Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby Nibbida » Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:23 pm

"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby Ben » Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:27 pm

Thanks Nibbida
I look forward to watching the video a little later today!
kind regards

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

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby alan » Thu Jun 30, 2011 4:28 am

I admire Sam Harris. I love his lucid, logical thought. He's willing to take on ideas that have become stultified. He is unafraid of backlash. We need more people like him.
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The Problem with Atheism

Postby Alexei » Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:42 pm

His rebuke for atheists :)

One problem with atheism as a category of thought, is that it seems more or less synonymous with not being interested in what someone like the Buddha or Jesus may have actually experienced. In fact, many atheists reject such experiences out of hand, as either impossible, or if possible, not worth wanting. Another common mistake is to imagine that such experiences are necessarily equivalent to states of mind with which many of us are already familiar—the feeling of scientific awe, or ordinary states of aesthetic appreciation, artistic inspiration, etc.

As someone who has made his own modest efforts in this area, let me assure you, that when a person goes into solitude and trains himself in meditation for 15 or 18 hours a day, for months or years at a time, in silence, doing nothing else—not talking, not reading, not writing—just making a sustained moment to moment effort to merely observe the contents of consciousness and to not get lost in thought, he experiences things that most scientists and artists are not likely to have experienced, unless they have made precisely the same efforts at introspection. And these experiences have a lot to say about the plasticity of the human mind and about the possibilities of human happiness.

So, apart from just commending these phenomena to your attention, I’d like to point out that, as atheists, our neglect of this area of human experience puts us at a rhetorical disadvantage. Because millions of people have had these experiences, and many millions more have had glimmers of them, and we, as atheists, ignore such phenomena, almost in principle, because of their religious associations—and yet these experiences often constitute the most important and transformative moments in a person’s life. Not recognizing that such experiences are possible or important can make us appear less wise even than our craziest religious opponents.

The Problem with Atheism
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Re: Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:07 pm

:goodpost:
With Metta

Karuna
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& Upekkha
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Re: Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby Jason » Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:40 pm

Sam Harris is by far my favourite of the so-called 'New Atheists.' I think Sam Harris is more or less on the right track when it comes to these kinds of things, i.e., having no problem being a vocal atheist while at the same time being open to the fact that people have 'spiritual' experiences. As he wrote in 10 Myths - And 10 Truths - About Atheism:

    There is nothing that prevents an atheist from experiencing love, ecstasy, rapture and awe; atheists can value these experiences and seek them regularly. What atheists don’t tend to do is make unjustified (and unjustifiable) claims about the nature of reality on the basis of such experiences. There is no question that some Christians have transformed their lives for the better by reading the Bible and praying to Jesus. What does this prove? It proves that certain disciplines of attention and codes of conduct can have a profound effect upon the human mind. Do the positive experiences of Christians suggest that Jesus is the sole savior of humanity? Not even remotely — because Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and even atheists regularly have similar experiences.

I also like the fact that he's coming at things like vipasana meditation from the standpoint of neuroscience, de-emphasising their strictly religious roots and moving more towards developing "a scientific account of the contemplative path" (A Contemplative Science). I think that if there were more people like Sam Harris who were interested in what Buddhism and other contemplative paths have to offer from a scientific standpoint, we could easily create a contemplative science of our own utilizing the latest in modern technology and knowledge of how the brain functions. For example, I think his latest blog post does a great job of pointing out the importance and usefulness of meditation and transcendent experiences.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:28 am

Greetings Jason

There seems to be an increasing interest by the scientific community of the inner world of the meditator thanks to the likes Sam Harris, Tomas Metzinger and others. There is a conference in Sydney in November "The Mind and its Potential" which will include many neuroscientists.

Like you, I have been a fan of Sam Harris for years since reading Letter to a Christian Nation. A co-practitioner friend of mine who is an academic in literature turned me on to Sam Harris and we spent lunch times at his place discussiing the ideas in Christian Nation, and End of Faith, speculating and wondering about the influence of U Ba Khin on Harris who we found in the bibliography of End of Faith.
I have a very high regard for both Christopher Hutchins and Richard Dawkins but its Sam Harris that I resonate with.
kind regards

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

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
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Re: Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby William » Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:43 am

I thoroughly enjoy the works of Sam Harris. He, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins were all major influences on me; Dawkins from the scientific, Hitchens from the socio-political, and Harris from the spiritual. Although they all invariably overlap in certain places. Harris's essay Killing the Buddha is absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend it.
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Re: Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby daverupa » Sat Jul 02, 2011 1:52 am

I will mention Daniel Dennett in this connection as a scientific mind with an interest in theory of mind that begins to approach a certain Buddh-esque sensibility.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby Alexei » Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:08 pm

His yesterday's article is about .. drugs.

While meditation can open the mind to a similar range of conscious states, they are reached far less haphazardly. If LSD is like being strapped to rocket, learning to meditate is like gently raising a sail. Yes, it is possible, even with guidance, to wind up someplace terrifying—and there are people who probably shouldn’t spend long periods in intensive practice. But the general effect of meditation training is of settling ever more fully into one’s own skin, and suffering less, rather than more there.

...

As I will discuss in future essays, the form of transcendence that appears to link directly to ethical behavior and human well-being is the transcendence of egoity in the midst of ordinary waking consciousness. It is by ceasing to cling to the contents of consciousness—to our thoughts, moods, desires, etc.—that we make progress. Such a project does not, in principle, require that we experience more contents.[5] The freedom from self that is both the goal and foundation of “spiritual” life is coincident with normal perception and cognition—though, admittedly, this can be difficult to realize.
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Re: Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby Viscid » Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:08 pm

Alexei wrote:His yesterday's article is about .. drugs.


That's also an excellent article. Sam Harris is on a roll lately.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby Moggalana » Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:35 pm

Episode #2

Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.
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Re: Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby daverupa » Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:03 pm

Edifying.

:popcorn:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby Alexei » Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:04 am

Because wood is among the most natural substances on earth, and its use as a fuel is universal, most people imagine that burning wood must be a perfectly benign thing to do. Breathing winter air scented by wood smoke seems utterly unlike puffing on a cigarette or inhaling the exhaust from a passing truck. But this is an illusion.

Here is what we know from a scientific point of view: There is no amount of wood smoke that is good to breathe. It is at least as bad for you as cigarette smoke, and probably much worse. (One study found it to be 30 times more potent a carcinogen.)


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On Impermanence

Postby Alexei » Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:03 pm

Life Without God - An Interview with Tim Prowse

Tim Prowse was a United Methodist pastor for almost 20 years, serving churches in Missouri and Indiana.Tim earned a B.A. from East Texas Baptist University, a Master of Divinity (M.Div) from Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri, and a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) from Chicago Theological Seminary. Acknowledging his unbelief, Tim left his faith and career in 2011. He currently lives in Indiana. He was kind enough to discuss his experience of leaving the ministry with me by email.
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Re: Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby Ytrog » Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:49 pm

Interesting :)
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.
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Re: Sam Harris Talking About Vipassana

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:38 pm

Surely a good example of a Secular Buddhist...not that I think the term means much. And not that he would apply it to himself I would imagine, but I think you know what I mean.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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