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Does Humanity Need a Contemplative Science?
May 2, 2007
7:52 pm
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Does humanity need a contemplative science rather than more of the same old fighting over whose God is the right God or whether there is a God at all?

Sam Harris seems to thinks so. These are his thoughts on this issue:

A Contemplative Science
What the world most needs at this moment
is a means of convincing human
beings to embrace the whole of the species
as their moral community. For this we
need to develop an utterly nonsectarian
way of talking about the full spectrum of
human experience and human aspiration.
We need a discourse on ethics and spirituality
that is every bit as unconstrained by
dogma and cultural prejudice as the discourse
of science is. What we need, in fact,
is a contemplative science, a modern approach
to exploring the furthest reaches
of psychological well-being. It should go
without saying that we will not develop
such a science by attempting to spread
“American Buddhism,” or “Western Buddhism,”
or “Engaged Buddhism.”
I f the methodology of Buddhism (ethical
precepts and meditation) uncovers genuine
truths about the mind and the phenomenal
world—truths like emptiness, selflessness,
and impermanence—these truths are not in
the least “Buddhist.” No doubt, most serious
practitioners of meditation realize this, but
most Buddhists do not. Consequently, even
if a person is aware of the timeless and noncontingent
nature of the meditative insights
described in the Buddhist literature, his
identity as a Buddhist will tend to confuse
the matter for others.
There is a reason that we don’t talk
about “Christian physics” or “Muslim algebra,”
though the Christians invented
physics as we know it, and the Muslims
invented algebra. Today, anyone who emphasizes
the Christian roots of physics or
the Muslim roots of algebra would stand
convicted of not understanding these disciplines
at all. In the same way, once we
develop a scientific account of the contemplative
path, it will utterly transcend
its religious associations. Once such a
conceptual revolution has taken place,
speaking of “Buddhist” meditation will be
synonymous with a failure to assimilate
the changes that have occurred in our understanding
of the human mind.
I t is as yet undetermined what it means
to be human, because every facet of our
culture—and even our biology itself—remains
open to innovation and insight. We
do not know what we will be a thousand
years from now—or indeed that we will
be, given the lethal absurdity of many of
our beliefs—but whatever changes await
us, one thing seems unlikely to change:
as long as experience endures, the difference
between happiness and suffering
will remain our paramount concern. We
will therefore want to understand those
processes—biochemical, behavioral, ethical,
political, economic, and spiritual—that
account for this difference. We do not yet
have anything like a final understanding
of such processes, but we know enough to
rule out many false understandings. Indeed,
we know enough at this moment to
say that the God of Abraham is not only
unworthy of the immensity of creation;
he is unworthy even of man.
There is much more to be discovered
about the nature of the human mind. In
particular, there is much more for us to
understand about how the mind can transform
itself from a mere reservoir of greed,
hatred, and delusion into an instrument
of wisdom and compassion. Students of
the Buddha are very well placed to further
our understanding on this front, but the
religion of Buddhism currently stands in
our way. ♦

Is this true? Does organized religion with all its inherent emotive irrationality hamper scientific advances, especially in the field of the social and political sciences?

May 2, 2007
8:18 pm
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mj
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Tez, Have you read Sam Harris' book "Letter to a Christian Nation"?

May 2, 2007
8:22 pm
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How does one define truth? One man's truth may offend another man/woman. I believe it is up to each one of us to define our own truth and be true to ourself without judgement of another. I do not participate in organized religion but I do believe in my own truth. How can someone's own truth hamper advances? The truth will set you free.

May 2, 2007
8:57 pm
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I shan't remain quiet, but only little peep from me...

I am not touching this one with a 10 foot pole.

May 3, 2007
11:30 am
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ok i tried, but to no avail....

'Students of the Buddha are very well placed to further our understanding on this front, but the religion of Buddhism currently stands in our way. ♦ '

Tez, I agree, but I would like to hear more of your thoughts on the subject.

Is this true? Does organized religion with all its inherent emotive irrationality hamper scientific advances, especially in the field of the social and political sciences?

I say a resounding YES to this question, but I think it important to distinguish between what is 'organized' religion and what is not. We all have different definitions of what it is.

May 3, 2007
1:51 pm
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hey thats nice, i wrote a long post and it got lost. * Bill Gates, the [email protected]#

Stupid asses.

