Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

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Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby Ben » Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:26 am

This one is worth checking out:

What Martial Arts Have to Do With Atheism

An interview with Sam Harris about self-defense and the seduction of faith

Sam Harris is best known as a vocal opponent of religious faith. But he is also a student of martial arts and armed self-defense, and a practitioner of daily silent meditation.

In the May issue of The Atlantic, Graeme Wood recounts the experience of learning meditation and Brazilian jiu-jitsu with him. Harris is finishing his next book, Waking Up: Science, Skepticism, Spirituality, about self-transcendence in the absence of religion. Following their encounter, Wood caught up with Harris to discuss violence, faith, and meditation.

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/arc ... sm/275273/


I would like to know your thoughts.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby Sam Vara » Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:33 pm

Sam Harris thinks and prepares in graphic and painful detail about confronting a homicidal person armed with a knife. I spend next to no time on it. To date, the results have been much the same for both of us.
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Re: Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby Ben » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:14 pm

Hi Sam,

I don't think that's a valid argument. One can say the same about you.
"Sam Vara has practiced Dhamma for x years and I have spent no time on it, and we are exactly at the same point."
Sam Harris is a philospher and neuroscientist. Just because he analyses a potential situation in graphic and great detail does not mean that he is heavily invested in it. Harris is merely illustrating an argument.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby daverupa » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:42 pm

When you are in the presence of a real master of meditation, his skills are not so apparent. And if everyone around this person is behaving like he's the messiah, the room for self-deception is obvious. Spiritual life can certainly follow the pattern one sees in the fake martial arts, with most teachers making nebulous and magical claims that never get tested, while their students derange themselves with weird ideas, empty rituals, and other affectations. Nevertheless, meditation is a skill that can be taught. Self-transcendence is a repeatable experiment.

Here's one way of describing the experiment: Pay close enough attention to the nature of your own mind--to the flow of thoughts, moods, sensations, and perceptions in the present--and you can notice that the feeling of being a self, an ego, a thinker of thoughts in the midst of experience, is an illusion. Which is to say that you can actually discover the absence of the feeling that you call "I". You still have thoughts, moods, sensations, perceptions, but there it will be clear that there is no self riding around in your head owning these experiences. This is a discovery that can be made, and it's every bit as reproducible and confirmable as the proper technique for applying a triangle choke.


:clap:

Delightful.
    "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.
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Re: Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby Sam Vara » Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:59 am

Ben wrote:Hi Sam,

I don't think that's a valid argument. One can say the same about you.
"Sam Vara has practiced Dhamma for x years and I have spent no time on it, and we are exactly at the same point."
Sam Harris is a philospher and neuroscientist. Just because he analyses a potential situation in graphic and great detail does not mean that he is heavily invested in it. Harris is merely illustrating an argument.
kind regards,

Ben


No, I meant the situation with regard to knife attacks. Neither of us have been attacked by a knife-wielding criminal. He is a student of martial arts and has invested a great deal in it.
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Re: Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby Ben » Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:26 am

Sam Vara wrote:No, I meant the situation with regard to knife attacks. Neither of us have been attacked by a knife-wielding criminal. He is a student of martial arts and has invested a great deal in it.


Perhaps he has. But as a past student of martial arts, I can tell you that for many people, the motivation to continue with martial arts moves beyond the martial fairly quickly. You will find that for very many people their motivation is more to do with self discipline, developing hand-eye coordination skills, competition, commeraderie, etc.
kind regards,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby 5heaps » Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:45 am

daverupa wrote:
Here's one way of describing the experiment: Pay close enough attention to the nature of your own mind--to the flow of thoughts, moods, sensations, and perceptions in the present--and you can notice that the feeling of being a self, an ego, a thinker of thoughts in the midst of experience, is an illusion. Which is to say that you can actually discover the absence of the feeling that you call "I". You still have thoughts, moods, sensations, perceptions, but there it will be clear that there is no self riding around in your head owning these experiences. This is a discovery that can be made, and it's every bit as reproducible and confirmable as the proper technique for applying a triangle choke.


:clap:

Delightful.

meh. not-self is not the annihilation of the person/'i'. not-self the the annihilation of the mistakenly appearing 'i'. the discovery that there is no substantial owner or controller independent of body and especially mind is not that there is no you.

i think sam harris is getting really bad as of late. his bigideas (iirc) presentation about the illusion of free will is particularly annoying
Last edited by 5heaps on Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby Sam Vara » Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:30 pm

Ben wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:No, I meant the situation with regard to knife attacks. Neither of us have been attacked by a knife-wielding criminal. He is a student of martial arts and has invested a great deal in it.


