History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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April 19th, 2016 · 19 Comments

I can’t solve the problem of ‘self’, for good Kantian reasons, but there is ample grounds for going either way, there is, is not, a self. We need to consider if Harris is producing garbled Advaita (he actually cites Nisargadatta at his site) mixed with garbled Buddhism (anatta) and this in the context of his reductionist neuroscience. There is no simple way to resolve the confusions here, but the apparent muddle of Harris is self-limiting and opaque.
The ego as self could be an illusion against the backdrop of the atman as brahman, etc…That’s the original version of the ‘no self’ before even buddhism…

Check out Waite’s book on Advaita:

Note: one problem with Advaita is the problem of seeing how ‘consciousness’ or the ‘self’ evolved if consciousness wasn’t an evolutionary outcome of some form of evolution. Part of the answer is to see ‘evolution’ is not darwinian, but a developmental process in which consciousness emerges as a self. This is no doubt the reason such yogic conceptions ended up with the misleading distinction of involution and evolution. That distinction has been the source of endless confusion, but the confusion remains in the question of human (and animal) evolution.

But I think that the concept of evolution alone is all that is needed. This requires a whole new framework, which noone has as yet.

Tags: General

19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 NK // Apr 19, 2016 at 11:29 am

    I’ll take the bait. No, the point is that something that is “unconditioned” can’t be subjective or objective. Advaita is confused & incoherent:

    Once the sense of self is transcended, its polar opposite — the sense of something standing in contradistinction to a self — is transcended as well. In the Discourse at K?laka’s Park, the Buddha expresses this lack of a self/non-self polarity directly in terms of sensory experience. For a person who has attained the goal, experience occurs with no ‘subject’ or ‘object’ superimposed on it, no construing of experience or thing experienced. There is simply the experience in & of itself.


  • 2 nemo // Apr 19, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Good parry, in any case. Getting the Jain, Advaita, and Buddhist versions of ‘santana dharma’ straight is the task of the current/next generation…

  • 3 NK // Apr 19, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Early Buddhism has a much more subtle and complex cosmology than Advaita and the Upanishads. These aren’t simply pedantic quibbles. They have operational consequences. This book goes into exactly what those differences are:


  • 4 nemo // Apr 19, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    These issues are not easy to resolve, especially given the debate of AIT/OIT and the nature of the original ‘santana dharma’. We can’t safely claim that that original which must have resembled Advaita was false…Anyway looks like a good book…

  • 5 nemo // Apr 19, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    My study of the Axial Age is a reminder that there are three corners to this hat: Advaita/Upanishads, the Jain teertankers, and then the buddhist…

  • 6 NK // Apr 19, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    It’s not a perfect book and I don’t agree with all of the details, but his overview of the difference between the Upanishads and early Buddhism are good.

    Here is the problem with creating a New Age smorgasbord and mixing the traditions together…for example, take a look at Nisargadatta and Ramana. Both are part of Neo-Advaita movement and yet few followers in that milieu seem to realize they don’t define “Enlightenment” in the same way (Nisargadatta is actually more advanced than Ramana). Nisargadatta says one has to go beyond the “Cosmic Self” experience:

    “When I am thus established in sense of identity with this universal sense of presence, or the “I am,” I am at last poised for the final realization. Remember, the realization of the “I am” is already a very high state, and many will simply stop here to enjoy living in the universal personless beingness. This is the knowledge of God and the knowledge that I am God. But some rare ones keep going and keep questioning deeper and come to the breakthrough realization that ALL beingness, even the beingness of “God” is still a form of illusion and duality, and they will realize and move into and “become” the pure awareness only, giving up even that last and very high identity as the universal “I am.””


  • 7 NK // Apr 19, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    In contrast, Ramana believes the “Cosmic I” experience is the goal:

    The path of Self-Enquiry is, in fact, an elimination of all that is known, because, for the moment, the direct knowledge of the Supreme Self’s true nature is missing. Only by eliminating what is known (our thoughts, perceptions, and emotions) will it be possible to reveal the Ultimate “I,” the Eternal Present.


  • 8 nemo // Apr 19, 2016 at 2:33 pm


    Why dont you buy this book for me. It will be a year before I can afford it.
    I am writing a book on religion: it will start before then. How about it?

  • 9 nemo // Apr 19, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    NK: you are not on the level. What’s your game? I asked that already, so move on.