Ok basically, its wrong. Sam Harris is wrong. Search his face in Google. Is that a face of someone who "found" it? No. Its a fake person, pretending to be happy. Look at the face, seriously.

and no u dont need any relgion. STOP THINKING THAT YOU NEED A SYSTEM TO FOLLOW. That includes buddhism

May 3, 2007
1:53 pm
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Here's sam harris's fake face:

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/?p=44

See the fake smile? Anytime you need to fake something, you're wrong. I can face read. this is a person in a fake heaven.

Its nice that he puts down Christainity but he should do the same for Buddhism

May 3, 2007
1:59 pm
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i can agree with him though, that if buddhism is presented to people not as a religion, but something else, people will accept it more. Ofcourse. People dont want to convert or change their titles that easily.

But then, its but Buddhism anymore. What remains is commonsense, if it works or not. Why dont you just empty the whole toolbox, and put in tools that you need and you know which work. Just throw away these religious toolboxes and make your own judgements, and stop following systems.

Plys, every person is unique and they have to develop their own set of tools. Saying a certain system will work for everyone, thats not possible. Just believe that you can do it, you have the tools to find out what works best for you and implement them.

May 3, 2007
4:42 pm
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Also, will someone define for me what 'a Contemplative Science' is, and how Harris is applying this definition to the writing above?

Is this it? "We need a discourse on ethics and spirituality that is every bit as unconstrained by dogma and cultural prejudice as the discourse of science is."

And this statement:
"We need a discourse on ethics and spirituality that is every bit as unconstrained by dogma and cultural prejudice as the discourse of science is."........seems to refute what he just said in the quote above. I am confused.

May 3, 2007
4:46 pm
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told ya i was confused, i meant to say that the quote seems to refute the rest of his writing, as he talks about unconstrained dogma, but then tells everyone how to think.

May 3, 2007
7:10 pm
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I agree yea.

May 3, 2007
7:59 pm
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Mj

Thanks for your response to this interesting cut and paste.

You asked:

" How can someone's own truth hamper advances?

Very simply - by fundamentalists gaining political power and enforcing their beliefs on others via legislation.

Ask those who want to have the right to exercise their right to choose the time, place and means of their own death but cannot because of the law of the land, that same question. I'm sure they'll tell you "how".

Ask the woman who want to have the right to exercise her right to choose whether to abort her unborn child or not but cannot because of the law of the land, that same question. I'm sure she'll tell you "how".

Ask the Jews who survived Auschwitz, how Hitler's cockeyed racial truth did "hamper advances" in regard to their welfare and that of the rest of the world.

The examples are legion.

"The truth will set you free."

It certainly will. But whose truth? Superstitious religion based, truth underpinned by blind unthinking faith? Or a 'common' truth as yet unarrived at by humanity at large; a truth free of religious bias of all kinds; a secetarian truth; a 'relative' truth based upon a contemplative science that is able to reflect deeply upon the ultimate nature of reality; a reality that defies 'common' sense?

Quantum physics is of necessity is such a contemplatively orientated science. Much of it, such as a sub-atomic 'particle' existing in two places at once simultaneously, defies such 'common' sense.

PS No I haven't read the Sam Harris Book you mentioned in your early post.
But I would certainly like to do so if the opportunity arises.

Thanks again.

May 3, 2007
9:18 pm
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Tez, feel free to ignore me, its alright I wont mind. You know I dont like Buddhism so thats that.

By the way, the sexy professor who lived almost next door is moving out. sniff! Maybe she's moving in with her BF, I have no idea.

May 3, 2007
9:20 pm
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Tez,
I think it only fair to mention that everyone on this site has their own religion, and try as I may, all that I see is one's belief systems permeating the pages. In spite of all of the belief systems in our world, we are all very happy to posture ourselves, and post from the context of our own belief system. Whose truth indeed! If people would respect one another's belief system, but they do not. How many wars have been waged over religion? Many. Everyone wants to be in control. Buddhists and Christians alike do agree on one thing, and that is the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Buddha didn't write that. But I think it loses its devine implications when man turns it around for himself/herself.

I suspect that each person guided by a good heart, will do what they can to help each one use their 'tools' as guest refers to. But the answers will not come in bashing someone else's belief system, or thier country, or thier leaders, or especially their soldiers, as that is what the world has done for centuries, and it has gotten us nowhere. So Harris has a good basis for his thoughts, but on the other hand, it is just what all have been doing all along....our own thing, and now he is asking for nothing but for us to be free to do our own thing. I would hate to teach that to a bunch of 1'st graders!....chaos!!

gotta go, have a great weekend!! cna't check AAC from home.... 🙂

May 4, 2007
9:34 am
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Hey- you know I always ponder on the meanings and the roots of words-

Here's one to ponder-

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

May 4, 2007
9:46 am
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bevdee,

We are getting too serious again aren't we on here....thanks for the interjection of humor....

