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Sam Harris – Spirituality Without Religion

Sam Harris On Waking Up – A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion

Sam Harris is a bestselling author, neuroscientist and philosopher. He is co-founder and Chief Executive Office of Project Reason, a non-profit foundation that promotes science and secular values.

In the fall of 2014, Sam Harris gave this talk—to coincide with the publication of his book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. Join Sam as he discusses a range of experiences that have traditionally been considered “spiritual”—in particular the phenomenon of self-transcendence.

Although such experiences tell us nothing about the origins of the cosmos, they confirm some well-established truths about the human mind: Our conventional sense of self is an illusion; positive emotions, such as compassion and serenity, are teachable skills; and the way we think can profoundly influence our lives and the lives of others.

This video consists of a one-hour lecture and an hour of Q&A.

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You can find Sam’s website here http://www.samharris.org where you can find out about his books, podcast and events




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332 Responses

    1. Delia calixtro

      Amazing gift melli. The intellectual mind distracted me several times. The lust of wanting something from the lecture was presente .. I pause to anchor myself .. Thank you

      1. Ona Luna

        Where did he belittle others? He certainly discards religious models/dogmas, but I didn’t see him belittling others, aside from a humorous quip about wine tasters (which my boyfriend, who is one, would love, no doubt). Did I miss something?

    2. Sara

      I really tried to listen to this one but had to turn it off. Perhaps if he was not so disrespectful to religions and their followers I would have listened to it in entirety.

  1. Jim Bright

    I loved all 2 hours and 12 minutes of this ! I will be purchasing Sam’s books and listening to his podcasts now. Thanks Melli and the Mindfulness Summit Team for introducing me to another excellent person to learn from. I can’t believe it’s already day 12 of the summit, I’ve learned so much. 🙂

    1. Tim Richardson

      @Jim Bright Can’t say I loved the Q&A but otherwise I totally agree. The talk was brill. Just been on Amazon and previewed then bought 3 of his books. Many thanks to Melli and the Mindfulness Summit Team!

      1. Jim Bright

        @Tim Yes, some of the questions from the audience were somewhat…obscure, but he answered as best he could. I felt as if I was on exactly the same page as Sam in his beliefs in so many ways. Speaking of pages, I had better get ordering those books ! 🙂

    2. Freida Maverick

      Agreed! I’ve ordered all his books, and I’ve gone on and watched a few You Tube videos of him, and signed up to his website for the podcasts, and Project Reason for the blog and newsletters. Brilliant man! I wish I’d come across him sooner, but thanks heaps to Melli and the Mindfulness Summit Team, I know about him now!

  2. Leslie

    I need to read Sam’s book…thought provoking…..working full time made the 2+ hour podcast difficult to incorporate into my morning….I am thankful for all those behind and in front of this incredible summit!

  3. Monika

    I appreciate all speakers and comments. Makes me understand that if I want to Learn from this summit, I must look at each speaker as an illusion and just use their words as a ticklish way of wandering what is self? Who cares what each one of us follows as a religion or not? Remember religion was made by men and men is imperfect. The most important thing is that we all become aware of our minds, bodies and spirit! And if we can achieve that I a daily basis, (hopefully through mediation) maybe we would be practicing the love and kindness religion. And that would be perfect.

  4. Jeanette Spence

    I made a commitment to myself to listen to every speaker, to show up each day of the Mindfulness Summit, to be present and to listen with interest and curiosity, to pay attention to what holds heart and meaning for me, to speak my truth about each teaching (without judgment or blame), to let go of ‘ego’ attachment to the outcome of each days experience. I am wowed by this journey. It is an exercise in Mindfulness for me, each and every day, to go with the flow, and know that I will be more connected to my true “Self” and to “all that is.” Just feeling so fortunate to have this opportunity. Thanks to Melle and her team.

  5. Kathleen

    I was not aware of the number of individuals who are agnostic or atheists. Sam brings an interesting perspective. However, I thought for this forum the borrowed talk was too long and not pertain to Mindfulness. At times, I thought he was really ‘full of himself’. Thank you.

