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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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Show Notes

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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. Jane MacArthur

      I think you may have misunderstood what Sam was saying. I can’t detect any arrogance within the talk – on the contrary I find Sam extremely honest and not one to simply feign niceness to dodge difficult points. His meditation on looking for self has profoundly changed my experience

  1. Joel

    I was surprised with this talk of Sam Harris. Well, Let it be! and all the best for Sam in the next steps. It is for sure that his work resonate with many humans trap in the frequency of sterile perfection and nothing against this but it is just another human limited view that of course I share as well.

    1. Michael Hoey

      I thought this was a great talk though it does require a lot of attention. But it’s nice that it was included – to me so much in the spirit of the Buddha. Maybe some of the adverse comments reflect that people are looking for a qiuick fix and so much of the mindfulness industry is so sugar coated. It doesn’t really get to the bottom of the problem of human sufferng because the wisdom and ethical components of the Buddha’s teachings are sidelined. They require hard work and thought, which Sam has clearly applied with his very fine mind.

  2. Robin Williams

    A fine example of EGO giving a great performance. To incude Sam Harris at this mid point of the summit is perfect. After being uplifted by all the other speakers, we are challenged to sit with discomfort while keeping an open heart of compassion.

    1. Ona Luna

      Or attachment to a belief system, which I understand. But — just as we can suspend disbelief to enjoy a movie or a play, why not approach Sam’s talk that way?
      In my limited experience, this was the most profound session on mindfulness that I’ve encountered. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to watch and share!

      1. Cerys

        Yes, Ona, great points. I actually think it took a fair amount of employing mindfulness to attend to the presentation and not follow my own reactive thoughts. I fully understand the concept of triggering and therefore respect why some might opt not to continue through to the end. But I’m glad I pushed thru bc the main part relating to mindfulness happened fairly well into the presentation, and in the q&a was a question not dissimilar to the one Melli is asking at the end of all her interviews. Dropping out too soon I would have missed all that. I agree – grateful to learn and share too.

  3. Ona Luna

    I loved this talk. In fact, I find the whole session — lecture and Q&A — the most comprehensive talk on mindfulness that I’ve encountered so far. Thank you so much for including it.

    1. Kate

      I loved Sam Harris’ talk as well. I enjoyed hearing his thinking process. His approach was challenging; I had to pay attention to the stream of consciousness and verbal tics. I had to listen within the space of my disagreements with ideas that he appears to be so certain about. In fact, his certainty amused and annoyed me. I look forward to reading his book to see how he sustains his argument about spirituality and religion. It was the most enjoyable segment of this summit – which has been fabulous already.

  4. Jessy Vergel

    I had a very difficult time sitting through this- I think he’s brilliant, but I had a very negative visceral reaction towards him, not sure if I was picking up arrogance or what, kind of the antithesis of mindfulness in any case:( I respect science, but it can’t explain everything- some things you just “feel” and “know” and can’t be concrete or factual about, such as joy, faith and love. Not everything can be reduced to a formula or explained away, that’s what makes life both challenging and exciting. I also have many issues with religion but I find it disrespectful of Agnostics/Atheists to always bash people with differing views. The Q & A in this video was particularly challenging for me, particularly when he decides to speak for the “educated” community as well as the first audience member that spoke, but in my opinion, said absolutely nothing at all:( I think my biggest issue is that Mr Harris uses science and logic to explain everything, but when he hits a roadblock (the creation of the universe, etc) it’s considered a “mystery” . In my opinion that’s where faith, love and dare I say God come into play…

    I do want to think Melli for her beautiful work in organizing this- I have found all the other speakers so far, particularly Cornfield and Sham ash to exude love and light and truly embody what I think and feel Mindfulness to be:) thank you for a great Summit!

    1. Mary Burgess

      “… some things you just ‘feel’ and ‘know'” … “Mr. Harris uses science and logic to explain everything but when he hits a road block it’s considered ‘mystery’.

