Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

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monktastic
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Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by monktastic » Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:47 am

I knew Sam Harris (a famous, outspoken atheist) had some connection with Dzogchen, but hadn't heard this story before.
For instance, I once had an opportunity to study with the great Tibetan lama Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in Nepal. Before making the trip, I had a dream in which he seemed to give me teachings about the nature of the mind. This dream struck me as interesting for two reasons: (1) The teachings I received were novel, useful, and convergent with what I later understood to be true; and (2) I had never met Khyentse Rinpoche, nor was I aware of having seen a photograph of him. This preceded my access to the Internet by at least five years, so the belief that I had never seen his picture was more plausible than it would be now. I also recall that I had no easy way of finding a picture of him for the sake of comparison. But because I was about to meet the man himself, it seemed that I would be able to confirm whether it had really been him in my dream.

First, the teachings: The lama in my dream began by asking who I was. I responded by telling him my name. Apparently, this wasn’t the answer he was looking for.

“Who are you?” he said again. He was now staring fixedly into my eyes and pointing at my face with an outstretched finger. I did not know what to say.

“Who are you?” he said again, continuing to point.

“Who are you?” he said a final time, but here he suddenly shifted his gaze and pointing finger, as though he were now addressing someone just to my left. The effect was quite startling, because I knew (insofar as one can be said to know anything in a dream) that we were alone. The lama was obviously pointing to someone who wasn’t there, and I suddenly noticed what I would later come to consider an important truth about the nature of the mind: Subjectively speaking, there is only consciousness and its contents; there is no inner self who is conscious. The feeling of being the experiencer of your experience, rather than identical to the totality of experience, is an illusion. The lama in my dream seemed to dissect this very feeling of being a self and, for a brief moment, removed it from my mind. I awoke convinced that I had glimpsed something quite profound.
On the other hand, he concludes with:
My travels in spiritual circles had also brought me into contact with many people who seemed all too eager to deceive themselves about experiences of this kind, and I did not wish to emulate them. Given these considerations, I did not believe that Khyentse Rinpoche had really appeared in my dream. And I certainly would never have been tempted to use this experience as conclusive proof of the supernatural.
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/scie ... k-of-death
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by Lindama » Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:24 am

Too bad that Sam concluded that... logic kills surely. He didn't trust his own experience.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche once winked at me from his picture on the altar. It was my first dzogchen retreat, I was new, I didn't know who he was... it took me a few years to find out who he was. There is not one thing in my mind that discounts this, but i have no idea of it's meaning twenty years later. Heart connection with Rinpoche all that seems to matter. I still have not read his books, no matter.

But, just in the last year or so, I discovered we both have an affinity for rabbits. oh, the mystery.

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by Lindama » Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:38 am

hmmm, I had no idea who Sam Harris was until I googled him just now. yet, there is no question who Dilgo Kyyentse is not knowing...

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by padma norbu » Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:59 pm

That is freaking awesome. I like to watch Sam Harris debate theists, but this was somewhat annoying to read. How many people get a great pointing out like that? He even "got it" and let it go to waste. The only times I've ever had a lama or someone in my dreams nothing comprehensible happens. One time Namkhai Norbu appeared naked and was pouring a vase of sand into a bowl or something. Then, he noticed me and sort of put on a "surprised" face and exited stage right never to be seen again.
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by Guty » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:25 pm

Amazing honesty. Truly admirable, especially when directed toward one's own experience. These experiences have potential to lead astray so many credulous people...
- La Esperanza es para la gente que vive sin Gracia -
- Hope is for people, who do not yet live in Grace -

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by Simon E. » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:48 pm

Guty wrote:Amazing honesty. Truly admirable, especially when directed toward one's own experience. These experiences have potential to lead astray so many credulous people...
Quite right. These experiences are only meaningful in the context of an on going relationship with a Dzogchen master.
" My heart's in the Highlands
my heart is not here.
My heart's in the Highlands
chasing the deer."

Robert V.C. Burns.

