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Chopra and atheism

vinlynvinlyn VeteranColorado...for now Veteran

http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/01/living/deepak-chopra-atheism/index.html

He's occasionally mentioned here on the forum, as is atheism, so I thought some of you might be interested in this CNN article.

Earthninja

Comments

  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran
    Great article, I do agree with what he said about the skepticism as being a good thing, not just belief in blind dogma. The same goes for the atheists and science.

    I like how he showed everybody as being on a scale of belief. Not just yes or no.

    Thanks for sharing
    vinlyn
  • zenffzenff Veteran Veteran

    Rationality is a specialized aspect of the higher brain, but it's not the end-all and be-all of life as anyone can tell you who has experienced love, music, art, compassion, self-sacrifice, altruism, inspiration, intuition -- indeed, most of the things that make life worth living.

    This article – I think – is a nice attempt of capturing an aspect of modern life.
    How – if at all - can I combine being “spiritual” with being rational. That is a problem because when I am being rational and honest I cannot believe the traditional religious narratives as if they are factual truths. So what is being spiritual, if there’s no God, no rebirth and no heaven or hell?

    For me the answer is to be found in what I thought was typical for Zen; the practice of doing the impossible. If body and mind can’t find the answer; then drop off body and mind and give the answer. I hope you get the idea of what I’m trying to say.

    When I’m trying to be rational I’ll have to be ruthlessly rational. And when I’m trying to be spiritual, I’ll have to be ruthlessly spiritual.
    If that leaves me with contradictions; I’ll embrace the contradictions without any reservation.

  • zenffzenff Veteran Veteran
    edited April 2015

    Chopra - in my understanding – advocates something in the middle between being rational (or skeptical) and being spiritual.
    I’m suggesting that there’s another way. Embracing contradiction.
    I read from a Tibetan teacher the concept of “me gak” If I remember that expression correctly. It was described as the non-confirming denial. It said that I can deny one thing but avoid the confirmation of the opposite.
    It amounts to the same thing: embracing contradiction is a crucial step towards realization.
    I don’t believe in God, and I can meet Him everywhere.
    That’s beginning to smell like Zen I’m afraid. O.o

    (and now I'm off to work)

    lobster
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    Oh no, another thread about God!

    EarthninjaBuddhadragon
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    edited April 2015

    me gak - that deserves attention, many thanks, do you have a source @zenff ?

    ChopRa is not God or his spokesperson. God told me that but I never listen to voices that say, 'nobody hears my message' . . . ;)

    I was recently watching some interviews of Ayn Rand another renowned superficial populist from the extreme atheist side rather than the pseudo informed centre. Plausibility always relies on the relative ignorance of the audience. The thing these pundits both hate and have in common is having their facile assertions challenged. Cultists and the narrow are like that . . . too hash? May his noodliness forgive me . . .
    http://www.venganza.org

    The reason most scientists and the Buddha (allegedly) were atheist when circumstance allowed, was due to focussing on the knowable essentials.

    and now back to the Ain . . . or not . . .

    DairyLamahow
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @lobster said: The thing these pundits both hate and have in common is having their facile assertions challenged.

    Indeed, and Chopra's new-age nonsense is easily challenged. I like the picture you posted, does it portray the fishy creator C_d? ;)

    Kundo
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @zenff said:> It amounts to the same thing: embracing contradiction is a crucial step towards realization.

    Ajahn Chah used to talk about embracing uncertainty, a very similar idea. Not knowing can be uncomfortable but it's often the reality of our situation.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    @SpinyNorman My pic is a male or rather saucy depiction of The Flying Speghetti Monster. The equivalent Mrs C_d or the Shekhinah is the Invisible Pink Unicorn ... I knew my little pony dharma would become popular . . .

    Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of great spiritual power. We know this because they are capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn

    Before such things became popular, Bertrand Russel had a flying teapot and I had Cecil the Ultimate Deity
    http://peace.wikia.com/wiki/Cecil
    Check out the DIY deity link if you need a new Deity ...

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    Oh, I see. Chopra's pink elephant is "cosmic consciousness", it seems to be a new-age take on Hindu ideas muddled up with some pseudo-science.

    lobster
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran Colorado...for now Veteran

    @zenff said:
    If that leaves me with contradictions; I’ll embrace the contradictions without any reservation.

    Not many can admit that they see and live a life with many contradictions. So I admire that. It's honest. And I do it.

    lobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    You know what's funny, is I just saw this article posted on CNN,and I came here knowing I would see it also posted here, because NB loves it's ranting of Chopra. Maybe we should host him for a roast ala Comedy Central. Glad to see we are so predictable :)

  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran Colorado...for now Veteran

    They were pretty brutal on the Bieber roast. Do you think Chopra would cry?

    karastilobster
  • zenffzenff Veteran Veteran
    edited April 2015

    @lobster said: me gak - that deserves attention, many thanks, do you have a source @zenff ?

    With friends we were reading all transcripts of the extensive courses that our local Geshe had been giving.
    When explaining the superiority of the Madyamaka -school this point of “me gak” was mentioned. The problem that it solves is that of avoiding nihilism while being radical about emptiness.

    In my words: one can negate everything without positively confirming that there’s nothing. The negation of A is in logic the confirmation of not-A. But here there’s supposed to be a narrow escape between the two. This point is subtle (probably a lot more than it appears in my little “explanation”) and is to be approached in meditation on emptiness and absolute truth.

    For me it rang a bell, because my first zen-teacher had shocked me previously with his statement that “something is only true if the opposite is also true”. And you obviously know that in koans contradictions (paradoxes if you like) are used a lot.

