Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

User avatar
TharpaChodron
Posts: 602
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:13 am
Location: California

Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by TharpaChodron » Sat Jul 15, 2017 11:11 pm

I know ya'll have discussed Sam Harris, but I can't find specifically where his Dzogchen stuff comes up much. In his books, Harris is espousing learning Dzogchen, but he also says that all religion, including Buddhism, is toxic and should be done away with. I'm intrigued by the fact that he received the Dzogchen teachings from a qualified Lama and then tossed out the entire structure that (possibly) made it able for him to learn it.

In "Words of My Perfect Teacher," Patrul Rinpoche said that some students are like musk deer hunters:

"Shallow-tongued men with evil natures
Approach the teacher as if he were a musk-deer.
Having extracted the musk, the perfect Dharma,
Full of joy, sneer at the samaya."


Is Sam Harris one of these musk deer hunters?

Also, he has a forum where people talk about how they want to learn Dzogchen, but don't want all that religion crap. What do you think about Harris encouraging this sort of modern truth-seeking? I'm on the fence (as usual).

Finally, Harris is now developing and promoting his own meditation app. I think it's a great thing to share mindfulness etc with the world, but I'm not so sure about getting rid of all religion as unnecessary claptrap in the way of enlightenment.

Strive
Posts: 260
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:24 pm

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by Strive » Sat Jul 15, 2017 11:40 pm

i think his teaching of buddhism is a good way for the secular type to come into the religion. the first book i read about spirituality was by echkart tolle thats what got me into buddhism. sam is doing the same thing by creating a gateway

ItsRaining
Posts: 236
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 7:45 am

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by ItsRaining » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:22 am

Here are some opinions held by Sam Harris and his followers, you can decide what kind of person he is:


General Explaination on why he is bad

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskPhilosophyF ... losophers/

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... lim-animus

Here are some Direct quotes from here:
"there are extreme circumstances in which I believe that practices like 'water-boarding' may not only be ethically justifiable, but ethically necessary"
source: https://www.samharris.org/blog/item/res ... ontroversy

"
"We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it
source: https://www.samharris.org/blog/item/in- ... -profiling

Here's some Doubts on his PHD credentials:

https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/201 ... am-harris/

User avatar
TharpaChodron
Posts: 602
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:13 am
Location: California

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Jul 16, 2017 1:01 am

good links, especially the last one about the PhD credentials. i'm not really on the fence that much. i personally dont agree with Harris' espousal of Dzogchen, it seems like he's a huckster trying to gain his own followers. which is incredibly ironic given his neo-atheist stance.

User avatar
Wayfarer
Global Moderator
Posts: 4014
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Jul 16, 2017 1:21 am

From the blog post above
Sam Harris was and continues to be an atheist activist and one of the leaders in the New Atheist Movement. His PhD was partly funded by donations to “The Reason Project” and it is safe to assume most of those donations came from members of the New Atheist Movement. And the findings of this research? A region of the brain involved in emotional judgment is behind religious reasoning. Hmmm. Then, after receiving his PhD, it looks like “The Reason Project” was changed into “Project Reason,” an atheist organization with an anti-religious agenda and Harris abandoned academia to devote all his efforts to this agenda.
That is consistent with everything I had read about Harris.

Interesting how much clout the casual references to Harris 'being a neuroscientist' carry. 'Oh,Harris. He wears the White Coat of Authority.'
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

michaelb
Posts: 461
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:04 pm

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by michaelb » Sun Jul 16, 2017 1:37 am

ItsRaining wrote:Here are some opinions held by Sam Harris and his followers, you can decide what kind of person he is:
What a completely dishonest sentence. Have you ever taken any vows not to lie? It would be far more honest to say, "here are some hit pieces on Sam Harris by his critics, who take out of context quotes to malign Harris for political reasons."

