• Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    I've been mulling this topic over, even though it's quietened down. I think I use "spirit" and "mind" as sort-of synonyms, but for different purposes. They're both perspectives on the same thing, even though they're quite different.

    When I'm thinking about intellectual, fact-based stuff, I think of "mind". When I think along the lines of wisdom, understanding and feeling - including religion - I think of "spirit".

    Two different words to refer to the same thing, but in very different contexts. Does this resonate with anyone else, I wonder? :chin:
  • Daniel Cox
    129
    hi PC,

    Please pardon the cut & paste, Dr. Dennis says it better, and I'm open for discussion.

    Neuroscience and Spirituality

    Let's turn to the nascent neuroscience of spirituality. To interpret this work properly, we need to note a distinction, made by John of the Cross and others, distinction between _meditation_ and _contemplation._ Meditation uses sensory contents to direct the mind toward God. Thus, one might meditate on images, stories, or experiences as a means of focusing on, and intensifying love for, God. In contemplation, sensory images, words and other contents are left behind, and love and awareness are directed toward God without sensory images. Neuroscientists studying spirituality seem unaware of this distinction. Only contemplation is relevant to introvertive mysticism. We would expect brain activity patterns to differ between meditation on an image or story, and contemplation absent such contents.

    In chapter 9 of _The Spiritual Brain,_ Beauregard and O'Leary discuss studies of Carmelite nuns during spiritual exercises. One used fMRI, while another used quantitative EEGs (QEEG). In the first, the nuns "reported the presence of visual and motor imagery during both the mystical and control conditions."176 In the second, one nun reported hearing Pachelbel's Canon.177 Clearly, neither study dealt with contentless mystical experience. One goal of the studies was to test the hypothesis that a "God spot" in the temporal lobes is the locus of religious experience.178 The study falsified that hypothesis.179 Still, it did not "identify the neural correlates of mystical experience"180 if that term is understood as referring to Stace's introvertive mystical experience, or those described by St. John of the Cross.

    176 Op. cit., p. 271
    177 Op. cit., p. 274
    178 In 1997, Ramachandran's team claimed a specific "God module" in the brain explained humans' religious propensity: "There may be dedicated neural machinery in the temporal lobes concerned with religion. This may have evolved to impose order and stability on society." (Connor (1997), "'God Spot' in found in the brain.")
    179 The "God Spot" was further falsified by Kapogiannis, _et al._ (2009), "Cognitive and Neural Foundations of Religious Belief." "The findings support the view that religiosity is integrated in cognitive processes and brain networks used in social cognition, rather than being _sui generis."_ Related concepts, religious or not, are processed in the same centers. Coauthor Grafman explained, "Religion doesn't have a 'God Spot' as such, instead it's embedded in a whole range of other belief systems in the brain that we use everyday."
    180 Beauregard and Paquette (2006), "Neural Correlates of a Mystical Experience in Carmelite Nuns."

    God, Science & Mind: The Irrationality of Naturalism by Dennis F. Polis, Ph.D.
  • Daniel Cox
    129
    Certainly it exists as an idea. Words describe real things, and words describe fictions. Natural languages are not theories of truth. Dfpolis R-5, Dfpolis R-6, & Dfpolis R-10 Dr. Dennis Polis responds to charges thrust forward by an English dude going by the name of Wisdominnature7, a "naturalist." The 3 response YouTube videos are all about theories of truth, Truth & Language Games.

    Hi,
    I also saw it early on in the first HBO True Detective series, "We need to separate what we know is a fact from what we are merely speculating."

    In my participation at the mental clinic I've found that they are very unclear on where mental illness comes from. They claim, "Mental illness is a brain disorder" and then remedy it with cognitive therapies pushing forward their claim of naturalism, the belief in psychoneural identity theory.

    There are lots of instances where we fit stuff into a gap that is never true.
  • Wayfarer
    8.8k
    When I'm thinking about intellectual, fact-based stuff, I think of "mind". When I think along the lines of wisdom, understanding and feeling - including religion - I think of "spirit".

