tomamundsen wrote:I actually agree with a lot of what he is saying here. Does he kind of consider himself as a Buddhist? He says stuff like this "As students of the Buddha, we should dispense with Buddhism."
The main sticking point I see here is that he describes the problem with religion, but it doesn't really apply to Buddhism. "If you really believe that calling God by the right name can spell the difference between eternal happiness and eternal suffering, then it becomes quite reasonable to treat heretics and unbelievers rather badly." Buddhism, fortunately, doesn't have this problem.
Yes, but he is not just talking about the "bad parts" of religion, but religion period - to him it is all the same, and pretty much only can have negative historical interpretations. Among other things, you find the New Atheists seemingly asserting that religion plays an almost exclusively negative role in human history, such a simplistic, reductionist interpretation of something so interwoven into human history. You wouldn't think such educated minds would even pay it any heed. I get the impression that for Harris "religion" includes belief, or even tolerance of belief in anything whatsoever which has no empirical proof by the standards of science, generally him, Dawkins, Hitchens etc. will say it is all superstitious nonsense..like most materialists he thinks that you either have to fully accept or reject a thing literally, only two modes, true and false.
So again I ask, why would someone like this be interested in Buddhism? Doesn't science, and philosophies derivative of western science provide all the answers needed for the naive realists worldview? I really question the usefulness of Buddhism to someone who thinks that thought is a mere byproduct of physical existence.
I believe he practices Buddhist meditation, but is probably a good example of someone who wants to have their cake and eat it too, denying any of the icky 'supernatural' stuff but liking all the basic grounded ethics, mindfulness and such. I'm glad that Buddhism appeals to the 'non religious' - that certainly would've included me at one time, but eventually anyone interested in it has to either decide to "be ok" on some level with the stuff that he wishes could just be yanked out, or decided to reject it entirely, which i'm sure is the case for him simply because his worldview prohibits it. So basically Buddhism here is just self help. You can see he repeatedly mentions taking Buddhism out it's "religious context" and making it some kind of subordinate philosophy to secular humanism, sounds awful to me...for both philosophies.
It's funny, in my late teens/early 20s (before any of the New Atheists were so publicly prominent) I was a rabid atheist/naive realist, but now that I get to see the arguments actually put out there in the public sphere..either i've changed beyond recognition, or the arguments are simply a lot more pedestrian than I thought, and not worthy of the attention they receive.
Of course in a general sense it's easy to agree with his criticisms of religious violence, but when you look under the hood of this request for "non Buddhist Buddhism", there doesn't seem to be much there but a guy with a materialist worldview (which incidentally helps drive a machine IMO every bit as violent as those he talks about driving religious wars) who wants a "better" ethics for his chosen outlook without having to look at the worldview itself.