User avatar
TharpaChodron
Posts: 602
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:13 am
Location: California

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:43 am

Wayfarer wrote:From the blog post above
Sam Harris was and continues to be an atheist activist and one of the leaders in the New Atheist Movement. His PhD was partly funded by donations to “The Reason Project” and it is safe to assume most of those donations came from members of the New Atheist Movement. And the findings of this research? A region of the brain involved in emotional judgment is behind religious reasoning. Hmmm. Then, after receiving his PhD, it looks like “The Reason Project” was changed into “Project Reason,” an atheist organization with an anti-religious agenda and Harris abandoned academia to devote all his efforts to this agenda.
That is consistent with everything I had read about Harris.

Interesting how much clout the casual references to Harris 'being a neuroscientist' carry. 'Oh,Harris. He wears the White Coat of Authority.'
there's a lot to consider. if true: his PhD earned with funding from his own nonprofit org, the blanket acceptance of anything under the guise of science

User avatar
TharpaChodron
Posts: 602
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:13 am
Location: California

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:56 am

michaelb wrote:
ItsRaining wrote:Here are some opinions held by Sam Harris and his followers, you can decide what kind of person he is:
What a completely dishonest sentence. Have you ever taken any vows not to lie? It would be far more honest to say, "here are some hit pieces on Sam Harris by his critics, who take out of context quotes to malign Harris for political reasons."
you disagree, care to say why?

User avatar
Wayfarer
Global Moderator
Posts: 4014
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:46 am

TharpaChodron wrote: there's a lot to consider. if true: his PhD earned with funding from his own nonprofit org, the blanket acceptance of anything under the guise of science
I don't know if it is true - I haven't read about that anywhere prior to this post. But it wouldn't surprise me if it were true. This is from the Wiki entry on him:
He used fMRI to explore whether the brain responses differ between sentences that subjects judged as true, false, or undecidable, across a wide range of categories including autobiographical, mathematical, geographical, religious, ethical, semantic, and factual statements.[63]

In another study, Harris and colleagues examined the neural basis of religious and non-religious belief using fMRI.[64] Fifteen committed Christians and fifteen nonbelievers were scanned as they evaluated the truth and falsity of religious and nonreligious propositions.
I do think tracing connections between neural data and qualitative judgement often amounts to 'neuro-babble'. Which again is pretty consistent with his (I consider) twaddle about scientific ethics. It's simply utilitarianism with a brain scanner. Have a read of Do you believe in God or is that a Software Glitch?
Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

michaelb
Posts: 461
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:04 pm

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by michaelb » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:26 am

TharpaChodron wrote:
michaelb wrote:
ItsRaining wrote:Here are some opinions held by Sam Harris and his followers, you can decide what kind of person he is:
What a completely dishonest sentence. Have you ever taken any vows not to lie? It would be far more honest to say, "here are some hit pieces on Sam Harris by his critics, who take out of context quotes to malign Harris for political reasons."
you disagree, care to say why?
I said why. Because claiming the views linked by "ItsRaining" are "some opinions held by Sam Harris and his followers" when they are just hatchet jobs on Harris, taking selected quotes out of context to paint as negative an image as possible, is dishonest. Dishonest to the degree of breaking fundamental precepts of speech.

I personally find all the opprobrium heaped on Harris by a section of the US political spectrum to be distasteful and dishonest. In answer to your original question, I think Harris was entirely sincere in seeking teachings from both Buddhist and Advaita teachers, something he has done since being a teenager. One may disagree with how he has presented what he has been taught, - he has never claimed to be a Dzogchen teacher and suggests interested people seek teachings from Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche - but I would not question his honesty or sincerity regarding his many years of receiving teachings and putting them into practice.

User avatar
TharpaChodron
Posts: 602
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:13 am
Location: California

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:47 am

Wayfarer wrote: I do think tracing connections between neural data and qualitative judgement often amounts to 'neuro-babble'. Which again is pretty consistent with his (I consider) twaddle about scientific ethics. It's simply utilitarianism with a brain scanner. Have a read of Do you believe in God or is that a Software Glitch?
Nice article. Science is supposed to be so unbiased and evidence based, but it's naive to think that the business really works like that. There's a lot of money in research. In my field, every year we are told to utilize a new "tool" that is supposedly the next best thing, based upon "evidence," and then we promptly discover it's someone's pet research project that they got paid a lot of money to do and now they're trying to get everyone to buy into it. fMRI sounds similar to what I've heard Scientologists use.

