Schematic sections of an human brain where F = frontal lobe (centre
What are the effects of meditation on the brain?
The human brain is the product of 3.5 billions years of evolution when the life started on Earth. Its functions requires a fairly inconceivable 100 billion neurons, interconnected via over 100 trillions of synapses (connections) and over 100 billions non-neuronal cells. A single firing neuron might communicate to thousands of others in a single moment. No computer comes close to the complexity of these communicating bits of organic matter. The capability of the brain to change morphologically and functionally automatically based on its needs is also a significant difference with the computer (see at the end).
One may consider the brain as the hardware and the mind the software. What is consciousness remains a very controversial issue regarding its origin.
Mindfulness meditation has been used for many purposes for at least 15,000 to 20,000 years. Westerns civilizations have discovered non-religious mindfulness meditation only two century ago.
Whether life feels like heaven or hell depends mostly on our state of mind even if we don’t have too much control of it. (We already talked about lack of control on our life in a previous session).
We experience and judge life not always as it is but as our mind perceives it.
Too often our mind sees the world thru distorted lenses. Of course bad and unwanted events do and will occur independently of us. But in the vast majority of cases life is what we make of it since life is not a living being but just a state.
2 people may or will react completely differently if not in an opposite way while facing the same event or person.
Not only their reactions maybe very dissimilar but also they will analyze differently what is happening to them.
“I would like to share the below article related to all is void (that’s word-for-word translation from Chinese classic Zen philosophy, i.e. emptiness), where it mentioned two Chinese ancient poems, plain but meaningful.” Lois.
Vivian Dong (China) and Jay McDaniel (US)
Two Buddhist Poems: Commentary by Vivian Dong:
When I was in high school, I would often worry about how I would do on exams. The exams had almost become a god for me. They were all that I could think about. I had friends who would go to temples and worship before statues of Guan-Yin, but I did not do this. I could not make sense of the idea that she might help some but not help others: help those who pray, for example, but not help those who did not. I was not religious.
Still I knew that there was a deep Buddhism from which I could learn. This Buddhism had more to do with feelings than with abstract ideas: feelings of peace, of openness, of the void. I did not have the language for this deep Buddhism, but I had the feelings. I wondered if maybe this deep Buddhism might help me gain a little freedom from my anxieties, from the god of exams.
It was then that I discovered these two poems from Chan Buddhism. Perhaps you know them. The occasion for their being written was a famous event in which the Fifth Patriarch of Buddhism was seeking a sixth Patriarch. He asked monks to write poems, and the senior monk wrote the first one. It had its wisdom, but another – a young man who was a cook in the kitchen – wrote the second one.
We are receiving great educative comments from our members following our weekly Dharma talks (teaching). Many thanks to the senders: there interests and inputs will greatly enhance the quality of the teaching. Zen teaching is everything but dogmatic and will always benefit from anyone’s comment. Feel free to contribute.
October 2015: the question from Lorraine was
Please define “dualistic” or “non-dualistic” with respect to the Buddhist philosophy. Thank you.