Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Exploring modern Theravāda interpretations of the Buddha's teaching.
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Sam Vara
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Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:41 pm

Some people might be interested in this lengthy podcast by Sam Harris, in which he converses with Robert Wright. Both take a modern, scientifically oriented approach to Buddhism, or rather some aspects of Buddhism: neither has much interest in doctrine or metaphysics, and both are mainly interested in meditation, mindfulness, and what they think of as empirically verifiable aspects of the teaching. Wright makes, as usual, some interesting links with evolutionary psychology.
https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/ ... Sam+Harris

The podcast begins (before he introduces Wright) with Harris' views on how determinism can be squared with meaningful moral judgements, which is a topic sometimes addressed here on DW as an aspect of anatta.

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polarbear101
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Re: Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Post by polarbear101 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:18 pm

Cool, I'll have a listen at some point this evening :thanks:
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

treyg21
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Re: Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Post by treyg21 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:06 am

I applaud what Wright is doing, bringing an evolutionary psychology approach to Buddhism, but part of me wishes he had waited longer. He seems to get details wrong that the majority of even moderately practicing Buddhists would notice. I'm about midway through his book at the moment.
The furniture may be exquisite,
And the bars of solid gold,
But once the bird realizes that the cage is a cage,
It finds within that cage
No joy

- Ajahn Jayasaro

DooDoot
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Re: Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Post by DooDoot » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:02 am

What I learned so far from Sam & Robert:

1. Its 2017 and Islam is still a threat to the West (despite the same 9/11 terrorist groups being alive & well, destroying Muslim nations, such as Iraq, Libya & Syria, in line with certain Western political interests, & despite the West selling $billions$ in weapons to nations such as Saudi Arabia who share the same ideology as the terrorists that threaten the West).

2. There are "advanced" or "adept" Buddhist meditators who have not developed a moral conscience via meditation. This explains why Buddhists killed Muslims in Burma (even though Sam once inferred it may be necessary to exterminate every Muslim on Earth) or why Year Zero occurred in Cambodia. It seems it was Cambodian Buddhists who committed genocide rather than Cambodians indoctrinated into Marxist Communism in the West. Therefore, all religion must be evil. :shrug:

3. Benefits of meditation include no longer discerning an invasive weed as a 'weed' & noticing a fridge hums in 3 different ways & becoming one consciousness with the rain falling.

4. Mindfulness is the total suspension of all judgment.

5. The present moment becomes good enough (even though 9/11 occurred 16 years ago).

6. Natural selection & donuts cause suffering & restlessness.

7. Natural selection appears to only create unwholesome drives, such as craving & aversion (but not wholesome emotions, such as love, compassion, unselfishness & self-sacrifice).

8. Taking LSD generates greater faith in Buddhism than meditating with an ordinary mind.

9. What is left is a totality of non-dual consciousness & its contents; where everything has exactly the same status.

10. Mindfulness pays closer & closer attention.

Garrib
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Re: Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Post by Garrib » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:21 am

:shrug: lol

chownah
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Re: Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Post by chownah » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:48 am

Transcript...where?
chownah

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Dhammanando
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Re: Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:14 am

chownah wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:48 am
Transcript...where?
It's probably too soon for there to be an edited transcript, but this link will allow you to download auto-generated subtitles from the youtube version.

http://downsub.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fw ... 9SGs89x8lY

chownah
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Re: Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Post by chownah » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:35 am

Dhammanando wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:14 am
chownah wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:48 am
Transcript...where?
It's probably too soon for there to be an edited transcript, but this link will allow you to download auto-generated subtitles from the youtube version.

http://downsub.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fw ... 9SGs89x8lY
I thought that microsoft had a transcription utility that would take audio input and then output the text....seems I remember them bragging about it being improved to be able to (seemingly) match human translator or something like that......seems like I read this a few months ago....maybe a year or so?.

