The Daily Dharma – November 16, 2021

Poland Festival of Lights by Katya Austin

The Buddhist teachings on the workings of the mind, called Abhidharma, teach us that there isn’t a body per se, just a variety of momentary mental events. Some of them we think of as “physical,” even though they’re not. When I feel an ache in my right leg, the Abhidharma analysis goes, this sensation is a mental event produced in consciousness when an object I call “a leg” activates inner sensors that awaken awareness in a particular way. Likewise, seeing, hearing, and all sense perceptions are mental events stimulated by apparently physical objects.

Contemporary cognitive science agrees. All experiences arise when consciousness is activated by a sense organ meeting an internal or external object. (Here, the mind itself functions like a sixth sense organ in relation to emotion and thought.) We assume we are “experiencing” the object that gave rise to the event in our consciousness. But the truth is that the only thing we can verify is the experience itself, however we may be misconstruing it. The idea of the body is like this. It is an idea based on unwarranted assumptions about the coherence of our conscious experience.

Norman Fischer
from When You Greet Me I Bow

To be continued . . .

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