      Unfortunately (or fortunately), science has shown us how unreliable our ‘feelings’ and intuitional ‘knowing’ really are. Due to evolutionary conditioning, humans tend to need to ‘know’ how things work and often create answers (wrong a majority of the time) where no answers are found. This is the role religion plays. The problem with this is religion makes extraordinary claims about the most important topics to us – life and death. What evidence supports these claims? “Faith”, “Intuition”, and “Feelings”. The thousands of sects of different religions provides plenty of support that these are nothing more than fearful manmade endeavors trying to find answers that are, at this moment, impossible to come to.

      This connects to your second quote above. Of course when you don’t have direct experience of empirical data you hit a road block. And it only makes sense to call it mystery (what else would you call it). Clearly the ‘arrogant’ step is to hit the road block and then claim you ‘know’ the answers just beyond this road block – God in this case. There are so many unintended consequences that cause lots of suffering with this mindset (don’t have time to spell them all out here). This is why Harris’ talk is so important.

      It’s fantastic that you can have truly transformative experiences, dare I say spiritual, without lying to your children on how the universe works and what happens after we die – we simply don’t know.

      Using values of consistency, honesty, curiosity, hard work, and transparency, science, generation after generation, pushes that roadblock further into the depths of mystery. Rather than having a mindset of already judging and having the answers, the proper scientist dwells in curiosity carefully observing the experience around it. The majority of definitions on mindfulness I’ve heard in this summit align nicely to this attitude of inquiry; Non-judgmental, open, and dwelling in the mystery of existence ready to be with whatever truly is.

      Don’t want to ruffle feathers… just thought your comment missed a few points that were worth addressing.

    2. Thea Davison

      I agree with what you have said…I respect others opinions/beliefs about religion/spirituality… I often feel that agnostics/antheists are not respecting of those with faith. I am not aligned to a particular religion, am educated and enjoy discussing the ‘mystery’ of life – I don’t like it implied that because I entertain the possibility of the beliefs in our religions of the world that this makes me somehow lesser…not in the scientific, reasoning ‘group’. Someone else also talked about a impression of ego and arrogance with Sam Harris – this comes across strongly to me. However, as with others here I am glad that this talk is included in the Mindfulness summit. I always welcome hearing something. that stimulates and challenges

    3. Elaine Williams

      Thank you Jessy Vergel for your expression of Sam Harris’s talk. I share that same visceral dislike of him. We are all very smart, some of us are very educated, but when someone speaks condescendingly and incoherently and tries to pass it off as brilliant, we can see right through it. Sam thinks much too highly of himself. I wish him the best. His journey is long and arduous

  5. Jeffrey Paczkowski

    Thank you so much for including Sam Harris. It really adds credibility to the summit for me. I jokingly call myself an atheist Buddhist to describe my spiritual beliefs as many of my friends do also. Mindfulness doesn’t necessarily equal religion or even spirituality. Thank you for including a rational and secular presentation on mindfulness in the summit.

    1. Freida Maverick

      There is secular Buddhism, probably the most-well known secular Buddhist is Stephen Batchelor. I would love to see a conversation between Sam Harris and Stephen Batchelor.

  6. Jeffrey Paczkowski

    It’s very interesting for me to read through the comments and see all the negative comments. Especially the comments in which people are disturbed by the idea that Sam Harris is full of ego. I can’t help but think what person thinks so highly of themselves that they can profess to see into a persons heart and discern whether they are selfless or full of ego. What magic do they possess to be able to read a persons entire psychological make up from a two hour video.

  7. Carmen Pereira

    I didn’t listen to the whole talk but enough to wonder about the relevance of arguing against religion. Is he not guilty of what he accuses religious people of doing – the “I am right; you are wrong” trap? In the best teaching moments, something I learned in life and while studying to be a teacher, the positive is emphasized, not the negative. Instead of saying religion is wrong and bad, maybe we can ask how can mindfulness become more embodied by all of us, including religious people. And is this already happening? I know that many religious people have jumped on the bandwagon and practice yoga, tai chi, meditation, alternative medicine, organic food, etc. Why not foresee a world of mindful Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.? Is compassion and mindful awareness antithetical to religion?

      1. Sierra Carter

        Yes, but not limited to Buddhism. There is Daoism and other camps that train in mindfulness, and we can all be mindful and believe in a certain creation story. Carmen seems to be making that point.

