A Day of Reckoning – 3 – Sam Harris – Meditation Workshop


okay well and now for something completely different so just to get a sense of who I’m talking to here how many of you have a meditation practice how many of you have never meditated okay interesting an unsolvable problem okay okay so I’m going to the meditation that I’m going to introduce to you is generically described as mindfulness meditation and there are many different types of meditation there are certainly different ways to teach mindfulness the great thing about mindfulness it’s it’s originally a Buddhist practice it has analogs and other traditions but the great thing about mindfulness as taught by Buddhists and usually tera vaada Buddhists that the kinds of first school of Buddhism that you find in Thailand and Burma and sri lanka is that there really is no artifice associated with it that’s there’s no iconography there are no necessary religious beliefs you don’t have to be interested in even in the Buddha you know it’s just it is a as a practice it’s perfectly designed for export into a secular context and that’s why mindfulness uniquely is is being studied in neuroscience labs and psychology labs as a as a tool and it’s a so it’s a very simple practice there’s nothing there’s nothing unless that people use which is TM it’s not a TM as a mantra based practice so you’re reciting a you know a Sanskrit phrase in your head that you’re you’re concentrating it on mindfulness you doesn’t have anything like that so there’s there’s nothing you don’t know there’s no there’s no evidence you’re doing anything that has come from another culture it really is just a matter of paying close attention to what it’s like to be you and it’s very strange that this is a breakthrough at all or that this has to be imported into our culture at all because again it’s just paying attention but for some strange reason which I think has a lot to do with the influence of judeo-christian religion and the Abrahamic religion in the West we never figured out that introspection was a viable paradigm for doing much of anything useful around the time of William James psychologist and and Western scientists were trying to get introspection up on its feet and very quickly discovered that there was very little to see of interest when you looked inside you couldn’t even notice that you have a brain much less into it what that brain was doing and so that the mind as a psychology became a science it became obvious that the mind has a kind of structure that can’t be inspected from the first-person side and that if you wanted a viable science of the mind you’d have to find some third-person way to study it and so introspection was more or less shelved as a just a dead end intellectually and this is unfortunate because it’s far from being a dead end it is the what I’m about to teach you is without question the most important thing I’ve ever learned in my life right and I had to go to the east essentially to learn it it’s the most important tool psychologically I’ve ever learned it’s the most in some ways the most important tool ethically and it is well while I can’t do everything of interest intellectually with respect to confirming anything one way or the other about the nature of the human mind it can do a lot there are many things you can discover about your mind through introspection that align perfectly with what we have every reason to believe is true about the mind through third person method methods like neuroscience or or Western psychological science so I’m gonna talk for a little bit while I teach you to meditate now it’s kind of intersperse meditation instruction with some more talking and we’ll sort of kind of go in and out of practicing and and considering this matter and I’ll leave a lot of time for Q&A because I’m sure there’ll be some questions so to begin just you sit a little straighter than you may be naturally this is the time of day we’re falling asleep is is the enemy and you might just gently close your eyes and just take a few deep breaths I just feel the weight of your body resting on your seat feel the heaviness pressure he were cold and the moment you notice that you’re thinking just come back to the raw sensation of sitting here see if you can feel your body closely enough just the raw sensations so as to surrender the image you have of its shape so if you can let it resolve itself into a cloud of sensation so that you don’t feel a knee or a hand or a shoulder or a back just feel points of sensation arising and passing away I’ll also bring your attention to the sounds in the room just let your mind rest as this open space in which sound and sensation continually appear okay well now you can open your eyes and I just want to reflect on what we just did there I mean first notice the sense that something has changed when you open your eyes so you’re like your eyes were closed you felt like you were in your head paying attention to sensations in the body and sound and now we’ve opened our eyes and we’re all back in the world together this is a kind of illusion the this the world you see with your open eyes is also the same place you were feeling sensations and hearing sounds this is this the only place you can notice anything is this space of consciousness and for those who don’t know how to meditate who have never learned this capacity for mindfulness the normal experience the experience we all have been led to expect as to be compatible with our psychological health and our functioning as human beings is to be thinking more or less every minute of our lives and telling ourselves a story about our experience remembering the past anticipating the future worrying over something that just happened or may yet happen regretting something that just happened forming various goals in mind and seeking them feeling desires arise and feeling no alternative but to seek to gratify them and all of this is being mediated by thought in this space of consciousness and then we we fall helplessly asleep each night and then get up the next day and do it again or we don’t fall asleep each night because we’re so busy thinking about what just happened or what may yet happen and this did the degree to which thought is structuring our experience in each moment and creating our emotional lives of creating our reactions everything is very hard to notice because we’ve never noticed thoughts themselves arrives as objects and consciousness we’re identified with each next thought that appears and so the first thing you encounter when you try to meditate and for the longest time this is the this is the the great obstacle to meditation is that it’s so damn hard