Sam Harris (author, philosopher, neuroscientist) has a fascinating conversation with Bridget about meditation, consciousness, mindfulness, and awareness. They discuss what brought Sam to meditation (drugs, initially), and the decade he spent traveling and diving into Eastern philosophy, mindfulness practices, and silent retreats, until ultimately he went back to college and eventually got a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. He and Bridget cover mediation and psychological resilience, being a hostage to your own thoughts, the search for a durable state of well being, the casualties of the spiritual path and the people who follow it, the illusion of self, and how close we are to being psychotic so much of the time.

Full transcript available here: WiW80-SamHarris-Transcript

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Published in: General

There are 4 comments.

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  1. TerryS Inactive

    Harris has the air of a charlatan.
    It is interesting to hear his spiel. It’s Buddism wrapped in gobbledy-gook as far as I can tell. Listen closely to his discussion on consciousness and you’ll see tht he is not really saying anything definite, anything “actionable.” As a neuroscientist, he must know that the consciousness-raising he experienced on MDMA was simply a chemical reaction. Certain neurons in regions of his brain became more or less able to transmit changes in electrical potential to other neurons. How is that “universal love”? It’s not in the same category.
    If suffering is an illusion, a creation of thoughts which can be controlled, do the victims of pediatric cancer suffer? Does suffering have any meaning in Harriss’s world?
    Does Harris believe that the thought that thoughts are just thoughts and not the self is part of the self? What is it that experiences sensory input? Something? Nothing? Harris can’t tell you.
    Harris seems to always be looking for himself and not finding himself. He thinks that he is following a straight path but he is going in circles.

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  2. Hank Rhody, Badgeless Bandito Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Badgeless Bandito

    There’s not even a single example of something for which Science is the best authority but now that authority has gone over to your priest or rabbi 

    Well, there’s eugenics. 

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  3. TerryS Inactive

    TerryS (View Comment):


    I don’t mean to imply that I did not enjoy the interview, I did. It was quite entertaining. Bridget is very good at staying in the background and letting people expose their thoughts. Maybe I am misunderstanding Harris’s purpose. He seems to be saying that if you listen to him, or follow his path, you will feel greater piece or enjoy greater knowledge, or at least be given the tools to do so. But that is not what he delivers. Instead you get buzzwords and short disconnected statements that aren’t quite paragraphs. He isn’t clear why he got his degree in neuroscience. He is not a researcher or an academic, and clearly has never had the intention of becoming a researcher or an academic. You aren’t supposed to get a PhD in a subject because you think it is a neat thing to do. It is not a way station on a journey of self-discovery. You are supposed to get a PhD so you can make  original contributions to a field of knowledge. Harris is a popular writer. You don’t need a PhD in neuroscience to write knowledgeably and seriously about neuroscience to a popular audience.

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  4. thelonious Member

    Sam Harris has an incredibly over simplistic view of religion.  Just because we have better life saving medical practices doesn’t disprove God’s existence. I know many a religious person of science who doesn’t see the conflict. Maybe atheists should have the humility to believe that science doesn’t even come close to explaining the non existence of God. 

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