Panpsychism, could it really be true?

Have you ever wondered how or where consciousness arises? I have and “Pan what?” was my first question when a good friend mentioned to me in conversation that what I was actually describing to him had already been theorised hundreds of years ago. “Phew, I am not the first idiot to think this” was my second thought and then “wait a second it would have been cool to come up with something new” was the third though. After the discussion, I read up on the subject I could not have been more amazed, as the inherent beauty and wisdom slowly sank deeply into my being.

panpsychism

Panpsychism postulates that consciousness is everywhere and in everything and that this non-local or cosmic wide phenomenon is also without cause. Even stones and elementary particles have consciousness, not just people, bugs, or plants. Even for me, this sounds a little far-fetched until you delve into the subject a bit more. The earliest known references to panpsychism are likely attributed to early religions like Shintoism, Taoism, Paganism, and Shamanism. Even Aristotle is quoted as saying “that everything is full of gods.” Plato argued in his Sophist that all things participate in the form of being and that it must have a psychic aspect of mind and soul. “This world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence … a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related.” Wow, that is a big idea and not so easy for an individual to wrap his mind around it. That is probably the problem, the idea of panpsychism takes us from the comfort of our strongly held idea of an individual or ego and even the religious idea of a soul or atman to the understanding that not only are all beings one being but that all things are united in a blissful unity or beingness.

This is illustrated in Robert Fludd’s depiction of the world soul. I thought it might illustrate the idea of Panpsychism in an interesting way.

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Panpsychism has some competition it is not the only theory about the origin of mind, the emergence theory has many followers as well. Emergence Theory postulates that consciousness has emerged from some as yet unknown evolutionary chemical process. Philosopher Professor Galen Strawson articulates the relationship between panpsychism and emergence quite acutely: “The issue of emergence of mind is important because it is the mutually exclusive counterpart to Panpsychism: either you are a Panpsychist, or you are an Emergentist. Either mind was present in things from the very beginning, or it appeared (emerged) at some point in the history of evolution. If, however, emergence is inexplicable or is less viable, then one is left with the panpsychist alternative. This line of reasoning … is the (panpsychist) ‘argument from Non-Emergence.”

Interestingly there is no proof anywhere of consciousness or mind emerging from any process but either is there any proof of panpsychism. Panpsychism is, however, in my opinion, far more elegant and takes mind or consciousness a few steps further than the emergence of mind as an evolutionary or materialistic process. Even with a rather superficial level of understanding of panpsychism, one might find some comfort in this theory that we are never alone and connected to everything in every way. However, this may also strike fear into the hearts of those who are so deeply attached to their own individuality or egos. Regardless if one finds comfort or fear lets discover some more of how Panpsychism, Quantum Physics, and Buddhism might be related.

When we analyze subatomic particles, one might say that there is no difference between the protons, quarks, and leptons in my body, and the protons, quarks, and leptons in the desk in front of me except that I am conscious and the desk is not. Or is it, but at a dramatically reduced level? David Bohm theoretical physicist and philosopher said “That which we experience as mind … will, in a natural way, ultimately reach the level of the wave function and of the ‘dance’ of the particles.  There is no unbridgeable gap or barrier between any of these levels. … … in some sense, a rudimentary consciousness is present even at the level of particle physics” So here we can surmise that there is no barrier between me and the desk.

To this day we do not understand where or how consciousness arises and the role the brain plays in its formation if it plays a role at all. It could be just a receiver or radio, receiving information on several channels of perception that we would call our senses. Panpsychism skips this need to discover the relationship between the brain and the rise of conscious awareness completely, its simplicity is simply profound. No matter how shocking or strange panpsychism sounds I am reminded at what Sherlock Holmes said, that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Can science accept this deduction and if not how do we prove that which we have not been able to prove, other than keep trying even though the truth is already in front of us?

