Saturday, February 28, 2015

Waking, Being, Dreaming, chapter ten continued

Continuing from this post:

It's time to interject some posts in other threads, like this one and several following:

This article by Thompson & Davis relates back to my earlier ruminations on memory and the five aggregates. A brief excerpt with further study and commentary to follow:

"We outline here how the traditional theoretical context of mindfulness practice can offer important suggestions for scientific research. In particular, the five aggregates model draws distinctions that are not always clearly formulated in contemporary cognitive science, but that are crucial for a scientific understanding of the function of mindfulness meditation. We suggest below how empirical hypotheses about the role of memory and its relation to attention and consciousness in mindfulness meditation can be refined in light of distinctions suggested in the Buddhist five aggregates model" (586-7).

There were a lot of technical terms, both Buddhist and scientific. He tries to bridge them to find correlations but admits they are at times questionable or approximate at best. Nonetheless to translate, we've seen some of this earlier in this thread and elsewhere, the aggregates being, body, emotion, base mind or core attention, volition and consciousness. He relates the 3rd and 5th to open monitoring and concentration meditative techniques. Granted both have a focused attention and monitoring function and activate both aggregates. The latter monitors wandering away from and return to a selected object of focus. The former monitors wandering away and a return to focus on whatever is present. It activates more the base level and inhibits selective attention.

Further reflection on the last post relates to earlier posts in the thread. And themes I've been harping on for some time. One being it takes an egoic-rational operation with the capacity of deliberative and selective attention to 'meditate.' Aka, the fifth aggregate of 'consciousness.' Or in Damasio's terms, the narrative self. Now the monitoring comes from the 3rd aggregate, this base or core awareness but one with ipseity, unlike gross body awareness or slightly more subtle emotional feeling tone. To put it in Damasian, the body and emotions obviously have attention but lack human ipseity. And after it emerges it translates body and emotions in particularly human ways distinct from the animal world, with which we share these aggregated 'levels.'

Going back to forms of meditation, we need the selective attention to choose a focus. We need the base core awareness to monitor the basal attention of the body and emotions. And we need the volitional will to hold the selected object in awareness, be it a particular object or whatever object arises. The process activates all the aggregates and aims at their integration, which integration never gets off the ground without the synthetic ego. Which recall earlier is much more than the 'I,' or the increasing degree of ipseity of the last 3 aggregates, as it has gone back to bring forward the body and emotions in balance and equilibrium. Again, the fold which doesn't necessarily get more complex and higher but more integrated and deeper.

Now to complicate this further, as if that isn't enough, if Luhmann is right the aggregates are not transcended and included levels but are separate systems altogether that nonetheless interact via structural coupling. And as suggested earlier, perhaps individually they continue to undergo development on their own given their continual coupling as a more complex assemblage. It's not so much that the higher integrates the lower but that equivalent and separate systems synergize in a more integrative coupling in a strange, democratic mereology.

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