    1. Nata Zazubovits

      Kathleen, I have similar thoughts. Especially about “full of himself”. Might happen, I was listening the podcast at a wrong moment. Will reflect on the topic further.

    2. Laura Stell

      Kathleen, I agree. His arrogance and his constant use of pejorative language every time he mentioned the word ‘religion” would seem to have the same effect of dividing humanity, which he finds so distasteful and harmful. Ironic? Hypocritical?

  6. Lynn Kampa

    Found Sam really thought provoking. Love when someone makes me go “mmm?” I would like to point out that one can be religious without believing in organized religion, which where I think is where the problem is. I think there are many paths that can bring us together.

  7. Rona Lewis

    Thank you. This may go part way to explaining why I felt a disconnect whilst listening to this particular talk. I feel the same kind of disconnect with Eckhart Tolle. It seems to be an attitude/ego thing.

    1. deb rushworth

      I’m with you Rona regarding Eckhart Tolle. I’ve tried and tried and tried to relate to his work but I just can’t. Sam on the other hand made quite a bit of sense to me, perhaps because I have spent many years in brain science. I think that for me, this is one of those talks to return to a few times without the visuals, just to listen. I sense sometimes no matter how articulate a speaker may be, there are no words to truly describe experiences and thus key messages.

  8. Pam Swiderski

    Thank you for including this in the summit. I very much enjoyed this video and the approach he used. He took the conscious to an understanding I have known but never heard explained in such a way.

  9. Liz Shon

    I love the diversity of speakers and the variety of formats in this Summit! It has been fascinating to read the comments after each speaker – and it is clear to me that different speakers, different formats work for different people. And it’s interesting to see what thoughts and feelings get provoked with each speaker. All in all, I so appreciate everything that I’m learning. This is a gift and I thank you Melli and all the speakers and people who are involved in this Summit!

  10. briankeith32913

    It is unfortunate that the speaker globally dismisses “religion”, based on typical “intellectual” and pompous bases, treating believers as naive fools and focusing on the most egregious aspects of religion…

    1. Denise Consiglio

      Yes. I found him to be pompous. Mindfulness has origins in Buddhism. Does he dismiss this religion as well? All atheists should have acquired a doctorate degree in theology to support their non- beliefs. Does he have any educational background in religion? Has he extensively studied the gospels?

      1. Ona Luna

        Yes, perhaps all atheists should have a doctorate in the Torah, the Vedas, ancient Norse religions, the beliefs of the First Nations, the Mayan calendar, Zoroastrianism, Ancient Greek and Roman religion, etc. etc.

        This is totally required to not believe in any of the gods.

          1. Jeffrey Paczkowski

            Good point! It’s never the responsibility of the non-believer to prove the non-existence of god. If I told you there was a dragon in my garage and you didn’t believe me it wouldn’t be your burden to prove there wasn’t a dragon, it would be my responsibility to prove to you there was a dragon in my garage.

          2. Ona Luna

            Jeffrey, you said it so well, and without my sarcastic bent, which was probably unnecessary. I must work on a more compassionate response.

  11. Freida Maverick

    How has it taken me so long to find Sam Harris? He’s so refreshing! This is by far the best talk of the mindfulness summit, and now I think I may have to pay for the full thing so I can download this talk. I need to listen to it again and again, and read ALL his books.

    The Q&A at the end was great. All the questions got my attention and I was riveted to his brilliant responses.

    I agreed with absolutely everything Sam Harris said, and I learned a lot both from the first hour of his talk, and the Q&A session. I wonder if Sam Harris has ever had a recorded conversation with Stephen Batchelor (a secular Buddhist)?

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Meli! I feel indebted to you, because without this summit I may never have found Sam Harris.

    1. Terry Benzie

      I have heard Batchelor mention Harris and his work before. I imagine more than a few secular Busdhists have moved from reading Kabat-Zinn to Batchelor to Harris.

