Sam Harris talks about meditation, cog experiences, atheism

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Thinker
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Sam Harris talks about meditation, cog experiences, atheism

Postby Thinker » 07 Feb 2014 17:07

I find this speech of Sam Harris, in a meeting of Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, very very interesting and I think that it will speak a lot to all of you people at this forum, specially to people that like science and also that explore the great potencial of our brains and the ones who know Harris already

Here's the links:
speech
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ok2oJgsGR6c
Q&A
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsrtOZdJitA


He is making a new book - Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (2014) (forthcoming) and I guess that something to do with the content of his speech (http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/coming-in-september1)

Maybe we should introduce Mrs.Harris to the world of lucid dreams :)

This topic is to discuss anything you want related to his speech
Last edited by Thinker on 08 Feb 2014 22:43, edited 1 time in total.

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HAGART
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Re: Sam Harris talks about meditation, cog experiences, athe

Postby HAGART » 07 Feb 2014 22:00

I agree that reason shouldn't dismiss mysticism completely but examine it.

I'm a rational person who questions myself and wonders how much external 'stuff' it takes for me to be happy. That sounds, "spiritual", but it's actually very logical. (I'm sure Spock would agree ;) )The answer, I realized from a lucid dream recently, is that I am in an endless cycle of creating my own desires to achieve in order to fill a deep level of well-being. We all know the feeling of not knowing what to do, but feel like we need something, so we eat even if we aren't hungry. That is a psychological way of filling an empty space inside us, but don't know what it is.

Looking at it logically, deep down subconsciously we have a desire to feel a sense of satisfaction and well being. Then with our conscious self we seek out what we can find in the physical universe to satisfy the never-ending desire. My subconscious just want to feel satisfaction and doesn't care what I have to do to get it. Culture and upbringing will influence what you seek. Which foods are your favorite, who are you attracted to, what musical style you enjoy. It doesn't matter. We're all doing the exact same thing: seeking a sense of well-being the only ways we think we know how.

But what if we see through all that and question what it is fundamentally going on inside us that even creates a desire in the first place and why does it seem to never be full? This on the surface sounds very spiritual and steeped in mysticism, but I think it's actually very rational.

Spock controls his immediate desires to achieve inner peace (sounds like Buddhism), but he is extremely scientific and analytical too. (no belief in Enlightenment).

(I know it's a fictitious character, and I'm not 100% accurate. He is illogical at times during Vulcan mating rituals and he is only half human, so no letters from Trekkies, please! :lol: I was just using him to make a point. )
If we all lucid dreamed this world would be a better place.

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Summerlander
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Re: Sam Harris talks about meditation, cog experiences, athe

Postby Summerlander » 08 Feb 2014 01:43

I've got a few books by Sam Haris and I'm definitely checking the video tomorrow. You can't go wrong with him, really. Thanks Thinker!

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"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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Summerlander
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Re: Sam Harris talks about meditation, cog experiences, athe

Postby Summerlander » 09 Feb 2014 03:11

I can see where he is coming from on the subject of discarding labels such as "atheism" on the war against bad ideas. I'd also like to mention that, as an avid reader of Sam Harris' literature, I know he's no stranger to meditation and lucid dreaming. Richard Dawkins himself mentions lucid dreaming in his book, "The God Delusion."

I'd also like to introduce Michael Raduga as soeone who also deems phase states of the brain (which give rise to lucid dreams and out-of-body sensations) as being partly responsible for beliefs in angels, gods, and advanced alien visitors - visions of the night can be quite convincing and indeed there are biblical passages that appear to describe hallucinations during sleep paralysis.

The Buddha is a perfect example of someone who, like Harris, was curious about alternate states of consciousness as a means to show mankind a way out of suffering. He was also an agnostic who was curious about the nature of reality and through meditation he found that the self is most likely an illusion. In fact, some say he was the first bundle theorist, predating David Hume's ideas by millennia.

What happened, eventually, is that the story of the prince Siddhartha Gautama was exaggerated overtime, laced with mysticism, and hijacked by religion. Today we have several factions of Buddhism and they all differ.

It is time, as Harris says, that we consider all kinds of phenomena related to cognition and experience and show those religious nuts and zealous mystics that it is all natural as opposed to preternatural. That way we are one step ahead and in a position inform and educate the next generation.

[ Post made via Android ] Image
"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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Re: Sam Harris talks about meditation, cog experiences, athe

Postby Thinker » 10 Feb 2014 17:18

Summerlander wrote:I can see where he is coming from on the subject of discarding labels such as "atheism" on the war against bad ideas. I'd also like to mention that, as an avid reader of Sam Harris' literature, I know he's no stranger to meditation and lucid dreaming. Richard Dawkins himself mentions lucid dreaming in his book, "The God Delusion."

I'd also like to introduce Michael Raduga as soeone who also deems phase states of the brain (which give rise to lucid dreams and out-of-body sensations) as being partly responsible for beliefs in angels, gods, and advanced alien visitors - visions of the night can be quite convincing and indeed there are biblical passages that appear to describe hallucinations during sleep paralysis.

The Buddha is a perfect example of someone who, like Harris, was curious about alternate states of consciousness as a means to show mankind a way out of suffering. He was also an agnostic who was curious about the nature of reality and through meditation he found that the self is most likely an illusion. In fact, some say he was the first bundle theorist, predating David Hume's ideas by millennia.

