Post on “Rupa and Rupakkhandha, Nāma and Nāmagotta”

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    • #33912
      me1
      Participant

      Rupa and Rupakkhandha, Nāma and Nāmagotta

      I recently learned about aphantasia, which is the inability to visualize mental images.

      In the above post, under section 4: “Only when you recall memory is that you “regenerate” that “mental image” in your mind. We will discuss that mechanism in upcoming posts.”

      Which posts is this mechanism discussed? Is it possible to update the posts to explain how aphantasia might affect this mechanism.

    • #33913
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Thank you for bringing up this topic. I had not heard about it.

      Just watched the following youtube video. It seems to explain “aphantasia” well.

      I need to think about this. But I may have aphantasia, at least to some degree.
      – In the meantime, I hope others will comment on this issue and also comment on whether they have it, i.e., whether they can vividly recall imagery in their minds.
      – Note that it is NOT about being able to recall memories. I have no problem recalling memories, but forming vivid images with the eyes closed? I feel the same as the lady who describes her situation in the video. I need to go back to sleep. May be I will do better during the daytime.

    • #33915
      Lal
      Keymaster

      I do have aphantasia.
      – I cannot automatically “see” any memory in vivid colors in my mind. But there is a sort of “black and white” kind of imagery that I recall. Again, I have no difficulty recalling memories.
      – If I try hard, I can form a red apple in my mind’s eye. That is all.

      Here is another informative video, where the presenter seems to have aphantasia just like me.

    • #33928
      me1
      Participant

      I found this explanation interesting. In order to remember memories, this person says he remembers it like we remember facts we read from a book:

      What did you do today?

      I don’t know. I don’t know what I did today.

      Answering questions like this requires me to “do mental work,” the way you might if you’re struggling to recall what happened in the Battle of Trafalgar. If I haven’t prepared, I can’t begin to answer.

      He does have access to past information:

      So you don’t know what I look like?

      I know facts about the characteristics of your face. If you have radiant blue eyes, I may have stored that information. I know the “essence” of your face, but I’m unable to project it visually in my mind because there’s no screen.

      But his sensory recall is limited:

      I do have the ‘milk voice’—that flat, inner monologue that has no texture or sound, which we use to tell ourselves: “Remember to pick up milk.”
      […]
      More generally, I have no sensory experience in my mind of any discernible nature.

    • #33935
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Thanks. I have spent some time looking into this interesting phenomenon. The following are my thoughts.

      1. While “aphantasia” is interesting, it does not seem to be a drawback. As I will explain below, it may be beneficial to have “Aphantasia”.

      2. While some people have it from birth, others have lost their ability to visualize in the mind’s eye after heart operations. Therefore, it may not have anything to do with the brain.

      3. This phenomenon was discovered only in 2010. We may learn more about it in the coming years.

      Here is a video with more information:

      4. Having Aphantasia could be a good thing in the following sense. This is what is keep coming to my mind, and I hope someone without Aphantasia will comment on this.
      – When all those vivid pictures in color coming to the mind, would not that be a distraction while meditating?
      – Some people have the ability to recall memories in great detail. The person in the following video says it is a “big burden.”

      The reason that it is a “big burden” could be what I mentioned above. Imagine a “virtual TV” that constantly “ON”!
      – That video and that particular phenomenon (HSAM) is discussed in the post:
      Recent Evidence for Unbroken Memory Records (HSAM)

    • #33940
      TripleGemStudent
      Participant

      2. While some people have it from birth, others have lost their ability to visualize in the mind’s eye after heart operations. Therefore, it may not have anything to do with the brain.

      – Not just heart surgery, but other types of surgery as well.

      HELP – surgery induced aphantasia?? from Aphantasia

      – I believe it’s possible prescription drugs can also cause aphantasia.

      Aphantasia as aquired after use of SSRi:s from Aphantasia

      – There are several classes of prescription medications that can cause aphasia. Although aphasia is not the same as aphantasia, but it’s possible there might be a connection.

      – In my opinion, Lipitor (a cholesterol lowering drug) is not a very beneficial prescription medication to take at all. . . Cholesterol is one of the most important things for our bodies, we cannot live without it. There’s many important functions of cholesterol that helps our body, especially for our brain.

      4. Having Aphantasia could be a good thing in the following sense.

      – Might be a good thing for us Buddhist practitioners, but for ordinary people, it might cause them depression and mental health issues . . Especially of those who require imaginative skills for work, such as artists, etc . .

      Some links you might be interested in taking a look at.