to pay attention to anything because you’re thinking every moment of the day so and and these thoughts sneak up on you you think well I’m supposed to be meditating here okay so I’m gonna pay attention to my body he just said notice the sensations in the body and okay now we’re some paying attention of sounds okay but now why am I doing this well and your head yet the conversation continues even while you’re you’re trying to just do this very simple thing of noticing sensation in your body or noticing ambient sounds and mindfulness is the tool by which you can break that spell and the way this happens ultimately is you peak you begin to pay close enough attention to raw sensation that there are periods where you’re you’re deeply connecting with just what it’s like to feel the sensation of vibration say or to clearly hear a sound and pinch upon your eardrum without for that brief span be having it it occurred through the veil of thought and when that when you get a little bit of concentration in that regard then you can begin to notice thoughts themselves arise as objects in consciousness just like you can hear the sound of my voice you’ll hear the sound of your own voice in your head or you’ll see an image arise and then the difference that this introduces a very powerful and important difference in your conscious life the difference between noticing a thought as a thought and being identified with a thought because you don’t you you haven’t noticed it arise as an object in consciousness and so and the difference between being identified with thought and being mindful of it is total the difference is one in the first case you are you helplessly live out the implications of the next thought if the next thought is an angry thought or a thought of you know self judgment or thought of worry well then that is you for the for as long as that that train continues right because one thought engenders another and and and creates you know if you have an angry thought if you if you remember some conversation you had that was incredibly frustrated and you’re angry at somebody and that sneaks up on you and you’re you’re you’re not aware of it as an object in consciousness you become angry all over again and then you start thinking of all the things you should have said it would have said it will send it next time and again this is all a conversation you’re having with yourself right which it doesn’t make a lot of sense you know you you remember the conversation and yet you’re rehearsing it to yourself and you and there’s apparently no capacity to get bored with the things we say to ourselves like if I was telling you the same thing over and over again you know on the third or fourth time you would say what does he have brain damage why is he saying that’s over and over again but we if you pay attention you’ll you will say the same thing over and over again to yourself you’ll never detect that you’re in the presence of the most boring person in the world so a capacity to be mindful allows it gives you a choice to a you it is actually true to say that you at that point can decide well how long do I want to stay angry for now if you if you if you can’t be mindful well then you’re just you’ll be as angular you’ll be angry for as long as you’ll be angry and you’ll do all the things that anger will seem to dictate you do you know you’ll you’ll make the phone call or send the email or have that conversation and you really don’t have any choice whereas if you if you can just notice thoughts arise and emotions arise and and let them play out their half-life which is very very short it’s actually impossible to stay angry or fearful for more than a few moments without resurrecting it again with more thought that you aren’t noticing so it really is it can become the difference between being angry all day long and being angry for ten seconds right which is in terms of the effect on your life and your relationships it’s just it’s an enormous difference so in mind so mindfulness which I’m introducing now is a tool by which you can make that choice so having said a little more about it I’d like you to close your eyes again and just pay attention to the sensation of gravity pulling you into your seat and then notice the feeling of breathing notice the breath wherever you fight you feel it most clearly either at the tip of the nose or the rising of your chest or abdomen just pick one spot and feel the next inhalation from the moment it appears to the moment it stops and then the exhalation and there’s no need to control the breath just let it come however it comes it can be shallow it can be deep can be slow or fast and as you notice the sensations of breathing also notice all those moments where you’re perceiving something else like a sound or sensation elsewhere in the body just let everything that appears articulate this space of conscious awareness everything is just announcing the fact of consciousness in this moment and the moment you notice that you’re thinking just notice the thought itself whether it’s an image or the sound of language what happens to it where does the thought go when it disappears and as we begin to train in this practice it becomes obvious very quickly that nothing is outside of it so there’s nothing you could notice that’s not an appropriate object of mindfulness so for instance if any mood or emotion is present even the feeling of sleepiness or restlessness you can take that – as an object of awareness just what is sleepiness where do you feel it in your face the goal here is to pay close enough attention to anything that appears in consciousness to get past the conceptual layer the thoughts you have about it and just naked ly feel it or observe it as it is as energy in the body as an image it’s natural to feel that you’re paying attention from someplace that there’s a center to consciousness very likely in your head most of us feel like we’re behind our eyes and that attention is being pointed at other objects like the breath or sounds or sensations in the body from this place in the head but pay more attention to that okay the feeling of having a head this is also just a sensation that’s appearing in consciousness everything you can notice sensations in the body the breath the sensation of having a face or a head all this is appearing in this open space so as an exercise here as you continue to notice sounds and sensations I want you to consciously think a thought I want you to think about something that is bothering you or worrying you something maybe in the future that you’re anxious about something in the past that you don’t feel very good about bring something to mind that you