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Dzogchen/Emptiness criticism of Waking Up

 
Hamza
 
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Hamza
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08 April 2018 19:44
 

Hi,

I’ve read Waking Up and genuinely found it life-changing. However, I only started meditating 3 years ago so I’m somewhat unfamiliar with the experiential concepts of the self and just came across a short review of Waking Up where the author (a Dzogchen teacher) praised the book but criticized Sam’s lack of connecting “I-based and I-less modes”. First of all, what is the author talking about here exactly, and is he correct? If so, how can one bring the I-based and I-less modes together?

Here is part of his review:
“As quoted, Harris quite well explains both I-based and I-less modes. However, he never brings these two together. He sort of leaves the rope untied which, I think, leaves the message half way. Therefore, I believe that this book will make people consider the message, that if waking up, but they will have hard time in actually coming to this breakthrough. This is one of the most interesting books available though.”
from: http://openheartopenheart.blogspot.ca/2016/02/waking-up-by-sam-harris.html

 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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08 April 2018 20:50
 

Honestly, anyone who claims to have The Answers to questions like this is claiming a messiah-like status that I would advise you to be wary of. I think everyone has to resolve these questions for themselves in their own way, experientially, through practice.


As a fellow mediator, I can commiserate a bit that the seemingly endless paradoxes of eastern traditions can be frustrating at times. One conflict I have found between feeling relatively more “selfish” (not in a pathological sense, more in an introverted, self-improvement oriented sense,) and relatively more ‘selfless’ is that the former - I think - encourages me towards more and better ‘practice’ - but then, that very practice leads to being relatively more ‘selfless’. This is a good thing in its own right and in a way the ‘fruit’ of practice that I like to see - and yet it leads me to neglect my own practice! Other people’s plans and concerns come to the forefront much more. Eventually when I start to feel some burnout I feel a bit more ‘selfish’ again and get back into the ‘self-oriented’ practice side - and so it goes, with a sort of natural ebb and flow. I don’t think anyone other than a handful of enlightened beings throughout history have truly overcome this, so in the meantime, I think it’s about being mindful and paying attention and finding a path that’s right for you.

 
 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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09 April 2018 06:10
 

So far, no one has ever convinced me that having such a “breakthrough” has Harris (and plenty others) described is of any practical use or value whatsoever.

Meditation can definitely improve ones life, but I doubt the use of it as a neurological or metaphysical discovery method.

[ Edited: 09 April 2018 06:12 by Twissel]
 
 
sojourner
 
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09 April 2018 22:22
 
Twissel - 09 April 2018 06:10 AM

So far, no one has ever convinced me that having such a “breakthrough” has Harris (and plenty others) described is of any practical use or value whatsoever.

Meditation can definitely improve ones life, but I doubt the use of it as a neurological or metaphysical discovery method.


Having never been there, I can’t speak from experience, but if I remember correctly Harris describes the feeling of selflessness as so fantastic that it made him an overall more expansive person, or something along those lines.


I feel my more ‘out there’ meditative moments have value, my worry is more that I don’t know if it’s true value or delusional value. I think for me such moments are mostly imbued with a sense of loving kinship. A couple of weeks ago I slowly awoke from a dream (for better or for worse, I find 80% of my more ‘whoa!’ meditative experiences surround sleep states of some sort,) and felt like I was floating in a pleasant state of blackness - I guess it might have lined up with the concept of ‘neither conscious nor unconscious’, at least to an extent. And then I became aware that I was waking up, and someone said to me something like “As soon as there is contact, there is consciousness”, and I felt contact and consciousness sort of fly in and coalesce as I awoke.


Whether or not there was any deep truth to the ‘contact equals consciousness’ part, I don’t know - that’s certainly a concept that has been reiterated to me repeatedly via eastern philosophy, so if I were having a kind of wish-fullfilement dream of making spiritual ‘progress’, it would be no surprise that this would play a part. But emotionally, what always strikes me in such dreams and meditative scenarios is a deep sense of familiarity with whoever it is that’s ‘telling’ me these things - like “Oh yeah, you! We’re like eternal besties, it’s weird that I sometimes forget you exist! Crazy mental world we live in, huh?”. I suppose you could call that sense of familiarity wish fulfillment thinking as well, but it seems qualitatively different in that it’s deeply felt, not thought.