    2. Ona Luna

      Freida, you put it so well! This summit, and this talk especially, is marvelous. I’d no idea that Sam Harris had such extensive experience with mindfulness. It’s great fun to see the way other people’s minds work, and how they approach this from a different background and discipline.

  12. Leslie Carleton

    Thank you so much, Melli. I loved and was challenged by the intellectual rigor of this talk. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the more “feel good” aspects of many of the other previous presenters, and really, who doesn’t want a “feel good” experience, at least as part of the journey. But I relished the challenge of Sam Harris’ meaty, direct, and thought provoking presentation and look forward to reading his books.

  13. Pat Gordon

    Thank you for including Sam in this series, I did get the idea of I have no head. His insights on consciousness are at times very clarifying and then again confusing. My thinking is my grasping of it is like going between the white square and the 4 partial circles.

  14. Lilly

    I feel turned off by people like this speaker who criticize religion. Let’s stick to mindfulness, and if that can’t be done, I’m expecting a talk before the summit ends that talks about Christian mindfulness.

      1. Emma Selander

        But why just Christian? Shouldn’t it be all other religions then, or at least the biggest ones? I found this speaker to be rigid in his views of religion, but I think it’s important to remember that it’s not always about “Christianity versus atheism “. The best, in my opinion, would be to respect everyone’s beliefs and never post type own at anyone else.

  15. Freida Maverick

    I always feel like I have to hold some part of myself back in this kind of forum because although I am an atheist and a skeptic and a secular Buddhist, I want to be respectful of people who believe in psychic, supernatural, gods, a universe that cares, mythology, destiny, etc. During this talk by Sam Harris I felt the utter relief of being able to be fully present and authentic while listening to him because absolutely everything he said resonated with me. Three others have made me feel this way – Stephen Batchelor, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Peter Joseph. But I was introduced to them years ago, and I have been longing to have another source of truth and inspiration. Sam Harris is absolutely the best thing since sliced bread!

  16. Sharon O'Malley

    I must admit that I was unsettled at times by the perceived undercurrent of judgment of those involved in formal religion to round out their spiritual practice. It left me with a sense of this population being considered unintelligent and delusional. Some fine points of mindfulness did arise for me and yet the sense that all in religion have a possible propensity for harming others not of like mind distracted me from the mindfulness lesson most likely present. I suspect purely intellectual entities have their own share of possible propensity for harm toward others not of like mind, as in every other self identified entity. This is not unique to religious community alone, in my experience.

    1. Maria

      Yes, I felt he did the usual secular “intellectual” error of confusing religious dogma with religion and talked about religion and religious people in a very condescending way (making very clear his example of tribal thinking is not exclusive to people practising spiritual religion but thrives also among people confessed to the religion of science) and I felt that out of place in a mindfulness summit. We don’t all have to agree with each other but if we are standing on a big stage being judgemental towards other faiths we at least ought to be aware of what we’re doing and where it’s coming from. And own it. This talk didn’t feel very mindful at all, and I would have preferred an interview conducted by Meli if this speaker was to be included.

    2. Monique Frigault

      I agree – it is difficult to listen to someone like this who so blatantly dismisses religion because he feels it does not fit into his view of the world. He even dismisses Deepak Chopra and mocks him even – he mocked Christianity be repeating several times that he was “just a carpenter”. I guess this guy likes to overlook that thousands of major scientific discoveries were made by Catholic and Jesuit priests.

      I find it ironic that people such as this one can say religious people are deadly and psychopathic (yes he said that right at the outset) but often they are the ones that come out and attack religion, not in response to comments from religious people, but just because they feel their superiority and feel they have a right to harm others with their lack of compassion, lack of understanding and lack of self-censorship.

      I will take a kind and good religious person over an ignorant and mean-spirited atheist any day.

      1. Niki Rose

        I didn’t hear him say didn’t say that religious people are deadly and psychopathic. He said that loyalty to a religion can make good people loyal to fanatics, some of whom act in psychopathic ways.