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by Guty » Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:39 pm

He speaks about these and similar experiences in this Joe Rogan interview, unfortunately don't remember in which part of the video, I've seen it some time ago, but it's pretty interesting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHBfB7usIcU
- La Esperanza es para la gente que vive sin Gracia -
- Hope is for people, who do not yet live in Grace -

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Fri Jan 03, 2014 1:54 am

padma norbu wrote:That is freaking awesome. I like to watch Sam Harris debate theists, but this was somewhat annoying to read. How many people get a great pointing out like that? He even "got it" and let it go to waste. The only times I've ever had a lama or someone in my dreams nothing comprehensible happens. One time Namkhai Norbu appeared naked and was pouring a vase of sand into a bowl or something. Then, he noticed me and sort of put on a "surprised" face and exited stage right never to be seen again.
Same. I've seen both Thich Nhat Hanh and HHDL smile at me in dreams. They become transparent and try to get me to come closer and somehow merge with them.
Nothing quite as clear as Mr. Harris's dream. He's right not to cling to it, but I think wrong to throw the dream under the bus of logic instead of seeing where the dream and the lama in his dream are pointing.

I find this kind of thing interesting, so thanks for sharing! :)
Namo Amitabhaya
OM MA NI PE ME HUNG

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by monktastic » Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:14 pm

BTW he just published a book, Waking Up, that talks a lot about Dzogchen, the pointing out instruction (and how good Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche was at giving it), and related matters.

No doubt many here will find his description lacking in depth. But then again, maybe that's not by accident or for lack of understanding.

Anyway, worth a read, if only for the sociological value.
Last edited by monktastic on Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by ngodrup » Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:21 pm

To my way of thinking, it points to the necessity of merit and purification.
He had to have some mental clarity to dream and recall this, but needed
more to make use of it. There is no end of practice.

I've heard it said that those with the highest realization never stop
practicing, but those who need it most are quick to stop.

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by KatieStar7 » Sat Nov 26, 2016 11:37 am

I feel as though this part of Sam's text has been taken slightly out of context. He is using it to contrast to somebody who has become an international bestseller based on his ‘evidence’ of the afterlife due to an experience that he had. Sam may well still wonder about the significance of this....he is just saying that it doesn’t prove anything and that these things can easily become too inflated.

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by Adamantine » Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:10 pm

Actions speak louder than words. . . so I think it is safe to deduce that if Sam really didn't see much significance in his dream, he wouldn't be talking about it as much as he has been. . .
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by davyji » Sun Nov 27, 2016 9:14 pm

monktastic wrote:I knew Sam Harris (a famous, outspoken atheist) had some connection with Dzogchen, but hadn't heard this story before.
For instance, I once had an opportunity to study with the great Tibetan lama Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in Nepal. Before making the trip, I had a dream in which he seemed to give me teachings about the nature of the mind. This dream struck me as interesting for two reasons: (1) The teachings I received were novel, useful, and convergent with what I later understood to be true; and (2) I had never met Khyentse Rinpoche, nor was I aware of having seen a photograph of him. This preceded my access to the Internet by at least five years, so the belief that I had never seen his picture was more plausible than it would be now. I also recall that I had no easy way of finding a picture of him for the sake of comparison. But because I was about to meet the man himself, it seemed that I would be able to confirm whether it had really been him in my dream.

First, the teachings: The lama in my dream began by asking who I was. I responded by telling him my name. Apparently, this wasn’t the answer he was looking for.

“Who are you?” he said again. He was now staring fixedly into my eyes and pointing at my face with an outstretched finger. I did not know what to say.

“Who are you?” he said again, continuing to point.