So, I dunno… my conundrum, again, is that I would say this is beneficial… it feels grounding, for want of a better word - but I’m not sure if it’s a beneficial delusion or actually beneficial. In my more cynical, skeptical moments I think such thoughts are childish fairytale-esque dreams. In my more hopeful ones, I think they are sort of like the effect you get when you briefly turn on a light to illuminate a room (As a night owl - posting this after 1 am having just finished organizing my tax paperwork in one of my typical nocturnal spurts of energy, this is a common thing for me. When you are stumbling around in the darkness and don’t want to wake others, turning on a hall light even momentarily is surprisingly helpful, even after you turn the light back off and are plunged into complete darkness again. In that one moment of illumination your mind can form a quick imprint of the landscape in front of you, the chair not to stub your toe on, the wall not to walk into, the planter not to trip on, and suddenly walking in the darkness is much easier with that mental map in mind.)


What meditative experience ‘really’ is, however, seems like a fairly irresolvable question, so I do think it’s best to enjoy the pleasantness of pleasant moments and focus more on the practical. I think happy, pleasant moments can be quite beneficial for people, but become harmful when prescriptive narratives are created around them.

 
 
Ground
 
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Ground
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03 June 2018 19:05
 

For the sake of rationality, please stop this. Dzogchen/Emptiness is utter bullshit. Study philosophy instead.

 
sojourner
 
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04 June 2018 07:16
 
Ground - 03 June 2018 07:05 PM

For the sake of rationality, please stop this. Dzogchen/Emptiness is utter bullshit. Study philosophy instead.


That’s an extremely vague criticism, what do you mean?

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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04 June 2018 07:25
 

That was about as crystal clear as it gets.

 
 
sojourner
 
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04 June 2018 14:37
 
LadyJane - 04 June 2018 07:25 AM

That was about as crystal clear as it gets.


No. It’s really not- it’s a “Get off my lawn!”, not an argument. Arguments include rationale, evidence, and reasons.

 
 
Ground
 
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13 June 2018 15:38
 
NL. - 04 June 2018 02:37 PM
LadyJane - 04 June 2018 07:25 AM

Arguments include rationale, evidence, and reasons.

yes. Please apply to Dzogchen/Emptiness and you will arrive at the conclusion that Dzogchen/Emptiness is utter bullshit.
However first thing is to check whether the view of Dzogchen/Emptiness complies with “rationale, evidence, and reasons” or whether the view of Dzogchen/Emptiness is based on mere belief and wishful thinking.

[ Edited: 13 June 2018 15:43 by Ground]
 
burt
 
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13 June 2018 23:06
 
Ground - 13 June 2018 03:38 PM
NL. - 04 June 2018 02:37 PM
LadyJane - 04 June 2018 07:25 AM

Arguments include rationale, evidence, and reasons.

yes. Please apply to Dzogchen/Emptiness and you will arrive at the conclusion that Dzogchen/Emptiness is utter bullshit.
However first thing is to check whether the view of Dzogchen/Emptiness complies with “rationale, evidence, and reasons” or whether the view of Dzogchen/Emptiness is based on mere belief and wishful thinking.

Define rationality.

 
sojourner
 
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14 June 2018 08:02
 
Ground - 13 June 2018 03:38 PM
NL. - 04 June 2018 02:37 PM

Arguments include rationale, evidence, and reasons.

yes. Please apply to Dzogchen/Emptiness and you will arrive at the conclusion that Dzogchen/Emptiness is utter bullshit.
However first thing is to check whether the view of Dzogchen/Emptiness complies with “rationale, evidence, and reasons” or whether the view of Dzogchen/Emptiness is based on mere belief and wishful thinking.


