2022-10-04 Consciousness (2 of 5) Sensing Through the Body
3:04PM Oct 4, 2022
So for this week, it turns out that the overall concept, tying the week together, is consciousness. And in coming down to teach this morning, I kind of marveled that somehow I managed to choose that as a topic, I kind of walked into it. It was not the plan. Sunday evening, somehow, in the course of my time, Monday morning came around, I kind of find myself almost coming up with that as the theme, as we were beginning yesterday morning. And so maybe in more cautious moments, I wouldn't have chosen such a maybe, potentially complicated concept, and one that has a lot of different ideas of what consciousness is. But here we are. And so the premise that I'm operating under here, is that consciousness, least in the Buddhist framework, early Buddhist framework, or now I'm teaching is not a singular thing. It's not a it doesn't exist by itself, there's not a pure consciousness that we can find somewhere deep in our psyche, or in our, in our hearts or somewhere. There isn't some kind of impersonal consciousness that continues after death. There isn't some kind of transpersonal consciousness that exists beyond us beyond us, and that we share and are a part of, or something, that all these kinds of ideas of making conscious into some thing is in the Buddhist, or the Buddhist framework, or all kinds of recipes to contribute further to being attached to cling to things. And instead, in this early tradition, the word consciousness maybe is not even used in the texts, there's an argument to be made, that the word that we translate his consciousness shouldn't be translated that way. So we're left kind of with modern ideas of the English ideas of what this word consciousness refers to. And the premise that I'm working under, there is that consciousness is not a thing. But it's the, in the sense that sum can be more than that, that Gestalt is, the more what's more than just a sum of the parts, the whole is more than the sum of the parts. So consciousness is made up of many parts, that contribute to creating something that has the impression of being more is more than all the individual parts. And, in a sense, the parts or all the different mental and perceptual processes, that begin working together informing each other. And, in many of the, they come together, and, and they work together and we can get a sense the mind can create a sense, an image of, of that hole. And that's partly what we can call consciousness. But it doesn't exist apart from the image we construct or the sense or the idea we construct of the hole, that can seem as some kind of a field of consciousness or a bubble of consciousness or some kind of continuous consciousness, the consciousness that somehow we, the self, we are the consciousness, and all these things can happen once things this thing has been constructed. And but when people some people get maybe, for medical reasons, neurological reasons, something doesn't work properly. What we can call what would the sense of consciousness of awareness can get very disorienting, disoriented, fragmented, and confused, but when it all works together, then it's little bit like the GI, you know, a, an old, like a clock that with heads and all these gears that operate and make it all going and all those gears when they work properly. Move the hands on the clock, but the movement
doesn't exist apart from all the other all the movements of the whole clock. So what we call consciousness is more like the movement than it is any particular part of it. So the component parts, which is the credit of the summer, what I want to talk about this week, Yesterday, I talked about our capacity to recognize things. And the, this is important because without recognition, then we have no recognition of consciousness or of anything. But recognition is itself a complicated mental processing that involves memory and things. But today, the topic is another attentional capacity faculty that we have that the Buddha put much emphasis on, which is our capacity to sense this as the sensations of the body to, we can use the word to feel the body in English, as long as we don't think of it as the second foundation of mindfulness, feeling tones, it's the act of feeling or experiencing the body, from the body's point of view itself. So this senses of touch all the nerve endings throughout the body, that provide data, of what the body is, feeling, experiencing, oh, how those nerve endings are being stimulated. They might not be, there might may be or may not be acts of recognition, when we're sensing, it could be sensing without recognizing what it is. And, or sometimes the recognition might be faulty. I've had, you know, sitting next to a bush or a little tree, and the leaf, you know, brushed my neck. And I thought it was a person that was touching me, but it was a leaf. So the, the recognition of what it actually was, was not accurate. But the perception of touch was accurate. Just touch, you know, that that happened. And, and this ability to feel and sense, the whole body is something that can be developed. And it's also something that can be lost. There are people who, for many reasons, do not feel much of their body don't feel much of the body, below their neck or below their waist, or, you know, in different parts of the body. And part of what meditation, mindfulness meditation can do is to reawaken the body so that the whole body's participating in this being present for our experience. And, and some people specialize in being more sensory, more somatic, at least in the world. So for them, that they mediate the world through sensing and feeling the body, other people mediate the world more through them, their cognition and their mind and their thinking. And so recognition is a stronger factor, the cognitive faculties. And it's kind of like left and right handed people. There's different kinds of perceptual people with its people who are somatic and sense with their body. Product predominantly, can easily live in imbalance life, because there's not enough knowledge, recognition, and wisdom about what they're sensing people who are primarily in their recognition that cognitive parts of their mind, do well in becoming dropping into their body because there's tremendous money information there that can augment and support whatever we can think about or cognize. And one of the things that we support, one of the things the body sensations body awareness allows for is it allows us to recognize all the little ways in which we had big ways in which we tense up in which we are tight in the body. And for the Buddha, becoming aware of that is extremely important. Because when we are aware of that, we can relax it and, and carrying unnecessary tension in the body is one of the functions of beginning of meditation practice is to learn to relax and settle the body so that the tensions of the body don't create tensions in the mind, or help many of the tensions of the body are there because of tensions in the mind. And then as we relax the body, the mind begins to relax as well.
And this psychophysical system we have works much better as an instrument of Attention when it's relaxed. And so, the movement in Buddhism towards a heightened attention heightened awareness is dependent on a combination of alertness and relaxation, and mental alertness, and deep relaxation, settling of the body, deep tranquility of the body. As the body becomes more relaxed, more of more information can arise out of the body. And nowadays, we know that the body contains a lot more perceptual abilities, then, then we're known at a time of the Buddha, there's a whole sense of perception that has to do with balance. There's a sense of perception that recognizes locations in our body where different parts of the body are in space, there is parts of the body sensation that feels gravity, and weight. All these are included in this heightened sensitivity to the body. But what it but this does a few different things. Each of these perceptual ability contribute something to the overall gestalt of what consciousness is. And as the body relaxes, it contributes to a sense that consciousness or awareness is soft, is spacious, is even expansive. As the body gets more and more relaxed, and that tension is not there, the hard and fast boundaries and solidity the body begins to dissolve, and Soto's any sense of solidity, in the field of consciousness and awareness. And so part of this mindfulness of the body, what it contributes, is, is these other data points for constructing the idea of consciousness, and one of them is location. Part of the, this idea that we can feel no different locations with a body gives a three dimensional quality, to the scope of attention, which can contribute to the idea that consciousness can be broad and wide, that some people have a sense that it's like a field of consciousness, and it can feel very real and, and he kind of existing in some wonderful way. But it's the minds way of taking in the data about location and space, that where it creates an image, a spatial kind of image that goes into the construction of our idea of consciousness, or the of the totality of all our perceptual abilities. So So two things about our ability to feel to sense our body is that one is to do it, and to awaken and make it make it a common part of the day to drop into the body. Doing that you'll learn a lot about yourself. It's like the early warning system of tension or fear, joy, delight, it's a way of experiencing life more fully, including then having much more information about what's happening with us and, and our responses and reactions. And then it also this deeper feeling of the body really big can get a home for or we can then we have more ability to relax the body to let go of unnecessary tension that we hold. And that in turn, supports a calming of the mind. Tranquil tranquility of the body leads are tranquility of mind, which leads to a more harmonious running of the clockwork of all our perceptions working together. So thank you, and we'll continue tomorrow and on this topic, and I hope you find it interesting and and then, thank you all