Loreena

Is Sam Harris Enlightened ?

40 posts in this topic

What do you think ? 

Why and Why not ?


  1. Only ONE path is true. Rest is noise
  2. God is beauty, rest is Ugly 

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He doesn't claim to be enlightened, but he's claimed to have "stream-entry."

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@Joel3102 I think part of it is due to him being somewhat of a household name, being on the book list, and being a rationalist who has some experience with non-duality but ultimately stays grounded in logic/rationality as his modus operandi for existential investigation.

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He's a warning case for any of you staunch rationalists out there.

Don't skim the surface, when you can merge into the ocean.

EVERYTHING must be relinquished -- including rationalism -- to get to the Godhead.


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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You know what is a better question -- does he think he is enlightened.  Not whether he would say so publically, but how does he feel about it in his own heart-mind?  If he is satisfied with the answer, then the issue is moot.

There is no objectivity in reality.  Objectivity is still egoic.  Enlightenment is a highly personal thing I find.  Highly personal.

You can half-objectify enlightenment, but at the end of the day the shoe has to fit the wearer.  And that's what makes a great shoe.  There is no objectively right shoe.  There's room for variance built into enlightenment.  A monkey's perspective is not the perspectiveless perspective.  So, create and optimize your own enlightenment.  You are toying with Maya either way.  

Don't believe the hype.  There ain't no right answer.  That's what is so paradoxical about enlightenment.  Enlightenment is no-thing.  You see all these books about enlightenment.  And then you go -- yep, no-thing.  When you have that realization it will hit you in a comical sort of way.  You will still want to cling to the theory though, naturally.  The ego wants to cling to theory.  But just go -- yep, no-thing!  That's hard to do.  The ego has a need to know, need for certainty, and need for conceptual clarification.  When you see that about the ego you can't unsee it.  And you'll release all the judging and trying to cubby-hole enlightenment.  I've heard the word "spiritual ego" before, and it may or may not apply to what I have said here.  I'll let you decide if it does or not.

All perspectives are existentially relative and dwarfed by the Absolute, the perspectiveless perspective, which laughs at all of our little distinctions.  Good, bad, right, wrong, true, false.  All ego.  All illusory, myopic beliefs at the existential level.  Now, in monkey-ville all of these distinctions have practical import, but monkey-ville ain't true reality, not even close.  Even so-called enlightened monkeys still half-reside in monkey-ville, within our bodies, beliefs, and cultures.

Edited by Joseph Maynor

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2 hours ago, Leo Gura said:

He's a warning case for any of you staunch rationalists out there.

Don't skim the surface, when you can merge into the ocean.

EVERYTHING must be relinquished -- including rationalism -- to get to the Godhead.

I dont see why he should be a warning. He is a highly successful, financialy independent and quite self-realised person living a seemingly meaningful life, driven by his deepest values, and has even managed to combine that with a successful social life and a relatively successfull spiritual quest. (Has already achieved stream entry, and might very well get even further later in life). If anything he should be an inspiration.

Whether or not he is enlightent depends on how you conceptualizise "enlightenment". Sam Harris' spiritual practice is Buddhism, while yours seems to be a Maharshi inspired practice with a heavy focus on psychadelics and direct self-inquiry. I'm not really sure wich conceptualization of enlightenment you aspire to, but from the little I have seen it look like something simular to moksha or some new age concept.

Rationalism might be a hindrance in the specific path to enlightenment you are following, but it is not so in the classic buddhist path. Buddhism is a very rational practice that dosn't require faith in any metaphysical speculation, and its spiritual path consists of a predictable, fairly linear progression through well defined stages. 

In buddhism enlightenment is not an either/or, that happens in one sudden shift. It is something that happens in stages. Stream entry is the first stage of classical buddhist enlightenment.

The claim that Sam, who have spent 2+ years in vipassana retreat, being a stream entrer sounds very plausible. That means one could say he has acchieved a minimum level of enlightenment, as defined by the Buddha. 

