Waking Up Sam Harris

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  • Hans
    Member
    • Mar 2007
    • 1853

    Waking Up Sam Harris

    Hello dear Treeleafers,

    I am not so great at using my mum's borrowed iPad, so excuse the clumsy typing.

    Sam Harris just published his new book "Waking Up" a few days ago. Since I have to work a lot at the moment I haven't read more than the first two chapters...but it sure makes interesting reading IMHO.

    The first chapter has been published on his website www.samharris.org , so maybe it's worth looking at that before considering a purchase.

    Gassho and all the best,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
  • Kyonin
    Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
    • Oct 2010
    • 6739

    #2
    Thanks, Hans!

    I really like Sam. I'll see if I can buy the book soon.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

    Comment

    • Kyotai

      #3
      Originally posted by Hans
      Hello dear Treeleafers,

      I am not so great at using my mum's borrowed iPad, so excuse the clumsy typing.

      Sam Harris just published his new book "Waking Up" a few days ago. Since I have to work a lot at the moment I haven't read more than the first two chapters...but it sure makes interesting reading IMHO.

      The first chapter has been published on his website www.samharris.org , so maybe it's worth looking at that before considering a purchase.

      Gassho and all the best,

      Hans Chudo Mongen
      I recently listened to Joe Rogan interview sam harris via podcast. I highly recommend it for those who like Sam Harris. ...and perhaps joe rogan, and have 3 hours to spare.

      Thanks for the book recommendation Hans.

      Gassho, Shawn

      Comment

      • Mp

        #4
        Thanks Hans,

        I will have a gander at it. =)

        Gassho
        Shingen

        Comment

        • Myosha
          Member
          • Mar 2013
          • 2974

          #5
          Hello,

          Thank you for the link.

          Sam Harris seems sincere in working to help. The last sentence of the chapter -

          ". . .the realistic goal to be attained through spiritual practice is not some permanent state of enlightenment that admits of no further efforts but a capacity to be free in this moment, in the midst of whatever is happening."

          That is a good summary of what he's selling.

          Goalless-goals work as well.^^


          Gassho,
          Myosha
          Last edited by Myosha; 06-14-2015, 02:10 PM.
          "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

          Comment

          • Daiyo
            Member
            • Jul 2014
            • 819

            #6
            I haven't heard or read before about this man.

            I'll take a look.

            Thanks, Hans.

            Gassho,
            Walter
            Gassho,Walter

            Comment

            • Jundo
              Treeleaf Founder and Priest
              • Apr 2006
              • 39065

              #7
              Originally posted by walter
              I haven't heard or read before about this man.
              What is most notable about Mr. Harris is that, while being quite smitten with Buddhist Practice and meditation, he is simultaneously considered one of the top spokespersons for the atheists movement right up there with Richard Dawkins!



              This just goes to show that one can Practice Buddhism and be many other things too, in my view: I sometimes say that one can practice Zen Buddhism while also a Republican, Democrat or apolitical, Catholic, Jewish or Muslim, Atheist or Agnostic. I would say that, so long as it is a belief system that avoids hate, violence, excess greed and such (e.g., a "Zen Buddhist Nazi" will go a dark way), all can mix.

              Gassho, J
              Last edited by Jundo; 09-16-2014, 04:05 AM.
              ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

              Comment

              • RichardH
                Member
                • Nov 2011
                • 2800

                #8
                I do not understand how someone can practice Buddhism and be a committed theist or atheist. Aren't those the kind of ultimate positions that are undermined by sitting in openness?

                It makes sense to speak from a theistic angle in one context, and an atheistic angle in another context. If I'm talking with a Christian friend it might feel right to use the language of God and Grace. If talking to a friend who is science minded, or an atheist, a different language makes sense. It makes sense to have an honest view or perspective and have passion around it, but how could that view become fixed in the mind? Staking out an absolute position might be effective politics, but is it really held absolutely?

                I don't get it.


                Gassho
                Daizan
                Last edited by RichardH; 09-16-2014, 01:16 PM.

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39065

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Daizan
                  I do not understand how someone can practice Buddhism and be a committed theist or atheist. Aren't those the kind of ultimate positions that are undermined by sitting in openness?

                  It makes sense to speak from a theistic angle in one context, and an atheistic angle in another context. If I'm talking with a Christian friend it might feel right to use the language of God and Grace. If talking to a friend who is science minded, or an atheist, a different language makes sense. It makes sense to have an honest view or perspective and have passion around it, but how could that view become fixed in the mind? Staking out an absolute position might be effective politics, but is it really held absolutely?

