Sam Harris

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2 years 8 months ago - 2 years 8 months ago #109068 by Laurel Carrington
Sam Harris was created by Laurel Carrington
Hello, everyone, I am sure many people here have read and discussed Sam Harris to death, but I am new-ish to the whole body of his work and thinking, and have been spending a lot of time on his podcast and with his books. One effect is that I have more understanding of and respect for scientific approaches and thinking than I used to, back in the day when I identified as an academic in the humanities and felt threatened by some scientists’ tendencies to denigrate humanistic disciplines as lacking in rigor. So, I would like to open up a thread here in the hopes of hearing what people think about his good points and his deficiencies.

My personal take is that as an interviewer he elicits stimulating discussions from his guests, although he also has a cult following that can go overboard. I also deplore his takedowns of Islam as dangerous and reductive. It’s obvious that he sees support in the Koran for violence and in this he is not entirely unjustified, but there is a rich tradition that he absolutely ignores. The same is true for the other two Abrahamic religions. I personally have let go of my Christian affiliation but have not given up my past (how could I?), which shaped the person I am now.

I am presently about halfway through Harris’s interview with Michael Pollan on psychedelics and am reading Pollan’s book. Anyway, please feel free to respond in any way you’d like.

Interview
Last edit: 2 years 8 months ago by Laurel Carrington.
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2 years 8 months ago - 2 years 8 months ago #109069 by Noah
Replied by Noah on topic Sam Harris
I find him interesting & entertaining. He has an interview where he discusses Dzogchen very imprecisely with Daniel Goleman & Richie Davidson. No sign that he understands the tradition deeply (despite studies with Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche), including the distinction between trekcho & thogal.
Last edit: 2 years 8 months ago by Noah.
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2 years 8 months ago #109072 by Laurel Carrington
Replied by Laurel Carrington on topic Sam Harris
I scarcely understand the tradition shallowly, much less deeply. But I do refrain from talking about it. :P
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2 years 8 months ago #109083 by Laurel Carrington
Replied by Laurel Carrington on topic Sam Harris
Just finished Harris’s interview with Michael Pollan yesterday, and am making headway with Pollan’s book, which goes into the history of psychedelics and their suppression in the U.S. It’s interesting to me how Harris brings his scientific training and reflexes to bear on the question of drug-induced mystical experiences. Years ago I bought the line that these drugs were dangerous, and later I took the view that any insights gained through ingesting drugs were incomplete, perhaps because they would be unassimilated. I also thought it was a cop-out to bypass the work of spiritual practice by taking a pill.

I now have a different view, especially in light of the work of people like Vince Horn. I am especially intrigued by the way one’s setting, support, and mindset while taking these drugs makes for diverse experiences. It makes sense in light of my own response of anxiety when I first experienced ego-death over six years ago. I had good support, but I wasn’t emotionally prepared for how such an experience would feel. My overall aversive disposition brought fear to the forefront. Since that time I have grown up substantially in this practice. I’ve had an important road to travel vis a vis spiritual practice and spiritual traditions, which I used to idealize. Far better to keep an open mind and see what develops.
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2 years 8 months ago #109091 by Noah
Replied by Noah on topic Sam Harris
I like Vince Horn's new interview with Spring Washam. I had not heard of her before & thought she would be super mushroomy when I heard who her teachers were, but walked away from the interview impressed. What she does now is ayahuasca + vipassana retreats. She guides people through these plant journeys & has them do insight practice at the same time. And her reason for doing this is that people aren't getting enlightened fast enough. As my friend Jim would say - "the praggiest of dharms."
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2 years 8 months ago - 2 years 8 months ago #109097 by Laurel Carrington
Replied by Laurel Carrington on topic Sam Harris
Found the retreat info. Would love it, but not right now. Also, where can I find Vince’s interview?

ETA: also, not sure such a retreat would make sense for me with the stage I’m already at.

E Again TA: found Vincent’s podcasts. I have a link to the old Buddhist Geeks and haven’t updated.

www.vincenthorn.com/
Last edit: 2 years 8 months ago by Laurel Carrington.
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2 years 8 months ago #109110 by Eric
Replied by Eric on topic Sam Harris
Sam is valuable because he is pretty far along spiritually and in his work he is attempting to come to grips with some of the most divisive topics around. And, on the whole, he is more intellectually honest than most. He does get a bit brittle around the subject of Islam, it's kind of like he is turning everything into black and white when it clearly isn't. I think he has spent too much time in debate mode.

Because of his Waking Up book he's probably turned a few dogmatic atheists onto meditation. Maybe. Probably most are like a dogmatic atheist friend of mine who read the book, tried meditation once, gave up, and additionally declared, "I still think there's a self".

I would say outside of some of those more brittle areas I've learned a lot about intellectual honesty from Sam. It's a pity (and shocking) that we don't really teach much about such stuff in school, I mean outside of a Phd program maybe.
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2 years 8 months ago #109114 by Laurel Carrington
Replied by Laurel Carrington on topic Sam Harris
“Brittle” is an excellent word to describe some of his views. I’ve also read or listened to his stuff on Christianity and find him taking it to the extreme, throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I prefer the approach of someone like Ken Wilber, who says religious traditions are important for introducing contemplative practices that allow for awakening. Unfortunately, they also introduce a whole lot of other things that create hatred and division.

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1 year 4 months ago #111768 by Tom Otvos
Replied by Tom Otvos on topic Sam Harris
Here is another recent podcast with Sam Harris as a guest. I find him interesting and entertaining:

podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/sam-harris...4895?i=1000454340591

-- tomo

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