Edited by Erlend K

INSTEAD OF COMMUNICATING WITH PEOPLE AS IF THEY POSSESSED INTELLIGENCE, TRY USING ABSTRACT SPIRITUAL TERMS THAT CONVEY NO USABLE INFORMATION. :)

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"You no more control the next thing you think, than the next thing I say" - Sam Harris

This quote has stuck with me, love me some Sam Harris, he introduced me to meditation


Not Even One
God/Goddess/Spirit guide me
Awaken True Love Within

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@Erlend K It's precisely because you don't see it, that I issued that warning.

You and Sam are grossly underestimating the depth of this thing.

His success is irrelevant, and in fact a major distraction.

What I say is Buddhism at its purest. Your understanding of Buddhism is shallow.

Be ware that this path is a minefield filled with 100s of mines. And rationalists are extra-susceptible to stepping on them. The tendency for rationalists to believe they are less-susceptible to ignorance, is just one more landmine. Such is the trickery of the mind.

Investigate the matter for yourself.

Nothing against Sam Harris, he's an interesting guy. But if you want the deepest level of human attainment, he's not gonna lead you there. At least not in his present level of development.


You are God. You are Love. You are Infinity. You are Leo.

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15 minutes ago, Truth Seekah said:

 

Can't have an experience of nothing... It's like the eyes looping round and seeing themselves ;d Sam is close, he's like glue between science and spirituality


Not Even One
God/Goddess/Spirit guide me
Awaken True Love Within

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19 minutes ago, Dodo said:

Can't have an experience of nothing... It's like the eyes looping round and seeing themselves ;d Sam is close, he's like glue between science and spirituality

Exactly


one so freed from bondage of senses transcends all material relationship.

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19 minutes ago, Leo Gura said:

@Erlend K

What I say is Buddhism at its purest. Your understanding of Buddhism is shallow.

Care to expand on that? Why do you think that you as a 30-something year old guy, with no monastic background and a very limited study of the Dharma, understand "Buddhism at its purest"?

In your first post you talked said "EVERYTHING must be relinquished -- including rationalism -- to get to the Godhead." I think you might have got Brahmanism and Buddhism mixed up. There is no goal in Buddhism about "getting to the Godhead". The goal is simply complete acceptance of- and equanimity with- the three characteristics of impermanence, dissatisfactoriness and non-self. 

I disagree with calling the practices you advocate (Maharshi style self-inquiry and psychedelics) "Buddhism at its purest". A purer practice for a beginner would be practicing Samatha until you master the concentration Jhanas, combined with the moral practices like kindness, compassion and generosity. Then switching to vipassana to go through the insight stages/vipassana Jhanas to reach stream entry. That is the practice the Buddha actually taught.

In my original post, I made two claims about Buddhism:

1. The form of enlightenment the Buddha taught is achieved through a predictable, fairly linear, progression through well defined stages and not one sudden shift: The Buddha himself taught enlightenment as 4 stages (paths). Newer Buddhist schools have expanded this to f.i. the 5 paths of Mahayana (of which stream entry is the second path) and the 10 Bodhisattva Bhumis (of which I think stream entry is the first bhumi). For a in-depth analysis of the stages of insight check out the writings of Mahasi (perhaps the greatest Buddhist teacher of the last century).

2. Buddhism is a very rational practice that dosn't require faith in any metaphysical speculation: The Buddha was very clear about this. Don't believe anything to be true just because this or that teacher says so. Don't assume something to be true even if the Buddha himself said so. Don't take anything on blind faith, but think for yourself, and see if it matches your own experience. Unlike the Brahmanist sages, Buddha would often refuse to give his opinion on metaphysical questions because he saw these as unnecessary distractions.


INSTEAD OF COMMUNICATING WITH PEOPLE AS IF THEY POSSESSED INTELLIGENCE, TRY USING ABSTRACT SPIRITUAL TERMS THAT CONVEY NO USABLE INFORMATION. :)

My first published essay

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Based on what I read in his book 'Waking up', I am pretty sure Sam Harris is on the right track.. The book is also helpful in introducing spirituality to skeptical minded people... And he doesn't claim to be enlightened... He says that Papaji asked him to start teaching but he doesn't feel like he is qualified to teach. 

@Leo Gura Did you read his book Waking Up'? For some reason, your opinion about Sam Harris doesn't seem to be good, and I wonder why... 

11 hours ago, username said:

He doesn't claim to be enlightened, but he's claimed to have "stream-entry."