        1. Kyla Ball

          Yes it is part of many wisdom traditions. I might have misunderstood when Carmen included it in the religions jumping on the mindfulness bandwagon. I was just pointing out it was already there to begin with.

    1. Sierra Carter

      Agreed. No offense was taken but the content seems more appropriate for Ted Talks, – the juxtaposition of spirituality and religion. However, I can certainly see why many are offended, – the tone and some choice words. You leave feeling empty, comfort in nothing. This is the catch 22 of Atheism and it’s a distraction to talk about it here.

    2. Mary Burgess

      Unfortunate. The more he gets into his talk the more he gets into cutting through the illusion of self.

      To answer your question, when you get down to it, yes mindful awareness is antithetical to religion. Why? Religion comes with a bundle of unjustifiable beliefs people cling to for utility. Death is scary, and believing in a ready made story that has wonderful answers can put the thought of our mortality at ease for a moment. The problem is, from what I can tell, it comes at the cost of lying to ourselves and loved ones, clinging to these lies, and believing that the voice in our head just might be ‘God’ and not the thoughts that they’ve always been.

      All of this seems to run counter to what mindfulness asks of us.

      1. Carmen Pereira

        It is my understanding that mindfulness is objective, present moment awareness of what is occurring outside of and inside us. Mindful living is possible for anyone, religious or not. Summit speakers have said that mindfulness can nurture a spiritual life. For those that are religious, it can nurture their spiritual/religious life.

    3. Janis Dehler

      Thanks Carmen for your comments. I really worked to stay with Sam. I found him interesting in the midst of so many other types of personalities. Yes, I felt discomfort at times but more in an inquisitive way. Sam was very thought provoking. You articulate very well some of my discomfort. I found him polarizing in the right/wrong, good/bad arena. Psychic phenomena may not be able to be scientifically proved but is intuition which is a term more acceptable but really a close relative? The beauty of the summit is such a variety of stories, personalities, viewpoints and areas of focus. Thanks, Melli!!

  8. Genevieve

    For me this talk had a few very powerful messages. One was that many terrible things are done in the name of religions, and by those who seek to avoid being present with themselves by attaching themselves to the beautiful stories that religions provide. I love the power of story, and I can also see how something in this method of self-soothing can lead people to terrible deeds when measured by the simple assessment of – is it kind to my neighbours and kind to the planet.

    Another message I took from Sam’s talk is that mindfulness can cultivate a sense of awe that does not require a story, and in fact happens best in the absence of stories/religions/meaning.

    Mindfulness, from Buddhism, allows for the human to be in love with being alive and part of the cosmos, without cultivating narratives that can include violence to others.

    And as a side note, Sam’s delivery is understood in the academic and philosophical world not as egotistic, but simply offering your considered opinion. The assumption with this style of communication is that anyone who has the vocabulary (because they’ve been rigorously investigating, as philosophers do, the same field of interest) to join in the conversation will, usually in the form of a deeply considered written piece. Or talk.

    I am so glad this was included in the summit. His message to me – we need mindfulness, not religion, to make the world a better place.

  9. Nina Matzat

    Sam Harris is incredible. Not uncontroversal, for sure, but he’s not supposed to be. I realize sometimes, when I listen to him (he has famously talked about religiion in the past) that its often on the edge of what I am able to digest cognitively and intellectually, haha. But I enjoy it massively. Thanks for this great great talk, what a ton of info to digest, love love love it! Will watch or read it again.

  10. liza waller

    I found this talk disrespectful and arrogant . Even offensive at times. He comes across just as dogmatic as those he says he finds ‘ridiculous’ in their religious beliefs. Of course he is entitled to his views but I am surprised and somewhat disapppointed he was given air time at this Summit – which presumably attracts many of us from all walks of life and spiritual and yes even religious perspectives. When I hear teachers like Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach I welcome their gentleness and non judgementalism and thier

  11. Helena Saray

    Listened to the entire monologue by Sam Harris, for me it was full of contradictions… not worth going into, it would only be my opinion… his approach seemed to me that he was ALL mind/mental. For me, brilliant minds, especially “mindful” also connect to the heart.