don’t like and just notice the mechanics of this first of all what is this thing this thought it’s this intangible appearance in consciousness it’s an image and how is it that it Kindles this emotion whatever it is anxiety doubt annoyance pay close attention to all of this as a change in is that the energy of experience and I’ll bring your attention back to the feeling of just sitting and the sensation of breathing now I want you to think of somebody we love buddy who you have a an uncomplicated relationship with just imagine that person incredibly happy the happiest you’ve ever seen them imagine this person with a big smile on his or her face and just notice how that changes something about the character of your mind notice that change in state and notice that to subside and the moment you notice that you’ve wandered off into thought just come back as though it were the first moment of this practice without judgment just relax back into perceiving raw sensation the feeling of breathing each next sound okay now gently open your eyes and just stare into the space in front of you just notice that this field of color and shadow is also an appearance in consciousness with your eyes open you can still hear sounds and feel sensations in your body and this visual field is not outside of you it’s not outside of your mind it’s not in any sense outside of consciousness and again it is the same place where you’re thinking and feeling and there ways to see that for instance you can superimpose a thought on your visual field I’m just picture a Sydney Opera House in miniature in front of you just flash that image as though you had a model of it something appears in that space and that is the the same space in which your visual field is appearing so we’re just gonna do this for let’s say two more minutes and for these last two minutes just begin again as though this were the first moment let’s rest your mind wide open simply be the space in which sounds and sensations thoughts and emotions appear if your eyes are open notice that your visual field is shimmering with its own kind of iridescent for the space in front of whatever in front of whatever you’re looking at looks like something that you see that space there’s a quality of life there’s change in that space now briefly close your eyes and stare into the darkness of your closed eyes notice that it’s not so dark it too is shimmering your visual field is there all the while with your eyes closed okay well I think I want to go to questions now on the assumption that there will be more than a few and then we can simply for some reason want to go back to meditating we can always do that so I’ll start start with you hey Sam thanks for coming all the way down to Australia sure thank you for introducing me to the practice of meditation I agree that it’s the most important thing that I’ve ever learned in my life it’s led me to some interesting realizations the first of which was noticed through seeing the arising of thought and being able to identify that I’m not the thinker I took that to mean that I was the observer and then through listening to your conversations with Joseph Goldstein realized that you were talking about the absence of a self altogether and was able to come to peace with that by saying that the feeling of being the observer is itself being observed by something else so my question is if I’m not the thinker not the observer what is doing the observing and is it correct to say that that thing doing the observing is consciousness yeah well so I would certainly call that consciousness I mean consciousness for me is the the best word for the fact that something seems to be happening whatever however confused we might be about our circumstance the lights are on in some sense and we I could be a brain-in-a-vat you could all be an illusion this could be a dream we could be running in a simulation on some alien hard drive that there’s no limit to how confused we might be about what the base layer of reality is but the circumstance of our confusion feels like something you know there’s there is the there is this light show of what it’s like to be me and and presumably you all have your analogous experience and if that fact is the fact of consciousness part of that experience that most of us think we have more or less all the time is of being a self that is conscious right that this the fact that it’s like something to be us includes this feeling of being I or me and I is not identical to the body when we say when you when you when you think about yourself when you feel in relationship to others when you’re looking at me and I feel looked at it’s not that the sense of self isn’t coterminous with the body because most people feel like they have bodies that their interior to the body and they feel like they’re in there they’re in their heads most of the time and so that so the sense of self is this paradoxical thing which is it’s it’s a it’s a sensation of being a locus of consciousness the observer as you say in the head behind the face but that – whatever that is whatever the signature of that is that is appearing in consciousness that isn’t it that is yet another object of consciousness it has to it has to be because it feels it feels like something right it’s so you’re you’re aware of it and when you lose that feeling you if things feel different way right so it’s like it is it is a it is part of the experience which is it which has no place other than consciousness to show up right so consciousness is by definition and again I’m speaking experientially I’m not speaking about the nature of the universe or even what role the brain plays in any of this just as but as a matter of first-person experience consciousness is prior to and transcendent of this thing we’re calling the self because that the sense of what is happening is we’re reading into various objects of consciousness this feeling of self of having a face and being behind it is one of the things that’s appearing in consciousness consciousness is that is the screen you know the movie screen upon which that particular film is playing and the more as you as you drop back into this mode of just witnessing everything appear in consciousness at a certain point you notice that consciousness itself doesn’t feel like I it doesn’t feel like it’s located in the head it doesn’t feel like a Center it is simply the space in which everything is appearing and changing and passing away and so the answer the selflessness that is spoken about a lot in the Buddhist tradition in particular is just that insight that there’s just not there is no center to consciousness consciousness is just this open space