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October 04, 2023


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"The watcher is mistakenly considered to be our true self, not the body/brain. But actually, the watcher is an illusion. For when we try to find that person inside our head, the Self who is in charge of things, we come up empty."

Didn't Harris support torture, the profiling of Muslims, the killing of people for thought crimes, and a US nuclear first strike? He has said all these things at various times but then added caveats. When his statements are taken at face value, he becomes angry and says that his critics are acting in bad faith by deliberately distorting his words.

Harris is famous for being especially thin-skinned when his views are criticized. I believe he once remarked on Joe Rogan how he'd spend hours on Twitter obsessively poring over what people said about him.

One might think that someone of Harris' advanced spiritual background (years spent with Advaita guru Papaji and one-on-one tutoring from a renowned Tibetan Lama in Dzogchen) would provide the security and serenity that 99% of the world's writers seem to have. But no, the temptation to read and take to heart what others said about him was too much for Sam, so he up and deleted his Twitter account

What's a bigger illusion than the Watcher? Sam Harris' guru posing.

Everyone has feet of clay, which is why anything that speaks to you and helps you grow into a kinder, more compassionate person is good.

If you need to feel no one is there, not even you, go for it.

If you need to feel someone is there living and helping you every moment of every day, go for it.

Whatever gets you through the night.

Just try to avoid telling people they are wrong for finding positive inspiration in their own way.

One day, if what you are doing is really healthy, you will see the good moving everyone regardless of the concepts they favor. You will never need to regret it criticize, since all your history brought you to today. Then you will understand Oneness isn't about a concept, but reality that transcends concepts and contains all of them.

"In my experience, I get more done when I simply trust that whatever I need to do will appear as something that needs doing. Yeah, I realize that sentence doesn't make logical sense. But it resonates with me.

"I do use to-do lists. I find them helpful in lessening my need to think, since I'm outsourcing some of my thinking to a piece of paper, my iPhone, or laptop. Often, though, some task that I've forgotten to jot down yet needs doing will pop into my mind unbidden, which strengthens my faith that a part of me beyond thinking can handle things just fine much or most of the time."

The two things work together. To do lists help focus your mind. A focused mind spontaneously also identifies need, solution, priority and motivation to act.

A less focused mind reacts and so there is error in what is unseen but affected by our actions.

There is Zen in good time management...


Excellent talk. Thanks for sharing that video, Brian.

From my own experience, I agree that "watching" is a limited approach to the practice of Buddhism. And I can agree with what Harris said somewhere about watching being a "vigil" and not the best approach. Constantly watching one's mind and impulses of volition makes sense in terms of Buddhist theory, but is it in any way natural? There's the Goenka approach and the even more rigorous Mahasi Sayadaw approach of painstaking attention to everything one thinks and does. I've done the Goenka retreats a few times, and they were about as fun as ice climbing in Alberta. Ironically, this minute attention to one's self seems to only result in a feeling of isolation of self. That was my experience anyway.

I offer this for the sake of one of my main themes of religious criticism: Does it work?

That is, I've found it's easy to be taken in by the grandeur of theory, or the lure of promises, or the fascination with personality, or the authority of tradition. And that it's all too easy to defer on whether the religion I'm "in" is actually leading me to something worthwhile.

Paying attention https://aeon.co/essays/what-is-the-self-if-not-that-which-pays-attention

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