    More reason why I have been enjoying the dialog/engagement of Melli and speakers the most; the interviewer can interject with questions and thoughts.

    1. Helena Saray

      …Also, I understand the value of including such a group of diverse speakers in this summit; not knowing this audience with our level of experiences and the path that any of us may be on with our individual backgrounds, our education, and our understanding makes it more challenging to create such a summit. Unless we are familiar with a given speaker, each day has a nice surprise element to it!

      What’s also nice about this free submit is that we are a diverse group of people participating as well… which I think is the reason for such opposing opinions with respect.

      A continuous thank you Melli and Team; this is quite a collection of speakers to listen to regardless if we agree or disagree with the speakers and for us having the opportunity to voice it! Thank you.

      1. Sheryl Garner

        I have not posted here, although I have on Facebook. I just want to add my words here. Helena, your words so resonate with me. The word awe seems so overused, but in this particular case, I can think of no other for my thoughts about Melli and Team and the Mindfulness Summit. It has completely reinforced my first goal, to resume my formal meditation practice daily. BUT, it has provided an opportunity to hear the wisdom of such a variety of speakers, methods, practices, thoughts, and it has been so well planned, I really am just in awe. As I wrote to a friend today:
        The quality and diversity of speakers is amazing, addressing all sorts of lifestyle issues related to mindfulness. I’ve listened to every one, and look forward to hearing each one every day. Some resonate more than others, of course. Their commonality, though, is mindfulness. Tonight is Jon Kabat Zinn. The way the speakers have been organized in terms of which speaker on what day has been done so well that I feel like I’m on the edge of my chair each night to see what comes next.

        My very deepest appreciation and thanks for giving me one of the most wonderful gifts of my life.

        1. Sheryl Garner

          I must be so in awe I confused Jon Kabat Zinn with Jack Kornfield. And, I have a slightly different perspective of Sam Harris than Helen – I think his contribution was not only great, but necessary. Some of his discussion on consciousness admittedly was difficult for me to follow.

          I find no contradiction in his observations about the mind and consciousness in mindfulness and a relationship to the heart and compassion.

  12. Tucker Rogers

    Mindfulness: “you don’t have to believe anything on insufficient evidence”…..this is the most compelling statement from from a skeptic to support that mindfulness, complete attention to your surroundings with non attachment, leads to a transformative moment and/or series of them…,,,Spirituality?

  13. Gordon Reynaud

    My question. Does Mr. Harris make a distinction between emotion, feelings and thinking? If so what are they and how do they apply to mindfulness meditation? Do I separate the fear I feel when I am about to be mugged with the fear I feel about the possibility of being mugged?

  14. Kelly

    I am actually a little shocked to see Sam Harris on the list of speakers for this summit. He has some very strong positions about religion that include the possibility that some people should be killed for what they believe, if their belief is deemed dangerous enough (see his positions on Islam). Take a look at his Wikipedia page for some extensive coverage of his words and rebuttals from others.

    One of the big takeaways I have been getting from this summit is how kindness, peace and compassion are the fruits of mindfulness. I will listen to this talk because Sam Harris tends to be an interesting speaker but I certainly do NOT see him as representative of a mindful non-theist in the sense of what I aspire to be. Much of his language targets practitioners of Islam with provocative and dangerous language. I don’t know what the appropriate solution or response is to violence done in the name of any belief or position (religious or otherwise). I do know that I want my mindful practices to lead to empathizing with the suffering of others (ex. people living in desperate conditions in war-torn countries) and seeing the goodness in each human being, however flawed we may be. Including you too, I guess, Sam. 😉

  15. Cerys

    In the grip of an intense migraine, I found it somewhat difficult to process some of Mr. Harris’ constructs. But it seems to me Mindfulness has been promoted as a universal concept spacious enough to include practitioners across many spectrums. It’s not uncommon for religiously-grounded mindfulness instructors to comment on mindfulness from the canon of their religious traditions. It was interesting to consider it from the viewpoint of a secular/skeptic lecturer and his audiences. I found it intriguing, especially the questions that struggled with the prospect of detaching from the cognitive processing that defines their Ideal. For some, elevation of thinking processes and vehement rejection of anything non-secular seemed so dear it rivaled a religious devotion. I’m young in this practice and get impatient myself, so I chuckled hearing the questions about possibly speeding up the process through technology/pharmacology. Every speaker has potential to evoke a felt response – from immediate connection to rejection, from apathy to zeal – so I consider it my choice who to listen to with an open heart, and who to approach more cautiously (or in the extreme case ignore). I didn’t necessarily connect with this selection’s style or all of its content. But it was definitely a fresh perspective. I’m glad this offering was part of the Summit. Thanks!