Buddhism teaches us that all beings have mind and or what we call Buddha nature, that is the ability to realize one’s full potential. Many teachers, when asked if plants have mind, would deny it and say that simply if it moves like an ant or something then it has mind. As we know plants only sort of move in their relationship to water and sunlight and the various degrees to which they require their nutrients. This could be a very basic version of attraction and aversion. This rather narrow view is on the outset not as encompassing as panpsychism. However, Buddhism requires us to break down any borders or boundaries between us and other things, this even applies to all concepts and ideas so why not to all phenomena as well. At an ultimate understanding of mind, where nothing has any true or independent existence in and of itself, all things would seem to have all the same qualities; conscious and otherwise. I would like to quote David Bohm once more here: “The notion of a separate organism is clearly an abstraction, as is also its boundary. Underlying all this is unbroken wholeness even though our civilization has developed in such a way as to strongly emphasize the separation into parts.” From the Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory

This oneness without separation or boundary is exactly what we are talking about when Buddhists say that subject, object and action come together as one. This is known as the state of Mahamudra or complete and full awareness or consciousness. Once we have reduced this ontologically either in meditation, philosophically, or scientifically all that there is left points to just consciousness or mind and nothing else seems to matter, even matter itself. Imagine that, matter doesn’t matter. In this simple state of just being, connected with everything, and aware of all that there is, a state of great joy and bliss arises. Total freedom of mind, no more running from or reaching for, just complete happiness and wisdom resting in the suchness of everything. Here is where we can be really effective in this confused and angry world. Here is where we can really be the change that we wish to see in the world.

So is consciousness everywhere and in all things? I think so. Its simple beauty is both profound and inspiring, especially to the Buddhist ear. Modern science seems to agree more and more with this conclusion and I can only ask when or will modern society see the light as well? Perhaps Panpsychism is even the solution to the hard problem of consciousness. Which is to question how and why sentient organisms have qualia or phenomenal experiences.
Personally, I think the Buddha Dharma has already answered this question, but that’s a topic for another post. This for me is just another way in which we see that consciousness is the vehicle in which the universe is becoming aware of itself. Why else would it be so beautiful and blissful to experience it either in meditation or by scientific discovery? Let us take this and use it as a tool to better the world and our fellow beings in every imaginable way. Whatever your view is on this topic I would love to hear from you, please feel free to comment below.

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65 thoughts on “Panpsychism, could it really be true?”

    1. Yes, I know of him, but only through 5 or 6 youtube videos. He is very interesting, sometimes a little too melancholic for me, but very good. Too bad how he died, he had a lot of potential. Was there anything in particular about him you would like to share with me?

      QP

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      1. In his book “the taboo against knowing who you are” was about the birth of the “I” he was saying the universe developed an infinite numbers of ways of looking at itself – through the I – worth looking up. Krishnamurti’s (Alan Watts was a big fan) interviews with physicists of the day should also be right up your alley. Great thought provoking stuff – both from them and from you .

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        1. That’s right, I am reading a neuroscience book by a Gelugpa lama right now. As soon as I understand enough and can research a bit I will write a few entries. So far it is inspiring but heavy.

          Where any other entries of your interest?

          QP

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        2. most of them 🙂 I may try to get some ideas out of them – but heavy like you say 🙂 I used to read this stuff years ago and dwell in a more intellectually relaxing place 🙂

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  1. Very interesting article. The Swedish Zen Buddhist Sante Poromaa has also written a thoughtful book on the subject, linking panpsychism to the Buddhist concept of rebirth. However, I think his book “Varandets väv” is only available in Swedish.
    Reflecting on the question whether plants have a mind, I think science is increasingly supporting that they indeed have. One of the more interesting books I’ve read this year is The “Hidden life of trees: What they feel, How they communicate – Discoveries from a secret world” by Peter Wohlleben. As good book as any to challenge your understandings and biases on how things really are.

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    1. Thank you Karl for the recommendation and the compliment. I’ll look up the books and have a looksie.
      It is hard for me to see such a complex life form such a tree to not be conscious. We know so little in this area, and we are so egotistical to think that we are alone in our consciousness.
      If the first book is only is Swedish, could you elaborate here or in a post of your own, as to how panpsychism and rebirth are connected? I am really curious.