    Two different words to refer to the same thing, but in very different contexts. Does this resonate with anyone else, I wonder? :chin:
    Pattern-chaser

    I think the Western intellectual tradition tries to address this question by 'using reason to point to something superior to reason'. To try and compress it into a form that is readable in this medium: 'mind' in the sense conveyed by 'nous', is 'that which sees reason/meaning'. I say 'reason/meaning' because in this understanding, things exist for a reason, and the reason for their existence is what makes them meaningful. You will note that in modern discourse, it is almost universally assumed that nothing exists for any ultimate reason, and that both 'reason' and 'meaning' are constructed or projected by the individual or society against the 'tabula rasa' of a meaningless universe.

    In any case, in the Western intellectual tradition, reason pointed at something beyond reason, the source of reason, as it were. This became assimilated into Christian theology such that 'the source of reason' was then identified with 'God' simpliciter, to be subsumed under the assumption 'oh, that's religion, we know what that means'. But if you go back and re-consider the original tradition, it's much deeper than anything our scientific-secular culture will generally be able to entertain.

    I sometimes meditate on the similarities between 'gist' and 'geist'. The German word Geist, often used by Hegel, can be translated into either 'mind' or 'spirit', depending on the context. It is part of the delightful compound word 'zeitgeist', the 'spirit of the times' (perhaps Hegel's best-known contribution to popular culture.) The word 'gist' is etymologically unrelated - it comes from a French root meaning 'to lie' as in 'lie of the land' - but nevertheless, I like to think there's a semantic connection between 'gist' and 'geist', which is that when we 'get the gist' of something, then we know what it means. If someone explains something to us, there is a moment when we 'get the gist' - we understand or comprehend the meaning. And that is geist/nous/mind in action. It is at that moment the mind 'sees meaning' or 'sees reason'. 'Aha', we say. 'I get it.'

    The Western tradition proper aspired to 'see reason' in the broadest sense possible - the reason underlying the Universe as a whole. Realising that vision of the ultimate, something akin to Spinoza's 'intellectual love of God', was held up as the guiding ideal of the Western philosophical tradition proper. Alas, seems now a distant dream.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    I've been mulling this topic over, even though it's quietened down. I think I use "spirit" and "mind" as sort-of synonyms, but for different purposes. They're both perspectives on the same thing, even though they're quite different.

    When I'm thinking about intellectual, fact-based stuff, I think of "mind". When I think along the lines of wisdom, understanding and feeling - including religion - I think of "spirit".

    Two different words to refer to the same thing, but in very different contexts. Does this resonate with anyone else, I wonder? :chin:
    Pattern-chaser

    hi PC,

    Please pardon the cut & paste, Dr. Dennis says it better, and I'm open for discussion.
    Daniel Cox

    OK. I can see that you replied to my post rather than to the thread in general. But I'm not quite grokking how what I said lead to what you cut-and-pasted. Can you enlighten me?
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    I sometimes meditate on the similarities between 'gist' and 'geist'.Wayfarer

    Yes, there's often much to be gained simply by contrasting two words. :up: "Geist" is also "ghost", real or imagined for the theatre. E.g. "Geisterkabinett".
  • 0 thru 9
    828
    I've been mulling this topic over, even though it's quietened down. I think I use "spirit" and "mind" as sort-of synonyms, but for different purposes. They're both perspectives on the same thing, even though they're quite different.

    When I'm thinking about intellectual, fact-based stuff, I think of "mind". When I think along the lines of wisdom, understanding and feeling - including religion - I think of "spirit".