                  I don't get it.


                  Gassho
                  Daizan
                  Can one Practice Zen with a firm belief that there is life on other planets? Can one Practice Zen with a firm belief that we are alone in the universe? Can one Practice Zen with a firm belief that Buddha actually lived on this planet. Can one Practice Zen with a firm belief that Buddha was a largely made up story by people long after his lifetime? Can one Practice with a deep belief in post-this life Rebirth? Without such a belief?

                  In no case have you any proof of their existence, or personal experience, only suspicions and beliefs learned from others. Yet if you do believe ... NO PROBLEM! One can still Practice Zen just the same!

                  Zen is no more impacted by whether there is a "God" or no "God" than it is impacted by whether there is a table or no table in the same room where you sit Zazen. In either case ... table/no table or God/No God ... the sitting is the same. That is because we always sit as "what is" ... and if there is a table, that is "what is. If there is no table, that is "what is".

                  I often say ...

                  f there is a "God" ... whether in the Judeo-Christian way or some other, whether named "Allah" "Jehovah" "Thor" "Brahma" or "Stanley" ... I will fetch water and chop wood, seeking to live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way).

                  If there is no "God" "Allah" or "Stanley", or any source or creator or point to the universe at all, I will fetch water and chop wood, seeking to live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way).

                  I do not know if, in the next life, that "gentle way, avoiding harm" will buy me a ticket to heaven and keep me out of hell ... but I know for a fact that it will go far to do so in this life, today, where I see people create all manner of "heavens and hells" for themselves and those around them by their harmful words, thoughts and acts in this life.

                  And if there is a "heaven and hell" in the next life, or other effects of Karma now ... well, my actions now have effects then too, and might be the ticket to heaven or good rebirth.

                  In other words, whatever the case ... today, now ... live in a gentle way, avoiding harm to self and others (not two, by the way) ... seeking to avoid harm now and in the future too.
                  Gassho, J
                  Last edited by Jundo; 09-16-2014, 01:33 PM.
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • Anshu Bryson
                    Member
                    • Aug 2014
                    • 566

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Daizan
                    I do not understand how someone can practice Buddhism and be a committed theist or atheist. Aren't those the kind of ultimate positions that are undermined by sitting in openness?

                    It makes sense to speak from a theistic angle in one context, and an atheistic angle in another context. If I'm talking with a Christian friend it might feel right to use the language of God and Grace. If talking to a friend who is science minded, or an atheist, a different language makes sense. It makes sense to have an honest view or perspective and have passion around it, but how could that view becomes fixed in the mind? Staking out an absolute position might be effective politics, but is it really held absolutely?

                    I don't get it.


                    Gassho
                    Daizan
                    Hi Daizan,

                    I see absolutely no conflict between engaging in Buddhist practice and holding what would bee seen by most as being an atheistic position.

                    I don't see atheism as being an 'absolute' position at all; it can merely be a position one takes given all the available evidence (or in this case perhaps the lack of evidence) at a given time. Most atheists I know would be very willing to change their minds should evidence be made available to them.

                    Further, it doesn't even have to be a position taken (i.e. doesn't need to be a 'decision' to not believe). Atheism is surely a default position (?). For example, from birth, up until one is imbued with some sort of religious belief, would one not be an atheist?

                    I have been a Buddhist for over 30 years, but I don't subscribe to a divine agency or a supernatural realm. We can only know what we know, and can only speculate about what we don't. There is likely more than we know, but it seems to me that there is no need to believe on insufficient evidence in things about which we really don't know. This in no way precludes a search for the truth of things. In fact it leans well towards the importance of that search. Further knowledge can only come from that search. So, off I go to sit...

                    Theism? There seems to be a bit of that around, but, again, I don't subscribe...

                    Gassho,

                    Bryson

                    Comment

                    • Ryumon
                      Member
                      • Apr 2007
                      • 1689

                      #11
                      Hmm... I may want to read this, but I have reservations about his description.

                      I have been waiting for more than a decade to write Waking Up. Long before I saw any reason to criticize religion (The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation), or to connect moral and scientific truths (The Moral Landscape, Free Will, Lying), I was interested in the nature of human consciousness and the possibility of “spiritual” experience. In Waking Up, I do my best show that a certain form of spirituality is integral to understanding the nature of our minds.

                      There is no discrete self or ego living like a minotaur in the labyrinth of the brain. And the feeling that there is—the sense of being perched somewhere behind your eyes, looking out at a world that is separate from yourself—can be altered or entirely extinguished. Although such experiences of “self-transcendence” are generally thought about in religious terms, there is nothing, in principle, irrational about them. From both a scientific and a philosophical point of view, they represent a clearer understanding of the way things are.

