This is an older post on Sam Harris and buddhism, after yesterday’s related post.
And it echoes Own Flanagan’s really bad book on ‘naturalizing’ buddhism.
The new atheists are in the middle of creating a hopeless mess. I am not even a buddhist, am unwelcome among Tibetan Buddhists, mainstream buddhists (my blog The Gurdjieff Con really infuriated a lot of spiritual bigwigs, these people are too cowardly to take on science, leaving the job to people like me), and yet am forced to defend buddhism when people like Flanagan and Harris use bad scintism to create impossible choices for intelligent people who know better. The point is that people trained in limited science begin to try and program culture in dangerous ways, that require insurrection against science.
To critique the religion of buddhism would be one thing, but to claim in the name science that buddhist nirvana can’t exist leaves me baffled at the dumb intelligence of scientists. And this kind of bad strategy in the name of ‘secularism’ can only backfire: people who respect and follow science are forced into opposition. And this is quite different from the situation with fundamentalist dissent.
What I find baffling is that the prestige of (supporsedly) smart people like Harris (Flanagan is a hopeless jackass) is somehow twisted into service here. It is like cultic programming in reverse. Harris spent a lot of time studying buddhism in Nepal, I am dumbfounded to learn, and yet managed to leave all that behind and perpetrate the outrageous campaign against buddhist basics, topped off by his idiotic attempt to peddle a crippled version of mindfulness.
I can only conclude, once again, that science training is confusing these actually not so smart people.
It is simply a waste of time to attack the pillar of buddhism, its path to enlightenment. The question of nirvana has been tested thousands of times over the course of history. If its status is somewhat murky nonetheless, then that is the rationale for the Sangha of Buddhism.
But to adopt this strategy of crippling buddhism (I suspect it is deliberate, but can’t be sure) can only weaken respect for science. People are forced into opposition even as science journalists write one more piece bemoaning science rejection.
Harris, get smart.
The new atheists complain of religious wars, but the style of the new atheists is precisely to create such conflicts. If you threaten those who won’t agree up is down, you will create a war. So with buddhism: if you declare that science must forbid the idea of enlightenment (the stupidity is beyond belief) you will start a war against science.