and the feeling of be of there being a center the feeling of being a little man riding around in the head or the kind of a horse or a rider riding around on the horse of consciousness or a little man and the boat going down the stream of consciousness that begins to to fall away and then there’s everything else remains I mean you still have a body I mean this does there’s still everything still appears vividly but there’s no longer a sense of being the subject or the ego riding around in the head yep hey Sam I really like your book the moral landscape I have a sort of confusion with the book that we can hopefully talk about and it’s to do with what I might call moral courage so if we have a sort of confronting moral question which requires a self-sacrifice of subjective well-being in exchange for somebody else’s well-being basically my question is does that require a sort of faith given that the world of facts seems to be compatible with solipsism I’m not sure if that last bit is actually true but that’s the premise of my question right well I don’t think the world of is compatible with solipsistic system is often sold as a parsimonious way of thinking about it’s like I only have evidence direct evidence that I exist or that my consciousness is is appearing and I it’s only by inference that I know that all of you have something similar but that actually there’s more of a burden to explain why all of you seem to be conscious and well the well we you know we have this similar anatomies we have similar you know brains we have we have a similar biological history and yet you know by some miracle or mystery only I would would be conscious that that seems there’s more of a burden of explanation there than to just assume that all of us are having something some very similar experience right so solid so I would Lee I think we can safely leave salep sucide as as a credible philosophical stance but given the confusion like you know we might have this malicious demon which is creating all of experience and given that confusion isn’t the fork in the road between a valley of subjective well-being and a peak of the well-being of someone else isn’t that like a a genuine concern well it just you have to keep including what matters so for instance you know if there’s a zero-sum trade-off between my well-being and your well-being you know there’s a final slice of pie and we both want it right and we can’t figure out how to divide it and so it’s just you know if you get it I don’t I don’t have it and so it seems like there’s no sense in which any sacrifice I would make to give you the pie would come at the cost of my well-being but I care about more than pie right I care about being the kind of person who would share at the the last piece of pie with with even a stranger and I feel a certain way about myself having done that and I feel differently about myself having gotten the last piece of pie despite the fact that I knew you wanted it right and in some basic sense refining our ethical code is a matter of refining what the refining our sense of what makes us happy to the point where more and more we effortlessly care about the well-being of others it’s only and it’s that’s quite possible to do I mean it is it’s undeniable that a very rigid and narrow commitment to oneself admits of sort of a certain kind of happiness there’s certain kind of pleasure that is to be won by a total narcissist you know who just is zero-sum competition with everyone else all the time but so much is sacrificed in that case there’s so many put there’s so many doors that are closed to that person and you know just imagine what kinds of relationships that person doesn’t have you know and what kinds of interactions that person reliably has that are hostile and and just don’t admit of the joys that most of us find in relationships that are not zero-sum right and so the more we get out of the zero-sum game and into the game of how can we figure out how to creatively collaborate so that each of us is made happier and more fulfilled in a way that is not subtracting from the happiness and fulfillment of others that’s clearly possible in many many ways is it possible in every conceivable way well no I mean it becomes less possible when when you know the wheels of civilization come off certainly I mean the reason why we want to live in societies that are that has a minimum standard of living for everybody where there’s a social safety net that matches the least lucky people is because it’s a that kind of society allows for more and more flourishing I mean it’s just not it’s not just it’s not transactional in the sense that I’d I have to figure out how to care about you only to care about you I also it becomes a wise way of caring about myself to like let the character of my experience and my future experience changes the more I care to collaborate in in beautiful ways with other people because women this goes to how social we are and you know all of the good things you will do the more the better your life gets that I will enjoy and then this is just it becomes you know this is when you envision the world that you want to live in it entails being surrounded by happy fulfilled creative self actualized people it doesn’t entail or at least it shouldn’t entail being behind a very large and well defended wall with your private pleasures safeguarded and everyone else can go themselves right so that that’s and yet many people are living many very successful people are living as though their happiness could be profitably sought but under under that second path and that’s that’s a scary situation yeah definitely in your camp on this one but just wanted a raise that thanks yeah sure coming thanks for coming down to Australia yeah my questions I’ve got two questions first one about meditation you talked a lot about meditation and you you make the distinction about having a thought and then being lost at being at being lost in that thought being unable to make a distinction between the thought and yourself and how meditation helps with that because you can separate yourself from the thought I’m wondering if someone else does a lot of meditation myself how does meditation itself help you do that more than just recognizing the concept that you can separate yourself from that thought that’s my first questions second question going on from discussions earlier just a quick one well let’s just keep this on meditation because I guess so yeah you know because in the next session we’ll hit other topics so the self is what it feels like to be thinking without knowing that you’re thinking because there’s this continuous undercurrent of thought and judgment