User avatar
TharpaChodron
Posts: 602
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:13 am
Location: California

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:58 am

michaelb wrote:
TharpaChodron wrote:
michaelb wrote: What a completely dishonest sentence. Have you ever taken any vows not to lie? It would be far more honest to say, "here are some hit pieces on Sam Harris by his critics, who take out of context quotes to malign Harris for political reasons."
you disagree, care to say why?
I said why. Because claiming the views linked by "ItsRaining" are "some opinions held by Sam Harris and his followers" when they are just hatchet jobs on Harris, taking selected quotes out of context to paint as negative an image as possible, is dishonest. Dishonest to the degree of breaking fundamental precepts of speech.

I personally find all the opprobrium heaped on Harris by a section of the US political spectrum to be distasteful and dishonest. In answer to your original question, I think Harris was entirely sincere in seeking teachings from both Buddhist and Advaita teachers, something he has done since being a teenager. One may disagree with how he has presented what he has been taught, - he has never claimed to be a Dzogchen teacher and suggests interested people seek teachings from Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche - but I would not question his honesty or sincerity regarding his many years of receiving teachings and putting them into practice.
Well, thank you for getting back to my original point. He does recommend people seek teaching from actual Dzogchen teachers, but he also says, "One never knows how much religious nonsense one will be forced/asked to imbibe" when seeking such guidance. I'm paraphrasing Harris there a bit, not much, though. It gives me the impression that you can just go get the pointing out instructions and no need to bother with the difficulties of the paramitas, four noble truths, being compassionate etc. I think there's a good reason most Lamas usually never begin a teaching without a basic instruction in the Dharma first.

User avatar
TharpaChodron
Posts: 602
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:13 am
Location: California

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Jul 16, 2017 6:12 am

Strive wrote:i think his teaching of buddhism is a good way for the secular type to come into the religion. the first book i read about spirituality was by echkart tolle thats what got me into buddhism. sam is doing the same thing by creating a gateway
sorry i just saw this post, weird. your response is exactly why i do pause to consider if his writings aren't entirely misguided. some people may get something beneficial out of it, as you did.

ItsRaining
Posts: 236
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 7:45 am

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by ItsRaining » Sun Jul 16, 2017 6:29 am

michaelb wrote:
ItsRaining wrote:Here are some opinions held by Sam Harris and his followers, you can decide what kind of person he is:
What a completely dishonest sentence. Have you ever taken any vows not to lie? It would be far more honest to say, "here are some hit pieces on Sam Harris by his critics, who take out of context quotes to malign Harris for political reasons."
Please, make up a fairy tale to give the quotes and explain why the link explaining why Sam Harris is bad of philosophy is wrong,

User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 8151
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA
Contact:

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Jul 16, 2017 6:42 am

We've discussed this in depth here, here's the old (locked by me for now) thread if you're interested:

https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?t=14791&start=340
Also, he has a forum where people talk about how they want to learn Dzogchen, but don't want all that religion crap. What do you think about Harris encouraging this sort of modern truth-seeking? I'm on the fence (as usual).
I have to say I find it hilarious that there are people on his forums fretting because they can't find "secular" Dzogchen and Mahamudra teachers, i've actually read through some of those threads.

In one of them a guy goes off because he was following some teaching and the teacher mentions the central channel and chakras, which he just couldn't abide. Really, how could someone like that reasonably approach Vajrayana or Dzogchen teachings? They couldn't. A view of the body and reality that they regard as 'superstition' is at the core of Vajrayana, it's not possible to approach as just some "techniques", which is what these people want.

I mean it's good that he presents the teachings in a positive light, but arming a bunch of young "new atheists" with certain biases *and* interest in a philosophy that simply can't ever meet their expectations can only lead to one thing:

A bunch of bad 'secular Dzogchen' books...oh man let's hope not.