I am babysitting my granddaughter today, i am on a laptop. Maneuvering this little pad mouse takes patience!

My g-daughter is sleeping now. She is so-o-o-o-o- cute! She is 3 months old and such a sweetheart!

Will get around to answering your other question on the other thread.

have a great day!!!

omw

May 4, 2007
12:18 pm
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Tez, your examples of what has happened in our history of people who use their personal truth to influence others and have impacted our civilizations negatively helped me to explore further.

I had never heard of Sam Harris until you mentioned him. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

God, of my Understanding resides within, it never abandons me even in my darkest hour. I pray,
I am comforted.

What is this force, this energy

Do I need to define it, NO. I trust because it is

How do I know, I know.

Can I prove it, I don't need to.

I now know serenity, that is enough.
I am grateful.

May 4, 2007
7:50 pm
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on my way

On the 3-May-07 you wrote:

"So Harris has a good basis for his thoughts, but on the other hand, it is just what all have been doing all along....our own thing, and now he is asking for nothing but for us to be free to do our own thing. I would hate to teach that to a bunch of 1'st graders!....chaos!!"

I'm sorry - I must have missed the part where Sam Harris advocated that we all "be free to do our own thing", to use your words.

I never drew that implication from anything Sam Harris wrote that I have read. Quite the contrary. I drew the impression that he was advocating that we all be guided by contemplative scientific thinking rather than irrational superstitions of any kind. He was not advocating anarchy!

It seems to me that you feel that Sam's classification of much of what is passed of by the world's religions as superstition and irrationality, is offensive. That's your feeling not a rational cognition that stands up to any critical analysis.

I think that what Harris points out in his article are facts - not abuse. If society's ignorance as expressed in its religions is causing much harm in the world, is it abusive or offensive of someone to acknowledge and point out this truth? I don't think so.

May 4, 2007
8:02 pm
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mj

On the 4-May-07 you wrote:

"I had never heard of Sam Harris until you mentioned him. Thank you for sharing your thoughts."

I'm ashamed to say, nor had I until Kroika's kind mentioning of his URL.

I think that he is 'on the money' so to speak.

Thanks for your thanks.

Thanks again Kroika.

"Religion is the opiate of the masses." - Chairman Mao

Generally speaking,opium, when used as a social drug, has never done much for humanity other than cause a lot of trouble through addiction and by keeping people in a state of stupor.

May 4, 2007
8:10 pm
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Bevdee.

You said:

"If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?"

You cheeky t'ing. 🙂

Now you come to think of it, some people might think morality does come from morons.

These same people might even claim that morality is the preserve of the religious and with without religion there would be no morality.

You might be on to something here, Bevdee. 🙂

May 6, 2007
4:44 pm
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Does organized religion with all its inherent emotive irrationality hamper scientific advances, especially in the field of the social and political sciences?

Was Galileo given a life sentence for claiming that Jupiter had moons that revolved around it?

Did anyone ever get hanged for being a witch?

Do some people tell their children that homosexuality is a voluntary choice and a moral problem?

Have school children been led to believe that there is a rational concept called "intelligent design?"

Are fertilized eggs being thrown away instead of used for stem cell research?

May 6, 2007
6:09 pm
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🙂 Thanks WD.

Spot on, as usual.

May 7, 2007
9:00 pm
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Tez I found some videos on buddhism:

nirvana

peace

reng ye yo, yum yo ho

reng ye yo, yum yo ho

 

How's that. Mmm.. I feel peaceful now.

May 8, 2007
1:59 pm
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Sam Harris portrays the "it's all about ME' syndrome.."me, me, what I can obtain, what will work for me'...nowhere do I see him going further with this, it seems to be about 'what makes us comfortable, or what works for the time'....

Organized religion, as is referred to, is about doing for others whether it makes sense or is comfortable or not. I don't support all organized religion, but again, keep in mind we are not here for ourselves, we are here for others and to make this a better world.

We are 'free to do our own thing' if there isn't a recognition of a higher power other than ourselves.

May 8, 2007
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Tez,
I don't think it is 'abuse', but he is stating his own opinion. Opinions are open to debate and are open to fallacies. Opinions fade. I don't see any facts, but biased opinion. But then freedom of speech is our right. But I don't find his writing offensive.

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