and reaction and it’s not it’s not that every thought has the character of being a bright image in mind or a intelligible sentence you know in the voice of your mind but there’s something appearing that is that there’s this conceptual overlay to experience that you can become more and more sensitive to which is it which is thought in some form it’s just a continuous stream of thinking and we are by default identified with all of that you know it and it’s a and mindfulness or meditation is the practice of noticing that more more and more so that suddenly you you you can notice that consciousness just the raw consciousness that’s noticing is prized the prior condition of all that and and just doesn’t feel like a self you know because it’s it is noticing the feelings neither the sensations and the and the thoughts and them and the emotions and it’s it’s always you can keep just dropping back and and become the space in which everything that’s a rise and changing and there are two okay so they’re they’re really two doorways into finding meditation very interesting and useful one is just finding it interesting as it finding it to be a tool for noticing certain features of consciousness and the nature of mind and it becomes a way of essentially pursuing a kind of intellectual interest is it’s based on curiosity that you would find that compelling the other door and arguably if the far more compelling one is in mitigating suffering becoming interested in why it is you’re so miserable most the time and not wanting to be that way anymore and the moment you begin to notice the mechanics of your own psychological suffering the moment that you begin to notice that that the character of the conversation you’re having with yourself the thoughts you’re lost in 99% of the time are so mediocre at best right they’re either boring but rather often they’re kind of masochistic aliy unpleasant I mean you’re you’re you’re telling yourself a very negative story about what it’s like to be you about what happened what will happen or you’re just so captivated by solving all of the problems in your life that you never have a moment where you’re actually enjoying the present right you’re always waiting for you’re deferring your happiness to some point in the future where then you’ll have just a good enough reason to bask in a situation where you’ve solved all your problems but you never get to that place there’s always another problem to solve and so you have to learn to actually enjoy the process of solving problems and the only way to do that is to really be present oriented in the process so even while you’re trying to solve a problem you have to you have to be willing to be connected to the present moment closely enough to find satisfaction there before the problem gets solved before the desire gets gratified before any thing before the next thing happens and as a matter of attention the only way to do that is to not be lost in thought about the future or the past and conversely the only way to begin suffering right now is to think about something right that’s just the way how you know if I told you okay what’s going to happen in about 15 seconds you are all gonna feel absolute terror right or you’re gonna feel just totally depressed just absolute despair is gonna come raining down on you now the way the way that happens to anyone is there’s some idea there’s some force um some thought form comes into the mind and as we find there’s no reason good enough to discount it right it’s just it’s a compelling for whatever reason it’s a very compelling idea and granted there are situations where that’s totally warranted right you know if we if we felt you know a sudden jolt and and parts of the ceiling started to collapse we would all feel you know there now that we have some kind of emergency we have to get out of this building right now this all it would all be based on inferences like you know buildings aren’t supposed to move and and you know pieces the pieces of the ceiling you know right if they hit us well you know we’ll probably harm us and so let’s but we don’t have to run through all that but the the physiological change that would happen in us would be born of taking on a few concepts a few thought forms in a matter in an instant and finding them so compelling that there is no place to stand by which to to resist them right most of our life is not responding to tangible emergencies like that but we’re responding to this simulated emergency of worrying about our lives all the time right and so meditation becomes a tool whereby you can you can just decide well you know either I can either my thinking for the next hour about this thing is going to equip me to cheat to solve this problem or it isn’t now if it is well then by all means think think think and solve your problem but you’ll discover most of the time that you know your thought is just is it is in fact a waste of time that’s making you unhappy and that that’s when mindfulness becomes a kind of superpower because then you can just you can just drop that problem you know in a very it is a kind of mechanical and and almost tangibly physical way them is like noticing that your fist is clenched as hard as you can right and then what and then beginning to feel like what this doesn’t feel good and then mindfulness is discovering the way in which you would just relax your hand and it is before you learn before you learn it you simply have no way to relax your hand but you’re complaining about your hand all the time right like this this is this is the central problem of your life right this is cancer or this is I mean this is just you know you can go from Doctor to doctor and say this is you know this is making me miserable McKenna is there a sort of Salvi can put on it or would electroshock you know change anything but there is a way that just relax your hand and that’s you know it made it’s it’s an analogy but it’s it’s internet it’s an apt one and it solves it again it’s not to say that thought isn’t sometimes necessary and useful it obviously is but you know as a rough guess I would say that 99% of our thought isn’t actually doing anything worth doing and and it’s blinding us to the intrinsic pleasure and well-being of just connecting with the present moment just actually seeing the person we’re talking to or seeing you know a bird fly across the sky I mean and this is this is something that most people discover in some form or another when they if they ever take psychedelics and again to generalize recklessly over a class of very different experiences one thing people very often discover is that when when they override their normal state of the normal