      QP

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      1. Hello maybe I could help with this from a Buddhist perspective. A tree exists because of a seed and certain weather conditions. It also depends on the shade or sun wherever it’s planted. Many people have debated the issue of whether trees have consciousness or not but Buddhism doesn’t accept they do because they aren’t sentient. They can’t change or accumulate karma by thoughts & actions etc. Therefore a tree would never be reborn into a different body. it’s true we are all interconnected for example; the seed needed to create the tree needs to be planted by a human. Without the human the tree probably couldn’t exist however, it can never be anything but a tree. I hope this makes sense. Julie

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        1. I would say that without the tree we would not exist as the trees produce our oxygen we breathe. There were plants on earth long before men were here to plant them. If we want to understand dependent origination we need to go back much further that the tree and the seed.

          QP

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        2. Yes I agree however, my point is that no matter how far back we go, there will always be a toot cause but you’re right, trees were here long before humans however, the seed is also made up of interdependent particles etc and so on. Trees do provide the oxygen we breathe it’s true however they woyld not exist without the right weather conditions in which to grow etc. But wasn’t the original question whether trees have consciousness? I would have to answer no as they aren’t sentient beings. They aren’t able to create positive and negative karma and therefore couldn’t be reborn.

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  2. Hi there, I found your writing very interesting indeed. As a Tibetan Buddhist, I do accept consciousness is in all things however, the levels vary greatly. I also agree nothing exists in the way we perceive it whether it be human animal material or phenomena. According to Buddhist science, dependent origination applies to all of these, & none can exist without other interdependent factors.

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    1. Tashi Delek and thank you for your wonderful comment, pratītyasamutpāda or co-emergence is an amazing field of Buddhist study as is Tsema or epistemology. I will cover both in future blog entries.
      Panpsychism does presuppose that an electron has consciousness but at a greatly likely incomparable level compared to a sentient being.The Madhyamaka school and the Chittamatra school of Buddhist philosophy prepose different ideas about mind and it’s existence. Is everything mind in our normal realm of perception or is mind itself also not a thing? The Third Gyalwa Karmapa HH Ranjung Dorje is famous for saying in his Mahamudra wishes that “all phenomena are manifestations of mind. Mind is not “a” mind; it is empty in essence. Although empty, all things arise in every way without hindrance.” and “Observing phenomena, none is found. One sees mind Looking at mind, no mind is seen, it is empty in essence. Through looking at both, one’s clinging to duality naturally dissolves.”

      How do you and your school of Tibetan Buddhism see the existence of mind or consciousness is it also a result of dependent origination or something else?

      QP

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      1. Hi, my main line of practice is Mahayana which as you correctly mention, speaks of dependent origination. To be honest although I’ve studied mind only, I’m by no means an expert. What I can tell you is the Theravada belief or Mind Only is very different. My understanding is they see the mind as ‘luminosity’ a light that we each have within us, and which develops into Buddha Mind through disciplined meditation practices & study.

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        1. Hi EHR,
          I am enjoying this conversation, thank you, we can really learn a lot from one another. If you don’t mind let’s keep it going. Buddhism is so multifaceted and does within itself have many interesting views.
          So first of I am familiar with Tonglen as a sitting meditation, I described on my site under breath meditation 3. Is it similar as to how you know it? I find it very powerful, one can really work with compassion with it. The other on Maitre, I have not heard of, but would like to know more. All the Kagyu meditations I know of start off with calm abiding, or Shiné in several forms or ways and ends in Laktong, or insight.
          “Tantric” practices are also an area of interest as most of the information out there is false from a Tibetan perspective. As I understand tantra it is defined a weaving, that would be to weave the Buddha Dharma into ones daily life. I think most of the discrepancies come from the Hindu teachings and western people trying to make a buck selling some sort of sexual crap.
          What you mentioned about the Theravada mind only I find to be interesting, in Vajrayana, it is very important to recognize mind as clear light, luminosity here is very close. But whether we know it or not we all have the Buddha mind, we are born with it, it is the great equalizer, we just don’t see it or realize it.
          I know next to nothing about Dzogchen, except that it is mentioned in the 3rd Karmapa’s Mahamudra text. He says, ” free from fabrication, it is the great seal (Mahamudra) Free of extremes it is the great middle way (maha Madhyamika or Dzogchen) All encompassing it is also called the great perfection (maha Ati). By knowing one, may we attain conviction in the realization of all.” So it is like all roads going to the same place, enlightenment, but the roads are different. So how do you practice Dzogchen, are there texts to read etc?
          As for achieving enlightenment in one lifetime, it is possible but maybe not likely, what is for sure is liberation, which is 90% there. I think if the Buddha could do it, why not me? I am not saying I am like him, but I think I hope that I can develop the qualities that he has and has taught us. You have the very same qualities already in you.