Perhaps he has. But as a past student of martial arts, I can tell you that for many people, the motivation to continue with martial arts moves beyond the martial fairly quickly. You will find that for very many people their motivation is more to do with self discipline, developing hand-eye coordination skills, competition, commeraderie, etc.
kind regards,

Ben


Indeed. I myself got into meditation after being a martial arts instructor for many years. The knees and hips were giving up on me, so I thought the cushion was an easier option!

My issue with the Harris interview is that he does spend a lot of time focusing on the physical harm aspect. That may just be the editing or how he felt on the day, but he does come across as a bit - well, anxious, really. If I were a very wealthy middle aged author living in a country like America, I would take less of an interest in what is not very likely to happen. Maybe in fifteen years time, Harris will be giving graphic interviews about the health of his prostate...
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Re: Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby JackV » Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:13 pm

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinio ... 18256.html - Whilst admittedly unrelated to the overall subject of this thread I just thought this makes interesting reading. I have always found Sam Harris a curious (and unpleasent) character, a admirer of Buddhism but a hate filled man. Seems as though my belief that he bordered on being a Fascist might be more accurate than I thought.
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Re: Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby wizi » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:28 am

He responded to the Al Jazeera article here : http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text ... troversy2/ and doesn't come across as a fascist at all. His observation on the different teachings on violence by religions is validly argued if you don't hold a blind spot on Islamic tenets that urge violence against unbelievers.

I must admit I was also quite unsettled by his recent essays on martial arts and meditation, but I reckon his latest exploration may yield insights on the mindful nature of violence and peace. Is he truly middle aged at 44 yrs? I don't think so :thinking: I am 44 yrs and don't think that's middle-aged at all! :smile:
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Re: Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby Ben » Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:32 am

Dear Wizi,
44 is young.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:38 pm

Interesting read, as always with Sam Harris. I tend to think that the benefits of martial arts in terms of encountering the threat of violence are more indirect than direct. What I mean is that it's relatively unlikely that any of us will find ourselves in a situation where one's jiu-jitsu or aikido skills will fend off an attacker -- particularly one armed with a gun or knife.

However, martial arts disciplines do teach teach concentration and emotional control -- one might even say equanimity -- and these can help us make wise decisions in times of risk. In some cases, as Harris points out, the wisest decision is to get the hell out of the situation as fast as possible!

I'm currently learning TKD (almost at blue belt now!) and my experience is more of it being a physical/mental discipline rather than anything else. I've found it can work very well in combination with some kinds of meditation. Last night, for instance, I was learning a new poomse (form), and this required a fair amount of concentration and patience. Later, at home, I sat to do some simple anapanasati (counting breaths) and found that similar mental processes were at work.

wizi wrote:He responded to the Al Jazeera article here : http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text ... troversy2/ and doesn't come across as a fascist at all. His observation on the different teachings on violence by religions is validly argued if you don't hold a blind spot on Islamic tenets that urge violence against unbelievers.


Thanks for posting the link to his rebuttal. When I read the al-Jazeera piece it looked like a smear -- but checking all the claims requires more time than I have. It's good that Harris has gone ahead and done that for the benefit of his readers.
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Re: Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby wizi » Tue May 07, 2013 12:22 pm

Dear Ben,

Thanks for the reassurance! :toast:

There's actually a survey that suggests middle aged starts from 55 :sage:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-19622330

Did u read this article that was a prelude to the one you posted? I think it seems to explain Harris' fascination with meditation and violence.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/arc ... me/309292/

"Harris clearly craves the feeling that he has dispelled an illusion—whether about the effectiveness of a left hook or about the divinity of Jesus."
All beings like yourself are responsible for their own actions. Suffering or happiness is created through one's relationship to experience, not by experience itself. Although I wish only the best for you, I know that your happiness or unhappiness depends on your actions, not on my wishes for you.
May you not be caught in reactivity.
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Re: Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby Ben » Tue May 07, 2013 12:30 pm

Thank you Wizi, no wonder I feel so young despite my age!
I'll check out the article you recommended.
kind regards,

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


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Re: Interesting interview with Sam Harris on meditatio

Postby fivebells » Tue May 07, 2013 6:20 pm

I'm glad Sam Harris is already doing metta meditation, because he clearly desperately needs it. :)
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