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Sam Harris

From Wikipedia:
Spirituality
Finally, Harris also wishes to recapture spirituality for the domain of human reason. He draws his inspiration from the practices (but not the beliefs) of Eastern religion, in particular that of meditation. By paying close attention to one's moment-to-moment conscious experience, Harris suggests that it is possible to make our sense of "self" vanish, while retaining a vivid awareness of the continuum of experience, and thereby reach a hitherto unknown state of personal well-being.

He has received considerable criticism from atheists for this assertion. For example he has stated, to the bewilderment of some, that he considers it likely that the happiest man on the planet might well have spent the last twenty years living alone in a cave.[4] But Harris is unapologetic, claiming a necessary connection between personal spiritual development and ethics, while insisting that at no stage is it necessary to incorporate myth and superstition into the process. Such things, he feels, can only hinder us.


My fingers are way to cold for much typing right now, but I do plan to return to this topic soon as well as to get "The End of Faith" from the library.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
malathion
Nov. 15th, 2006 09:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this. I am going to go gut that from the article.

I wanted to post in your last thread about this, but arrived way too late, sadly. I'm a big fan of Richard Dawkins, but I haven't read anything by Sam Harris. I'll get around to it eventually.
humandays
Nov. 15th, 2006 10:34 pm (UTC)
very interesting. quite close to my own conception of spirtiuality and its history in my life.
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Nov. 16th, 2006 02:13 am (UTC)
Sounds about right.

People rarely draw the appropriate distinction between happiness and contentment. Happiness requires work. γνώθι σεαυτόν. Very few people actually do that. If the ego resides supreme, one can never experience the timeless self, or no-self.

Atheists deny themselves. Some due to a lack of experience or poor experience, and others due to their own self-pride.

To deny yourself seems even more unethical than to fail to meet your potential. They never θέλημα.

Namaste.

thiyavat
Nov. 16th, 2006 05:19 am (UTC)
This Harris fellow's work sounds more appealing to me than much of what I've heard about Dawkins, although granted I don't know much about either of them really.

A question: given this understanding of Harris' about spirituality which you mention, is there room in that understanding for a metaphorical overlay aimed at providing symbols to assist one in making one's sense of 'self' vanish and obtaining the well-being associated with that state? Just wondering because if so, I can see this being easier for the borderline-atheistic spiritual types I know to swallow vs. say demanding that 'spirituality' ideally proceed only via the language of science. Put another way: I think part of the appeal of spirituality, religion, etc. for a lot of people relates to the imagination, and I'm wondering if Harris' understanding of spirituality acknowledges and allows for that.
malathion
Nov. 16th, 2006 06:02 am (UTC)
Simply put, spirituality occurs independently of the supernatural for an atheist.
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Nov. 16th, 2006 03:51 pm (UTC)
Sombunall schools of spirituality have no concept of supernatural.

Atheists often renounce phenomena as supernatural in order to decrease cognitive dissonance. Domesticated primates can appear quite comical in their predictability when it comes to dissonance. Sagan and Dawkins provide hilarious examples.

The term appears laden with hubris. How could one acquire the level of cosmic awareness requisite to understand what occurs above the natural?

Namaste.
thiyavat
Nov. 16th, 2006 04:09 pm (UTC)
The idea of a spirituality with no supernatural is probably something I could get behind, given how much I've already annoyed my occultist friends by interpreting my own and their experience in Jungian psychological terms rather than supernatural ones.

What I'm wondering though is: with any of these atheist writers under discussion, and more importantly with people who sympathize with their views, if one were to talk to them about a 'spiritual' experience, are they even going to give you time to explain that with regard to your own case you are talking about symbols and metaphors, or is the atheism presented so stridently that it encourages those who call themselves atheists to verbally shoot first and ask questions later as soon as they encounter anything that might resemble religion?

Again, I haven't read much of these guys, so I don't mean to accuse or say that such is what their writing does promote, but from what little I've heard so far it's just a question I have.
ankh_f_n_khonsu
Nov. 16th, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC)
Well, plenty have approached actualization with a mind to science. As Crowley said:

We place no reliance on virgin or pidgeon.
Our method is science, our aim is religion.


I think a good many atheists would resist the individualized metaphor of actualization.

Look at how vociferously they decry the tarot and psi.

If you like putting things in a Jungian framework, you might enjoy Reich, Jung, Regardie and Me: The Unhealed Healer, by Spiegelman. Also, have you studied Gurdjieff's system?

Namaste.
malathion
Nov. 16th, 2006 04:50 pm (UTC)
What I'm wondering though is: with any of these atheist writers under discussion, and more importantly with people who sympathize with their views, if one were to talk to them about a 'spiritual' experience, are they even going to give you time to explain that with regard to your own case you are talking about symbols and metaphors, or is the atheism presented so stridently that it encourages those who call themselves atheists to verbally shoot first and ask questions later as soon as they encounter anything that might resemble religion?

This is an interesting question, and I can only give you evidence. What that other guy is saying appears like some kind of bizarre gibberish. I can't decipher it.

Here is a nice interview with Richard Dawkins that gives a decent 8-minute synopsis of his views on religion. You can note how he responds to the question of spiritual experiences.
kmo
Nov. 16th, 2006 05:43 pm (UTC)
shooting first
What I'm wondering though is: with any of these atheist writers under discussion, and more importantly with people who sympathize with their views, if one were to talk to them about a 'spiritual' experience, are they even going to give you time to explain that with regard to your own case you are talking about symbols and metaphors, or is the atheism presented so stridently that it encourages those who call themselves atheists to verbally shoot first and ask questions later as soon as they encounter anything that might resemble religion?

I think david_lucifer thinks that such depictions of strident, "shoot first, ask questions later" athiests amount to little more than straw man punching bags. By way of a counter example, I would direct you to this entry to the singularity_now community here on LiveJournal:

http://community.livejournal.com/singularity_now/57169.html
kmo
Nov. 16th, 2006 04:03 pm (UTC)
Spirituality, Science, and Symbolic Overlays
I don't know what Sam Harris would say to your suggestion, but if you're opening the question to the assembled minds, I would direct you to this comment by wildgarden:

http://kmo.livejournal.com/264218.html?thread=769818#t769818
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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