Ram Dass’s conversation with Timothy Leary as narrated by Robert Redford in the 2014 documentary titled “Dying to Know” demonstrates how he prefers yoga path as opposed to the LSD. In specific, when asked by Timothy Leary how to contact the soul, he responds by stating that there is a need for a better technology than the LSD. The reasons for him finding more appeal in the Yogic path rather than the LSD is the fact that; the LSD technology goes so fast such that it becomes difficult to save its findings. In specific, Ram Dass believes in the path which would lead to an aroma of divinity (spirituality) as opposed to neurology. According to Quesada (2018), whereas the LSD explores the philosophical questions of the soul through the use of technology, Ram Dass prefers the Yogic path since it explores the same issues through spiritual means. According to Ram Dass, the technological/scientific methods are fast and trivial while the yogic means would lead to the discovery of the biggest truth of all which is what the soul is all about (Quesada, 2018). Additionally, Ram Dass sees the proponents for the use of LSD as philosophical materialists who believe that every question has a neurological answer. However, Ram Dass does not see everything as materialistic and thus believes that the Yogic path is the only one which could be used to explain the altered state of consciousness. Dass prefers to explore the mind via the use of Yoga because it is a devotional path which could lead to unity with God through love, which is not the case with LSD (Quesada, 2018). For those reasons, Dass find the Yogic path more preferable than the LSD because if its spiritual nature.
Based on the article, I found various compelling and interesting aspects of Ram Dass and Timothy Leary, as two icons of the 60’s cultural revolution. One of the compelling aspects is the manner in which they have trust in their philosophical paths. In specific, whereas Timothy Leary believes in the exploration of the mind using psychedelic drugs, Dass is more focused on the use of Bhakti Yoga (Quesada, 2018). They both have philosophical underpinnings of their positions. For instance, Dass holds that the use of yoga provides a path in which people can devote themselves and unity with God through love. However, Leary holds that any path used in the resolution of a problem should be based on empirically tested results (Quesada, 2018). Additionally, I find it interesting that although they advocate for different paths, they advance the knowledge about the soul and the mind. In specific, Dass provides a philosophical argument for the use of Yoga based on its basis on spirituality. Leary, on the other hand, believes that anything spiritual is based on various fallacies and limitations because of its lack of measurement scales (Quesada, 2018). Moreover, the article presents the various ways in which science differs from spirituality. For instance, whereas Dass was filled with love and used spirituality to explain the mysteries of the universe, Leary used science and technology in justifying his philosophical arguments. Both icons are presented in the article as taking different paths but providing compelling arguments as to the existence of the soul and the explanation of the state of consciousness.
Lew (2016)’s article “Pure rationality is a myth we should not aspire to” argues that although rationality is achievable, pure rationality is a myth. The author provides various grounds and justifications for such a position. I agree with a majority of arguments which are made in the reading. In specific, I agree that the assertion that rationality is relative and that it is impossible to attain pure rationality. I hold the same view with Lew (2016) that pure rationality is not possible, and neither is irrationality a concept which is avoidable and inferior. Whereas some people are more rational than others, knowing that we have some degree of irrationality does not mean that we will prevent it (Lew, 2016). I agree that people’s decisions and actions are always influenced by various factors such as their cognitive biases, the environment in which they make such decisions, as well as the context. I have personally attested to the fact that the challenge with cognitive biases is that people are mostly unaware of them and thus cannot avoid them. As such, although individuals will claim that their decisions are purely rational, they fail to understand the various biases which influenced them as they might be unaware of their existence. I also hold the same position as Lew (2016) on the idea that the environment largely influences any actions we take. As a result, people should not claim that their actions are independent to of the environment in which they operate. Similar to the cognitive biases, people might be unaware of the various environmental factors which affect their decisions and actions. For instance, whereas I made a decision thinking that it was purely rationally, I later reviewed it and found that it was influenced by my emotions and my preference towards the parties involved.
Despite my agreements with some of the ideas and arguments made by Lew (2016), I have various aspects that I disagree with in the article. One of those is the argument that thinking is something that happens at us. In specific, I hold the view that thinking happens by us as opposed to us (Lew, 2016). Although I agree that the ability to think and act autonomously is key to rationality, I believe that people can make decisions and take actions when they feel that they are in control their thinking as opposed to when they are in mind wandering. As such, although people encounter task-unrelated thoughts, they might focus on the task at hand and only make decisions when their thoughts are focused on the present task. Additionally, I agree with Lew (2016) that the notion of reality is tentative. In specific, I believe that reality is a defining aspect and cannot be based on the thoughts of individuals. For instance, the reality that a person was killed cannot be said to be relative. As such, the change in the contexts of the reality will not change the reality but will only alter the circumstance for the interpretation of the reality and not the truth itself. For instance, the cause of death can be interpreted differently but not the existence of the death itself. Although people will tend to have a different interpretation of reality, such interpretations will not alter something which is real to be unreal but will rather satisfy the curiosities of interpreters. As a result, Lew (2016)’s argument about the tentative nature of reality based on the thoughts of individuals is an aspect that I disagree with.
Lew, D. (2016). Pure rationality is a myth we should not aspire to. Medium.com. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@DionneLew/rationality-is-a-myth-we-should-not-aspire-to-189463658b76
Quesada, D. (2018). Timothy Leary and Ram Dass. WordPress. Retrieved from https://donnaquesada.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/timothy-leary-and-ram-dass/