          QP

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        2. Hello yes I love discussion on Buddhism and I too am learning a great deal. My thinking is very much that if you live a good compassionate lifestyle in as selfeless was as possible you’re pretty much doing ok. I do believe we can acheive Buddha hood in this lifetime but don’t think I will personally as my hope is to become a Bodhisattva however that will happen. Yes there are texts to read on Dzogchen and through my practice I’m only learning one aspect of it at present which is examining the clear space where space resides if that makes sense? For example, when we meditate, we often enter a space, like a nothingness, a silence. But that space must exist somewhere in its own space and that’s what I’m examining right now with Dzogchen practice. Maitri on the other hand sits very comfortably with Tonglen and is the practice of loving kindness to oneself where as you know Tonglen is extending that loving kindness. Maitri is one of the 4 virtues of loving kindness.
          I don’t practice tantrism too much however I don’t feel it’s false, but more above my level to even begin. I’m sure from your extensive knowledge, you’ve spent time in the Tibetan community of India and if you have, you’ll know tantric practices are extremely secret however Im not sure I believe the teachings are false. I do agree with you 100% Westerners have turned Buddhism into something very different than intended however I’m happy it’s being embraced here.

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        3. Hi there EHR

          Agree with you in living compassionately that takes care of most of needs. But if we look around and see that 95% of our lives is amazing and 5% sucks then if we want to improve the situation for ourselves so that we can be more effective in helping others we need to make sure we are living compassionately 96% of the time in order to improve things only one percent. This is a call to action or practice that we just don’t find anywhere else. I only know one way to try to do this and it is to it only be a good person as much as possible but to meditate to build up good impressions in mind, remove the veils of my emotions, and to hopefully develop some wisdom. The Buddhist path is easier said than done. As I write this I can only think how lucky I’am to have such a good situation. You are of course completely correct in noting that bhodisattwahood is definitely more important than enlightenment especially when one look around and sees all the suffering in this world. My lama says when asked about how many of his students are enlightened that he doesn’t care because developing bhodisattwas is more important. This is an area of vajrayana and maybe Theravada and Mahayana that some might misunderstand. Sure we can find enlightenment in this life. But how long do the other paths take? In Theravada eons of eons that’s a really long time one may argue that they will never reach enlightenment. In Mahayana its only eons still a long time to purify ones negative actions. I don’t mean any offense here but what is actually effective for each person/practitioner is what is important. And that’s the genius of the Buddha dharma everyone could find a way that’s meaningful to them. The Tibetans are kinda funny sometimes with their levels but a 9th level boddhisatva would keep one toe in our realms and delay his enlightenment until the last one comes. But how long does the bus driver sit at the stop with the door open? What if some people don’t want to get on or are simply too busy and drive on by?

          Any way that’s a lot. What are your thoughts?

          QP

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        4. Wow yes there’s a lot of food for thought there actually and it really got me thinking about my own journey through life as a Buddhist & a human being.
          I guess it is really about our own personal relationship with the Dharma & whether we want to become Buddha or Boddhisattvas or indeed just simply follow the Buddhist teachings and way of life. For me it’s about living the kindest life possible in the time I’m here and impacting the lives of other sentient beings best I can. This is really how I’d like to be reborn because I care deeply about others. Meditation for me is the tool to keep my thoughts in check at times when patience doesn’t come easily & within that come the many teachings. I guess we all have a personal responsibility to be the best we can be.

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        5. I think what we need is balance in everything, for example, if I am confused and disturbed how can I expect to be able to help others? In the beginning we need to focus on our own development, Theravada almost. Not in a monastery per se but just me avoiding all distractions and harmful things just like all the vows and promises help us to do. Then when we have an established practice, we begin to see that we are not alone and that there are many beings who suffer, Mahayana, and we begin to try to do something for them. With a strong meditation practice and full confidence in the Buddha dharma and a living example of a lama that expresses Buddha qualities, vajrayana, we find space between the thoughts and just before the emotions in which we can react and respond with Buddha wisdom. For me my meditation not only keeps my thoughts in check it constantly refocuses me on the dharma and joy one finds in the potential of mind.