                      My hope is that Waking Up will help readers see the nature of their own minds in a new light. A rational approach to spirituality seems to be what is missing from secularism and from the lives of most of the people I meet. The purpose of this book is to offer readers a clear view of the problem, along with some tools to help them solve it for themselves.
                      First, I think the use of the words "spiritual" and "spirituality" is problematic. It's a word derived from religion, and which is used in too many ways.

                      Second, why does he think that anything is "missing from secularity?" That's another religious point of view. Is he, therefor, saying that all non-religious people have something missing in their lives? And that religious people don't have anything missing? If he's just highlighting the basic existential angst that we all feel, that has nothing to do with religion or atheism, it's just part of being human.

                      Third, he says that the self/ego can be "altered or entirely extinguished." I'm not sure of the latter. I think we all agree here that according to Zen, this isn't the case; I know some schools of Buddhism may think that, but has anyone ever experienced it?

                      Skeptical me may read it, but I hesitate...

                      Gassho,

                      Kirk
                      ---
                      Ryūmon (Kirk)
                      流文

                      SAT/LAH

                      I know nothing.

                      Comment

                      • Nengyo
                        Member
                        • May 2012
                        • 668

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Daizan
                        I do not understand how someone can practice Buddhism and be a committed theist or atheist. Aren't those the kind of ultimate positions that are undermined by sitting in openness?

                        I don't get it.


                        Gassho
                        Daizan
                        It's because the argument is more nuanced in philosophy. There are agnostic atheist, gnostic atheist, weak atheism, strong atheism, agnostic theist, gnostic theist, weak theism, and strong theism. There is also ignosticism. All are making different claims about the existence of a god or gods and our ability to know about this existence.

                        Sam Harris as far as I know is an agnostic atheist. His position is that there is no evidence for any of the claimed theistic gods. It is not a knowledge position on the possibility of a god. Ignostics take it a step further and say that god is a gibberish word that means nothing philosophically making all the arguments about this word silly. I would probably consider myself an atheistic/pantheistic buddhist if pushed for some philosophical position, but I don't really worry about it too much, I have dishes to wash and zazens to sit.

                        Gassho,
                        Nengyo
                        If I'm already enlightened why the hell is this so hard?

                        Comment

                        • RichardH
                          Member
                          • Nov 2011
                          • 2800

                          #13
                          I guess what I am referring to is when , in course of sitting, views ..thoughts cease or pause, and questions no long arise. Everything is forgotten in immediate presence, and the forgetting is forgotten. I don't mean to sound fancy but that's about it, and it just happens from time to time by itself. The question of my own being is settled beyond doubt or no-doubt. When thinking/views return they have a different aspect, and it makes no difference how subtle or nuanced philosophical views are. They can't reach what has been directly realized. There are still questions and views about this-and-that, but only this-and-that. So when I hear about atheism, agnosticism, theism, it just sounds like trying to grasp the ungraspable.

                          Gassho
                          Daizan
                          Last edited by RichardH; 09-16-2014, 03:07 PM.

                          Comment

                          • Kyotai

                            #14
                            Thanks for sharing your perspective Daizan.

                            Sitting in openness, and having an opinion, or a fixed one from one perspective may in a way seem not very open. But, many, like myself, sit with a fixed perspective that no god exists, (that is my real fixed opinion!) and yet sit with openness putting aside opinion and "just sit" with no thought of god or no god. That question, as well as "why is the sky blue?" Are not relevant during zazen.

                            And I think one with a belief in god can do that as well.

                            In my view, Harris strives to point out that one can be both atheist, while still reaping the benefits of living presently by maintaining a meditation practice. He seems to pull from Buddhism a lot. But one does not need to be a buddhist or label things as zen, god or whatnot to find peace and happiness in this moment.

                            Then again, what do I know. Lol

                            Gassho, Shawn

                            Comment

                            • RichardH
                              Member
                              • Nov 2011
                              • 2800

                              #15
                              But what do you mean by God, Shawn? are you talking about Thor? I don't believe Thor sends thunder (though never say never), but that is totally different than views about being or non-being, or "what is this?". If we are just knocking around talking about old men in beards parting seas then I'm an atheist too (though never say never)

                              Gassho D


                              Got to get to work. Interesting thread. Thank you.
                              Last edited by RichardH; 09-16-2014, 03:20 PM.

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