“Who are you?” he said a final time, but here he suddenly shifted his gaze and pointing finger, as though he were now addressing someone just to my left. The effect was quite startling, because I knew (insofar as one can be said to know anything in a dream) that we were alone. The lama was obviously pointing to someone who wasn’t there, and I suddenly noticed what I would later come to consider an important truth about the nature of the mind: Subjectively speaking, there is only consciousness and its contents; there is no inner self who is conscious. The feeling of being the experiencer of your experience, rather than identical to the totality of experience, is an illusion. The lama in my dream seemed to dissect this very feeling of being a self and, for a brief moment, removed it from my mind. I awoke convinced that I had glimpsed something quite profound.
On the other hand, he concludes with:
My travels in spiritual circles had also brought me into contact with many people who seemed all too eager to deceive themselves about experiences of this kind, and I did not wish to emulate them. Given these considerations, I did not believe that Khyentse Rinpoche had really appeared in my dream. And I certainly would never have been tempted to use this experience as conclusive proof of the supernatural.
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/scie ... k-of-death
Sam simply had an experience of the emanation of Rinpoche,
don't be too eager to discount the experience based on his conceptual conclusion!
I am more skeptical of his use of the word "supernatural".

dave

dave
Working with the raw elements (air earth fire water space)is a process of connecting with the external elements and internalizing their qualities.
Ultimately we can merge with the element. We connect the external quality with the internal quality and then dissolve the distinctions.
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

The essence of the elements is light
ChNN

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by tashi@dzogchen » Sat Feb 04, 2017 6:39 pm

I think from the Dzogchen perspective receiving pointing out is a completely valid experience. The question of whether Dilgo Khyentse actually appears in the dream from some other realm is quite beside the point. All appearances are deceptive in that they have no "True existence." Yet they do manifest the three kayas and five wisdoms. So, when we visualize the guru and receive his blessings the question isn't does he actually come from uddiyana and perform the action you are requesting -- the question is "do you recognize the manifestation of the guru's mind through this "practice." In this way we are using mind's ability to project to recognize its true nature. The same holds true for "lucid dreams." But this is not a reductionist view -- actually -- though all appearances have no "true existence" they could all be said to manifest the ultimate nature of mind -- the nature of the Guru's mind.

"Where ever I look his transparent body is there
and the power of his blessing can never be diminished."

This is the view of Longchenpa's "Resting the mind in the nature of Illusion." I think though it is interesting to see the new research and philosophical speculation coming from people like Sam Harris -- we have to engage in the study of profound pith instructions like Longchenpa and have a close connection with an authentic Dzogchen master-- one could say that we need to take refuge in the three jewels-- in order not to go astray with these philosophical musings.

The key point is to cut through dualistic habit of reacting to what arises with hope and fear. In fact that is the dualistic mechanism. Recognizing the nature of mind is recognizing a moment free of this habit. That is what is pointed out. It isn't a mystical experience -- it is simply an experience of sanity.

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by Anders » Sat Feb 04, 2017 8:20 pm

padma norbu wrote:He even "got it" and let it go to waste.
Not conforming to the classical conceptions of how the Buddhist path enfolds does not mean it was wasted.

Before Manjushri became a bodhisattva, he was a conventional guru in one life who encountered a great bodhisattva that gave the highest teachings. He slandered the bodhisattva for it and spent many lifetimes in the hells for it, yet it was that very encounter that was the seed for his eventual attainment of buddhahood.

Life is rarely a linear progression. Many lifetimes hardly at all.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by oldbob » Mon Feb 06, 2017 6:32 pm

Good postings all !!! :good: :twothumbsup: :good:

Reality rarely conforms to perceived linearity and VV: there are just too many secondary causes in play. Still, sometimes, looking backwards, karma seems straight and as fast as an arrow.

Perhaps a key take-a-way point is that it is possible for Teachers to enter dreams and plant a cause for future action. I was once informed by a famous Jindak (sponsor) that HH, the former Karmapa, had entered his dream and urged him to sponsor the building of a new monastery. The sponsor informed me that he was so impressed that he gave $1,000,000, and the monastery was built.

So ephemeral, and totally subjective, dreams can have huge substantive real world effect.

ChNNR talks openly about his dreams and how they affected him.

https://www.amazon.com/Dream-Yoga-Pract ... 1559391618

Dreams are also a long accepted means of transmission.

https://www.amazon.com/Apparitions-Self ... net+Gyatso

There are many DW threads about Dream Yoga and how to practice it.

http://www.dharmawheel.net/search.php?k ... dream+yoga

There are many many books.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i ... DN1HZL9FVJ

So what Sam Harris experienced and what he made of it is one thing, and what you experience in your dreams, and what you make of it, is another.