Have you (or anyone else) heard of this and where is it hiding?
chownah
Edit: I just read your post more carefully :embarassed: and perhaps I am talking about whatever it was that auto generated the subtitles?
chownah

mal4mac
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Re: Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Post by mal4mac » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:16 pm

treyg21 wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:06 am
I applaud what Wright is doing, bringing an evolutionary psychology approach to Buddhism, but part of me wishes he had waited longer. He seems to get details wrong that the majority of even moderately practicing Buddhists would notice. I'm about midway through his book at the moment.
I'm also about midway through his book and I haven't spotted the wrong details. Then again, like Wright, I'm a moderately meditating non-Buddhist so I'm likely to miss the flaws! So, to help those who are not even moderately practising Buddhists, could you point out where he goes seriously wrong, in detail?
- Mal

treyg21
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Re: Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Post by treyg21 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:08 pm

mal4mac wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:16 pm
treyg21 wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:06 am
I applaud what Wright is doing, bringing an evolutionary psychology approach to Buddhism, but part of me wishes he had waited longer. He seems to get details wrong that the majority of even moderately practicing Buddhists would notice. I'm about midway through his book at the moment.
I'm also about midway through his book and I haven't spotted the wrong details. Then again, like Wright, I'm a moderately meditating non-Buddhist so I'm likely to miss the flaws! So, to help those who are not even moderately practising Buddhists, could you point out where he goes seriously wrong, in detail?
The biggest "issue" as far as Buddhism is concerned (that I've noticed) is that he speculates that enlightenment might just be pure consciousness, or a consciousness somehow added to our normal waking consciousness. A couple minor things as well such as saying that ajahn chah was a proponent in spreading the current "vipassana" movement. I also thought he gave a gross oversimplification of Buddhism in Asian.

Don't get me wrong, I find value in the book. But mostly only when he's talking about evolutionary psychology.
The furniture may be exquisite,
And the bars of solid gold,
But once the bird realizes that the cage is a cage,
It finds within that cage
No joy

- Ajahn Jayasaro

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PuerAzaelis
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Re: Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Post by PuerAzaelis » Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:20 pm

I got bored with RW’s book 1/3 of the way through and my Sam Harris podcast phase likewise fizzled.

Turns out dhamma is more interesting.
And nobody in all of Oz. No Wizard that there is or was.

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Sovatthika
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Re: Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Post by Sovatthika » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:02 am

materialism :toilet:
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

mal4mac
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Re: Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Post by mal4mac » Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:06 pm

PuerAzaelis wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:20 pm
I got bored with RW’s book 1/3 of the way through and my Sam Harris podcast phase likewise fizzled.

Turns out dhamma is more interesting.
I thought the podcast had the usual problem with podcasts, they just don't get deeply enough into any of the issues and should really just be looked at as introductions to deeper works, and as such can be ignored in favour of just reading the deeper work. In this case the deeper work, although certainly not as deep as dhamma, is Richard's book. I'm quite enjoying Richard's book as he's quite open, and detailed, about his struggle to understand concepts like "no self" and "enlightenment", things I struggle with in a similar way.
- Mal

Trindolex2
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Re: Sam Harris and Robert Wright

Post by Trindolex2 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:52 am

PuerAzaelis wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:20 pm
I got bored with RW’s book 1/3 of the way through and my Sam Harris podcast phase likewise fizzled.

Turns out dhamma is more interesting
I can express the same sentiment. I was well versed in the suttas before I encountered Sam Harris's books and podcast of which I think I read almost every one and listened to every podcast until about episode 80. I just enjoyed the way he thinks so clearly and analyses every issue, and enjoyed listening to him discuss even issues I had no concern with, such as guns or violence.

But recently, I have found that he's just going over the same ground as nauseum and more worryingly, that he's undermining my faith in the Dhamma. This is probably due to his lucidity of thought and the fact that he is sceptical of things like rebirth. But he hasn't really addressed where exactly he disagrees with the Pali canon, he's just taken the good bits and rejected the bits that seem magical.

In the end, listening to him I feel it's all too speculative and am left unsatisfied, whereas the Buddha speaks with real authority and I feel soothed after reading the suttas. Fine, faith might be irrational (by definition), but we don't have 200+ years lifespan to wait until there's a consciousness revolution in science and all the Buddha's insights are proven anyway.

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