What happened, eventually, is that the story of the prince Siddhartha Gautama was exaggerated overtime, laced with mysticism, and hijacked by religion. Today we have several factions of Buddhism and they all differ.

It is time, as Harris says, that we consider all kinds of phenomena related to cognition and experience and show those religious nuts and zealous mystics that it is all natural as opposed to preternatural. That way we are one step ahead and in a position inform and educate the next generation.

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Yes, I agree and I had already thought of something similar before I saw Harris talking. The atheist are labeled and some groups distort the meaning of that label and then is easy to descredit someone putting that person inside that labelled group that already has a lot of prejudice. It seems a good strategy to dimiss bad ideas and to make society evolve, breaking that label and appeal for reason and science, but the problem is that in order to change something in a significant way, you shoul have a movement and that movement always has a name, so, again, it could be labeled...I don't know a away to escape manipulation of the ones who defend the opposite ideas. How would you solve this? Changing the name would be better. There is already I great confusion with distinction between the term agnostic and atheist. I think some people just mixed the two or swap definitions between them.

Interesting, I didn't know that about Buddha, where did you read that?

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Re: Sam Harris talks about meditation, cog experiences, athe

Postby Summerlander » 10 Feb 2014 23:40

Richard Dawkins suggested that enlightened freethinkers (who inevitably end up disbelieving in god because there is no evidence for one) should be called "brights." Brights should have a movement like gay people because, as he argues, that is how things get done. I see where he is coming from and indeed gay people have made an impact as a union

Christopher Hitchens had no problem with the atheist label and even tried to make the term "antitheist" more ubiquitous. He argued that, although there is no term that describes people who don't believe in fairies, we don't really have fairy believers knocking on people's doors and trying to convert them. We need to identify ourselves in order to fight and clearly argue where we are coming from.

Sam Harris now argues that the atheist pigeonhole is a trap. He does have a point, although I do think we have a responsibility to untwist what the faithful have twisted and send out a clear message. The atheistic position is the most sensible one given the evidence. It is not a doctrine or a system of belief for the term atheist stands for disbelief by definition, and disbelief is vindicated by science and reason. that is why, after all, why science deems the idea of God as a mere "hypothesis" (a very weak one it should be added) as opposed to a "scientific theory" derived from observations and sound calculations.

As for the distinction between an agnostic and an atheist, it's very simple:

agnosticism is a weak position in this day and age because the adherent is not well informed and just assumes that the existence of God is a 50-50 scenario. Not so! This might have been okay as a worldview in the times of Buddha and Omar Khayyam, but not in today's scientific age.

atheism advocates can see clearly that God's existence is about one percent probable, as probable as the tooth fairy or the flying spaghetti monster (and you can see why this warrants disbelief). The atheist, by contrast and if he is honest with himself, understands that God is extremely improbable given the absence of intelligent design in nature, and this becomes more apparent when we take a look at the slow and haphazard process of evolution, with all its mistakes, and the cosmic destruction of worlds. The atheist remembers the old Epicurean logic that no theodicy in the world can vindicate the existence of a perfectly good God in the face of evil. In Dawkins' "God Delusion," by the way, you will find the following scale:

Image

But why would the atheist reasonably allow room for a Creator in the "one percent," you might ask? That one percent is not there for the theistic version of the Creator. It is certainly not to allow room for the God of Moses and Abraham, the hypocritical, homicidal and man-made "Almighty" that visits much suffering upon mankind. No. The one-percent is for the somewhat more respectable version of a Creator, the version propounded by Deists.

deism is the notion that a deity created the universe and does not intervene. It is the belief that the Creator abandoned his creation. Like a billiards player that took a shot at the break-off and subsequently abandoned the game. We certainly can't disprove this but we may criticise such position with one insurmountable problem that reveals why such belief is no explanation for the beginning of all things: Who or what created the Creator, and who or what caused the Creator's creator and so forth ad infinitum?

Time and again, scientists like Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss show us that a universe is conceivable without the aid of a divine hand. We are shown that whenever there is nothing in quantum mechanics, we will always have something because the very vacuum of space is not empty, but abuzz with quantum particles popping in and out of existence. The essence of true nothingness can only be defined by the existence of something, it is what's between two objects that are stuck together, i.e. no space and no time. It there is a vacuous space between these two objects, then there is something - a something defined by the fabric of space-time, properties of this very universe that came to frution since the big bang.

It is the best we have. If there was absolute nothingness then there was great potential for the expansion of something, and, as Krauss tells us, all the energy in the universe adds up to zero. (I really recommend his seminar to see how far physics and cosmology got.) It is the best we got and we are still looking. Meanwhile, the God-worshipper has already given up searching as he readily believes the so-called holy scripture, namely Genesis, provides the best answers without the need of evidence and reason. It was magic, they say...

As for the Buddha story, I watched a documentary based on research by people of reason ages ago. Sorry but I can't locate it now, but even in the traditional view, you will see that the man was very curious about the human condition, he longed for answers that he didn't have, and he loved to observe nature. Buddha was a philosopher.

As far as I can tell, the "de-facto atheist" position is the most sensible one. But I do have a tendency to lean on the "strong atheist" position with the same conviction that I say, "Come on, wake up and smell the coffee, have you ever seen any fairies or winged unicorns? Put those no-god goggles on and start thinking clearly, my friend!" :mrgreen:
"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava


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