  16. latoya seawood

    I could not get through this one. I was mindful of my limitations. Everyone is entitled to their opinion so nothing against Sam but I can identify my own triggers and enjoy my peace.

  17. Diane E+Baumer

    Thank you for including Sam Harris in the Summit. I listen to him and read all of his work and enjoy him immensely. For those who hear arrogance in his words, I hope you will give him another chance. He is a philosopher and, knowing a couple of philosophers myself on a personal basis, this is the way they talk. They are passionate about learning and understanding subjects most of us wouldn’t spend the time to even think about, and they are well-read and often highly educated. Sam’s books are really good and leave the reader with a lot to think about.

    1. Erika

      That seems very divisive! I can’t say he didn’t trigger me…I prefer a more gentle, compassionate and inclusive approach. Which, from my understanding, is what God is all about, no?

  18. Doris Hocevar

    A fascinating presentation! When Sam Harris began discussing the idea of being lost in thought… “thinking without knowing you are thinking… which gives rise to the idea that you are separate from your self.” Made me think of Eckhart Tolle, who also, imparts the idea that we are consciousness “the one who sees the seeing, that’s you.” Which led me to the idea of non-duality. Which made me think of Lothar Schafer, Peter Russell, Steve Taylor, Marianne Williamson, Neale Donald Walsch, Ken Wilbur, Carl Jung… They all say the same thing perhaps using some different language but the essence is there. It’s an exciting topic and I enjoyed the presentation as it rang true for me!
    The only constructive feedback I would offer to Mr. Harris is to be more ‘mindful’ in his approach when referring to religions and others beliefs, regardless. Kind attention will impart kindness and openness in the message.
    Thank you Melle to you and your team for bringing this very thought provoking, eye opening and mind blowing discussion front and centre!

    May all Beings be at ease.

  19. Tina Wells

    I am both a scientist and a spiritualist with experience of finding peace inside of myself through practicing and teaching a Mindful Moving Meditation called T’ai Chi Chih®. I remember becoming conscious of my Consciousness when I was very young (about 3 yrs old). I was aware of my own feeling of being ‘alive’ – my heart beating & my breath keeping me alive. I suppose this also coincided with developing my illusion of self (that I was me ad me alone) and yet it was certainly a truth that I could only ‘feel’ my own ‘aliveness’ not others experience of life (and yet I could see that they were clearly ‘alive’ and kicking!).So this was where I suspect my curiosity was born too and my natural inclination towards scientific investigation into understanding the underlying ‘what was making me alive and giving me this experience?’ I had a feeling (notice not a thought) that it was something underlying the walking, talking, amazing body and wanted to know more.