    Buddhism: go read The Gurdjieff Con. I wouldn’t even touch a buddhist text at this point.
    Advaita is part of the garbage dump of reserve dna. We have to start over and it may be of some help. It is the closest remant to the original primordial shaivism. Buddhism is a dead fascist hecatomb. bye.

  • 10 nemo // Apr 20, 2016 at 6:28 am

    The reference to a garbage dump or mulch is traditional and not disrespectful. The contrast of Advaita and Buddhism is useful and needs a long look.
    But Advaita is more open, while buddhism is system dominated by one buddha.
    I have enough enemies already. Roving through buddhism is no longer an option for me.

  • 11 NK // Apr 20, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Game?…no game. Personally, I just enjoy the intellectual discussion. Buddhism, in its essence, can never be a populist religion; this religion is just too subtle and esoteric for people of average intelligence. The early texts admit as much. Most people are probably better off focusing on the exoteric aspects and “common ordinary morality.” I suspect this is why a “savior religion” developed within Buddhism: Mahayana.

    In this sense, figures like Chopra, Tolle, and even Harris can serve some sort of purpose. A basic ethical awareness is better than nothing. These New Age religions for the masses are beneficial for some, I guess.

    The social dynamics I’m pointing to aren’t even limited to what we traditionally define as “religions.” They’re also true of thought labelled as “secular.” The New Atheist and secular humanist movements, despite their pretensions, are basically the mirror images of the religious groups they despise; they’re unsophisticated, populist movements composed of people with average intelligence. The central issue is really competing value systems, not religion vs. science, etc. Some value systems cannot be scaled out. I think you’re aware of the limitations of WHEE: it is too subtle for the vast majority of people and they don’t even understand the questions it is attempting to answer.

    To answer your question…I’m not trying to found or promote any movement. It is purely an intellectual discussion.

  • 12 NK // Apr 20, 2016 at 9:56 am

    What is your address? I’ll mail it to you.

  • 13 nemo // Apr 20, 2016 at 11:09 am

    This comment set has a lot of material and I need to reflect. I will send my address: the issue of the early buddhist texts is of great importance, but I also waffled due to a considered paranoia due to blah blah as depicted at the Gurdjieff Con. A critique of Advaita is inevitable, but it has an ancient dna from an earlier age period. Before that we suspect the ‘original’ is still visible in the forms of the ‘cult of Shiva’ (yogis wandering around India with tridents). The issue of buddhism is of great importance but most buddhists will hang in the end.

  • 14 nemo // Apr 20, 2016 at 11:10 am

    I think you should consider my discussion of the Axial Age, and then with respect to buddhism.

    The text is free at enigmaoftheaxialage.com

  • 15 nemo // Apr 21, 2016 at 10:02 am

    I suggested you move on but in a way you already have, and comments here on buddhism are grist for my mill. This is not forum for discussing Donald Trump, and its leftist perspective is ‘positive definite’. Beyond that I have some dangerous enemies, and your anonymity is at risk, but they wouldn’t lightly attack the associates, if not friends, of an enemy: they could give themselves away (it is safer to attack isolated victims who can be denounced as crazy) and while there is not an astral plane police system people do get found out, and a blog like The Gurdjieff Con can hasten the process. Since you will in the end lose your riches to the Red Fortyeight Group, or some such communist expropriation, and pass from cocky rightwing braggart onto the General Liquidation List, your frquent bouts of political nonsense are a ‘dead letter’, whatever the case with ‘dead ducks’. Your move
    There is also the danger of being used as a torpedo against me. And you might take my warnings of new age fascism seriously

  • 16 NK // Apr 21, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Moved on from what exactly? I’ve never supported your cause. Like I said, you take this more seriously than I do. I’ve never signed on to your neo-communist projects, support for conspiracy theories, etc.

  • 17 nemo // Apr 21, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    your challenge to Advaita with early buddhism is important (you could be wrong) and the issue of Trump can lead to a discussion of late buddhist fascism. So comment away…

  • 18 nemo // Apr 22, 2016 at 10:01 am

    That wasn’t my point…

  • 19 nemo // Apr 22, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I hope you will continue input on the issues of early buddhism, and anything else related. The other stuff doesn’t matter much one way or the other.

    But if you can make the case of early buddhism via advaita, that would be interesting, and thus even if you can’t….

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