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A Conversation with Sam Harris

Sam Harris

Host Michael Taft speaks with author, philosopher, and neuroscientist Sam Harris about the fusion of vipassana and nondual practice as the “gold standard” for practitioners, insights into selflessness through mindfulness and concentration, the distinction between moment-to-moment experiences and peak experiences, personal experiences with MDMA and psilocybin, the role of psychedelics in initiating spiritual introspection, concerns about the misuse of psychedelics and potential pitfalls, and more. 

Sam Harris is a renowned author, philosopher, neuroscientist, and podcast host, who weights in on issues around religion, morality, and the human mind. Harris holds a degree in philosophy from Stanford and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA, and he has practiced meditation for more than 30 years with many Tibetan, Indian, Burmese, and Western meditation teachers. Harris is particularly recognized for his exploration of meditation and non-duality, delving into their significance in understanding consciousness and the self. He’s also well known in the meditation community for his book Waking Up, and for the app of the same name.

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5 thoughts on “A Conversation with Sam Harris”

  1. I loved this podcast. The discussion about “oneness” was particularly insightful.

    I was confused however by the discussion regarding the possibility of finding bliss even in difficult medical circumstances. I wonder if Sam has ever really suffered physically to any great extent for a prolonged period. I recently experienced unrelenting vertigo, dizziness, neck pain and nausea for weeks which left me worn down by lack of sleep and stress from the debilitating nature of the condition. I am a committed daily meditator on the Waking Up app. since June 2019 and have followed Sam’s meditation instructions for years. I consider myself to have “made progress”. However, during this illness, I was unable to meditate despite best efforts because of the severity of my sensory disturbances and unrelenting headache pain. I wanted to drop back and watch it all, but I wasn’t able to. Because of hearing Sam and others talk previously about the fact that meditation can “help” during pain etc.., I had developed a belief that my practice may help me in such difficult times. In fact, that it would be the silver bullet if I was “good enough” at it. However, I discovered that it was not and that it was too high a bar for me to expect that in such conditions. It was a waking up experience :). Pain management, patience and metta were my best resources.

    1. Yes, you are right! there is a threshold of pain and physical disturbance over which practice isn’t viable.

      I’m “lucky” to have suffered from chronic illness which did not manifest as acute pain for most of the time, only overwhelming fatigue, and in this scenario, it is possible, and in fact sometimes easier, to meditate, due to decreased mental activity and extremely low energy (but not sleepiness or drowsiness).

      Unfortunately, not many proponents and teachers of meditation have had a wide range of traumatic bodily experiences, so they are often out of their depth when disucssing the these things.

      Hope you are doing well now!

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