          You so nailed it with responsibility, this is a very hard word for many faiths today, “the devil made me do it” lol. The genius of karma the neutral force that gives us back what we ourselves give out really helps us to be responsible for our actions. Man you know when I write this it sure sounds good and almost easy, but I fail so often in daily life. But I keep trying to improve and just like refocusing on the medi after a distraction I get back up and try to do better next time without judgement or being too hard on myself.
          The Buddha dharma is so simple or as complex as we like to make it. I am thankful that all roads lead to Rome.
          It is really inspirational to see things through your experience. I can feel your devotion to the Buddha dharma in your words.

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        6. Thank you so much for this and you describe the process so beautifully. Buddhism is I find a wonderful way of life mainly because it allows the opportunity for self reflection and change. self reflection especially in the west is difficult for most, mainly because it’s hard looking inwards. Often what we find isn’t nice, in fact it’s downright disturbing and therefore we look to God or Gurus or Lamas anything to help us distract from our own issues. But the it depends I believe on how we utilise these people for example, do we use them as a distraction from personal analysis? Or as a means to helping us find ways to look inwardly?

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        7. It’s hard not to write beautifully about the Buddha dharma I have complete confidence in my lama and the Buddha dharma it has completely changed my life for the better and the teachings often move me to tears when my understanding deepens.

          I wanted to ask you how you do your tonglen. Is it like I described on my site on the meditation 3 or do you have another transmission? I am sure that there are others I am curious.

          I agree also about looking in. Today we spend so much time looking outside and to the future or the past and other things we can never really have that we cannot see what we really have. It’s too bad really we miss out on a lot. Looking inwardly is the only way for me, my time in the church never taught me anything of the sort.

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        8. Hi there, 
Actually there are 2 different types of refuge the Gelugpa consider but I’m happy you asked this question. The 2 are causal refuge and result refuge. 
Causal refuge is the way Buddha taught as a cause for our development, ie why we exist cause & effect. Result refuge, is when we seek protection & guidance for ourselves and for our Dharma study & teaching. It’s the Result refuge where we turn to the 3 external sources which are of course the Buddha -teacher of the path, Dharma – the path and Sangha our companions on the path who are there along with us. When we take the first refuge (Causal) we usually focus on the pure sacred beings Manjushri or Chenrezig and ask for their guidance in understanding.
          In the Gelugpa tradition there’s no pressure to take refuge. It has to be when you’re completely ready or indeed never. The most important thing is being a decent human being. 



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        9. Ok this is interesting, could it be that this is sort of a half way step between Mahayana refuge and Vajrayana refuge? We take refuge in the three jewels and the three roots Lama, Yidam, and the protectors. So the connection I see here is one of protection, protection in development.
          There is no pressure here either to take refuge but not doing so would be difficult. We take refuge every time we begin a meditation so for many of us that would be daily. I am not a fan of the word refuge confidence is much better. I have confidence in the Buddha minds full development, the dharma or teachings which bring us there, and the sangha our friends and family on the way.

          We also do not take refuge just for ourselves as in Theravada we do it for all beings, you too right?

          Thanks 🙏

          QP

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        10. Hi yes I have taken refuge in the Buddha dharma and sangha but it took me a long time to do so. I have been a Buddhist for many years but never wanted to take refuge because I also wanted to check out whether some of the Dharma teachings were true. I questioned everything especially in relation to dependent origination and emptiness. That’s what we are taught in the Gelugpa – question absolutely everything and if it doesn’t feel right – ignore it. Only what I had satisfied my own curiosity to I make the commitment of refuge.

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        11. Oh that’s quite interesting, I am sure that this doesn’t happen in any Theravada schools, and likely most Mahayana schools. I was under the impression that taking refuge in the three roots was only a Vajrayana thing. It must be part of the Tibetan culture and common in all the schools. Could you share with me how this is done?
          In the kagyu school we take refuge in the Buddha dharma sangha and the lama ( who can be understood to be the representative of mind and protection) in the beginning of every meditation. In the case of the ngondro we name all 3 jewels and all 3 roots in the mantra for our prostrations.

