Sam Harris and Buddhism

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
Posts: 692
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 3:11 am

Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Post by nathan » Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:52 am

Not that I am aware of Ben. But I'm sure that debunking Harris thinking on torture and the use of force would be a no-brainer for him. It would be for me thanks at least in part to him. That's my conclusion. Not that the critique of fundamentalism isn't necessary. It could always be more skillful however. Perhaps someday when I feel bulletproof I will get to it. :quote:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

Posts: 1286
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:46 am
Location: Essex, UK

Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Post by Mawkish1983 » Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:24 pm

Ben wrote:Mawkish's nomenclature
I've coined a phrase? Wow, in terms of dissolution of ego this is one step forwards and two steps back!

User avatar
Posts: 4718
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am

Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Post by clw_uk » Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:51 pm

Thanks for that vid tex, i think i can understand what he means now, if something is ultimately true then it must transcend culture (i.e. its not christian physics since its true not matter who or where you are) which of course is what the Dhamma is, the truth of the way it is

I think he means that it needs to be removed from the percieved notion of belonging to a certain culture or being thought of as just another belief system, which if i am correct in understanding what he means, i actually kinda agree with

p.s. there is another good video of his here (if this breaks some kind of copyright please remove it) ... 1329234778" onclick=";return false;
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

User avatar
Posts: 35
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 6:33 pm

Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Post by Ravana » Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:55 am

I also think that it is the intention that matters. When you are practicing meditation to relieve your day-to-day ailments you are doing 'meditation'; when you're doing it to escape samsara, you're practicing 'Buddhist meditation'. I think Sam Harris is referring to the former. In any case, he's a brilliant guy to read to and listen to - clear and articulate. I think he attracts some negative criticism from many atheists for his pro/agnostic view of reincarnation/rebirth.
“The incomparable Wheel of Dhamma has been set in motion by the Blessed One in the deer sanctuary at Isipatana, and no seeker, brahmin, celestial being, demon, god, or any other being in the world can stop it.”

User avatar
Posts: 4718
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am

Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Post by clw_uk » Fri Mar 13, 2009 12:29 pm

I think he attracts some negative criticism from many atheists for his pro/agnostic view of reincarnation/rebirth.
He does, some atheist chat forums are quite criticial of him for this
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

Posts: 96
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 9:19 am
Location: Germany

Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Post by thecap » Fri Mar 13, 2009 1:04 pm

You don't have to become a "Buddhist" to discern the four noble truths, cause & effect, dependent origination.

Buddhadhasa and others have shown that one can see Buddhism as a science.

Without basic discernment however, one can get attached to meditation, and it then quickly becomes an ego-trip.

In other words, anyone can practise "meditation".


User avatar
Karma Dondrup Tashi
Posts: 57
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:41 pm

Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Post by Karma Dondrup Tashi » Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:45 pm

He's a reasonably intelligent atheist. Does that make him an expert on meditation, or Buddhism?
what I want is a view. Hannibal Lecter

User avatar
Posts: 25
Joined: Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:14 pm

Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Post by Avery » Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:21 am

I recommend this book to put Sam Harris in some perspective: ... culturf-20" onclick=";return false;

Someone told me to watch a video of his, so I obliged. He began by apologizing for being frank about religion, then went on to say that at most public forums in America it is taboo to criticize religion and this needed to change. "Well," I thought, "there's a reason for that... just like how you don't want to bring up politics when you visit your friends on the other side of the country. Ideologies can be firmly held and prone to heated emotion, and that's just human nature." I consider it both acceptable and useful to hear criticisms of what Buddhists do, but if someone just says "the dharma is shit and anyone who tries to follow it is wasting their time," which is basically what Christopher Hitchens does in his book, I think that is offensive; he has the freedom to say it, but it's not helpful and doesn't belong in a public forum. So, Sam Harris started out on a bad foot.

He went on to talk about absurd claims people make about specific cults. And his argument struck me as little more than pure smugness. He was describing a Hindu guru movement, which is something that is quite common in India, but I highly doubt he had actually met with any of the members of this cult, lived with their families, or asked them to describe the influence it had on their lives. He most likely just read something in a book or on the Internet and brought that to his talk. He said, "this cult has 1 million followers, and they're all deluded". Who exactly is supposed to benefit from that statement? I think the purpose of saying that is to make atheists feel better about themselves, and nothing else. If it gets religious people angry the atheists will only feel even better.

People should be free to live their lives according to whatever ideology they think suitable, be it Buddhism, Christianity, Marxism, or humanism. And people should be allowed to criticize freely the fruits of these ideologies. But there is absolutely nothing helpful to claim that "if it's not atheist, it can't be good". There are many things atheists have done that are not good, and there are many things done in the name of religion that are good. So, I would disagree strongly that the qualifier "Buddhist" should be dropped from meditation. If you lose the Buddhist ideology, it simply becomes something that you are being told to do without any reason why. We know what "just sit" means in the context of Zen, but if that context is discarded we might as well be saying "just pray", or "just daydream", or "just sleep", and calling that a mental practice. That is scarcely beneficial to anyone.

Posts: 73
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:25 am

Re: Sam Harris and Buddhism

Post by green » Sat Mar 14, 2009 1:49 pm

The 4 Noble Truths are truths because they are universal, Buddhism is universal because Buddha is. Why not call it Buddhism?

After all, Fibonacci numbers are named after Fibonacci,
Newtonian physics is named after Newton.

Buddhism is Buddhism because of the Triple Gem and the teachings of Buddha. The Triple Gem is the 4th Noble Truth.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 34 guests