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    Thread: Mind affecting Body

    1. #1
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      Mind affecting Body

      Hi, i would like to share a curiosity which maybe it can be discussed. It involves the idea of continued birth accordingly to the Law of Kamma.

      First i want to tell that i study Buddhist teachings, i find them very good to understand about the mind, much better than Psychology (at least for my personal experience).

      There are four paramattha dhammas: these are ultimate realities. Accordingly to Buddhism these are: Rupa or the physical aspects (the physical body); Citta or the mind as the six sense consciousness; Cetasikas as mental factors accompanying cittas to assist it in cognizing an object; Nibbana another ultimate reality that can be experienced (developing the "Eightfold Path"). Each of the first three ultimate realities arises and ceases very rapidly.

      Usually there is the classification of Rupa as body and Nama as mind, being the latter the combination of Citta and Cetasika.

      After reflection it is of relevance to say that there is not an entity called "self" but rather the "self" is a concept which involves Nama and Rupa (in other words in Nama and Rupa you find the causes for the concept self to exist or the concept of self can be decomposed into Nama and Rupa).

      If this is not so confusing so far, i shall move to the statement which would be the topic of this post. What does affect the Body accordingly to Buddhism? The Body is affected by: Food, Temperature, Kamma and Nama (mind).

      Keeping that statement in mind, and remembering that body and mind are separate things, that there is no self composed of the two but rather it is a concept, I continue the post with a fact which could be explained by this i mentioned above. This fact is from the book "Twenty cases suggestive reincarnation" by Ian Stevenson (Haven't read it yet).

      Resuming it, it says that Ravi Shankar was born with a scar in his neck and that he recalls being murdered in his previous life by two men who literally chopped off his head with a knife. It is cruel but that was what happened in for real to a man called Munna, who lived close where Ravi Shankar was born. In his book, Ian Stevenson, (i think) mentions that there are more cases in which birth marks aren't actually birth marks but rather marks related to the causes of death in the previous life (maybe im saying this wrong). This could shown the effect of Kamma in the Body.

      Now i move to dreams. Dreams are actually a 'product' of the mind, or at least that's how i interpret them. Have you ever dreamt that you are bitten by a dog or an animal, and then you wake up with pain in wherever the animal has bitten you? Well, my hypothesis is that this could be a real pain, how the mind can affect the body.

      Discussion, opinions, comments, questions, critics are welcome.

      Im sorry if this is unclear, if that is the case i will try to write it more clear and then post it again.
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    2. #2
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      It sounds like you're hovering between discussing psychosomatic effects and false perceptions (that are only false in the sense that they lack an external stimulus as their cause) influenced by suggestion and/or caused by altered states of consciousness, but focused more on the false perceptions.

      The example you give of feeling pain in an area of the body that was bitten by an animal in a dream would be a false perception; as I mentioned in parentheses though, the sensation isn't false in the sense that is somehow fake, it's just that there was a lack of any kind of external stimuli involved. If you want to talk about whether said perception could cause swelling or inflammation where the animal bit you in the dream, then that would be an example of a psychosomatic effect (the mind causing real physiological changes on its own). Psychosomatic responses have been documented as a phenomenon, so the mind can most certainly affect the body.

      I'm not sure if the pain would be experienced the same way in the brain necessarily... as in, if you perform an fMRI while this pain is being experienced, and compare it to an fMRI of brain activity when feeling real, physical pain, it may show activity in different areas of the brain. I haven't looked anything like that up before, but even if the activity shows marked differences, I'm sure that I would still personally classify any pain you feel during a dream as "real" pain, because anything you experience is "real" in the sense that you are experiencing and perceiving it, and it feels convincing to you.

      When it comes to your example of dream pain though, I've never personally had that happen to me. I can't feel pain in any of my dreams--or at the very least, I have never been able to feel pain in any of my dreams so far, whether it be a lucid dream or a non-lucid dream. Maybe I'll look up some info on imagined pain vs. "real" pain fMRI comparison results and come back to share.
      Last edited by snoop; 08-12-2016 at 05:02 PM.
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      Thanks for your comment, you made me realize that what i wanted to explain was actually the psychosomatic effect.

      You are right, i actually never experienced pain in my dreams. It was more likely to be an unpleasant sensation that i connected it with an unconsciouss thought that there should be pain there where im experiencing the cause of this unpleasant sensation. It is also interesting the point that you make about the brain activity, it would be interesting to read some scientific conclusions about that.

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      Well, I didn't mean to make it sound as though you can't feel pain in your dreams... I hope that's not what you thought I meant. I was just stating that, I, personally don't feel pain at all in my dreams. As in, either there is no sensation of it at all, or it's something that I recognize should be painful but is so washed out that I can't feel it. This isn't to say you can't feel pain in dreams though; pain is a mental phenomenon. The physical side effects of that are things like inflammation and what have you.

      So, if you have a dream of a dog biting you, and it really hurts, then that pain is real to you as it happening while awake, the difference being that it doesn't persist or have any physical consequences.

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      Well i thought the following: pain is unpleasant feeling that comes from the bodysense, but if it comes from the mind i wouldn't call it pain. It is unpleasant feeling from the mind, it could be called pain, it could be called suffering (although suffering just doesn't limits to only unpleasant feeling), or it could be called something else, i just don't know which would be the right term if there's any. But let's call pain to unpleasant feeling of the bodysense and unpleasant feeling to that which comes from the mind.
      In a dream since there's no physical body, it wouldn't be right (under these conventions) to call it pain, and that's why i said you were right, i actually never experienced pain in my dreams before, but rather it was an unpleasant feeling from the mind: maybe an expectation of a feeling that came from the interaction in the dream. If it was an expectation im not sure if it was real unpleasant feeling or not, what im sure that the expectation was unpleasant. I should experiment in a dream, preferably lucid, to feel "pain" with no expectation at all, and that way see if i have it or not. I think this like the reality check of breathing through one's hands. In reality you can't do that, in a dream you can. In a dream you can dive in the water and breathe, in reality you can't. However, sometimes in a dream you will feel like you are drowning, and you really do and wake up, and in some other cases you don't. I think that's because of expectations, so experimenting with this would be benefitial.

