Saturday, February 23, 2013

(274) Sam Harris´ true thoughts on life, the universe and everything

At 11:20 or so on the evening of February 22nd 2013 I was viewing an e mail link that my wife had just sent me.

She had been disputing an earlier statistic that I had advanced where Sam Harris had cited 38% of British Muslims as advocating the death penalty for any apostate. It may be heard here at 3:03 -

I had sent her one link to Harris on Youtube where he gave a high % and was now moved to e mail her across (she was in an adjacent room!) another one where he gave a still higher figure.

She was not enthusiastic about Harris and she sent me across this link -

I began reading it, and did not find it very supportive of her negativity.
Whilst I did so I had a Youtube link continuing to play in the background.
When I reached this point in the loonwatch piece -

There is no vice in having once been religious, for we all of us inherit our mythologies from our parents, but Harris did not inherit his Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. He was bred in a secular home, granted a secular education and lived in a secular state. Instead he chose to abandon his secular upbringing and voluntarily convert to a foreign religious system.
He claims to have shed his former dogmatism, but telling by the loving chapter on mysticism in The End of Faith, it is clear that he sets much stock by some articles of those creeds. It also clarifies why he studiously will not say, as any materialist should have no problem affirming, that there is no afterlife. In numerous occasions when the subject has arisen either in his book or when he’s been asked if he believes that consciousness lives on beyond the death of the brain in interviews like this Salon appearance , he has chosen to either declare his belief in reincarnation or, if the audience is a sceptical lot, preferred the evasive formulation of “I just don’t know” because “If we were living in a universe where consciousness survived death, or transcended the brain so that single neurons were conscious – or subatomic particles had an interior (subjective) dimension –  we would not expect to see it by our present techniques of neuro-imaging or cellular neuroscience.”
When he’s reminded by Salon that, in spite of his claim to be driven by data, that on the contrary “Most evolutionary biologists would say consciousness is rooted in the brain. It will not survive death.” He responds “I just don’t know”.
There was a crystallising display of his Buddhist convictions some years ago at the Salk Institute. He was asked point blank by the physicist Lawrence Krauss if he thinks reincarnation is true and Harris shrugged ”Who knows?” Alluding to the case studies of past-life regressions by Ian Stevenson cited in The End of Faith, he explained “There are these spooky stories.” When the assembled congregation of scientists erupted in astonished laughter at his religious credulity, he grew visibly nervous and, keen to skate past the embarrassing moment, shot back with “Okay, you are on firm ground being sceptical about reincarnation … I have published a few spooky things about telepathy and reincarnation which amount to not an endorsement of these beliefs, but just, you know, I hear there is all this data and someone like Dean Radin writes a book about it, and Brian Josephson, a Nobel Laureate in physics, blurbs it. I don’t have the time to do the meta-analyses and statistical expertise. So, I’m awaiting the evidence. Listen (with rising chagrin) I don’t want to talk about reincarnation. It may be.”
where this link occurs -
- and as I read Krauss´ questioning and Harris´ response on the subject of reincarnation I also got to hear it, because the Youtube link - which was not actually quite the same one as that supplied in the loonwatch link - reached precisely the same point.

Even though I see little in the above piece to affirm Fiona´s statements re Harris´ supposed Islamophobia, it did, to me, lend even more weight to the supposition that he was, quite possibly, not being 100% truthful about his beliefs concerning life, the universe and everything.

Harris is CEO of Project Reason (which I also followed on Twitter) and he and I had exchanged a few tweets a few days earlier, e.g.
  1.  Well, what were you trying to contact during your long meditative exercises with spiritual teachers?
 You´re a remarkable man, Sam: valuing spiritual experience whilst espousing atheism + non-dualism. Highly unusual in that.
He replied that he was now writing a book on that.
I tweeted

 Doesn´t sound like your leveling with us, Sam. Doubt whether your pal Dawkins would have done that just to prove a negative..
When later that very evening I signed up to receive updates from  his website I noticed that the two tweets of his to me were still visible at the right hand side of his site´s home page -


Sam Harris


SamHarrisOrg @JamesPlaskett I am now writing a book on the subject... 3 days ago · reply · retweet · favorite
SamHarrisOrg Jonah Lehrer breaks his silence: days ago · reply · retweet · favorite
SamHarrisOrg @JamesPlaskett The soul's absence...

On April 6th 2017 there occured a codicil.
I clicked on what struck me as an inexplicable ´piece´of rather alien text. It is caused by ´HTTP text´ and appears right at the start of this Entry.
This resulted in my accessing a now disused Twitter account of mine and I saw that atop the list of ´tweets´ was my retweeting a quote of Rumi´s -

"""What you seek is seeking you."" ~ Rumi "

That caused me to check out more re Rumi.
And I quickly ´followed´ both an account giving quotes from this poet, Rumi, and also the account of The Reverend Michael Jones.

I also looked up the Wikipedia Entry -


Artistic depiction of Rumi, 1980

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (Persianجلال‌الدین محمد رومی‎‎), also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī (جلال‌الدین محمد بلخى), Mevlânâ/Mawlānā (مولانا, "our master"), Mevlevî/Mawlawī (مولوی, "my master"), and more popularly simply as Rumi (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273), was a 13th century Persian[1][7] Sunni[8] Muslim poetjuristIslamic scholartheologian, and Sufi mystic.[9] Rumi's influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions: IraniansTajiksTurksGreeksPashtuns, other Central Asian Muslims, and the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy for the past seven centuries. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world's languages... Rumi has been described as the "most popular poet"[11] and the "best selling poet" in the United States.

A few moments later I heard Sam Harris himself make a reference to Rumi. 
It arose through his discussing with Neil deGrasse Tyson: "Are You an Atheist?" as he spoke of his appreciation of Arabic culture. It crops up at 12:00 here

(My wife, herself a poet of reknown, had never heard of Rumi.)
And the Rumi quote which the misattribution of text here led me to is a rendering of the Sufi aphorism, 
"When a man looks for truth, truth looks for him."
That Sufism I had heard circa 1980 from Michael Basman.
Andit  had been long appended as the last of the quotes featuring here in my Explanation Entry -