Thats a news to me.. Did he explicitly state anywhere that he has reached stream entry?  He doesn't state that in his book 'Waking up'.. 


Shanmugam 

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@Shanmugam Yeah, Dan Harris (no relation), is a news anchor and author of the book, 10% Happier , in which he mentions that Sam claimed to have hit stream-entry.

To me it sounds like Sam has only had one or two enlightenment experiences rather than any permanent shift in consciousness, which, IIRC isstream-entry level.

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I have enjoyed listening to Sam Harris over the years. I have not paused to consider whether he is enlightened. I have learned not to do that.

I will say something about that now. It doesn't matter. Sam Harris is Sam Harris, and he is completely responsible for being Sam Harris, even to the point of any heighted state of being. Cutting to the chase; each has their own path to walk.

I have learned that it is a complete waste of time to ponder whether this or that monk is enlightened, or any state beyond, for that matter. The same could be said about Eckhart Tolle (whom I consider to be enlightened), or any great teacher. The knowledge of their state of awareness does nothing in and of itself. What matters is the teaching and my ability to transform it into my practice. The teaching could come from the trash man; but if it resounds with my own mind, then it is good.

Appearances (looks good, sounds good) tend to distract. The path is to greater awareness is inward. The teachings of others merely help illuminate a way. A person's status isn't important; even though at times enlightenment seems evident.

Another way to look at this is, anytime someone imparts wisdom, for that moment they are enlightened. The message can be well received, regardless of appearances.

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What could be more fun than talking about who’s enlightened or not? It’s like a high consciousness version of office gossip next to the cooler at lunch break. It makes life so fun.

I recall Sam writing in his Waking Up book that he did NOT reach stream entry. He kept on hitting a wall to the point of frustration (even after lengthy silent retreats) until he backed off and went back home to become a neuroscientist and write books about how terrible religion is. Since then it seems he's drifted further and further away from his enlightenment journey.  As a popular science/philosophy author he might be fairly accomplished and he might even be a "good meditator" but when it comes to realizing the fundamental nature of reality, he seems to be quite lost. Like most of his fellow American pop meditation pro-science evangelists. I used to be really into atheism and science and all that debating shit but I now think that is all a complete waste of time and just ego mind games.

Leo, I wouldn't necessarily confuse "grossly underestimating the depth of this thing" to some low-level form of rationalism. This argument can easily become a tautology and fall apart. Otherwise what you say wouldn't make any sense :) Could it not be that God/Truth is the ultimate form of logic? There seems to be a mathematical order to nature and it's underlying mechanics.

It's always nice to chit chat about the semantics of enlightenment and all these opinions about stream entry, or what buddha really meant or said or how my god is better than your god (ie. my dick is bigger than your dick) but at the end of the day...

if you meet the Buddha (or Brahman or Sam Harris or Leo) on the road (or in your head), kill him.
Gauge his eyes out with your nails and feed them to starving vultures.

No mercy. None.

There comes a time when all the methods and so-called enlightenment maps of history become useless and all this "chitchat" is just flies buzzing around steaming turds. That's when you know you are truly in the dark. And finally getting somewhere! No hands will be held at that point to proceed. There will be no one to ask for advice because words won't be able to convey anything anymore. You will know what being alone really means (and how relentless your ego is).

If your ego does take control at this point, you will most likely be in a world of hell and you will know what insanity feels like. And if you are not sufficiently prepared, you will end up in a mental hospital or dead. This is what Jim Morrison meant when he sang about a "roman wilderness of pain". A few years later he was found dead in a bathtub in Paris. What a shame because I think The Doors were really getting somewhere after that first album. Too much too soon for the sensitive clown who became a legend.

Lady Gaga also sang about it in her pop masterpiece "Edge of Glory". But she never understood what she was singing about.

I have been on that edge and in the wilderness of pain but I was also not prepared and had to come back for oxygen. Somehow I'm still alive and slowly getting back to sanity (or so I tell myself). But even I know that you never really come back once you've met the real dragon.

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sam's exceptional intelligence and therefore deduction ability allow him to see that all other than the One is relativity.   So, he is in the flow   

He is thousands of practice hours away from being what he actually is.   


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