    Two different words to refer to the same thing, but in very different contexts. Does this resonate with anyone else, I wonder? :chin:
    Pattern-chaser

    :up: Thanks for your reply and for giving this thread a jump start. I can completely see using the words “spirit” and “mind” interchangeably. Especially when referring to the higher levels of mind. The term “higher consciousness” to me is nearly interchangeable with spirit. As is the term “soul”. They seem intimately related, if not synonymous. Many have created useful terminologies and systems of these terms. I like the “self-help” writer Thomas Moore’s distinction between spirit and soul. It is almost a yin-yang complementary pair. He says spirit is young, energetic and volatile, like the elements of fire and air. He paints the concept of soul as very Yin, ancient, quiet, and deep, like the elements of water and earth. (I picture the union of the two like the meeting of Luke Skywalker and Yoda.)
  • Daniel Cox
    129
    I'm new here and just now read the Forum Guidelines. They're mad. It's the same set of rules/guidelines & codified conduct 100% rejected by the Supreme Court. It's the same set of guidelines why I've been banned from 18 "communities."

    "No evangelizing." <= WTH is that? IT's an attempt at prior restraint. Thanks for not "grokking", kind of got that part. I apologize for talking out of turn.
  • 0 thru 9
    828
    In my participation at the mental clinic I've found that they are very unclear on where mental illness comes from. They claim, "Mental illness is a brain disorder" and then remedy it with cognitive therapies pushing forward their claim of naturalism, the belief in psychoneural identity theory.Daniel Cox

    Some have a theory that mental illnesses, minor and major, (which I’ve been aquatinted with now and then) come from “above and below” the brain, in a way. Below meaning food, toxins, exercise, etc (or lack thereof). Above meaning thinking patterns, ethical choices, mental stress, etc. The mental and physical collide in the physical brain, so to speak.

    I apologize for talking out of turn.Daniel Cox
    Just my two cents, but I noticed nothing wrong with your posts. My take on the evangelizing prohibition thing is to prevent closed-minded cultist types. (As opposed to open-minded cultist types such as myself. :snicker: )
  • Daniel Cox
    129
    Thank you, that helped quite a bit.

    My mentor, my physics & philosophy professor, says, "Spirituality is intentionality" and distinguishes that reality from our brain as a data processor.

    I understand his point because I'm diagnosed bipolar, probably not much worse than the average person. There is the chemical imbalance in the brain as you aptly point out, something is happening in the brain when we don't get enough rest & exercise, eat crappy foods (atheist = eat shit), but that reality can't gain any traction on our noetic subsystem of mind, the sum of which is evaluative and supervisory.

    My family built a castle across the freeway from The Castle miniature golf course. We did land, mobile homes & financing. Both buildings were styled after castles, we wanted our architecture to match that of the golf course castle. So, long time coming, my point is that the women in my life wanted to be princesses. They saw me as the heir apparent and would control their conduct against what they felt each moment. I only recognized it later. For instance, none of my girlfriends ever got their period, they hid it from me 100%. I never really understood what it was until one lady who wanted to get with me presented it to me not realizing the effect it would have. She campaigned more or less about how men were not understanding of the woman's period. She lost the sale.

    The clinic lists these "factors" in addition to their emphatic belief mental illness comes from the brain. They're begging the question on causality and correlation.

    I'm here burning time, it helps me focus, and benefits me, but it's a guilty pleasure, I should be working.
  • 0 thru 9
    828
    It is interesting how the Eastern theory of the chakra system frames the idea of spirit. The bottom three chakras are important and necessary (especially the first center where the kundalini energy may be sleeping), though somewhat animalistic. The fourth chakra, at the heart, is critical. It is thought that if this chakra is closed, it prevents energy from rising further up to the higher “spiritual” centers like the third-eye and the crown chakra. One could say that there is a type of consciousness present at each level. But the higher ones allow one to experience a larger view of the world, or perhaps beyond. So it is believed anyway... I would not begin to know how to empirically prove such a thing. Just seems to be a very well-described way of imagining the energies present within us.
  • 0 thru 9
    828
    Still pondering a general description of spirit... I referred to it above as “higher consciousness”. But the metaphor of deepness is at least as apt as height. Deepness, centrality, the root, the core of something. What is at the core of a human? Where is the control center, if there is one? Is it mostly conscious or unconscious? Is there a volcanic furnace of energy at our core, like at the center of the earth or the solar system? Is this material or energy? Both? The streams of identity, feeling, and consciousness seem to lead down into some murky depths of our being. These are the depths under investigation. For it seems this might be the essence of our unique existence. And yet paradoxically and simultaneously connect to the universe around us.
  • Wayfarer
    8.8k
    I referred to it above as “higher consciousness”.0 thru 9