        He is correct.

        I would take a good atheist any day over a fanatical member of a branch of accepted religion which preached murder and mayhem to anyone who did not follow the doctrine to the letter.

        Having said that, there are many good people-atheists and members of religious groups-as we have seen in this mindfulness course.

  17. Mahshid Poursartip

    His analogy of self and consciousness was terrific. I had to rewind and listen to it and write it and read it a few times. A very delicate and sensitive observation, which makes a huge change in the practice. Thank you. What a being he is.

  18. Rutty Bessoudo

    Thanks for an excellent presentation! Too bad for those of you who didn’t finished watching it or listened what he had to say about consciousness, meditation and the benefits of vipassana.

    For those of you who liked it, I recommend you the two interviews Sam Harris did to Joseph Goldstein.

  19. Len Moskowitz

    To me, contemplating the Hubble Deep Space photo brings me to awe of the Creator of all that. Poor Sam misses that.

    And he seems to have already concluded that consciousness is a brain function. There’s no evidence of that at all. We know literally nothing about where the seat of consciousness is, despite FMR studies.

    1. Ona Luna

      Where did he conclude that consciousness is a brain function? He said that the origin(s) of consciousness — and so any aspects of it —are still a mystery to science.

      Arguably, the ONLY thing that empirical experiments can do is determine what consciousness is NOT, and that’s by repeating the experiment over and over — with controls — and getting the same outcome.

  20. Mary Pat

    The topic of consciousness and selflessness is incredibly interesting, and is somehow the key to developing a more meaningful practice. Having said that I have to admit the first time through that 90% of it went over my head. The second time through I did somewhat better, and it was worth the effort. I intend to buy the book and keep reading until it all makes sense.

  21. Marty Farty

    This was AMAZING! I think there is so much for us all in todays video if we only watch with an open mind. Even if you don’t like 90% of something that 10% can change your life.

    Side note, I have only recently began practicing mindfulness and something I have notice latley is how full my life is, and I mean in the best way possible. In the past I would struggle to find ways to keep my brain stimulated and now I wish I had more time in the day so I could read more.

    Thank you again to all involved!

  22. Madeline Loder

    A different take for me. If I didn’t read and listen to Eckhart Tolle over and over again and several others I wouldn’t know what the ……..Sam Harris was talking about. Thanks, Melli for including him. It was interesting!

  23. Caitlin Conn

    As a theist, I wasn’t looking forward to hearing from an outspoken critic of religion. Admittedly, the first 15 minutes or so were a bit tough to get through. But Sam Harris also made some interesting points, and though I certainly don’t agree with all of them (and maybe not even with the majority of them), I was interested in hearing yet another perspective on mindfulness. I wouldn’t have chosen him out of a list of potential speakers, but I’m grateful to Melli for giving us such a diversity of viewpoints on mindfulness. I think that knowing I disagree with Sam in some fundamental ways made me more mindful of what he was saying. 🙂

  24. Serena

    I don’t know if I missed the point, but I found this lacking complete insight. As if he is missing the one giant piece of the puzzle … Despite his extrnsive research he missed a few targets for me…
    Still, always appreciating everyone’s position 🙂

  25. Fabiana

    It was a difficult exercise for me to listen beyond after he put the picture of the Virgin . But I became curious. And it was worth the exercise. I agree with a lot of what he says, yet when the talk ended, and the topic of “death” arose, I would have loved to hear his insights into how to “mindfully live the death of a beloved or a total stranger”. I really would have asked that question if I had had the chance.

  26. Teresa Gray

    I enjoyed Sam’s talk as he was direct, straightforward with a sense of humor. Some things either didn’t quite get or didn’t like, but then we are all different! I enjoy the second half with the questions and answers which gave you an insight on the public thinking.
    Like Sam said “try it”! We are all have (should have) free will!!!
    Thank you
    Gisborne, New Zealand

  27. Elizabeth Egan

    Not my cup of tea. Sam Harris has a way with words, for sure, and he gives you quite a mental workout. Thank God (or not), he used a little humor in this presentation. Overall, I find his message uninspiring though. Religion and mindfulness coexist peacefully in my life.

