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Sam Harris and Buddhism - Dhamma Wheel

Sam Harris and Buddhism

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
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clw_uk
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Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby clw_uk » Tue Mar 10, 2009 6:31 pm

I recently seen a programme with Sam Harris where he stated that Buddhist meditation should be brought into study and no longer be called Buddhist meditation on the grounds that we dont call physics that came from Christians as "Christian Physics" or algebra as "Muslim Algebra".


While meditation can certainly be scientific i dont think you can seperate buddhist meditation from the buddhism (if that makes sense), what do you all think?
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

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Tex
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby Tex » Tue Mar 10, 2009 7:45 pm

Physics did not have Christian salvation as its aim, and algebra did not have Muslim salvation as its aim.

The aim of Buddhist meditation is to further one's Buddhist practice toward Buddhist goals; it's not a mundane field of study like physics or algebra that might be of interest to persons of any faith.

It's a pretty terrible analogy, in my opinion.
"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -- Heraclitus

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clw_uk
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby clw_uk » Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:13 pm

I think he said it because he sees the teachings of the Buddha being trapped in the religion of Buddhism
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Snowmelt
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby Snowmelt » Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:07 pm

How useful is the feverish Western pursuit of truth - and feverish promotion of the importance of truth - above all else? Does it result in happiness? Does it produce truth? Does it reduce the amount of lies in the world? I would appreciate any comments on this.

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Ben
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby Ben » Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:32 pm

Sam Harris is brilliant and his writings will have a profound impact on the world as we know it.

It is better to try and understand his ideas through some of his work, such as 'the end of faith'. There you will find an implicit acknowledgement of the value of Buddhist spirituality. Taking one of his ideas out of context fails to represent him or his ideas well.
Kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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pink_trike
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:50 pm

Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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clw_uk
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby clw_uk » Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:15 pm

Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

Mawkish1983
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby Mawkish1983 » Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:30 pm

As I see it, meditation is a tool. We are using computers to learn about the Dhamma in this very forum... but I don't think we'd ever seriously call them 'Buddhist computers'. Computers are a tool. Meditation is a tool. Christians also meditate, as do many other religions I can think of. The difference I suppose is the intention.

Maybe I've missed the point here, but I sort-of agree: the term 'Buddhist meditation' is as absract to me as the term 'Buddhist computer'.

Am I missing something? :s

:anjali:

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pink_trike
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Tue Mar 10, 2009 11:22 pm

Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

nathan
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby nathan » Tue Mar 10, 2009 11:59 pm

But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Prasadachitta
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby Prasadachitta » Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:47 am

"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Tex
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby Tex » Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:42 am

Okay, so I read the wiki entry for Sam Harris and was intrigued enough to look up some other links and some of his youtube videos, and I really like what he has to say, I'll definitely be buying his books.

I still don't agree with the intial quote/paraphrase, but I'm quite intrigued by just about everything else I've read and listened to in the last hour or so, and I'd previously only heard of him in passing, so thanks for this thread.
"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -- Heraclitus

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jcsuperstar
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:50 am

the other day at school another student told my girlfriend that meditation came from the devil and can make you crazy and all sorts of stuff.
my girlfriend (whos thai and been buddhist all her life ) came to me to ask me about this.
i told her if you want to know about buddhism ask a buddhist, and even better ask a buddhist who's actually studied buddhism.

i believe this attitude works well whether the person is praising buddhism or condemming it.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Ben
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby Ben » Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:53 am

Hi Tex

I recommend you go for 'End of Faith'. "Letter to a Christian Nation" is brilliant as well but it is 'End of Faith' distilled to 90 pages.
Metta

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Tex
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby Tex » Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:05 am

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -- Heraclitus

nathan
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby nathan » Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:16 am

But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Ben
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby Ben » Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:32 am

Hi Nathan

I agree, there is some of Harris' arguments that I find very difficult and deeply challenging, in particular his arguments for pre-emptive strike against militant muslim nations and the use of torture. Having said that, I still think we should listen to those voices who present views divergent to our own which are challenging. What Harris portrays in presenting such an argument is the seriousness, complexity and intractability of the geo-political situation we now find ourselves in.

And I don;t mean to quarantine his views regarding meditation, the transcendent experience and the dominant christian culture of the west but they are also worthy of attention. I should make it clear that Sam Harris isn't a Buddhist, or using Mawkish's nomenclature, an 'invisible Buddhist'. So i think it is potentially unwise to judge him assuming he is Buddhist.
Metta

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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pink_trike
Posts: 1130
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 am
Contact:

Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby pink_trike » Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:47 am

Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

nathan
Posts: 692
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:11 am

Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby nathan » Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:36 am

I'm not making any judgements Ben. These are concerns raised by what little I have seen of the critique. Based on what little I have read I do think his ethics are rationally flawed and that I can demonstrate that either with or without resort to buddhist doctrine in a rational way. That is why his advocacy of violence is flawed and his views on meritorious kamma are skewed. I suspect his understanding of buddhism and his ethics would be better represented by his writing so if someone can post something more definitive it would help. I don't have adequate network access for video bitstreams and only very very low bandwidth audio. I'm not inclined to buy his books but I am not passing any judgments. Within his cultural context his voice is reflective of a real if somewhat varied constituency I am sure. There were similar intellectual movements under past conditions similar to those in play today. They can go either way.

A serious military analyst would find his thinking laughable. Here is one I have found who's analysis is astute.
http://www.gwynnedyer.com/
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Ben
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Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Postby Ben » Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:59 am

Thanks Nathan

I appreciate your point of view. I'm not familiar with Gwynne Dyer - did he respond to Harris?
Metta

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..


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