    Have a look at the really-rather-good Wikipedia entry on that idea.
  • 0 thru 9
    828

    Thanks! I found this section most insightful:
    In 1812 Schopenhauer started to use the term "the better consciousness", a consciousness

    ...[that] lies beyond all experience and thus all reason, both theoretical and practical (instinct).[3]

    According to Yasuo Kamata, Schopenhauer's idea of "the better consciousness" finds its origin in Fichte's idea of a "higher consciousness" (höhere Bewusstsein)[4] or "higher intuition",[5] and also bears resemblance to Schelling's notion of "intellectual intuition".[4] According to Schopenhauer himself, his notion of a "better consciousness" was different from Schelling's notion of "intellectual intuition", since Schelling's notion required intellectual development of the understanding, while his notion of a "better consciousness" was "like a flash of insight, with no connection to the understanding."[4]

    According to Schopenhauer,

    The better consciousness in me lifts me into a world where there is no longer personality and causality or subject or object. My hope and my belief is that this better (supersensible and extra-temporal) consciousness will become my only one, and for that reason I hope that it is not God. But if anyone wants to use the expression God symbolically for the better consciousness itself or for much that we are able to separate or name, so let it be, yet not among philosophers I would have thought.[6]
  • Shamshir
    856
    Spirit is the the power that moves.
    One may compare it to wind.

    Now, consider the following:
    If you should sever your hand, you would no longer be able to move it.
    Yet you will move the rest of your body just fine.
    This is severing the flesh from the spirit; something that happens at death, when the spirit leaves the body and the body becomes a lump of flesh, a steak if you will.

    If a gust of wind blew by your severed hand, it would move it.
    If it blew in a specific manner, it could even make it wave at you or give you a thumbs up.

    So I say: spirit is like a soft, silent wind that moves things.
  • Wayfarer
    8.8k
    According to Schopenhauer,

    The better consciousness in me lifts me into a world where there is no longer personality and causality or subject or object. My hope and my belief is that this better (supersensible and extra-temporal) consciousness will become my only one, and for that reason I hope that it is not God. But if anyone wants to use the expression "God" symbolically for the better consciousness itself or for much that we are able to separate or name, so let it be, yet not among philosophers I would have thought
    0 thru 9

    That's a really interesting passage, isn't it? You can almost see Schopenhauer struggling with the implications of this "better consciousness", which he is obliged to acknowledge. 'Let's hope this is not what is meant by "God", but if so, then so be it.' But he hopes that philosophers are able to recognise it as something else.

    There is a series of aphorisms in one Upaniṣad, along the lines that 'the eye cannot see itself, the hand cannot grasp itself'. I think it's an important pointer to how we go about thinking about 'spirit' because what is often done is what I consider 'objectification'. But there is no such object of perception or cognition - it is never a 'that' (or even 'it'!) I think in non-dualist philosophy, spirit is the 'being' of beings, so not an objective reality.

    Our original Buddha-Nature is, in highest truth, devoid of any atom of objectivity. It is void, omnipresent, silent, pure; it is glorious and mysterious peaceful joy — and that is all. Enter deeply into it by awakening to it yourself. That which is before you is it, in all its fullness, utterly complete. There is naught beside.

    Zen Teachings of Huang-Po

    spirit is like a soft, silent wind that moves things.Shamshir

    Pneuma (πνεῦμα) is an ancient Greek word for "breath", and in a religious context for "spirit" or "soul". It has varied technical meanings for medical writers and philosophers of classical antiquity, particularly in regard to physiology, and is also used in Greek translations of ruach רוח in the Hebrew Bible, and in the Greek New Testament. In classical philosophy, it is distinguishable from psyche (ψυχή), which originally meant "breath of life", but is regularly translated as "spirit" or most often "soul". — Wikipedia
  • Shamshir
    856

    Sure, that works.
    I'd only say, I find spirit and soul to be different things - like the light of a flame and its heat.
  • Wayfarer
    8.8k
    Agree - I think that is also part of the traditional understanding.
  • 0 thru 9
    828
    Spirit is the the power that moves.
    One may compare it to wind.

