September 15th, 2009

Generic Meditation Issues: Mind and Brain

Like a lot of people, I get confused about the terms "body,"  "mind," "soul," and "spirit."  The Taoist part of me knows that these labels do not and cannot describe anything real and that the things I think I am naming with these names, to the extent that they exist at all, are part of the great oneness that alone is.  But there is also a "pragmatic" part of me that wants to communicate about the "ten thousand things" including spirit, soul, mind, and body,  If I am confused about those terms, I am confused about the proximate realities to which they refer.

Neuroscientists seem to me to have an increasing tendency to conflate the words "mind" and "brain."  If they insist that we choose our thoughts and/or our emotions then the question occurs that the capacity to choose must lie within the brain itself, in which case the range in which choice can operate would seem to be pathetically small.  To the extent that the brain is a "process" rather than just an "organ', and to the extent that the mind is a "thing" rather than a "process", equating the two terms might be relatively innocuous.  But if our thoughts are more than the firing of neurons, the relationship between mind and brain could fruitfully be explored.Collapse )