#306 A Meditator in the Arena | Sam Harris

Ten Percent Happier
December 7, 2020
#306 A Meditator in the Arena | Sam Harris
Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

Sam Harris (no relation to me, by the way -- although I wouldn’t mind it) has had a formative impact on my contemplative development. He was one of the first “normal” (at least that’s how I computed it, back when I was still a rather judgmental skeptic) people I met who was really into meditation, which gave me a lot of courage and inspiration to pursue the practice myself. He later helped me get into my first meditation retreat with his old friend Joseph Goldstein, which was a massively important event in my life and the beginning of a deep relationship with Joseph. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sam, he is a neuroscientist, philosopher, author, podcaster, and app founder. I first heard of him in the mid-aughts, when he wrote a book called The End of Faith, which was a jeremiad against organized religion. I was surprised to learn that he had spent, cumulatively, several years on meditation retreats. He later wrote a book which touched on those subjects, called Waking Up. That is also the name of his meditation app. But while he has one foot firmly in the contemplative world, he is also very much in the arena, mixing it up on Twitter and on his wildly popular podcast, called Making Sense, with his controversial views on hot-button issues from Trump to race to Islam. Sam really believes that the future of civilization depends on our ability to have rational conversations on thorny issues. And he has a new book called Making Sense: Conversations on Consciousness, Morality, and the Future of Humanity, in which some of his podcast conversations are revised and extended. I wanted to have him on to talk about the book, and to explore with him how somebody who is so fiercely engaged in the public square uses meditation to guide and sustain him. I suspect many of you may disagree with him on key issues -- I often wrestle with his ideas quite a bit, personally -- but no matter where you stand, I think you’ll find his answers to these questions fascinating.

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