    Now, consider the following:
    If you should sever your hand, you would no longer be able to move it.
    Yet you will move the rest of your body just fine.
    This is severing the flesh from the spirit; something that happens at death, when the spirit leaves the body and the body becomes a lump of flesh, a steak if you will.

    If a gust of wind blew by your severed hand, it would move it.
    If it blew in a specific manner, it could even make it wave at you or give you a thumbs up.

    So I say: spirit is like a soft, silent wind that moves things.
    Shamshir
    Thank you for that. Well put. The mysterious spark of life. Without it, even the strongest brain and body is an abandoned house.
  • 0 thru 9
    828
    One could rightly suppose that the thing which is referred to as spirit is just a part or function of the mind. I wouldn’t disagree, but would compare it to the way humans are part of the same family as the apes. Rooted in the same soil perhaps, but clearly attaining another level.
  • 0 thru 9
    828
    There is a series of aphorisms in one Upaniṣad, along the lines that 'the eye cannot see itself, the hand cannot grasp itself'. I think it's an important pointer to how we go about thinking about 'spirit' because what is often done is what I consider 'objectification'. But there is no such object of perception or cognition - it is never a 'that' (or even 'it'!) I think in non-dualist philosophy, spirit is the 'being' of beings, so not an objective reality.Wayfarer
    :up: Consciousness is our truest identity, if we have one at all, I would say. The empty space in which everything else unfolds, if it can even be roughly and vaguely described. And it would seem possible that “one” consciousness is somehow in some way connected with “all” consciousness...
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    Consciousness is our truest identity, if we have one at all, I would say. The empty space in which everything else unfolds, if it can even be roughly and vaguely described. And it would seem possible that “one” consciousness is somehow in some way connected with “all” consciousness...0 thru 9

    Without trying to define or explain what consciousness is (we understand it well enough for anything except a direct investigation of consciousness itself), how would you incorporate our unconscious minds into what you say? Our current understanding is that most of our mental abilities are unconscious, so it might be a little rash to assume that "Consciousness is our truest identity", without further qualification?

    This is a sincere question, not a criticism of what you say. :chin:
  • 0 thru 9
    828
    so it might be a little rash to assume that "Consciousness is our truest identity", without further qualification?Pattern-chaser
    It was VERY rash of me to say so! Lol. Rash, premature, primative theory about something perhaps indescribable. Almost certainly unprovable. Like a caveman making a crude paper bag out of leaves, and constructing one of those little floating “hot-air balloons” powered by a flame underneath, in a crude attempt to model a flying machine. It might need a whole book to answer, or more likely years of silent meditation. In other words, I need some time to chew on this excellent question... leaving the floor open to @Wayfarer or someone else to field it.

    Thank you much for your reply. :smile:
  • John Saxberg
    1
    It is generally accepted that the brain is a computer. Every computer known to man has an operating system. The self is part of this operating system. Since it is software, it has no specific place in the brain, but is part of the overall brain. Soul and spirit would also have to be part of this software.
  • Wayfarer
    8.8k
    Alan Watts’ ‘The Supreme Identity’ is about this question.
  • 0 thru 9
    828
    Without trying to define or explain what consciousness is (we understand it well enough for anything except a direct investigation of consciousness itself), how would you incorporate our unconscious minds into what you say? Our current understanding is that most of our mental abilities are unconscious, so it might be a little rash to assume that "Consciousness is our truest identity", without further qualification?Pattern-chaser

    Thanks again for the most relevant question. I think the term used to describe this luminous mind or pure consciousness is “the witness”. This refers not to the objects of the mind, but to the clear awareness itself, said to be as empty as the sky. It could be described as the consciousness of consciousness. The light itself, prior to and beyond anything illuminated by that light. Or perhaps the mirror, not the reflections. I would imagine this is central to our very being. All others aspects of self and mind (such as unconscious, memory, perception, sensation, etc.) remain as present, important, and functional as always. Perhaps the scope of the light could widen, bringing that which was unconscious into consciousness. That would nice. But in either case, the center is the witness rather than any content. This, to me, seems to be the essence of an individual self. If there could said to be a “next step”, I would say it would be Non-dualistic awareness, as taught in Advaita Vendanta. Also relevant (and more clearly worded than my attempts) are the teachings concerning Buddha-nature and Emptiness.