:heart:

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by florin » Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:07 pm

After the rushan retreat I started thinking about how Changchub Dorje initiated rinpoche during the dream state.
For some reason I thought that this fact was significant in some way but wasn't immediately sure why.
Then I realised that Changchun Dorje was really convinced that the initiation given to rinpoche in the dream was totally valid since he mentioned it when rinpoche requested initiation.

The implication of this is that some masters have the capacity to enter our dreams, plant seeds, give initiations ,teachings, direct transmisions and positively influence our progress.What's more interesting is that they can create situations where strong experiences are generated so we can discover with much more ease and see nakedly our real state
I find this quite extraordinary .
"Bow down to me for I thirst for an infinite ocean of blood, since the innumerable torrents of floods at kalpa's end that terrify all world systems do not even wet the tip of my tongue"

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by oldbob » Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:56 pm

florin wrote:After the rushan retreat I started thinking about how Changchub Dorje initiated rinpoche during the dream state.
For some reason I thought that this fact was significant in some way but wasn't immediately sure why.
Then I realised that Changchun Dorje was really convinced that the initiation given to rinpoche in the dream was totally valid since he mentioned it when rinpoche requested initiation.

The implication of this is that some masters have the capacity to enter our dreams, plant seeds, give initiations ,teachings, direct transmisions and positively influence our progress.What's more interesting is that they can create situations where strong experiences are generated so we can discover with much more ease and see nakedly our real state
I find this quite extraordinary .
Yup!

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by MalaBeads » Thu Feb 09, 2017 10:03 pm

if you are a yogi you can do much more than that
I am well aware of my idiocy. I am also very aware that you too are an idiot. Therein lies our mutuality.

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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Post by michaelb » Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:25 am

I just finished listening to Sam Harris's book that the anecdote of the dream about Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche came from. (You can listen to the book for free if you sign up for a free month trial of Audible, Amazon's audio book app.) As pointed out above, he recounted the dream to contrast with someone's NDE, which this person took as proof of heaven, etc. whereas, despite the apparent compelling evidence of his dream, he saw that it couldn't be taken as objective evidence of anything, which is fair enough.

The reason I chose to post was the title of this thread and to point out that Sam Harris did receive the literal pointing out instruction in person from Tulku Urgyen, which he sees as the most valuable teaching he has ever received from anyone. I didn't know too much about Harris and was surprised by his accounts of his practice and experiences in the book. Briefly, he has been interested in meditation and spiritual experience since his youth. He studied vipassana in the Burmese tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw, doing a number of retreats, with a year or so in retreat in total. He then practiced in the Advaita Vedanta tradition of Ramana Maharshi for a while before travelling to Kathmandu with his Advaita group and meeting Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.

He says of Tulku Urgyen, "he could point out the nature of mind with the precision and matter-of-factness of teaching a person how to thread a needle and could get an ordinary meditator like me to recognise that consciousness is intrinsically free of self. There might be some initial struggle and uncertainty, depending on the student, but once the truth of nonduality had been glimpsed, it became obvious that it was always available and there was never any doubt about how to see it again. I came to Tulku Urgyen yearning for the experience of self transcendence and in a few minutes he showed me that I had no self to transcend. [...] After a few minutes Tulku Urgyen simply handed me the ability to cut through the illusion of the self directly, even in ordinary states of consciousness. This instruction was, without question, the most important thing I have ever been explicitly taught by another human being."

I think this meeting with Tulku Urgyen (he also visited several times in the last five years Tulku Urgyen was alive) happened before the DKR dream, just to put it in a bit of context.

I would recommend the book in that he speaks quite clearly about Dzogchen and, given his past experience with the very gradual method of Vipassana and the very sudden method of Advaita Vedanta, addresses the kind of issues that come up here regularly. For example, he gives good reasons why approaching Dzogchen after years of other practice like shamata might be a good idea even if they are unnecessary and essentially point the student in the wrong direction.

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