    Well I pretty much forgot all about that early realisation of something beyond and underlying my experience of aliveness until I was taking A Levels in Science. It was the Chemistry lecturer who talked about those elements which are common to all organic matter at the biochemical level – Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen etc.. And he said that the difference between the table (once a living tree) and ourselves was the way in which these fundamental elements of life were configured and held together by Energy bonds ( so I suspected that the bonds were broken or maybe changed when death occurred?). Then the Physics lecturer tells us that the one thing that cannot be destroyed in the universe is Energy (so this energy I concluded was the key to life). Well these statements were Eureka ‘Waking-Up’ moments for me as I was re-connecting with what I’d always known but had never heard in words. Of course, this was back in the 1970s & these statements and my reasoning maybe well out-of-date but I think the fundamental connection with Energy still holds true – at least it does in my current day experience with mindfully connecting with the place of peace and wisdom in those present moments devoid of my(Self)! Getting the ‘My’ and the ‘I’ out of the way and connecting with the Natural World in my moving meditation practice (where the mind is focused in the soles of the feet), I find an easy and natural way of experiencing present moment awareness and ‘Serenity in the Midst of Activity’. An energy practice like T’ai Chi Chih® circulates & balances your internal energy, but in my case it is conscious awareness of the inter-connectedness of all living things through linking to the energy of nature via the solid ground that is the key to experiencing mindfulness with ease. I have always found that if you can find a simple, non-striving way to explain or experience something first-hand, then you will discover less resistance in both the body & the mind to sustain that idea of practice. I believe using science to explore our understanding of Energy more deeply and developing our practice of Mindfulness (in whatever form works for us as individuals) to experience first-hand the mystery of true higher wisdom, we will get closer to experiencing and understanding the higher power or ‘spirit’ which is of course the common link for all Spiritual and Religious practices. For a short video about T’ai Chi Chih® go to https://www.facebook.com/Tai-Chi-Chih-Oxford-UK-355018158041650/ and to find a teacher near you go to http://www.taichichih.org.

  20. Megan Spencer

    This was amazing. Thank you – great timing for this talk. What a speaker – so articulate, great food for thought, incredibly progressive, open-minded, open-hearted ‘thinking’.. I am strapping myself to that rocket!
    (I’m guessing Ben Stiller will be playing the part of Sam Harris in the biopic..? ; )

  21. Angela bradburn

    I really enjoyed this talk. I hope people who found it uncomfortable find a way to appreciate the truth he conveys. I hope you can see yourself to understand why you feel the way you do. Truth speed.

  22. alexandra kedrock

    excellent. Best yet. Mindfulness as a pathway to consciousness in every moment transcending stories and being present to Awe and “reverence for the ordinary” Loved the brain science and his attempts at helping us learn to go to the space before thought.

  23. Anne

    I concur unequivocally with Sam Harris’ knowing that ‘spirituality’ (for want of a better word) exists beyond any need of Religion; I’ve known this for all of 4 or 5 of my 6 decades on earth, and yet I have a strong sense of self, in terms of self-consciousness (as in wanting to be invisible). In other words, it does not seem to me that transcending self needs to be a prerequisite for acquiring ‘spirituality’.
    I think the former, in my case, is as a result of brainwashing, hard-wiring in the brain, as is racism, sexism, religion etc to others. In other words, achieving that ‘spiritual’ state through meditation (or some such) will transcend any hard-wired lies, be they religion, a false sense of self, racism, etc.

  24. Lena Sheffield

    I probably paid more attention to Sam’s presentation than the others because it wasn’t familiar and challenged my automatic thoughts. Usually when I listen to mindfulness talks I’m nodding in agreement but Sam Harris did not resonate well. Believing there are no coincidences, his perspective came at a good (client struggling with some experiences that Sam spoke about). I can accept that he has a different point of view but I thought he made some condesending comments. Just because he doesn’t believe or want to believe in the power of the metaphors of religious teachings, I was disappointed that he criticized those who do. Thank you for including this perspective in the summit because it broadens my knowledge and awareness. He was pretty funny at times. Personally, finding the scientific truth isn’t always so important. I find comfort in the “stories” and can still them from reality.

  25. Chris Hunter

    interesting stuff – I would have liked to hear Sams thoughts on mindfulness as it is currently being packaged and sold to us – meaning it is disconnected from its spiritual basis and the 8 fold path – the previous talk with a neuroscientist clarified that the research that has been done so far that shows any sort of correlation between changes in the brain and meditation has been done on long term meditators usually lamas or Yogis that are totally absorbed in their spiritual path and usually living outside of the myriad of competing demands and stress of a normal life – therefore it seems what we are being sold here is more a sort of McMindfulness a drive through of sorts to keep us producing and not complaining.

  26. Gary Basset

    A very well educated man, but I found his speech lacking in the kindness of the speakers that I admire most, and his assertion that people who don’t agree with him are somehow ‘crazy’ led me to mindfully turn him off. It shows me that I still have some way to go in embracing this kind of attitude with compassion and tolerance, and it has strengthened my belief that true mindfulness can be so much more than just relaxation techniques for rational minds.