state of their brain with one of these drugs like LSD or or psilocybin say one thing becomes obvious is that it’s possible to be utterly engaged with what would otherwise be a totally mundane boring phenomenon another feeling yeah and the the the intrinsic pleasure of that can it’s possible for that to be literally literally the beatific vision I mean just it can be I mean then it begins you can justify all of the religious language you’ve ever heard I mean it’s possible just to pay attention closely enough to anything any arbitrary thing the breath you know the the sight of a tree swaying in the wind right that it can become the most captivating thing you’ve ever seen in your life and that’s not the the the thing that’s driving that is not the thing it’s the quality of your attention unencumbered by discursive thought my son my really good friend once was able had the opportunity to talk to one of your friends matthieu ricard and he asked him a question and and this question seemed to make the the world’s happiest man a little bit angry right all right some risk I’m gonna ask you because I really want to hear what you have to say but right how do you practice so Jen what did to Cogan Rinpoche point out to you how do you do this to you they well what would happen like how do you do this please okay if you can’t is okay but it’s had asked wouldn’t it be great if I just became explosively angry at that question so that the answer to that question requires a little bit of contact so matthieu ricard is this French monk it was a truly wonderful person who has been to his chagrin I think often described as the world’s happiest man he was he’s kind of sucked out of his his monastery in Nepal where he was just happily being a monk and made the subject of many of the neuroimaging studies that have been done on meditation and he really was the perfect subject because he was he was you know a long-term practitioner of meditation and a genuinely happy person but also he was a former scientist he was a pH a molecular biologist so he was very conversant with both language games of you know the contemplative life under Buddhism and and Western science so he’s he’s really an amazing person but he so anyway so that’s Matthew and Matthew has has been the tradition of Buddhism that he has studied under is in the Tibetan tradition the so called highest teachings of that tradition are the so Chen teachings and the difference between so Chen and mindfulness of the sort that I have just introduced here is that might would with a technique like mindfulness you can start wherever you are you know I can teach you mindfulness as a technique I can tell you I can tell you to pay attention to your breath I can tell you to pay attention to sounds I could wait I can sort of lead you through this this brief tour of of your sensory experience in a way that you can sense what the practice is and the reality is is that if you decided to do this an hour a day for the rest of your life or you decided to go on a 10-day meditation retreat and do this for you know 12 hours a day you would get you you would you would more and more experience that that most of the time you’re just lost in thought even even though you’re trying to meditate you’re really just you know crossing your legs and thinking with your eyes closed and there’ll be some clear moments of Baena as you get better at it there’ll be clearer moments of actual mindfulness punctuated and all that but you will just be again struggling with this difference between being clearly aware of the next sound the next sensation the next arising of thought and just being lost in thought and being totally oblivious to that fact zouk ken as a practice doesn’t can’t start there where someone can just tell you what the technique is and you go do it Oh Jen actually starts with a specific insight into the nature of consciousness and so in the Tibetan tradition there are a lot of preliminary practices that people have to do in order to be introduced to the zouk ten teachings I came to zouk Jen having done a lot of mindfulness practice of a sort that I just described but the to put it in turn these are not the terms that they would describe it they were used in the soaked in context but you know in a mindfulness sense what you have to be able to do in order to practice Oceanos you have to be able to be mindful of the absence of self right SSA so what does ou can teacher does and then as you alluded to this is this is taught in a very collaborative and and almost Socratic way between teacher and student you really you come into the presence of his so-called zoltán master who in dialogue with you gets you to kind of thread the needle of your own mind in a way that actually does change something about the nature of your mind it gives you a tool it gives you a capacity if it’s the first time you’re having this experience that you didn’t have before and that in which you subsequently don’t lose are you saying that it has to be in some sense tailored to you like it has well no no I mean it’s kind of it’s not no it’s not bespoke in any I mean the same the same instructions work for for almost everyone you know I would think the difference is just you have to have it you have to be sophisticated enough in your ability to pay attention to your experience you know so that you can follow the instructions and notice what there is to notice but the basic instruction is you’re being asked your rather than pay attention to the breath or pay attention to sounds you’re turning attention upon itself your to your attorney again we all start out with this very strong sense that we are paying attention I’m in my head this locus of consciousness and I can point my attention at various objects the breath sounds you right I’m behind my face right now looking across space at you so there’s the subject object perception now does ou Chen as and this this isn’t exclusive to Seok Jin as n does this and their other Eastern Advaita Vedanta in the in India and the nominally Hindu tradition of non-dual teaching does this as well it’s but it’s these traditions teach this with more or less precision and you know many of us have found so chen in at least in some forms to be especially precise and unencumbered by extraneous concepts you’re being asked to look for what’s looking you’re being asked to look for the subject look for your mind right and there is in fact nothing to find I mean you can look you can turn attention upon itself in a way that reveals that because it sounds like a paradox look at the I can’t see itself right yeah but it doesn’t mean the eye doesn’t exist I mean the eye the physical eye what you