          I think it is very responsible to wait a long time to check out the lama school etc. before taking refuge. It is traditionally said to take three years.
          Oh I wish we could share a cup of tea.

          QP

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        12. Hi there yes you’re absolutely right the 3 roots are practiced predominantly in Vajrayana. In Vajrayana practice. Alongside the 3 jewels—Buddha, dharma, and sangha, which most Mahayana practitioners do, tantric monks often take refuge in these three roots:
          The guru, The yidam (meditation deity), and the dharma protectors. The guru is the root of blessings, the Yidam is the root of accomplishment, and the Protectors are the root of activity. Yes sharing a cup of tea would have been lovely 😊

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        13. Hi so sorry I haven’t been on here for a while. Yes I do have a question for you if it’s ok?What do you personally think about the idea of inclusive practices as opposed to the idea that each school of Buddhism practices exclusively. I’m asking this question because recently, a new growth of Buddhist Tradition is sprouting up again in the West. This is the New Kadampa Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. This tradition recognises one particular protector as most powerful. Dorje Shugden is also known as Dolgyal, one of several protectors of the Gelug school, the school of Tibetan Buddhism to which The Dalai Lama belongs. Dorje Shugden has become the symbolic centre-point of a conflict over the “purity” of the Gelug school and the inclusion of non-Gelug teachings, especially Nyingma teachings. In the 1930s, some conflict started when Shugden started to get promoted as a major protector of the Gelug school. He was promoted as a wrathful deity who harms any Gelug practitioner who blends his practice with non-Gelug practices. The problem was, a book appeared in about 1976, called the yellow book which told stories of wrathful acts of Dorje Shugden against Gelugpas who also practiced Nyingma teachings. In response, the 14th Dalai Lama who is also a Gelugpa himself and who advocates for inclusive practices. So as head of the Gelug school, of course he started to speak out against the practice of Dorje Shugden.

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        14. This is a very good question and I wish to answer it in a few days. It might be a long response as I have give much thought to this and another similar situation. So give me some time and I ask that you read with an open mind.
          QP

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        15. Ok so really this is a very good topic to discuss, thanks. But in the outset I have to honest I do have some strong feelings about this. So please understand that I really do not want to offend you or anyone else reading this if I come down too hard here. So sorry in advance?

          The Gelupas have a sordid history in my way of seeing things and things were not so wonderful in the land of Shambala. When they first became a school of Tibetan Buddhism they stepped on quite a few toes as they were formed out of the ruins of the original Kadampa school. It seems to me that the Gelugpas arrived late on the scene (ca. 1500 ca) and had to do something to make them selves different and they felt the need to fight for their place in Tibet and therefore became very involved politically and militarily. The Nyingmapas have been the most well established in Tibet since 700 ce had an advantage and the Kagyupas starting in ca. 1000 ce and being the first to start the tradition of consciously reborn leaders via the Karmapa and Sharmapa. This system amassed a lot of influence and wealth. All of the old schools Bon and Sakya included recognized the old teachings that came to Tibet from India with Guru Rimpoche, except the Gelugpas. In my opinion it was the Gelugpas who excluded many many practices and traditions labeling them as heresy in a way to differentiate themselves and amass power. The Gelugpas wanted to unite the schools under their leadership and did so in part but they did it forcefully over many years after inviting the mongols to invade, banishing the Sharmapa etc. You know a really good read is “Tibet a History” by Sam van Shaik. The old schools were happy, they had found they had sort of specialties sort of different practices for different people, if that makes sense and resisted the unifying efforts. As for the 14th Dalai Lama, I honestly have very little respect for him. I know it sounds strange to say that, but he has really caused tremendous troubles in the Kagyu school and is partly responsible for our two Karmapa problem as he meddled in our affairs without right to do so. In the case of Shungden it seems to me if you want to be “inclusive” you must include all the teachings of the other schools as well old and new. Therefore I don’t find it fair or even something he can rightly influence or forbid, he is/was after all a political leader not really a lineage holder in my humble opinion.
          QP

