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Upon asking about over-watching Youtube, I wondered if this activity was detrimental because it was merely sensory without much cognition. Buddhism usually promotes seemingly either attention (mindfulness), action (compassion), or even contemplation (analytical meditation).

Therefore, I am wondering whether Buddhism considers that activities relying solely on the senses and the body cause detriment? Do only activities with a cognitive or mindful component bring benefit?

Also, I feel vipassana is divided between bodily observations as the body itself and feeling, and mental observations as mind and dhammas. Is this seemingly complementary approach linked explicitly with integration of body-mind?

Thank you

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I don't think mere "cognition" is necessarily helpful.

And Buddhism might regard "cognition" as merely another sense, the 6th sense -- i.e. with the "cognition of thoughts" being objects of the mind, comparable with the "seeing of sights" being objects of the eye.

Examples of mere cognition might, I suppose, include watching videos, reading books, arguing online, doing cross-word puzzles...

What might be more helpful is "directed" thought, purposeful, intentional -- and preferably with a motive which aligns with Buddhist values and morality (e.g. beneficial, harmless, liberating).

I think that's related to "energy" -- i.e. that's a type of cognition which is associated with, from which derives, a self-sustaining energy.

I don't know of a canonical reference to justify this answer, though.

This article -- The Seven Factors of Enlightenment -- implies there may be some connection between "energy" and "purposefulness":

The third enlightenment factor is viriya, energy. It is a mental property (cetasika) and the sixth limb of the Noble Eightfold Path, there called samma-vayama, right effort.

The life of the Buddha clearly reveals that he was never subjected to moral or spiritual fatigue. From the hour of his enlightenment to the end of his life, he strove tirelessly to elevate mankind, regardless of the bodily fatigue involved, and oblivious to the many obstacles and handicaps that hampered his way. He never relaxed in his exertion for the common weal. Though physically he was not always fit, mentally he was ever vigilant and energetic. Of him it is said:

Ah, wonderful is the Conqueror,
Who e'er untiring strives
For the blessing of all beings, for
the comfort of all lives.

Buddhism is for the sincerely zealous, strong and firm in purpose, and not for the indolent (araddhviriyassayam dhammo nayam dhammo kusitassa). The Buddha {etc.}

And "mindfulness" ought to be helpful -- that is assuming that "mindfulness" means not just "attention" but "remembering the Dhamma".

  • Just to be clear, are you saying that activity aligned with Buddhist values promotes self-sustaining energy? – Eggman May 14 at 13:57
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    Yes, purposeful activity -- however I don't really know what the scriptures say about that. – ChrisW May 14 at 14:07
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In the Pali Canon the Buddha talks about metaphorical "foods". In addition to the physical food, there is emotional "food", conceptual "food", and the "food" of purposeful action.

All these "foods" are fuel or sustenance (upādāna) in the sense that they serve as support for "future becoming and renewed existence".

Obviously, different quality of "food" creates different "future becoming and renewed existence". "Food" can be spoiled or rotten or even poisonous.

It sounds like your problem has nothing to do with mindfulness - instead, it has to do with the type of "food" you eat, as well as the quantity.

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Therefore, I am wondering whether Buddhism considers that activities relying solely on the senses and the body cause detriment? Do only activities with a cognitive or mindful component bring benefit?

I'm sceptic to whether we can have activities completely free from any form of cognition (if that's what you're referring to) unless maybe we're asleep or in a coma. Our organisms will always be active in all six sense modalities, so the question becomes whether we're attentive to them or not. If i'm not mistaken it's all a matter of the scope of our perception (mindfulness).

Also, I feel vipassana is divided between bodily observations as the body itself and feeling, and mental observations as mind and dhammas. Is this seemingly complementary approach linked explicitly with integration of body-mind?

I could be wrong, but looking at it as integration is perhaps the opposite purpose of vipassana, since at least one aspect of investigative meditation aims to become more aware of the individual skandhas. It then becomes a process of dissolution of the concept of self, rather than integration.

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