Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by heart » Sun Jul 16, 2017 2:56 pm

michaelb wrote: I hope people don't judge the Buddha by what people write on Dharmawheel.
I am pretty sure they do. :smile:

/magnus
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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Jul 16, 2017 2:56 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote: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.
I looked at that thread and I was probably mistaken because I didn't see the references to Dzogchen, it looked more like it was about Harris' political views.

Secular Dzogchen books, yikes. I mean, it could be a good thing. Like the whole Mindfulness movement. Maybe.

These "New Atheists" with their Reason Rallies who think that they're so superior to everyone because they've done away with their "need" for god, and religion etc...and then they come looking for a Dzogchen teacher... :|

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:12 pm

Aryjna wrote: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.
For the purpose of having a discussion which may be informative.

Plus, I could learn something about how other practitioners view Dzogchen by hearing their opinion regarding his take on taking it out of the context of Vajrayana Buddhism.

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by Aryjna » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:17 pm

TharpaChodron wrote:
Aryjna wrote: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.
For the purpose of having a discussion which may be informative.

Plus, I could learn something about how other practitioners view Dzogchen by hearing their opinion regarding his take on taking it out of the context of Vajrayana Buddhism.
But that would require reading his stuff first. If there is no motivation or possibility of actually learning from his writings, it is a waste of time to read them just to criticize him, and more than that it can be counterproductive.

I am not saying I am against this thread, just saying that I personally would never read anything of his.

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:38 pm

Aryjna wrote:
TharpaChodron wrote:
Aryjna wrote: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.
For the purpose of having a discussion which may be informative.

Plus, I could learn something about how other practitioners view Dzogchen by hearing their opinion regarding his take on taking it out of the context of Vajrayana Buddhism.
But that would require reading his stuff first. If there is no motivation or possibility of actually learning from his writings, it is a waste of time to read them just to criticize him, and more than that it can be counterproductive.

I am not saying I am against this thread, just saying that I personally would never read anything of his.
I first learned about Sam Harris years ago when I was a volunteer reviewer for the Shambhala Sun magazine, and he wrote an article about getting rid of Buddhism in the mag which I read and reviewed. I then knew someone who was a fan of his and told me how much I should read his book Waking Up. Since Harris speaks on a topic that's dear to my heart, I did take note. It is probably a waste of time, but well, I confess I am guilty. :smile:

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by Aryjna » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:41 pm

TharpaChodron wrote: I first learned about Sam Harris years ago when I was a volunteer reviewer for the Shambhala Sun magazine, and he wrote an article about getting rid of Buddhism in the mag which I read and reviewed. I then knew someone who was a fan of his and told me how much I should read his book Waking Up. Since Harris speaks on a topic that's dear to my heart, I did take note. It is probably a waste of time, but well, I confess I am guilty. :smile:
I'm not accusing anyone who has read him of course. It's natural to read various things under the right circumstances. But I don't feel right reading seriously anything that is not either an original text, or commentary by an accomplished master. I don't see how someone who is not very far along the path can teach, and even more alter the teachings significantly, with a good result.

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by TharpaChodron » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:45 pm

Aryjna wrote:
TharpaChodron wrote: I first learned about Sam Harris years ago when I was a volunteer reviewer for the Shambhala Sun magazine, and he wrote an article about getting rid of Buddhism in the mag which I read and reviewed. I then knew someone who was a fan of his and told me how much I should read his book Waking Up. Since Harris speaks on a topic that's dear to my heart, I did take note. It is probably a waste of time, but well, I confess I am guilty. :smile:
I'm not accusing anyone who has read him of course. It's natural to read various things under the right circumstances. But I don't feel right reading seriously anything that is not either an original text, or commentary by an accomplished master. I don't see how someone who is not very far along the path can teach, and even more alter the teachings significantly, with a good result.
So, you are wise. :namaste:

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by Aryjna » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:51 pm

TharpaChodron wrote: So, you are wise. :namaste:
Unfortunately not :D so I at least try to take care not to compound my ignorance.

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:14 pm

michaelb wrote:
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.

I've read plenty of what he actually writes, know his shtick well, and have lots of friends that are fans of his. I am definitely not sim poly judging him by forums.
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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by Malcolm » Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:48 am

michaelb wrote:
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.
Correct. But Harris has said enough to cast his understanding in doubt. (mic drop)
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by michaelb » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:12 am

Malcolm wrote:
michaelb wrote:
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.
Correct. But Harris has said enough to cast his understanding in doubt. (mic drop)
The question wasn't his understanding but his attitude; whether he was being insincere and cynical, "like a musk deer hunter." I don't think he was. He seems to have had an ongoing relationship with Tulku Urgyen over the last five years of TUR's life. He valued what Tulku Urgyen taught him as the most valuable thing he has ever been taught and, whilst not setting himself up as a dzogchen teacher, has done his best to convey what he understood from what TUR and others taught him.

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by climb-up » Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:56 pm

Malcolm wrote:
michaelb wrote:
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.
Correct. But Harris has said enough to cast his understanding in doubt. (mic drop)
Mic drop! :twothumbsup:
:namaste:

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by climb-up » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:07 pm

TharpaChodron wrote:
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."
I think there are two parts here.
In re: the first line, I don't who would be able to say if he has an evil nature (he, of course, has Buddha nature, but I assume this is synonymous with an 'evil heart' or just being an evil person on the relative plane).
If it comes down to intentions, he may genuinely be an honest, ethical person doing what he feels is best for humanity. His shameless self-promotion and positioning ('shallow tongued?") does seem to undermine this possibility, but I think many atheist-materialists fall into the category of true believers, and from their point of they are doing the right thing.
My go-to example is James Randi. James Randi is a cynical, mean spirited jerk, but I think that he believes in his reductionist materialist worldview. He believes it so strongly that I think he feels genuinely righteous in lying, cheating, mocking, deriding or misrepresenting religious people, psychics and other paranormal researchers. He literally does everything that he accuses religious zealots of doing for literally exactly the same reason (including the mixed motivation of wanting status and profit).
BUT, if he's trying his best to make the world better...
...does that give him "evil nature?"
Honest question. I don't know.