That’s why I asked what your specific criticism is. You mentioned “Dzogchen/Emptiness”. That encompasses propositions from the very rational and historically prescient (i.e., Buddhism proposing the idea of ‘emptiness’ long before the discovery of the atomic and quantum levels of reality; which pretty much confirm that no, we are not solid ‘things’ that exist inherently ‘from our own side’ [in Buddhist-speak]; or the idea that there is no homunculus like ‘self’ hanging out in our skulls, which also aligns with current neuroscience, thousands of years later,) to the idea of ‘rainbow body’.


That’s a pretty big range, where some of the propositions are, to my mind, basically common sense at this point, and some are pretty wild and not backed by any available evidence.

 
 
Ground
 
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11 July 2018 17:55
 
NL. - 14 June 2018 08:02 AM
Ground - 13 June 2018 03:38 PM
NL. - 04 June 2018 02:37 PM

Arguments include rationale, evidence, and reasons.

yes. Please apply to Dzogchen/Emptiness and you will arrive at the conclusion that Dzogchen/Emptiness is utter bullshit.
However first thing is to check whether the view of Dzogchen/Emptiness complies with “rationale, evidence, and reasons” or whether the view of Dzogchen/Emptiness is based on mere belief and wishful thinking.


That’s why I asked what your specific criticism is. You mentioned “Dzogchen/Emptiness”. .

yes because that is part of the title of this thread

NL. - 14 June 2018 08:02 AM

That encompasses propositions from the very rational and historically prescient (i.e., Buddhism proposing the idea of ‘emptiness’ long before the discovery of the atomic and quantum levels of reality; which pretty much confirm that no, we are not solid ‘things’ that exist inherently ‘from our own side’ [in Buddhist-speak]; or the idea that there is no homunculus like ‘self’ hanging out in our skulls, which also aligns with current neuroscience, thousands of years later,) to the idea of ‘rainbow body’.


That’s a pretty big range, where some of the propositions are, to my mind, basically common sense at this point, and some are pretty wild and not backed by any available evidence.

Just stick to what is known today and do not try to justify concepts of foreign ancient cultures with what is known today. And use your brain and apply rationality and you will be able to confirm that “Dzogchen/Emptiness” concepts are utter bullshit.

 
sojourner
 
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13 July 2018 13:50
 
Ground - 11 July 2018 05:55 PM
NL. - 14 June 2018 08:02 AM
Ground - 13 June 2018 03:38 PM
NL. - 04 June 2018 02:37 PM

Arguments include rationale, evidence, and reasons.

yes. Please apply to Dzogchen/Emptiness and you will arrive at the conclusion that Dzogchen/Emptiness is utter bullshit.
However first thing is to check whether the view of Dzogchen/Emptiness complies with “rationale, evidence, and reasons” or whether the view of Dzogchen/Emptiness is based on mere belief and wishful thinking.


That’s why I asked what your specific criticism is. You mentioned “Dzogchen/Emptiness”. .

yes because that is part of the title of this thread

NL. - 14 June 2018 08:02 AM

That encompasses propositions from the very rational and historically prescient (i.e., Buddhism proposing the idea of ‘emptiness’ long before the discovery of the atomic and quantum levels of reality; which pretty much confirm that no, we are not solid ‘things’ that exist inherently ‘from our own side’ [in Buddhist-speak]; or the idea that there is no homunculus like ‘self’ hanging out in our skulls, which also aligns with current neuroscience, thousands of years later,) to the idea of ‘rainbow body’.


That’s a pretty big range, where some of the propositions are, to my mind, basically common sense at this point, and some are pretty wild and not backed by any available evidence.

Just stick to what is known today and do not try to justify concepts of foreign ancient cultures with what is known today. And use your brain and apply rationality and you will be able to confirm that “Dzogchen/Emptiness” concepts are utter bullshit.


Dzogchen is not a specific proposition that one can speak to one way or the other, it’s a general term for a collection of various teachings. What specific proposition are you referring to?

