Saturday, April 18, 2020

Can I Create a Sentient Bean?

There is a Tibetan Monk who appeared for some reason in my FaceBook feed, Geshe Jamyang Tashi, and I friended him. Most of his posts I find inaccessible. Or, more truthfully, I often feel derisive towards them. But, for some reason, a post of his I read  today on loving kindness hit home. Here it is. I preface by saying I don't like all of this. I am particularly sensitive to people who write as "we." Often they mean "you" but are too passive agressive to say it that way. I suppose I could launch into a long discorse on why.... but I should just stay on the track I started. Here is the post... 
"Identifying the nature of loving kindness, compassion and bodhichitta 
When practicing meditation on equanimity we should remain impartial towards all sentient beings by eliminating attachment and aversion. 
Once we have generated equanimity toward all sentient beings in our mind, we should meditate on loving kindness.

1}The mind of loving kindness has nature of wishing all sentient beings to have happiness and the cases of happiness.

Once that attitude has been developed, we meditate on compassion for all sentient beings, understanding that the beings of the three realms of existence are intensely tortured by the three types of sufferings.

2}The compassionate mind has the nature of wishing all suffering beings to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

Once this attitude has been developed, we meditating on the awakening mind of Bodhichitta.

3}Bodhichitta is the cultivation of the initial thought that aspires to attain unsurpassable and perfect enlightenment in order to benefit all sentient beings.

If one investigate to find the supreme method for accomplishing the aims of oneself and others, it comes down to Bodhichitta alone. Generate such certainty and develop such a mind with joy.   
Geshe Jamyang Tashi"

What caught my mind the most was the statement near the top "When practicing meditation on equanimity we should remain impartial towards all sentient beings by eliminating attachment and aversion. Once we have generated equanimity toward all sentient beings in our mind, we should meditate on loving kindness."

I started pondering the age old question, "What is a sentient being?" What I always stick on, are items which for me are inanimate. I've seen people assert on soto zen forums that even rocks and trees are sentient. I usually can't get there (as a mental place to be). But then I started considering that the animacy in these situations are a projection of the person so finding them. In otherwords a rock become annimate when I find it to be annimate. My thinking makes it so.

Those thoughts slipped a bit more to aversion and attachment. I wonder if it is aversion or attachment from or to something that preceedes the decision of its annimacy. For example, I usually feel quite neutral about grass. I enjoy grass. It's often quite pleseant to look at and walk on, but I wouldn't quite characterize that feeling as attachment. 

Now, what about people for whom grass is the most important thing? Perhaps a grounds keeper at a world heritage archeological site who has to both keep the grass trim and beautiful for the curb appeal of the location, but also needs to watch the grass to keep it from encroaching distructively into the stones and walls, etc. Such a person might develop an aversion, or an attachment to grass and in lock step, they might begin to personify the grass.  The grass become a sentient being that is either acting for the grounds keeper's benefit (attachment), or is in a battle against them (aversion).

To me this seems plausible, and such a person is basically 'projecting' thier feelings into the grass. I could argue with this person that the grass is not plotting against them (if the person has aversion to the grass), nor does the grass care for an love them (if the person had attachment to the grass). I could point out that the grass has no brain, no observable nervous system, it has not been proven to react in any way in any laboratory setting that would suggest it has any awareness of a person such as a grounds-keeper at all: - but it's likely such a person would pay me no mind at all. All that cold scientific fact would fall on deaf ears.

A person who is attached or averse has certain knowledge that the object is what it is, and, in a sense, animates that object. They project the object's sentiences, after a fashion.  

So, the point of this blog is that I am wondering how that plays out in human interactions. Often when I see one person attached or averse to another they often project all sorts of feelings and motivations to the other with absolutely know real verification if they are correct. Phrases like "they are maniuplating me", or "she does it all for me" come out, without any interview of the object person in question that cooborates the data. 

And this brings me to the fancy that our feelings of aversion and attachment bring sentience even to people. 

But I guess here is very the fancy fails and the answer becomes clear... I think people are sentient regardless of whether I am averse or attached to them. 

Oh well ------- 

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