There's also the question of how many people have read his books and listened to his podcast and decided to seek out genuine teachings.
I do not at all hold myself up as a shining example of a practitioner, but (I am slightly embarrassed to admit) that is precisely how I came to the teachings (I had some contact when I was a young teenager, but lost the thread).
I went down a dark Sam Harris rabbit hole for a while and found some interesting things. Some good, some not-so-good, but I can't ever forget that I found real teachings because of his recommendations.
Weird.

As to the second, third and fourth lines, OF COURSE that is what Sam Harris is doing.
I think there is absolutely nothing controversial in that and I think Sam Harris would literally use that to describe what he is doing and wear it as a badge of pride.
If he wrote it himself he might use a slightly different metaphor, but again, I think that he himself would accept the last three lines as a perfect description of what he does and what he feels should be done.

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by Malcolm » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:02 am

michaelb wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
michaelb wrote: It's hardly fair to judge Harris by what people say on his forums.
Correct. But Harris has said enough to cast his understanding in doubt. (mic drop)
The question wasn't his understanding but his attitude; whether he was being insincere and cynical, "like a musk deer hunter." I don't think he was. He seems to have had an ongoing relationship with Tulku Urgyen over the last five years of TUR's life. He valued what Tulku Urgyen taught him as the most valuable thing he has ever been taught and, whilst not setting himself up as a dzogchen teacher, has done his best to convey what he understood from what TUR and others taught him.

Musk hunters also value musk glands for their scent, which is extremely valuable. One needs musk deer to obtain musk glands. The very fact he dismisses samaya as anachronistic demonstrates his attitude is incorrect.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by dzogchungpa » Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:35 am

Again with the Sam Harris thing? smh
Everything is divided
Nothing is complete
Everything looks impressive
Do not be deceived - David Byrne

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by javier.espinoza.t » Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:21 am

most of dzogchen practitioners are stupid
they fall in arrogance inmediately after seing the Thatagata
i had being stupid myself..

however, i believe Guru Padmasambhava predicted this to happen, seem's funny to me now

that's all i can say

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by TharpaChodron » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:40 am

dzogchungpa wrote:Again with the Sam Harris thing? smh
i wasn't able to be a part of the last S.H. conversation and was feeling left out. :smile:

maybe it is an ironic thing, some got inspired by his work to actually study Buddhism.

I also just like saying "musk deer hunter." Harris does certainly sneer at the Samaya. Is he evil? Perhaps Patrul Rinpoche was a bit harsh, but what do you expect from Patrul Rinpoche? "Old Ironside" they called him. i'm kidding there.

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by dzogchungpa » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:24 am

TharpaChodron wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:Again with the Sam Harris thing? smh
i wasn't able to be a part of the last S.H. conversation and was feeling left out. :smile:

maybe it is an ironic thing, some got inspired by his work to actually study Buddhism.

I also just like saying "musk deer hunter." Harris does certainly sneer at the Samaya. Is he evil? Perhaps Patrul Rinpoche was a bit harsh, but what do you expect from Patrul Rinpoche? "Old Ironside" they called him. i'm kidding there.
OK, you're off the hook.


Anyway, since you seem to like WoMPT, let me point out the following passage from the conclusion:
On separate occasions, my teacher also used to give numerous special instructions for exposing hidden faults, and I have added whatever I have been able to remember of these in the most appropriate places. Do not take them as a window through which to observe others' faults, but rather as a mirror for examining your own.
Everything is divided
Nothing is complete
Everything looks impressive
Do not be deceived - David Byrne

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by TharpaChodron » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:40 am

dzogchungpa wrote:
TharpaChodron wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:Again with the Sam Harris thing? smh
i wasn't able to be a part of the last S.H. conversation and was feeling left out. :smile:

maybe it is an ironic thing, some got inspired by his work to actually study Buddhism.

I also just like saying "musk deer hunter." Harris does certainly sneer at the Samaya. Is he evil? Perhaps Patrul Rinpoche was a bit harsh, but what do you expect from Patrul Rinpoche? "Old Ironside" they called him. i'm kidding there.
OK, you're off the hook.


Anyway, since you seem to like WoMPT, let me point out the following passage from the conclusion:
On separate occasions, my teacher also used to give numerous special instructions for exposing hidden faults, and I have added whatever I have been able to remember of these in the most appropriate places. Do not take them as a window through which to observe others' faults, but rather as a mirror for examining your own.
Is not Patrul Rinpoche saying that by discussing others faults it is an opportunity for you to examine your own?
...so, then let's talk.

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Re: Sam Harris, Musk Deer Hunter?

Post by michaelb » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:36 am

TharpaChodron wrote: Is not Patrul Rinpoche saying that by discussing others faults it is an opportunity for you to examine your own?
...so, then let's talk.
No, he's saying to read the teachings about possible hidden faults and examine whether you have these faults rather than use the teachings to point out and discuss the faults of others.

I personally see a good reason to examine and check the qualities of prospective teachers. Sharing information about bad teachers on a board like this can help unsuspecting people falling into bad situations. But, as I have said repeatedly, Sam Harris is not a dzogchen teacher and does not pretend to be a dzogchen teacher. Sniping at him serves no function other than to increase the ill-will in the world.

And I actually liked his book and think it could be a useful starting point for people interested in meditation.

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