Investigating Methodology

In this recent blog I discussed phassa – the conditioning moment, it was based on a model of accumulating selves into the modular mind. Before I discuss the methodology I want to discuss this accumulation process. In this wiki, modular mind has different descriptions, I am going to add a description and place it in the context of Buddhadasa’s model:-

I want only to be clear how I am using this modular mind notion. I want to use the Buddhist approach of khandas, again only for clarity and precision. These khandas are rupa – sense experience, vedana – emotion, sanna – memory/perception, sankhara -mental operation, and consciousness. Consider an incident that might add to racism. A man is walking down the street, and a group of black youths surround him and steal his watch and chain. Various senses associated with this experience will include reactions of fear and pain. His consciousness might recall memories of similar experiences or recall other people’s experiences. His fear and pain might reinforce these experiences giving strength to this set of circumstances. Mental operations might connect this strong experience with a number of other experiences and characterise the experience as typical of black people. As a result the man might add this to a more permanent feeling of racism (a self), and this could add to the feeling of racism that already exists in the modular mind. Or it might create a new module of racism in the mind. This would be how I would connect experience to the modular mind – I have described it as accumulation, and modular mind would fit in with the self system of the Buddhadasa approach.

This next paragraph is not connected to the theme of this blog – the educational methodology, but I want to include it because the process is integral to what I consider proper understanding. In academic consideration of modular mind, such a wider context need not be included – that is academia’s choice, but for me it is important to include the whole process. It is not sufficient to recognise that we add these selves as part of this modular mind – the self system. If the system is left like this, then we could view this modular mind as being an increasing accumulation of selves. But Buddhadasa would not see this accumulation as an ongoing process only, he would say that selves need not remain as part of the modular mind. In fact he would say that it is best not to have such selves as they clutter the mind. If the modular mind is a totality of these selves and yet Buddhadasa suggests removing them, then what is left to enable mind to function? What is left would be the natural wisdom that is known as sunnata or emptiness. I am not asking academia to accept such an understanding, but I don’t want the process of accumulating to modular mind to be seen as being the end of a path towards wisdom. However in my view such an accumulation is a natural process of mind, it is instinctive.

Now the purpose of this blog is to recognise the conditioning process, and understand how we can incorporate an understanding of this conditioning into a teaching methodology. The key learning point is the conditioning point, and any methodology has to understand how this point can be used.

Firstly we should understand that it is not the conditioning process itself that we should see unfavourably but how we approach it. For some conditioning is seen as behaviourism, dogs being conditioned to do something. Consider writing, is it a good idea that we learn to write? Of course it is a basic skill. Should one consider that as wage-slaves we are required to write? Should we then say that writing is not part of education? It is clear that writing is an acceptable part of our conditioning – acceptable education. There are many such educational basic skills that we need to accept conditioning for.

Scientific method would normally be considered acceptable education. In most situations with regards to school education, understanding and applying scientific method is a basic skill and should be part of the curriculum. But scientific method is only appropriate for scientific investigation, and it would be a conditioned response to say that all knowledge has to be subject to scientific method. As part of this blog on scientific method and acupuncture I have argued that it is not always applied appropriately. Yet I have argued that science should be used to promote the use of epidemic vaccines, that science does not usually justify the use of flu vaccines, and that there needs to be funding for research into the treatment of cancer in terms of questioning the existing treatments and investigating whether alternative treatments are appropriate. Before assuming science is appropriate, ask the question. In the situation of science the conditioning moment exists but the model is not exactly the same. Here is the conditioning model used so far:-

sense experiences, behaviour, memories, perceptions, thoughts and ideas.
accumulating to the modular mind.

In the situation of verifying acupuncture (which is only a western problem as there are many millions throughout Asia who accept it as knowledge), there is clinging that occurs – clinging to the dogma of western medicine as discussed by Rupert Sheldrake. What leads up to this clinging? Years of education within a medical education establishment that only supports allopathic medicine. The emotion of the above model is tentative, it is the emotional acceptance of western medical educational establishment. The conditioning is more in line with a Pavlovian understanding of conditioning, we have been trained to accept the medical education establishment’s view. There needs to be an intercession between the observations and the application of scientific method (clinging to scientific method) so as to make a decision as to whether scientific method is appropriate.

What about proving the existence of God? Would we use scientific method to verify the existence of God? For some this is knowledge and for others it isn’t. It is generally accepted that it is legitimate to have a belief. Some would argue that the existence of chi is a belief depending on which part of the globe you were born in.

But in terms of examining the methodology of conditioning, there is a conditioning moment, the moment between making the observations and applying scientific method as a conditioned response. At this moment the question can be asked “Is scientific method appropriate?”

One key word might be routine, we follow conditioned routines and such routines should be questioned.

Let us examine the use of epidemic vaccines as discussed here. It is the routine that babies are vaccinated because epidemic vaccines have proven to have wiped out disease such as small pox, measles, diptheria, whooping cough and so on. So at the conditioning moment you ask “should I vaccinate?”, and the answer is yes because epidemics have been wiped out and vaccines don’t work unless we all take them. There are powerful people funding the position that people should have freedom of choice. This is irresponsible because allowing freedom of choice prevents the effectiveness of the vaccine. There are doubts about the use of chemical in vaccines. Unless I am a scientist I cannot answer that so I have to accept the science, and hope that sufficient scientists are asking the questions and hope that BigPharma are listening to the questions. But for the lay conditioning moment there is no choice we must take the vaccine.

Here is a point of conditioning that is not often considered, when is it appropriate for our intellect to intercede? We are conditioned by academia to believe that intellect can answer all, so we believe we can have informed consent about these matters of science. This informed consent is conditioning. We should be informed as to what our appropriate choice is, and with regards to epidemic vaccines there is no choice – vaccines don’t work unless we all take them.

This is why Buddhadasa’s model is so helpful (psyche contains sankhara – mental operations(intellect)), because it recognises the importance of not attaching to the intellect, not to accept the conditioning that we attach to the intellect with mental proliferations. It is a matter of conditioning that we always accept intellect, but to overcome conditioning there is a conditioning moment when we ask “is it appropriate to use intellect?”

So yet again times when we would assume to follow the usual routine is not always appropriate, and we need to consider whether we are giving a conditioned response. In effect we have become attached to a way of thinking, that is the routine. The model becomes:-

sense experiences, behaviour, memories, perceptions, thoughts and ideas.
remember a way of thinking
attach to a way of thinking
cling to a way of thinking
accumulating to the modular mind.

The intellect version of this model would be

sense experiences, behaviour, memories, perceptions, thoughts and ideas.
applying intellect as a way of thinking
attach to intellect
clinging to intellect
accumulating to the modular mind.

This model could be seen as how a person becomes too intellectual – too academic, not knowing when to use intellect. These people are often socially awkward, sometimes affectionately known as geeks.

There is a conditioning moment between the observation and remembering a way of thinking or applying intellect, it is at this conditioning moment that we must ask the question or we will give a conditioned response.

In terms of our education methodology we must decide how it is appropriate to make students aware of these conditioning moments.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Mandtao, Zandtao.


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