Dear Deepak Chopra,
I love you, but you sound as if you’re pissed at Sam Harris.
Your review of Harris’s The Moral Landscape was a surprisingly quotidian and earthly criticism of an extremely complex and advanced psychological and sociological philosophy.
Sam’s ingenious concept, that humanity as a whole should strive for the peaks of human fulfillment using objective criteria to determine not only what those heights are, but the best ways of achieving those common pinnacles of happiness, is extraordinary.
The application of scientific principles and potentially heuristic techniques to the advancement of human happiness on earth is possible theoretically and would be highly expedient. This is desirable; far more worth striving for than trying to live up to any of the extremely flawed and distorted historical “sacred” texts grounded largely in human fear that defends territorialism, paternalism, or xenophobia.
You make a point, Deepak, that fighting the emotional/genetic prompts against fear, want, sickness, and death isn’t an easy thing to do. This is one of the arguments from religion, that we should try to rise above our physical natures if we want to find true happiness.
But the methods of religion are often baseless. Religions end up accomplishing nearly the opposite what they purport to set out to do, increase individual and group happiness, because they are formed very little out of empathy and compassion, unalterably necessary for flourishing, as Sam puts it, and far more on our species’ desires, nay, obstinate needs, for safety and control.
Science itself is far, far from perfect, in its present state, in our human near unconsciousness to what is real, and what is true. Scientific research can be biased and researchers’ conclusions are often wrong. But we can start. Knowledge increases, necessarily, humanly, incrementally.
Perhaps, we may hope, science and research will root out and prove the ways we can think, and the things we can do, that will thrill and reconcile us, please and satisfy us as we create ourselves and each other in our own happiness, out of love.
My mother almost died once, instead stayed alive, and told me, later, that one of the things she learned was that it’s not about you or me, it’s about all of us.
An idea that is helpful beyond practical is romantic. Godly in-the-sense-of-all-of-us, may I say, is Sam’s idea here, although Sam himself doesn’t yet realize that.
It’s an idea for the Universe.
© 2013 Cathi Carol. All rights reserved. Please do not republish without permission.
Last Updated: March 25, 2013
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