  27. Robert

    Thank you for introducing me to Sam Harris. I think it’s terrific that he has been included in the summit, and I found his lecture to be enlightening, inspiring, and supportive of my own difficult struggle to extract what he calls spiritualism from the dogma, and doctrine, of organized religion. As a vipassana mediator for many years who regularly reads from the Tipitaka, practices metta, and follows five precepts, but struggles with the concept of Devas and other elements of the ‘religious’ aspects of Buddhism, it’s helpful to hear his point of view.

  28. Linda Horton

    Good, clear explanation of mindfulness. Yet claims all religion posits the “Need for some measure of myth and irrationality” – not, for example (in his sense of the words, anyway), Unitarian Universalism, nor necessarily the liberal versions of a number of traditions. Agnostic though I may be, I find this too sweeping a generalization. Most great spiritual teachers did not encourage divisive sectarianism. Their teachings were, and are, hijacked by tribalism, and I agree that certainly needs to be challenged. But Buddhism is not the only tradition that carries gems of insight and wisdom that can build bridges rather than divisiveness, and can be open to new knowledge.

  29. mary barchiesi

    Sam is an academic and a gifted intellect. Given by the number of posts, I would say he did his job which was to make us think, question, discuss, challenge and learn. What we choose to bellieve is our choice. Mindfulness encourages us to respect and value others beliefs, research, opinions and learnings
    In my opinion, we have much to learn from Sam regardless of our religious beliefs.
    Love to learn!

  30. Joanne MccOMBE

    did not like his cynicism and jokes which have him be intolerant to people who live a good life and do have faith and do not need his intonation that we are imbeciles for embracing a deep faith.

  31. Jude

    Maybe I need to attend more… But I found this wrapped in jargon, rhetoric and getting himself wrapped up in his opinions, his intuition, his ideas.. That he ever claims to have defeated Noam Chomsky makes me think he needs to take a break from his ego.. Maybe he works for some and clearly he does. Good luck with that.

  32. Christopher.Chevalier

    I found this so much better than the interview mode of most of the other days of the summit. Allows the speaker to explain without interruption for an hour and the Q&A allowed for interaction afterwards. He was explaining the very profound concept of consciousness and did it very very well.

  33. karen glass

    sam harris speaks concisely, wisely, and with out new age spirituality dogma. this has been the best mindfulness speaker so far.
    he is the most clear and effective speaker i have heard in a very long time. i admire his straightforwardness about our contemporary knowledge of spirituality and consciousness, and his respect for the mysticism of the consciousness yet to be explored.

  34. Iija Venables

    Thank you Sam Harris, Melli and all the other speakers for a great summit. I am being educated, as well as challenged to become more aware of myself , others and the diverse world views which are being presented here. I understand mindfulness as a way of ‘becoming aware’ in a kind compassionate way that enhances our ability to tolerate, understand and respect the difference and the uniqueness of all beings/being, including the belief systems that each and everyone of us chooses,.. to make sense of the wonders of our existence as it’s being experienced in the here and now. ( apologies for the length of my sentence )
    I really appreciate Sam’s point of view as one in the million and fully support him having this space in the summit, thanks. May we all have the platform and the freedom of speech to express our uniqueness and wonder.

  35. Lujain Said

    I have to respectfully disagree with those that say that mindful awareness is antithetical to religion. I think that it goes both ways in the sense that religion and it’s practices pushes me to be more mindful and that mindfulness allows me to better practice my religion. When it comes to the five daily prayers, it forces me to stop whatever I’m doing for a moment of mindfulness to pray to God, seek peace and solace, and then go about my day with a more stress-free and focused approach.

  36. Stacia

    In this 2 hour experience there were three moments that stood out to me: 1) Watching Sam’s body and facial expressions change when he talked about his baby girl, 2) When Sam gave appreciation to his wife for editing his work, and 3) When the audience member described his experience of standing on top of a mountain and feeling a sense of awe.

    In these moments, I found these people soften into themselves and into their experiences. Their harshness and thinking minds fell away.

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