    1. Monique Frigault

      I agree – mindfulness has helped me appreciate my religious aspects much more … I think he is missing a huge part of what the rest of us experience because he has closed off his mind to it … it seems to be in contradiction of mindfulness to decide something is wrong, without that curious investigation that is part of being mindful.

  28. Rose Momsen

    I so appreciated the inclusion of the questions and answers hour of this talk. This was not actually an author I’d ever heard of before, as are most of the speakers in this summit. Thanks for exposing all of us to the wider interpretations of mindfulness, and for offering a speaker who is solidly grounded in science and not religion. I found him alternately delightful and egotistically offensive. The whole combination makes me laugh!

  29. Benjamin J.

    I find it interesting, even with such intellectual genius, there are still things that can not be explained through evidence, even for an athiest, and also an amazing find towards the end reference to an organized athiest “religion” and the continued search to know more. This still pushes me back towards a religion to help explain things we may never know or fully understand.

  30. Jane Sloan

    Oh I am so glad there are others who share my befuddlement over Eckhart Tolle. Maybe I just haven’t tried or read enough of his work?
    Thank you Melli for including Sam Harris. Even though I struggled with a lot of the ‘self’ and ‘consciousness’ discussion I’m sure after watching this again the puzzle will fall into place. Not being of religious persuasion and being extremely interested in neuroscience and the universe and also deep thinking, I think I may have found my tribe!

  31. david chan

    His ideas of transcending the cluttered mind of the ego and achieving spirituality. I would posit that Flow of Dr Chiksmyhail is maybe a first level of this spirituality rung. Wonderful work. Sorry for misspelling Drs name.

  32. Anna McVeigh

    Ok, I will try to be fair and considered about this talk. I think he made some good observations and he spoke to some people very articulately. I am sure for some people his ideas resonated fully and that some people learned a great deal. I, personally, find him quite judgemental and belittling and also felt continuously that he was missing what is at the heart of spirituality. He spoke mainly about being seperate from mind and put down many beliefs and didn’t manage to capture the essence of interconnected ness, consciousness and evolution of human nature. And he made no reference to universal will or a Divine or the likes. I actually found him quite arrogant and a little closed-minded but will continue to reflect on this, and on my reaction to him.

  33. Adalia Villarreal

    good talk!, i really like it!! thank you Sam and thank you Melli!

    “Tolerance and celebration of individual differences is the fire that fuels lasting love.” – Tom Hannah”

  34. mic +clarke

    Interesting to see such a range of responses here. All Sam makes claims for is the transformative power of attention, and the larger field of consciousness is mystery. If attention is nothing other than love, this secular rationalist sounds to me as profoundly devotional. A diamond by any other name.

  35. Gillian Moon

    hmm …. interesting video – bit too much for me to take in during one sitting – stretched my mind in different ways yet found myself coming back to mindfulness and simple meditation. bit technical for me, though enjoyed the experience – thank you.

  36. vgelberg3458

    Sam is a great thinker and intellectual. He is outspoken about religion in a way that is brave and poignant. It is wonderful to see him give a lecture and to see his poise and clarity in expressing his ideas. I have read a lot of his journalism and have always appreciated his intellect and position.

  37. Maria

    I was really intrigued by the topic and since I haven’t read or heard anything from Sam Harris before I was really curious to hear what his take on this. I felt disappointed to be disappointed so early into the talk. I had to work hard to stay open and listen to be able to pick out some gems and try to understand where he was coming from and wanted to go. What made it most difficult was his judgmental and condescending attitude towards religion and religious people, and the laughter and applause with which the audience responded. As much as fundamental organized religion make me uncomfortable, pitting one faith against another, fundamentalist believers in the religion of science affect me the same. The talk was a wonderful example of the same tribal mentality he was criticising religion for played out right there and then. The We against them. Them being stupid and wrong, and Us being intelligent and right. And making straw man arguments based upon not what “the other side” is or says but your opinion of what it is and says. It made my heart sad. Especially since he seemed to have made so much research.