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      There is certainly a difference between physical and psychological pain, but when it comes to what you're describing, I don't see why it isn't fair to just refer to it as pain. Yes, it's not precipitated by any real physical damage to your body, but you feel it just the same. Referring to it as an unpleasant feeling from the mind is actually more vague than referring to it as pain. There are many unpleasant feelings the mind can produce, and it's easier to know that you are specifically referring to pain. Anyway, pain is strictly a mental phenomenon, this article may give you some insight into what pain is and how it happens.

      To quote a few parts of it:
      Quote Originally Posted by Pain Article
      Pain is not just a message from injured tissues to be accepted at face value, but a complex experience that is thoroughly tuned by your brain. The results are often strange and counter-intuitive, like quantum physics, but the science is clear: every painful sensation is 100% Brain Made®, and there is no pain without brain.
      ...
      Mostly we need to stop thinking of pain in terms of single causes or cures: “It’s all coming from the ____, I know it!” It almost never is.4 Pain is not reliable sign of what’s really going on. Chronic pain is a witch’s brew of different factors, complex by nature (not just coincidence or bad luck). At the very least, pain always has a layer of brain-generated complexity. At the worst, the pain system can malfunction in several colorful ways, causing pain that is much more intense and interesting than just a symptom — sometimes the pain is the problem.
      ...
      Pain is an opinion on the organism’s state of health rather than a mere reflective response to an injury. There is no direct hotline from pain receptors to ‘pain centers’ in the brain. There is so much interaction between different brain centers, like those concerned with vision and touch, that even the mere visual appearance of an opening fist can actually feed all the way back into the patient’s motor and touch pathways, allowing him to feel the fist opening, thereby killing an illusory pain in a nonexistent hand. (This is a quote from a neurologist in reference to phantom limb pain, where an amputee still feels the limb that is missing and it is in pain, and with a clever set up using mirrors, people with cut off hands or arms specifically cn overcome this issue by clenching their fist while looking into the mirror, and relaxing again; this is an entirely mental pain, because it is occurring in the place where an amputated limb should be, but it can't be classified as a simple unpleasant feeling from the mind, it's indistinguishable from physical pain)
      ...
      Based on this model, almost everyone still — today, in 2016 — still assumes that any message sent to the brain by a certain kind of nerve will always cause pain. Health care professionals everywhere still believe that the nerve is “sending pain,” that the signal is pain — and therefore these nerves are habitually called “pain fibers” and their messages are called “pain messages,” an equivalence between signalling and pain baked right into the language. This is wrong! And it’s worse than an oversimplification. For several decades now, it’s been clear to pain scientists and neurologists that this simplistic, pain-fiber model is hopelessly inaccurate. In fact, they call it “the naïve view”! [T]he way pain really works is much more complicated, interesting, and in some ways useful. A nerve should never be call a “pain” nerve. It doesn’t detect “pain.” It only detects some kind of stimulus in the tissue … and the brain decides what to make of it, how to feel about it, and what to do about it, if anything.
      ...
      The brain can boss the nerves around, tell them how sensitive to be. When anxious, the brain might request “more information” from the peripheral nerves, ordering them to produce more signals in response to smaller stimuli. Or it might do exactly the opposite. There is extensive recent evidence that the peripheral nerves can even physically, chemically change, perhaps in response to brain requests, tissue conditions, or both. To extend the analogy, this isn’t just twiddling the volume knob, but changing the equipment, changing the signal before it even gets to the “amplifier.”

      In short, messages about pain don’t just go up to the brain, they go down. This two-way functionality in the pain system is the main difference between modern pain science and old-school pain science.

      But most of the modulation is probably central: we only feel what our brains allow us to feel. Even “loud” sensory messages can be filtered down to almost nothing by the central nervous system … or, conversely, “quiet” sensory messages can be amplified. The quality and intensity of the final experience is clearly the product of an elaborate set of neurological filters.
      These are the points most relevant to our discussion. I know what you're trying to say by referring to dream pain as merely being an unpleasant feeling produced by the mind, but that's exactly my point about pain itself. It isn't something caused by physical damage to your body, it's how your mind chooses to perceive a certain set of stimuli in a given situation. It doesn't make a difference whether the stimulus in question comes from nociceptors (peripheral sensory neurons that activate if stimulated past a certain threshold, and typically the brains response to receiving this message is to cause you to feel pain), or from an entirely mental source, like pain from an amputated limb that isn't actually there (real, physical pain, even though it's caused entirely by the mind), or even from a dream.

    7. #7
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      Well, in a dream i just forget about my physical body, so all that is left is the mind, and all that is felt is in the mind, but ok lets call it nevertheless pain because that is the feeling.

      However i think it does make a difference whether pain is produced by an external stimuli or by the mind itself. Why? Because if it comes from something physical you can check if there's something wrong, and if there is try to correct it. And if it comes from the mind you can train yourself, maybe to don't let that pain bother you because you know it's mentally created, or even find a way to make it dissapear once and for all.

      In terms of feelings, the pain can be the same, but if you can train yourself, the pain that comes from the mind can actually stop to manifest, and there's the difference.
      Amedee likes this.

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