 
 
Ground
 
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19 July 2018 03:25
 
NL. - 13 July 2018 01:50 PM

Dzogchen is not a specific proposition that one can speak to one way or the other, it’s a general term for a collection of various teachings. What specific proposition are you referring to?

Both, dzogchen and emptiness are part of religious views. It is impossible to talk or think about these terms without being influenced by a religious framework. This is why people came up with these terms and teachings in the context of these terms in the first place: to justify and/or amend a basic religious view, justify corresponding cults and practices.
Because “dzogchen/emptiness” are thus inextricably linked with religion these concepts are incompatible with rational thought as applied in science.
Why would one want to think in an “dzogchen/emptiness” way? What are one’s premises to decide to get involved with “dzogchen/emptiness” thought? Are there valid grounds for such premises or are these like belief and/or wishful thinking?
So the first thing to ask to avoid delving into such irrational systems of thougth: What does one want to investigate into? What is the valid, i.e. commonly known, object of interest? And of course: what does it mean to “validly know” something. What are valid means of getting to know something/investigating into something?
But of course, such questions may not appear attractive to those that are keen on irrational esoterics and mysteries and the transient emotional thrill that may be evoked by corresponding narratives.

[ Edited: 19 July 2018 03:27 by Ground]
 
sojourner
 
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19 July 2018 20:28
 
Ground - 19 July 2018 03:25 AM
NL. - 13 July 2018 01:50 PM

Dzogchen is not a specific proposition that one can speak to one way or the other, it’s a general term for a collection of various teachings. What specific proposition are you referring to?

Both, dzogchen and emptiness are part of religious views. It is impossible to talk or think about these terms without being influenced by a religious framework.


If you see anything that is not dualistic materialism as ‘religious’, maybe. I would say it’s much more a philosophy than a religion (and many philosophies are not dualistic and / or materialistic.) I think you’re getting a bit hung up on the word ‘religion’ as if that makes a world of difference. You can choose to call any philosophy or worldview a religion if you want, it’s not an empirical term.

Because “dzogchen/emptiness” are thus inextricably linked with religion these concepts are incompatible with rational thought as applied in science.


Anything that is true can be applied to science. If a philosophy is true, then yes, it can be applied to science.

Why would one want to think in an “dzogchen/emptiness” way? What are one’s premises to decide to get involved with “dzogchen/emptiness” thought? Are there valid grounds for such premises or are these like belief and/or wishful thinking?
So the first thing to ask to avoid delving into such irrational systems of thougth: What does one want to investigate into? What is the valid, i.e. commonly known, object of interest? And of course: what does it mean to “validly know” something. What are valid means of getting to know something/investigating into something?


I’m not entirely clear on what you’re asking. If the question is “Why would anyone do this stuff in the first place?”, I think a lot of people are impressed by the promising studies surrounding various contemplative practices. We’re a very self-improvement based society, after all. If you’re asking what the philosophical basis is for beginning such a practice, all Buddhist schools of thought, that I know of, center around the idea that suffering is bad and that Buddhist practices end to decrease or end suffering. 

But of course, such questions may not appear attractive to those that are keen on irrational esoterics and mysteries and the transient emotional thrill that may be evoked by corresponding narratives.


Well, I guess that’s subjective (an aside… that sounds like a super specific criticism, btw - I’m wondering if this was the case with someone in your life and it drove you bonkers?). Personally I think Buddhism is one of the least thrilling narratives one can imagine. Perhaps the best indication of this is that there are all sorts of guardrails built into the practice to keep people from falling into nihilistic despair (by way of comparison, imagine reading the reviews for a movie that said “Coming this winter… a movie… that might cause you to never watch movies again if you don’t carefully read the instruction booklet about how not to end up saying ‘WTF is this I’m never watching movies again’ before watching the movie…”. Worst trailer ever. Again, it’s subjective, but my impression is that if a person is looking for traditional thrills, Buddhism will not be their jam. By modern standards I think it’s a fairly ascetic practice (Buddhism warns against harsh asceticism, but again, that’s a relative term - by day-to-day 2018 standards, I think it does qualify as a bit of an ascetic practice. If you are having fun by colloquial standards, yer doin’ it rong, lol.)

