Do you think the theory that mind is an emergent property from the body is irreconcilable with the teachings of the Buddha?
Usually, nama-rupa is referred to as the support of consciousness and consciousness as the support of nama-rupa. So they are always happening together. Without consciousness, the process of kamma cannot lead to a new birth (and thus there can’t be no future nama-rupa), but also without nama-rupa consciousness does not arise, as you can’t have consciousness of anything if you don’t have the support for the arising of that consciousness.
The emergence of mind would be contradicted by a teaching that talks about a consciousness independent of any form of physical element. But so far, I can’t find any, not even in descriptions of the arupa realm.
Besides, there is a discussion if the term rupa should even be translated as matter, or simply as “form” or even “appearance”. If there is no appearance of form, this doesn’t mean a denial of the presence of non-perceptible physical elements (neither an affirmation, of course).
That is not to say that I support any interpretation of Dhamma which excludes cyclic birth (like Batchelor’s). I think that kamma being the cause of birth is completely central to what the Buddha taught.
The Buddha did not explicitly say that rupa is an emergent property from consciousness (like later some Yogachara thinkers would propose) nor that consciousness is an emergent property of physical elements (like contemporary science of mind says). But I’m coming to think that in the end these two options don’t really make any difference in terms of what the Buddha was teaching.
He taught that birth is suffering, and it is caused by action moistened by craving. He didn’t explicitly explain the mechanism by which such action causes birth. Yogacharas theorized an alaya-vijñana with seeds. Abhidhamma theorized that consciousness and rupa are two different dhammas with their own separate nature. I also see the possibility of phsyicial chain reactions of cause and result which lead to a future birth resulting from a previous one (being consciousness an emergent property throughout this phyiscial process).
I don’t go so far as saying I hold this kind of view… but I think the mechanism of the connection between kamma and birth is not explicitly explained in the suttas (as far as I know). So even a person who holds a physicalist view can adopt Buddha’s message about the cause of birth/suffering and liberation from birth/suffering.
What do you guys think?