      AMA: I’m a memory researcher with aphantasia. Ask me anything (about memory) from Aphantasia

      http://sites.exeter.ac.uk/eyesmind/

      https://www.reddit.com/r/Aphantasia/

    • #33948
      Lal
      Keymaster

      A quote from TripleGemStudent’s post: “Might be a good thing for us Buddhist practitioners, but for ordinary people, it might cause them depression and mental health issues . . Especially of those who require imaginative skills for work, such as artists, etc . .”

      That is what I thought too.
      – But it would be good to see comments from those who don’t have Aphantasia (i.e., those who CAN see memories in color) whether it is a hindrance to meditation.

    • #33951
      TripleGemStudent
      Participant

      “That is what I thought too.
      – But it would be good to see comments from those who don’t have Aphantasia (i.e., those who CAN see memories in color) whether it is a hindrance to meditation.”

      – I believe it depends on the person and as well what the goal of the meditation is for. For instance, there’s meditators out there that meditates on Kasina objects. Some athletes might meditate (or visualize) repetitive motions or techniques, while others have their own goals and objectives when it comes to meditation. In my opinion, there is really no correct answer to this question because what might be a hindrance to one person, might not be for the other person.

      For example, I believe Aphantasia can be beneficial for us Pure Dhamma meditators, but it could be a hinderance for artist, athletes, etc . . .

      When I reflect back to when I first started meditating, I would say being able to visualize and recall sensations such as taste was a hinderance to my meditation because I would start to do sankhara and kamma those thoughts. But now since I understand what they are, it doesn’t really hinder with my meditation. But for some, having Aphantasia would hinder their meditation, since some people want to visualize (in color, shapes, etc.) and feel (sensations) on whatever that their meditating on.

      Now that I think more about this, having Aphantasia can possibly be a hinderance for those who does Metta bhavana trying to recall people’s faces or past events. Or trying to recall a Buddha statue.

      So I believe there’s really no correct answer to this question. It really depends on the person and the objective of their meditation. It can also go both ways for the same person, hinderance and non-hinderance/beneficial or both depending on their meditation objective.

    • #33955
      Lal
      Keymaster

      This is a “good teachable moment.”

      TripleGemStudent wrote: ” I believe it depends on the person and as well what the goal of the meditation is for. For instance, there’s meditators out there that meditates on Kasina objects.”

      – Those meditators who meditate on kasina objects are NOT Buddhist meditators. Buddhist kasina meditation does not involve any “objects” belonging to this world. This is why breath meditation is also not a Buddhist meditation. See, “Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhimagga – A Focused Analysis” and “Is Ānāpānasati Breath Meditation?
      – There are no “worldly objects” involved in Buddhist meditation. It is all about removing greed, anger, ignorance from one’s mind.

      “Some athletes might meditate (or visualize) repetitive motions or techniques, while others have their own goals and objectives when it comes to meditation.”
      – Again, that is a mundane matter. However, the premise is correct. Having the ability to visualize better would help those athletes.

      “For example, I believe Aphantasia can be beneficial for us Pure Dhamma meditators, but it could be a hindrance for artist, athletes, etc . . .”
      – Yes. It depends on whether one wants to stay engaged in the rebirth process or whether one wants to seek Nibbana. In this website, we are not interested in improving athletic skills.

      “Now that I think more about this, having Aphantasia can possibly be a hindrance for those who does Metta bhavana trying to recall people’s faces or past events.”
      – That is not fully correct either. One does not need to cultivate Metta towards one person. One should cultivate metta towards all living beings.
      – However, if one is trying to get rid of animosity towards a specific person, it is true.

    • #33973
      TripleGemStudent
      Participant

      Thank you Lal for the teachable moment. May the teaching bring benefit to I and all the worldly living beings.

      “– There are no “worldly objects” involved in Buddhist meditation. It is all about removing greed, anger, ignorance from one’s mind.”

      Can anything related to the five aggregates be considered as the “worldly objects” you mentioned?

    • #33974
      Lal
      Keymaster

      TripleGemStudent asked: “Can anything related to the five aggregates be considered as the “worldly objects” you mentioned?”

      Worldly things, such as the five aggregates, should be contemplated ONLY with respect to their anicca, dukkha, anatta nature, i.e., how valuing them leads one down the wrong path and to future suffering, and the unfruitfulness of them (and how eventually one becomes helpless if those are pursued).
      – Again, we need to remember that the five aggregates are our memories, future expectations, and present actions. Furthermore, we need to realize that only pancupadanakkhandha are the problem, those that we attach to via greed, anger, and ignorance.
      – There are other ACTIONS that we may pursue which do not belong to pancupadanakkhandha. Those do not involve attachment to this world. For example, pursuing Nibbana does not fall into that category.

      In contrast, one focuses on a kasina object or on the breath in anariya meditations (expecting that such procedures will lead to lasting happiness).
      – Those actions are done with ignorance. They are not beneficial in the long run, and only distract one from the correct path.

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