 
 
Ground
 
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Ground
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20 July 2018 12:52
 
NL. - 19 July 2018 08:28 PM
Ground - 19 July 2018 03:25 AM
NL. - 13 July 2018 01:50 PM

Dzogchen is not a specific proposition that one can speak to one way or the other, it’s a general term for a collection of various teachings. What specific proposition are you referring to?

Both, dzogchen and emptiness are part of religious views. It is impossible to talk or think about these terms without being influenced by a religious framework.


If you see anything that is not dualistic materialism as ‘religious’, maybe. I would say it’s much more a philosophy than a religion (and many philosophies are not dualistic and / or materialistic.) I think you’re getting a bit hung up on the word ‘religion’ as if that makes a world of difference. You can choose to call any philosophy or worldview a religion if you want, it’s not an empirical term.

Because “dzogchen/emptiness” are thus inextricably linked with religion these concepts are incompatible with rational thought as applied in science.


Anything that is true can be applied to science. If a philosophy is true, then yes, it can be applied to science.

Why would one want to think in an “dzogchen/emptiness” way? What are one’s premises to decide to get involved with “dzogchen/emptiness” thought? Are there valid grounds for such premises or are these like belief and/or wishful thinking?
So the first thing to ask to avoid delving into such irrational systems of thougth: What does one want to investigate into? What is the valid, i.e. commonly known, object of interest? And of course: what does it mean to “validly know” something. What are valid means of getting to know something/investigating into something?


I’m not entirely clear on what you’re asking. If the question is “Why would anyone do this stuff in the first place?”, I think a lot of people are impressed by the promising studies surrounding various contemplative practices. We’re a very self-improvement based society, after all. If you’re asking what the philosophical basis is for beginning such a practice, all Buddhist schools of thought, that I know of, center around the idea that suffering is bad and that Buddhist practices end to decrease or end suffering. 

But of course, such questions may not appear attractive to those that are keen on irrational esoterics and mysteries and the transient emotional thrill that may be evoked by corresponding narratives.


Well, I guess that’s subjective (an aside… that sounds like a super specific criticism, btw - I’m wondering if this was the case with someone in your life and it drove you bonkers?). Personally I think Buddhism is one of the least thrilling narratives one can imagine. Perhaps the best indication of this is that there are all sorts of guardrails built into the practice to keep people from falling into nihilistic despair (by way of comparison, imagine reading the reviews for a movie that said “Coming this winter… a movie… that might cause you to never watch movies again if you don’t carefully read the instruction booklet about how not to end up saying ‘WTF is this I’m never watching movies again’ before watching the movie…”. Worst trailer ever. Again, it’s subjective, but my impression is that if a person is looking for traditional thrills, Buddhism will not be their jam. By modern standards I think it’s a fairly ascetic practice (Buddhism warns against harsh asceticism, but again, that’s a relative term - by day-to-day 2018 standards, I think it does qualify as a bit of an ascetic practice. If you are having fun by colloquial standards, yer doin’ it rong, lol.)

Don’t get upset about your wishful thinking and beliefs. it isn’t worth it. Do not make so much words about nothing. you may stick to what I called “bullshit”. No problem for me.
After all this section of the forum is about beliefs and wishful thinking in the first place because it refers to “waking up” which is not specified as “waking up in the morning”. wink
Being brought up by irrational parents everyone at some time in life may meet a point where they have to decide: “rationality or not?” rationality means “going against the grain” and relying on rational thought. And if you rely on rational thought only you wont find refuge in irrational communities and their religions or beliefs.
What is rational thought? Just see how science works. That’s it. No hope, no fear, no speculations. 1. Objekt to be investigated. 2. Means of investigation. 3. Results based on evidence accessible to everyone.

[ Edited: 20 July 2018 12:57 by Ground]
 
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