have to right so like you can’t see your eyes but they are what you’re using to see right so it it’s it seems idiotic to say well you know because I can’t see my eyes I don’t have eyes right we know you have eyes the sense of self isn’t like that the sense of self is something that you can look for in such a way that its absence becomes palpable or yeah realized you can find it to be absent yeah and and you can find it to be absent in a way that then change that then that then then so can practice becomes it’s just like mindfulness practice but you’re mindful of that you’re mindful of the fact that there’s no Center to consciousness in each moment and you’re not and the difference between many people you know when you start out meditating you start out somewhat you start out not knowing how to meditate and feeling kind of crappy doing it right because you’re it’s hard you’re Restless your body is uncomfortable you’re think you’re continually thinking well how many more minutes do I have left and you’re thinking about all the things you have to do for the rest of the day and you you can have a session of meditation where well that was just worthless nothing happened right I was just thinking and just feeling how hard it was to meditate the initial games you make are in just continually coming back to the practice even with all that happening you’re like the repetitions you’re getting of just noticing your loss and thought and coming back to the breath that’s the that is the practice working I mean that is the exercise in the beginning but then at a certain point you begin to do that successfully enough that it begins to change your state of consciousness you begin to feel meh you know quote meditative when you meditate you get you begin to get a little concentration and it just so happens that there’s a lot of pleasure that comes with a concentrated mind and again it can be arbitrarily concentrated on anything I mean can be the breath it can be a sound to just be concentrated begins to feel blissful and rapturous and you can you can become a kind of heroin addict of your own attention at that stage of meditation but then you begin to fall under the delusion that meditation is about producing that state you just want that high B and it isn’t because that the fundamental capacity you you want to get in hand is to recognize the freedom of consciousness no matter what is arising you know even and even in the the most ordinary state of mind and this is honestly this is where meditation and psychedelics begin to sort of part company in terms of because the ultimate conception of what what the goal is because the truth is is that ordinary consciousness I mean just that consciousness is totally compatible with this conversation you know the nothing that doesn’t have to be any pyrotechnics associated with with the psychedelic experience this state is just as open and free of self as the most blown out at moment of the deepest acid trip right I mean like there’s nothing nothing has to change about the lighting for the center to fall away from consciousness and free to be no longer encumbered by that feeling of being a self but it’s hard to notice and so and zouk chen as a practice and again i mean this is not going to satisfy you because i can’t i can’t give it to you as a you know as a as a routine but zou chen starts with having noticed that clearly enough that you then you can then find that again in each subsequent moment that you pay attention it’s like it’s like it’s the thing you can be mindful of on demand it doesn’t you know you’re not waiting around for it to happen to you you don’t have to wait you don’t have to hope you get concentrated enough over the course of a day or an hour so that you’ll have a moment where the sense of self drops out no the sense of self will drop out in every moment of actually being mindful at that point and so that’s you know but that again it just it can take a long time for some for the conditions to come together for someone to get that part of the practice in hand but you get a lot of benefit long before that I mean everything I said about like the half life of a negative mental state like anger that can be realized without this you know spooky sounding insight into the elusiveness of the self that can be realized just by paying close enough attention to the feeling of anger and just noticing it as energy in the body and just noticing it arrives and pass away and then no longer feeling the imperative to be you know motivated by it thank you very much Sam that was very helpful cool thank you I say yeah I’m really hoping you guys get to some Australian topics in the in the main panel but in terms of the meditation I think you might have just run a train right through my question as someone who isn’t as lucky as these others I’ve never felt the ego melt away or the the sense of self separate from my consciousness or anything like this and my question for you is is this essential for the mindfulness practice is it something that you should aim towards or is it just a journey and without those breakthroughs you can still benefit from ya know as I just said you you can definitely benefit they say the analogy to physical exercise I think is good because they’re made that obviously there’s there is a benefit to doing more or less any amount of exercise I mean more than zero is already a huge game in terms of your health and your sense of well-being it’s just it’s just unambiguously one of the best things you can do for yourself now and this is true even if you have issues that you need to work around I mean there’s so that people who have you know injuries that they have to work around so like I could you know and this is true so this is true for meditation I mean meditation some people may start meditating and feel that it makes them feel worse in some way and there’s certainly people who shouldn’t go on a three-month silent retreat because they have some psychological condition that’s going to be exacerbated by that intensity but for virtually everyone I think there’s some way of working around their quirks so that some amount of meditation it is intrinsically good and I think physical exercise is that it’s just like that so if you have a bad shoulder well then maybe push-ups or not what you should be doing but there’s something like push-ups that will still be good for you and you just have to figure out how that works now all of all of those kind of remedial efforts are still a long way from winning a gold medal in you know track-and-field because you’re now you know as fit as you could possibly be in that particular way and and and there is some rational