Friday Apr 14, 2023

Sam Harris: Consciousness and Spirituality without Religion

Is there a there-there? A place within the mind separate from our thoughts? This week Scott talks to neuroscientist and founder of the Waking Up meditation app, Sam Harris. They discuss how meditation helps us to be happy in the most ordinary of moments and make the most of each moment, vs. the need to extract the greatest pleasure from our greatest moments. 

And that there are things to discover about the nature of the mind that are liberating, with the potential to reduce suffering of emotional anguish and ultimately lead to improvements in wellbeing.

Regarding atheism, Sam remarks that, “it’s not so much a claim that the universe isn't much stranger than we realize, (but) in fact, maybe it’s stranger than we can possibly imagine.” And that there are propensities of the human mind that are universally available regardless of culture or geography, and one can find truths across beliefs in Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Judaism,Islam and others, yet we need to have 21st century non-sectarian conversations.


Sam shares this quote from Tibetan Lama Kalu Rinpoche: 'What we live in is an illusion. There is a reality, you are that reality. When you understand this, you'll realize that you're nothing and being nothing, you are everything.'  And a recommendation of literature from Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich


In My Homily Opinion (IMHO): Scott reads from Oscar Wilde’s “De Profundis” and discusses his belief that there is a need for ritual even in the lives of the irreligious. He asks the listeners if God hides himself from us or do we just not know where to look for him?

Guest: Sam Harris is a neuroscientist, philosopher, and author of five New York Times best sellers. His work covers a wide range of topics—neuroscience, moral philosophy, religion, meditation practice, political polarization, rationality—but generally focuses on how a growing understanding of ourselves and the world is changing our sense of how we should live. His books include The End of Faith, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, Lying, and Waking Up. Sam hosts the popular Making Sense podcast and is the creator of the Waking Up app, which offers a modern approach to living a more examined life, through both in-depth mindfulness training and secular wisdom. Sam has practiced meditation for over 30 years and has studied with many Tibetan, Indian, Burmese, and Western meditation teachers, both in the United States and abroad. He holds a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA.

Photo credit: Christopher Patey

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