We've all heard about Harris' scathing criticisms of religions of all flavor, including Buddhism. In this 2-part talk at You Tube he defends meditation and contemplation and criticizes the atheist community for throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In my atheistic mind this is indeed a step towards re-visioning the great traditions by nourishing the baby while also pulling the plug on the dirty bathwater.

Also of note is that he echoes kennilingus in claiming one must take up the injunction of meditation before one can criticize its phenomenal experience. He does qualify that one can certainly criticize based on reason alone the metaphysical accoutrements of those who have such experiences. Yet the experiences themselves cannot be refuted by reason alone. And that such experience must be translated into postmetaphysical terms shorn of religious dogma to be of pertinent use in today's world.

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Sam Harris said, on religion, " or equally divisive and false, depending on one’s view.

THIS IS a completely legitimate and likely perspective on the worlds religions.  Yes, ALL the worlds religions are equally divisive and equally false! 

Anyway, just to be annoying and to have some fun here I will spend the rest of my time on this thread arguing for what I would coin,' non-dogmatic, evolutionary, panentheism'. Okay? 

You see, it strikes me as a straw man argument to dismiss the possibility of GOD based solely on all the negatives one finds within religion. This doesn't feel honest to me. The doctrine, God punishes forever those who don't believe; is indeed, pathological, but to then base a worldview on that negative doctrine seems equally dubious (at least to me).  Not that there are not better 'positive' arguments for atheism. 

Non-dogmatic, evolutionary, panentheism would posit that no matter how much one enquires into the nature of the human mind; one should not conclude anything about the nature of GOD from that experience . This is not necessarily the place to experience GOD anyway; so to come to definitive conclusions about the existence or non-existence of GOD via meditation is specious. 

I would also argue that experiencing GOD in the second person is not necessarily childish. We should , however, interpret these experiences through the faculties of logic and reason. So, if one experiences GOD and then commits a criminal act via that experience; we can know through reason and logic that that person is experiencing delusion. However, if the experience of GOD leads to LOVE and COMPASSION; and non-bigoted embrace of the other , then logic and reason finds no incongruity here. I find it uncharitable to argue for confirmation via experience in one domain ( meditation); and then turn around and dismiss as delusional all the humans that have experienced GOD in a positive personal sense. 

Non-dogmatic, evolutionary, panentheism  would argue that it is pointless to argue about what happens to a human when one dies. What we know for a fact from this perspective is that when one dies one is dead. 

From I.O. again:


The gnostics like Beckwith kind of crack me up! How do you know? Well, I just know! Okay, then…...

Anyway, it's good that there is dialogue and I am personally happy about the decline in attendance.

Murphy on this:


Here is how I see it: there is no longer any reason to assert a metaphysics into evolution; this just fetishizes evolution, and as time moves on science will only explain more and more with less and less a need for the word spirit. This does not, however, mean that spirit isn't there, it means that ___ is a mystery that can never be measured empirically. So, yes, wrong road here to fetishize evolution; and non-dogmatic is put in there to make sure this does not happen-- as I am coining it ( or adding to this line of thought). Evolution is a fact; let's not be dogmatic is our projections of spirit into it, but also realize that this is a viable, rational, compelling vision of the cosmos that does justice to science and spirit. I would also add that there is an element of faith in this worldview precisely because of the overwhelming mystery of ___. But this faith has a non-bigoted , universal embrace; although clearly recognizes injustice; greed;avarice, and all other forms and expressions of unhealthy relations. It also recognizes that it is virtually impossible for every human being that has experienced ___ ( especially an awesome loving one) to be delusional . 

Put that in your pipe and smoke it Sam:)

This from Harris:


I agree with his take on Islam and agree with Layman that we shouldn't define religion based on these Iron age books. However, I strongly disagree with what he calls irrelevancy :

In any conversation on this topic, one must continually deploy a firewall of caveats and concessions to irrelevancy: Of course, U.S. foreign policy has problems. Yes, we really must get off oil. No, I did not support the war in Iraq. Sure, I’ve read Chomsky. No doubt, the Bible contains equally terrible passages. Yes, I heard about that abortion clinic bombing in 1984. No, I’m sorry to say that Hitler and Stalin were not motivated by atheism. The Tamil Tigers? Of course, I’ve heard of them. Now can we honestly talk about the link between belief and behavior?

