BOTH the abdomen and nose in a field-like manner, you’ll be employing the buddhi. And if there is a sense of immersion – so rather than “me” observing an object it is a field observing itself, you’re employing a still-deeper functioning, a more integrated one, of the buddhi.

    I’m guessing there are some equivalents to this in Chinese philosophy and medicine, but I”m not familiar with either. I know in the Chan (the Chinese precursor to Zen, strongly influenced by Taoism), effortless, “wholistic” playful attention was always emphasized, recognizing the “field” of non dual awareness within which we are always immersed, which is not in any way separate from the forms that are perceived or the perceiver of forms.