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        16. Hi and thank you for your honest and frank response to my post. You are not in the slightest bit offensive and I absolutely love these debates because I think they need to be had. To be perfectly honest I wish more people had them.
          The Dalai Lama has given several reasons to explain the excommunication of the protector, Dorje Shugden. It’s my understanding that he hasn’t banned the practice and in interviews he’s openly stated this fact and acknowledged people at the end of the day do need to make their own decisions about who they follow. He did however issue a warning as the deity is accused of fundamentalism due to the fact he obstructs the mixing of the four main schools of Buddhism. The Dalai Lama is a strong advocate for the mixing of these 4 schools – Kagyu Nyingma Sakya & Gelug. The New Kadampa appeared as separatist because of their single pointed following and view of this deity, something none of the other schools support. The Dalai Lama said the thought of Dorje Shugden bothered him because of the need to combine all schools, even though they may have slightly different transmissions and teachings. Personally, I’m of the same view as the Dalai Lama that everyone should be able to follow whoever they like, but I’m also very much in favour of the combination of the 4 lineages which the New Kadampa are not. The Dalai Lama has asked that it’s probably better Dorje Shugden followers do not attend his teachings, simply because he is worried that this wrathful deity will bring negative energy.
          Julie

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        17. I don’t think it’s just the New Kadampas who are not in favor of combining the schools. What is the purpose and benefits of said combination? What is the need that it must be done?

          QP

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        18. Hello QP Yes it’s a really sensitive issue in Tibetan Buddhism and surprisingly it has resulted in 2 Dorje Shugden followers committing murder back in the 90s. The Basic Teachings of Buddha & the core to Buddhism are: The Three Universal Truths; The Four Noble Truths; and. The Noble Eightfold Path.
          All Buddhists should also live by the Five Moral Precepts no matter which school of Buddhism. The New Kadampa are actually part of the Mahayana tradition and for several years the current Dalai Lama included prayers to Shugden in his daily practice as did all other schools. What happened, is that In 1976, on the advice of the Nechung Oracle he began to publicly discourage Shugden practice because he was advised it was dangerous to Buddhism & to Tibet. The founder of the Britain-based New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) Geshe Kelsang Gyatso a Gelugpa sect, is a supporter of Dorje Shugden worship and his disciples have continued to picket the Dalai Lama. He argued that the ban on Shugden worship was a violation of religious freedom. It’s a really sensitive issue because the Nechung Oracle is key in Gelugpa tradition. Julie

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  3. That is really true test test test the dharma. It’s often said to have a Grey area for things you are not sure about, I think that’s what you might mean about ignoring? I come back to my Grey area every so often and check the things again, it’s not such a big place anymore.

    I find that refuge can be an entire practice in and of its self, it only becomes more profound for me.

    So the gelug refuge is only Buddha, dharma, and sangha? We also take refuge in the three roots, Lama, yidam ( mind/ mind bond), and the protectors. They are all found on our refuge tree. You must have see one of those, have you?

    We also study dependent origin, it has 12 steps or points and describes our perception process right?

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  4. Yes Julie I understand all that quite well and I do appreciate how important it is.
    What I am particularly interested in is what is the purpose and benefits of said combination or unification of the schools. What is the need you speak of that it must be done?

    QP

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      1. I am not sure what you mean with “share mind”.
        We all share one reality, one universe, one principles of living (or nature laws). What we don’t share is one brain, body or space. About the first two it’s obvious, I think. For the 3rd I can motivate, but it will be too much writing. Maybe you will agree that two different things cannot be at the same place at the time?
        Or you don’t use “share mind” in that sense what I understand?

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        1. Ok let me be more specific on this mind thing. There are several different philosophical schools of thought. The two highest or most respected schools are the mind only and the no mind schools. The mind only school puts forth that everything we experience is mind. This mind is not yours or mine it is just mind. When we reduce everything to this point how can there be anything personal? So I can say that maybe this is not “shared” as we know it but at this level of understanding there is no separation between any subject, object, or action or even mind.