Yes, many Muslims happily ignore the apostasy and blasphemy of their neighbors, view women as the moral equals of men, and consider anti-Semitism contemptible. But there are also Muslims who drink alcohol and eat bacon. All of these persuasions run counter to the explicit teachings of Islam to one or another degree. And just like moderates in every other religion, most moderate Muslims become obscurantists when defending their faith from criticism. They rely on modern, secular values—for instance, tolerance of diversity and respect for human rights—as a basis for reinterpreting and ignoring the most despicable parts of their holy books. But they nevertheless demand that we respect the idea of revelation, and this leaves us perpetually vulnerable to more literal readings of scripture.

Really?  Fascism is irrelevant? What the west has become is irrelevant? That what WE have done to our culture since 911 is irrelevant? That WE have killed hundreds and thousands if not millions of ARABS  since 911 is irrelevant? Is the scope of manipulation of those cultures by us over the last 100 years really irrelevant? Who is profiting from these incursions into muslim lands is irrelevant?


Is it relevant who the PCMIC will label terrorists in the coming years?


I always had an inkling that Neil Young was a bad, bad, dude.

Frontline seems to be at the forefront on these matters of irrelevancy: 


Karen Armstrong has some good articles in here. 

A particular concern of mine is how I.T. will justify a continued neo-colonial attitude towards muslim lands. 

This could explain more of the irrelevancy : 


From the article: 

The practical question is, of course, whether constraint will disappear because all have learned to act in harmony, or because all opponents have been eliminated.

I would argue that a significant part of the war on terror is to eliminate all opponents. Zionism, Christian Zionism , combined with free market ideology couldn't be more messianic.

We should think proactively.  Asking ourselves, "To which purpose ought the War on Terror be put?  To what standard should we hold it?  How can we work to make it more of what it could be?"

Pathology (as defined in the Christmas Wiki) indicated a higher-level operation being hijacked by the relatively unintegrated impulses of lower-order structures.  Ethnocentric dominance & the implicit logic of capitalism are lower-order structures when viewed from pluralist or higher sensibilities. 

However we must also contribute to the evolution of planetary policing protocols.  How to make that project better for everyone?  How to increase its sanity, efficacy, quality, comprehensiveness, etc.? 

The first thing I would say is that the war on terror is not like a domestic assault situation. We within OUR countries have passed civil and criminal laws that allow the authorities to gain access to property if there is suspected pathological behaviour happening ( criminal violence, theft, etc.) This same manner of policing is NOT appropriate among nation-states. As much as we may not like it, Islamic countries have a right to their own systems of living. I personally think Islam is a waste of anyones time ( as is Christianity /Judaism/ Hinduism/ Buddhism , etc. But, that is besides the point. 

A 300 foot wall of concrete would be a better solution until ALL humans beings learn to behave civilly ( and not the phoney aristocratic civility). Multiculturalism happened too quickly and the intentions were probably more about profit than true egalitarianism. It may take centuries for all of us to develop into mature memes; a 500 to 1000 year war is not something we should be aiming for with 1 sixth of the worlds population. Nevertheless, on this one, you and I will probably disagree to disagree. Cheers anyway!

The last posts have veered into politics and this is a thread on Sam's take on spiritual experience. Please stay on topic.

Sure Edward, but two quick points: Sam probably won't appreciate the irony in that he was one person who could have talked about spiritual experience divorced from religion. But no, he has to bring the religion of Buddhism into it with all the concomitant  problems that that entails i.e. Ferrer. One doesn't need religion or gurus to meditate. 

Secondly, in reality, it's nearly impossible by Sam's own nature to divorce spirituality from politics as his next blog post attests to. It's a pretty shady gambit to dismiss as irrelevant all the things I've been bringing up. 

Also, it is worth noting, the reason I can respect your request is because I have a healthy regard for boundaries. Western imperial powers lack that respect and regard.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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