Reply To: Daniel Dennet's claim that consciousness is an illusion

  • Don Salmon

    May 10, 2023 at 2:10 pm

    Thanks Mike. There’s a lot of VERY smart people in this group. Most of them talk way over my head. Now, i’ve been mistaken for a philosophy professor online, but that’s I think because I’ve only written short comments.

    here’s my personal interest in philosophy:

    I think a purely analytic approach is fantastic when it comes to deconstructing the nonsense of materialism.

    Beyond that, I have no interest, in fact, negative interest. I was a member of Bernardo Kastrup’s online forum starting in 2013, and I along with a number of other meditators LOVED his takedown of materialism and we BEGGED him, “please Bernardo, do NOT try and construct your own philosophy. It’s been done, beautifully (at least as far back as 3000 years) and we don’t need a new one.

    Once you give up materialism, contemplative and meditation are the only way to contact reality. Philosophy – IMHO – just holds you back. I personally like Iain’s works because he hints at practice but he doesn’t really understand it at all. This whole idea he talks about a lot that any suggestion at practice is LH is ITSELF a LH confusion.

    It’s like, “Really??? You don’t think St John of the Cross, Rumi, all the Zen masters of Japan and Chan masters of China (the latter being specialists in seeming to criticize practice, yet their ranks, as with the Taoists, are FILLED with thousands of practices), Rabbi Nachman (great Hasidic master) and yes, even Nisargadatta and Ramana Maharshi (who recommended breathing, chanting, devotional practices and rituals, all kinds of inquiry besides “who am I”), you think they didn’t deal with this paradox of effort vs Grace (which in Japan is called “self effort” vs “other effort” _ the Amida buddha chanters)

    I myself very early on got stuck with Krishnamurti who seemed to always counsel against ANY practice – until about 4 years into it, I found a little booklet where he teaches David E S Young basic Vipassana. After 4 years reading every book of his I could get my hands on, that was it. 46 years and I’ve never read anything else by him.

    Swami Sarvapriyananda tells a great story about this. His favorite Vedantic text is “Ashtavakra Gita.” There’s a McGilchrist-sounding line in it where it says “Your problem is you meditate.” And it keeps saying, “All you need to know is you ARE the Self, the Atman, right now.”

    So a young monk finds that his guru has this book and says, “Well that’s it, I’m not going to practice any more. No meditation, no prayers, no reading, no rituals.

    So Sarvapriyananda says to him, “you said your guru has this book?”

    The monk: “Yes.”

    Swami: “And does your guru meditate?”

    Monk: “yes”

    Swami: “Does he say prayers?”

    Monk: “yes”

    Swami: “Does he perform rituals?”

    Monk, now duly chastened: “Yes, all of that.”

    Swami: “Well, if you hold your teacher in such high regard, I would suggest following his example.

    Moderners have all kinds of silly ideas about contemplative life. Another favorite of mine – some Americans went to visit a renowned Zen master in Japan. When they got to his meditation hall, they saw him bowing before a statue of the Buddha. They were, typically American, horrified.

    “What!!!” they exclaimed. “Bowing to a buddha!! Didn’t the Buddha say if you meet the Buddha on the road, you should kill him? Wouldn’t it be better to spit on the Buddha/”

    The Zen teacher was totally unfazed. he simply looked up for a moment and said, “If you like to spit, then spit. I prefer to bow.”