    Perhaps there is some merit in reaching a secular audience with teachings of mindfulness, but then there are, in my opinion, other people who are able to do that more eloquently and with respect and humbleness. Like dr Dan Siegel for example.

    Then I went to bed, listening to a youtube-talk by Lama Tsultrim Allione on the Divine Feminine (in Buddhism and in general) and it all made sense. The unbalance between the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine (in and around all of us) is so great. By placing the Masculine (consciousness) so high above the Feminine (vast emptiness) we’ve lost contact with what the Feminine is, which gives birth to and nourishes the fear of it. That’s what I saw in Sam Harris, a fear of the vast emptiness, the unexplainable, the field of potential, call it what you may, making him desperately cling to the dogmas of his religion of science. And that opened up my heart in love and compassion for him. Thank you for that.

    1. Monique Frigault

      Very nice – I hope I can be more mindful about this in time, because right now I am focused on what appears to me, to be a total lack of mindfulness from someone who can go on a stage with hundreds of atheists applauding and supporting his comments calling religious people dangerous and psychopathic.

      I feel that, like you, he can’t understand religion and because his “religion of science” is unable to explain much about religion, he mocks it and relegates it to dangerous fairy tales which control people and cause them to hurt others. Obviously, overlooking the atrocities committed by atheists to focus on the negative deeds done by some in the name of religion is not very scientific to me – should a good scientist not weigh in all factors, rather than select only those which he wishes to weigh in?

      I also feel that as a scientist, to conclude religion is wrong solely because there are so many religions out there that he feels contradict each other – that is very false logic – I am perplexed as to how he can make such a claim in all seriousness and how so many would applaud that without realising it is not a logical conclusion …

      Oh well – as I said, I hope I can eventually be more mindful about this one as you are …

    2. Kyla Ball

      “And that opened up my heart in love and compassion for him. Thank you for that.”–Well said!! We can recognize a person’s traits that rub us the wrong way but they are not a bad person. They are just like us, a human in this world trying to make their way. Often the people that rub us the “wrong” way can be the greatest teacher of patience and compassion for us.

    3. Ona Luna

      Maria, thank you for sharing those observations. There certainly is tribalism among atheists (though, of course there are countless non-vocal non-believers), and I feel that tribalism plays a big part in the survival of ideas through the centuries — whether the tribe represents a religion or another movement — say humanism or “enlightenment” (as in the Western “Age of Enlightenment). But people also respond positively and passionately to something that rings true to them. I guess that’s the easy part, huh? On the flip side, sitting with things that don’t ring true — examining them — can yield so much, too.

      Good food for thought there — about fear, clinging, and emptiness/consciousness, which I’m not convinced are masculine/feminine, or separate from one another.

  38. Jillian Flye

    I am new to mindfulness but this certainly has not put me off, although more religious approaches have, in the past, put me off a bit. In some ways this talk was a breath of fresh air, but while I do sometimes feel a need for a secular spirituality, I struggled with the lack of ‘spirit’ in the ‘secular spirituality’ as I understood it from this. There was an interesting discussion about Sam’s use of the term in the Q&A. I was interested in my feelings after first listen as I felt quite miserable. The second time less so, but taken out of my comfort zone now and then. The third time I just listened to the Q&A that helped make sense of some of the things I’d been struggling with, and I enjoyed the mind stretch, and the exploration of consciousness and free will. I feel I would need to listen a few more times to firm up my yes no and maybe responses 🙂

  39. Emily Cordes

    I loved this talk!! PArticularly enjoyed Sam’s measured approach to spirituality as a secular practice. Resonates deeply with me, I understand that some love the ideas given to them by religion, but I have simply never had any need for them. I have however, sensed the depth of spiritual experience and connection with the cosmos – without any overlaying stories or fairy tales to attribute these feelings to. Brought up agnostic, I was skeptical of meditation at first, assuming it came ladened with mysticism, religious dogma and woo. What I have found is a profound practice that helps me feel bigger than my small self yet incredibly humble in the face of our vast and indifferent universe. Miraculous, important, yet at the same time insignificant – a liberating combination.