    I didn't find a lot on internet:

    Although Tsonkhapa argued in favour of Yogacara views early in his career[30] his later understanding is derived from Candrakirti,[31] who states that conventionally there are entities with distinguishing characteristics, but ultimately those qualities are not independent essences. But since this emptiness is true for everything that exists, this emptiness may also be regarded as an essence, though not in the sense of an independent essence. Candrakirti formulates a final negation by stating that even the denial of svabhava implies ...
    ...that either oneself or one's audience is not entirely free from the belief in svabhava. Therefore, ultimate truth, truth as it is for those who are free from misknowledge, cannot be expressed by asserting either the existence or nonexistence of svahbava.[32]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madhyamaka

    lobster
  • zenffzenff Veteran Veteran

    Maybe the teaching of Two Truths offers a framework for being rational and spiritual at the same time.
    When talking on relative truth I can be perfectly rational and rely on well-chosen concepts and perfect reasoning.
    On the subject of absolute truth words and concepts are beside the point. It’s just a “spiritual” thing and when I attack it with my rational mind I’m not getting it.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    For me it rang a bell, because my first zen-teacher had shocked me previously with his statement that “something is only true if the opposite is also true”. And you obviously know that in koans contradictions (paradoxes if you like) are used a lot.

    :)
    Many thanks for your extended comments. Will look into some of the concepts you mention.

    These may seem like subtle mind masturbations, in fact they are important illustrations of interior states that are of intrinsic value to those transcending the limits of binary 'either or' thought/being.

    Mr Chopra is to be congratulated. Not because of his relative ignorance but because even the shallow can lead to depth . . .

    In a similar way many new age platitudes and cliches are promoted. We do not expect too much from such pundits. Maybe we should ...

    “something is only true if the opposite is also true” is something I have come across in Sufi teachings. It clearly does not apply to most maths, programming and practical life situations. It is however useful in quantum programming and some forms of advanced maths that use imaginary numbers, such as different forms of infinity ... I forget who developed the ideas of an infinity of infinities ...
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinity

    Such maths is beyond my comprehension incidentally ...
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mysticism

    Thank goodness for smart cookies ...
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/inourtime_comments_infinity.shtml

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    We have the majesty of Buddhist texts like The Heart Sutra and MN1, The Root Sequence.

    Why even bother with a charlatan like Chopra?

    federicalobsterzenff
  • NeleNele Veteran Veteran

    I found Chopra's short and lackluster response to CNN's contrastingly in-depth documentary on atheism in America (and one family in particular) rather piffle-y. Does this opening paragraph even make sense?

    "No doubt faith is in crisis. But this applies ... to the personal agony of families."

    I did use the embedded links to read CNN's write-up, which was interesting and quite detailed. But Chopra's dyspeptic comments and asides about atheism are - can I say piffle again? No? OK, how about dismissive?

    knee-jerk skeptic
    mind is being conditioned by others
    rigid skepticism

    And I saved the best for last:
    believing in nothing but the material world is cold comfort

    But doesn't Chopra say that "Atheism can do good by casting a skeptical light on cultural mythologies" Can? How about "does"? Hmm. I reckon the atheists can aspire to that, then.

    These are not the droids you're looking for...move along.

    lobsterRowan1980
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Oh no, another thread about God!

    Oh, how I hate feel aversion to these threads!!!

    lobsterRowan1980Kundo
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran Colorado...for now Veteran

    Chopra's isn't alone in his piffling.

    Now don't get me wrong, I'm no shill for Chopra; never read one of his books and saw him on television only once years ago.

    But I do think that the condemnations on the forum are often of the knee-jerk variety, almost always from people who have written a total of ZERO books on any topic and struggling along through Buddhism. So, some jump on someone who doesn't say what Buddhists are supposed to say. Dismissing people's views out of hand, when that is done, is not the open-mindedness that many Buddhists profess is essential to Buddhist thought.

    robot
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    I just can't take Chopra's new-age nonsense seriously. And I can't take God seriously either. What a naughty Buddhist I am!

    lobsterRowan1980
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited April 2015

    @zenff said:> Maybe the teaching of Two Truths offers a framework for being rational and spiritual at the same time. > When talking on relative truth I can be perfectly rational and rely on well-chosen concepts and perfect reasoning.

    Yes, the two truths thing can be helpful. But I think sometimes people just get confused at the relative truth level, maybe hanging on to out-dated beliefs and assumptions, clinging to a muddle of contradictory views, fudging the question and the answer.

    Rowan1980
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @karasti said:> Glad to see we are so predictable :)

    We certainly are. ;)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Oh, I see. Chopra's pink elephant is "cosmic consciousness", it seems to be a new-age take on Hindu ideas muddled up with some pseudo-science.

    Yes.

    I have mentioned before how mystical experiences are as unfathomable, paradoxical and very similar to the Mahayana Buddhist dictum:

    Emptiness is form and form emptiness

    The Pink Unicorn explanation of 'Being and yet not' is as strange as Shroedingers Cat from Quantum physics. Strangely in its attempt to mock, for me at least, it seems quite useful and insightful on quite a deep experiential level. How odd. O.o

    Chopras experience of mysticism and appropriation of Quantum physics is lucrative and superficial but then many new age pundits are trite. They do lead those so inclined (perhaps hopefully Chopra too one day) into informed science and genuine mysticism/dharma. He is not a bad person, far from it.

    This message sponsored by the pink that has no unicorn tale

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    ...Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a certain Richard Dawkins shoots himself in the foot.... :D

    Kundo
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