I also dislike the guys politics pretty deeply, but I figure it's best if we stay off that given past experience.
"it must be coming from the mouthy mastermind of raunchy rapper, Johnny Dangerous”

-Jeff H.

Strive
Posts: 260
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:24 pm

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by Strive » Sun Jul 16, 2017 7:20 am

TharpaChodron wrote:
Strive wrote:i think his teaching of buddhism is a good way for the secular type to come into the religion. the first book i read about spirituality was by echkart tolle thats what got me into buddhism. sam is doing the same thing by creating a gateway
sorry i just saw this post, weird. your response is exactly why i do pause to consider if his writings aren't entirely misguided. some people may get something beneficial out of it, as you did.
sorry ya posts have been showing late cuz of moderator have to approve, am still new lol

michaelb
Posts: 461
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:04 pm

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by michaelb » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:06 am

TharpaChodron wrote: Well, thank you for getting back to my original point. He does recommend people seek teaching from actual Dzogchen teachers, but he also says, "One never knows how much religious nonsense one will be forced/asked to imbibe" when seeking such guidance. I'm paraphrasing Harris there a bit, not much, though. It gives me the impression that you can just go get the pointing out instructions and no need to bother with the difficulties of the paramitas, four noble truths, being compassionate etc. I think there's a good reason most Lamas usually never begin a teaching without a basic instruction in the Dharma first.
What is it about one's natural state that requires a religious belief to enable its discovery?

I'm sure I've read a number of times that dzogchen is accessible no matter what one's religious background. ChNN students here have said it, I'm sure. I don't think Harris is going too far from Tulku Urgyen's conviction that any can practice dzogchen.

I'm personally into the whole ngondro, two stages thing myself and disagree with Harris, as I'm sure Patrul Rinpoche would. But I think it is wrong to infer some kind of cynicism or insincerity in his approach.

michaelb
Posts: 461
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:04 pm

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by michaelb » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:12 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote: I have to say I find it hilarious that there are people on his forums fretting because they can't find "secular" Dzogchen and Mahamudra teachers, i've actually read through some of those threads.
It's hardly fair to judge Harris by what people say on his forums. I hope people don't judge the Buddha by what people write on Dharmawheel.

User avatar
TharpaChodron
Posts: 602
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:13 am
Location: California

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Jul 16, 2017 2:39 pm

michaelb wrote:What is it about one's natural state that requires a religious belief to enable its discovery?

I'm sure I've read a number of times that dzogchen is accessible no matter what one's religious background. ChNN students here have said it, I'm sure. I don't think Harris is going too far from Tulku Urgyen's conviction that any can practice dzogchen.

I'm personally into the whole ngondro, two stages thing myself and disagree with Harris, as I'm sure Patrul Rinpoche would. But I think it is wrong to infer some kind of cynicism or insincerity in his approach.

It's why I brought this topic up is to actually hear others' opinions, such as ChNN students. I don't know that they take the same view that Harris does, that one doesn't need religion or Buddhism to be exact in order to realize the natural state.

I'm going on my gut feeling that if I were in Harris' shoes, and I received teachings from a trained and qualified, lineage Lama, especially a Tulku, I'd pay some serious respect to the tradition that the teachings come from. But that's just me. I know if they have a teaching on Dzogchen at my practice center, it's going to be very popular. I see the benefit in sharing Dzogchen teachings with the public, regardless of whether they are Buddhists. And also, personally, I would feel a bit lame coming for that one teaching and then walking out the door ignoring the space and teacher that appeared to give me that learning opportunity.

User avatar
Aryjna
Posts: 974
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:45 pm

Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by Aryjna » Sun Jul 16, 2017 2:46 pm

What does it matter what Sam Harris thinks or says. There is no reason to read his books as there are books written by qualified lamas available.

Post Reply

Return to “Dzogchen”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Harimoo, JDBollinger, Tiago Simões and 49 guests