    Thank you for this Melli!

  40. Carrie

    Sam Harris has been an idol of mine for awhile now. I have seen this before, but I could listen to him talk all day. I will yap about his ideas to anyone who will listen! Thank you so much for sharing this Melli! I am very much enjoying the summit!

  41. Jo-Anna Roberts

    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see this talk. For me, as I see with a few others here, it didn’t fit in so well with the other days. It was an especially glaring contrast with Shamash Alidina yesterday. I do prefer the interview format and as with some others I could not watch the whole Sam Harris event, partly due to it being so much longer than the perfectly portioned other days. As a psychology graduate, I didn’t think Sam Harris had that much to say that was really helpful. It felt more like just a plug for his book without Melli’s guidance. But it is good we can share our views here, honour differing opinions, and know that mindfulness can be understood in different ways.

  42. Lujain Said

    I appreciate that the speakers come from different backgrounds and offer their diverse point of views; however, I feel the compassion factor that is encompassed with mindfulness was missed with this speaker by making a mockery of those who do practice organized religion which I found to be totally disrespectful and unnecessary. He’s entitled to his own views and values and spirituality can be reached with or without religion, but felt he negated the fact that spirituality is at the essence of many organized religions and that in of itself is a practice of mindfulness for followers which helps them become more aware and grounded.

  43. Kyla Ball

    If your a science buff like me, there are lots of great FREE courses from reputable Institutions at coursera.org. In fact there are a lot of great courses there overall.

  44. Sharon Carroll

    Like others who have posted, I committed to listening to every speaker in the Mindfulness Summit. I have found every one prior to today’s to be enlightening, inspirational, and motivating. Sadly, I could tolerate listening to only about 25 minutes of Sam’s presentation, and realize it’s possible I may have missed some key nuggets. I quit listening not because I found his ideas to be totally out of left field, but because I quickly lost respect. I lost respect for three key reasons. First, Sam professes that religion is harmful because it divides humanity from itself and causes conflict. Yet he quickly makes fun of others (well-respected individuals) whose views are different from his. What divides humanity is the belief that I am right and you are wrong and not being able to take the perspective of another non-judgmentally. Isn’t mindfulness about being non-judgmental? If he had come from the stance of, I can see why those who don’t share my view have theirs, but here’s what I believe and why, I could have hung in there longer. Second, (and I’m sure I don’t say this in the exact way he did) he expounds on the mystery of the universe, that we need to ‘acknowledge that there’s more to understanding human experience than science and secular culturally generally admit.’ Yet he presents himself very sure (‘religions are false’), of what he thinks he knows. We can’t have mystery and absolute certainty at the same time. The third point that lost me is his definition of spirituality. He took a term that is used to describe something deeper than an individual’s personal human experience and changed it to serve his purposes. Spirituality is not about my personal transformation, it has to do with something bigger. Sorry, Sam, you lost me.

  45. Joyce Kramar

    Well, this is the first one I couldn’t listen to all the way through. Not because of the time, but because of his condescending attitude towards people he does not agree with. That sort of mean spiritedness is not what I’m looking to add to my life by being more mindful.

    It’s intriguing to me that he is a practicer of mindfulness, yet it seems that it has not made him any kinder or more tolerant of others. (Which many of the other speakers have envisioned when asked “what would a world where more people practiced mindfulness look like”.) Since I didn’t listen to the whole talk, I don’t know how he approaches it, but perhaps his ‘mindfulness without religion’ is a more self centered practice?

    In any case, though I don’t know his reasons for being so ugly about his fellow human beings, there’s obviously something amiss there and I feel a bit sorry for him.

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