Mind-life continuity: A qualitative study of conscious experience
There are two fundamental models to understanding the phenomenon of natural life. One is the computational model, which is based on the symbolic thinking paradigm. The other is the biological organism model. The common difficulty attributed to these paradigms is that their reductive tools allow the phenomenological aspects of experience to remain hidden behind yes/no responses (behavioral tests), or brain 'pictures' (neuroimaging). Hence, one of the problems regards how to overcome methodological difficulties towards a non-reductive investigation of conscious experience. It is our aim in this paper to show how cooperation between Eastern and Western traditions may shed light for a non-reductive study of mind and life. This study focuses on the first-person experience associated with cognitive and mental events. We studied phenomenal data as a crucial fact for the domain of living beings, which, we expect, can provide the ground for a subsequent third-person study. The intervention with Jhana meditation, and its qualitative assessment, provided us with experiential profiles based upon subjects' evaluations of their own conscious experiences. The overall results should move towards an integrated or global perspective on mind where neither experience nor external mechanisms have the final word.