    From The Tao Te Ching (chapter 2), trans. by S. Mitchell:
    Therefore the Master
    acts without doing anything
    and teaches without saying anything.
    Things arise and she lets them come;
    things disappear and she lets them go.
    She has but doesn't possess,
    acts but doesn't expect.
    When her work is done, she forgets it.
    That is why it lasts forever.

    From Wikipedia on Buddha Nature:
    According to Wayman, the idea of the tathagatagarbha is grounded on sayings by the Buddha that there is something called the luminous mind "which is only adventitiously covered over by defilements (agantukaklesa)"[20] The luminous mind is mentioned in a passage from the Anguttara Nikaya: "Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements." The Mahāsāṃghika school coupled this idea of the luminous mind with the idea of the mulavijnana, the substratum consciousness that serves as the basis consciousness.

    From the idea of the luminous mind emerged the idea that the awakened mind is the pure (visuddhi), undefiled mind. In the tathagatagarbha-sutras it is this pure consciousness that is regarded to be the seed from which Buddhahood grows: When this intrinsically pure consciousness came to be regarded as an element capable of growing into Buddhahood, there was the "embryo (garbha) of the Tathagata (=Buddha)" doctrine, whether or not this term is employed.
  • YuZhonglu
    219
    But when I think of spirit, am I thinking of the 'same' spirit as you?
  • 0 thru 9
    828
    But when I think of spirit, am I thinking of the 'same' spirit as you?YuZhonglu

    1. I don’t know. Perhaps.
    2. It might depend on who you are asking.
    3. Who is the one asking this question? (don’t we all enjoy an answerless koan on occasion? :smile: )
  • YuZhonglu
    219
    So, then, if we don't know if we're thinking of the "same" spirit, then how would we ever answer the thread's question?

    In other words, let's say I provide an adequate explanation to the OP's question. "This X is the true spirit." Ok fine. Let's pretend you agree.

    But then, how do we know we're thinking of the "same" X? Maybe each of us is thinking of a different X, but is instead calling it by the same name.
  • Wayfarer
    8.8k
    actually that quotation you’ve provided on buddhanature does come close to heterodoxy from a Buddhist p.o.v. That’s because the Buddha always denied an unchanging kernel, essence or nature, in distinction from the Brahmin principle of there being a higher self. Buddha-nature refers to an innate capacity or potential for enlightenment, but that is not the same as positing an unchanging essence or self. It’s a subtle but important distinction. (Also important to note that not all Buddhist schools accept or teach in terms of buddha nature - you would rarely if at all find it mentioned in Theravada Buddhism.)

    how do we know we're thinking of the "same" X? Maybe each of us is thinking of a different X, but is instead calling it by the same name.YuZhonglu

    Well, the point about any traditional understanding of spirit is that it is situated in a domain of discourse. This means a domain of shared understanding among other things. So for example in the Biblical tradition the idea of spirit is understood through various psalms, verses, sayings, writings, and so on, which are coherent within that domain of discourse.

    What’s different now is the fact that we all have pretty well instant access to all of the literature of those traditions in a way which would have been inconceivable in the past. So that naturally leads to an enormous variety of interpretations and speculations about the meaning of such terms. I think that is why the Continental schools of philosophy put such emphasis on the discipline of hermeneutics, meaning, interpretation of texts - more so than the English-speaking world.

    But I think through such disciplines as comparative religion you can discern common ideas and themes across different traditions, but it takes a fair amount of reading and reflection to make it out.
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