          QP

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I agree. In a sense we can say that and we are right. Of course that doesn’t mean the Universe has some “super-consciousness” that we can reach some day. It’s very interesting to explore our reality. Sure it’s the most mysterious thing.

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        1. Buddhism does not propose that there is some super consciousness or enlightenment that we can reach. It says that we are we are already there and always have been. Nothing to reach nothing to do just realize our true potential.

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      1. Yes, sure.
        I mean it’s not like the quantum theory for example, which is based on too scientific experiments that we cannot try them by ourselves, what we cannot explore by ourselves.

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        1. I have read very much about the quantum theory and its roots. And guess what – there we have some unreliable assumptions which are popularized very much. The media created the current view of that theory. Yes, it’s fits on what people wants. But that’s not enough to be realistic.

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    1. I think I know what you mean. You suppose that the media along with popular culture has misinterpreted some of the theories of QM. While this is likely true there are forces within QM that are also bent the other way. The issue is this. QM is coming very close to understanding some of the most fundamental underpinnings of the universe things that up until now were the sole responsibility of religion. Science in its steadfast determination to remain neutral and NOT religious has bound itself by default to not be able to fully answer some very basic questions in order to not sound dogmatic and churchy. It is therefore up to us to read between the lines ask the tough questions and hold everyone accountable for the answers.

      QP

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just noticed that someone had mentioned the relevance of the book (see below) but thought it was only available in Swedish, so I thought perhaps followers of the thread might be interested to know that it is available in English. I find this subject interesting but don’t feel I have anything original to add, beyond providing this info.

        Karl Ekdahl
        November 2, 2018 at 12:02

        Very interesting article. The Swedish Zen Buddhist Sante Poromaa has also written a thoughtful book on the subject, linking panpsychism to the Buddhist concept of rebirth. However, I think his book “Varandets väv” is only available in Swedish.

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  5. Ah yes thank you now it’s all very clear to me, in reference to Karl’s comment. I had heard of this book before and it was on my list of books to buy, but the list is very long. Maybe now I souls move it up a little higher as a message like this might be trying to tell me something.

    QP

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  6. Since you seem interested in panpsychism ( I’m also interested, but a bit skeptical about it ), might I suggest visiting https://broadspeculations.com

    by James Cross?

    I visit there all the time, but I seldomly comment there, since I have very little to say. But it’s a very interesting site. We discuss things regarding consciousness, healthy skepticism, A.I, etc.
    My name over there is Keresther.

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  7. Hello
    I can see that I’ve commented quite a lot on this post, but I find myself reflecting again on the whole subject of pan psychism. I can actually see more clearly the philosophy now and I guess in a way Buddhism very much supports the idea of consciousness being everywhere.
    I don’t know if you’re aware, but In 2013, Koch, one of the world’s leading experts on consciousness, went to a monastery in India to discuss the issue of consciousness with a group of Buddhist monks.
    Koch, the Dalai Lama & the monks debated neuroscience and mind for a full day with very differing approaches. For example, Koch offered spoke about more contemporary scientific theories on the subject, whereas His Holiness, spoke on ancient Buddhist teachings. At the end of the debate the two thinkers agreed on almost every point. I think it’s the levels of consciousness & the type that often throws people into a conundrum. For example, a stone or a tree may very well have consciousness and it may connect us to the universe but the type of consciousness is very different than human consciousness even though the connection is there. The stone or other inanimate object has no concept of right and wrong, good or bad. It has no concept of cause and effect.
    For me personally though, I think there is an even more obvious connection, this being the nature of emptiness. The fact that nothing exists in the way that we see it. The nature of emptiness applies to every single thing on the planet whether it’s human, matter or phenomenon it is void of self. What a great subject. 😊

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    1. Thanks for sharing Julie, your thoughts are always appreciated here. I was not aware that Koch in particular had done that, but to be honest there have been many such similar situations with with western scientists and philosophers. I think what is boils down to is a difference in language and in perspective. Language is more or less clear, but the perspective is not. Unfortunately science tends to only observe outwardly whereas the Buddhadharma teaches us clearly to look within. And yet with such a big difference of perspective we seen to still come to very similar conclusions. It is fascinating.

      Come back anytime soon,
      QP

      Liked by 1 person

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