understanding of how you get from wherever you are to being as fit as you could possibly be you know given your quirks given your genes given your age you know given you know it’s just you know we all have different talents for for anything we might devote ourselves to it I think meditation is probably no exception but I think any everyone can benefit from some of it because they just think of what’s happening by default I mean everyone is spending virtually all their time lost in thought right and whether you know this or not about yourself this is an objective claim about your subjectivity this is true I know this is a as certainly as I know that you know everyone in this room has at least one lung you know and a pancreas right without having to you know actually inspect you all I this is a very safe bet you know it is as safe a bet for me to say that you know unless someone in this room has has really unusual training if I said to you okay the fate of the world depends on someone in this room not being lost in thought over the court for a full 60 seconds right only one of us has to do it but one of us has to do it right so you have to pay attention to your breath for 60 seconds now and not be just plunged into the dreamscape of discursive thought for during that period absolutely safe bet there’s no one in this room who can do that right and that is a very strange fact about the human mind right because honestly if the stakes were that high we couldn’t do it I mean just think of what we would be capable of doing if the stakes were that high but being lost and thought but not being lost in thought for a period of 60 seconds it isn’t on the list right that’s an amazing fact and it’s a it’s something that you know with a lot of experience in meditation or even just some experience in meditation you can you can begin to notice the upside of being able to punctuate your dream life with moments of just clear mindfulness I mean they could because each one of those moments is a moment where you actually do get off the train you know and you know if the train was anger or doubt or despair or frustration all of those little points of punctuation I mean though those are moments where you can just suddenly reset and connect with the present moment in a way that becomes more and more satisfying and then you know whatever problem it was he were thinking about begins to dissipate very quickly thank you yeah so I think I have time just for one more so hey Sam thanks very much for everything that you do my question is about Metta meditation so how do you think about Metta and meditation loving-kindness meditation the way it’s traditionally practiced seems to presuppose the notion of a self which you persuasively argues an illusion and so is there a better way to think about Metta meditation that’s more consistent with the proposition that the self is an illusion right well so Metta meditation Methos is the pali word for loving-kindness and this is a another type of meditation that the Buddhists do which is unlike mindfulness which is just a matter of noticing whatever is arising on its own and not trying to produce any target mental state Metta is a practice of trying to produce the state of loving-kindness and become more and more absorbed in that state so you bring to mind someone who who you can sort of effortlessly feel love for and wish them well and wish them that they no longer suffer and the moment that becomes easy to feel that once it once you use them as this kind of object of meditation Kindle this feeling of well wishing then you can bring neutral people you know strangers into mind and do it and and you can you know do it for the whole world you can even do it for for enemies and this is a a quite an amazing practice to change the kind of the emotional tone of your mind I mean the people who do a lot of this practice and brought it to some level of fulfillment are just amazingly loving happy compassionate people because they’re just they’re continuing when you when you think of all the time you spend judging people and getting annoyed they’re consciously trying to replace that all the time with a well-wishing for people so when you’re driving in traffic and you see somebody do something stupid and you think what the is that person thing if meta is the game you’re playing you’re replacing that automaticity with you know may that person be happy like you just you think like maybe this person is just under so much stress that they’re not watching the road and like I just wish that they you know have ease and and you know all their dreams and hopes be fulfilled and and you’re just you’re constantly replacing your the cranky you with this more far more saintly attitude toward just wishing suffering away for everybody yeah I mean you need not really reify this notion of a self to still want that for everybody I mean I I don’t have a reified notion of a self that I’m broadcasting on all of you to still want you all to be happy right it’s like I know that I know there’s something that it’s like to be you I know that you have pains and pleasures and and your life goes up and down and all of that’s true even though the self is an illusion right so that like the qualitative character of the conscious experience it’s still the most important thing in the world and it can be really really bad or really really good and you know so everything I care about in the world on some level is reducible to the conscious states of consciousness you know act you know actual or potential now or in the future and that’s all true even if even if the self is no illusion thanks yeah so thank you all that was a very rush but hopefully useful you

99 comments

  1. my analogy on thinking, which helped me, was that thinking is a tool, same as speaking, which you are not using always, only when it is necesarry, SO thinking always is just overusing a tool which has it's place in the world, but doing it always is just as unjustified as speaking even when you have nothing to say.

  2. Sam Harris is such a tool. The guy is by no means a scientist nor any thinker of any great thought. Just an average light weight.

  3. I wish someone would upload this WITHOUT the ads…I mean come on, really…this is a meditation workshop. Is it so difficult to understand that ads littering this video kind of ruins the meditation?

  4. So many religious people here thinking that meditation is exclusively owned by religion.
    They’re taking introspection, relaxing techniques as the same stuff they believe.

  5. remember what the point of this is… its really odd to complain about something thats free and only asks for you to watch an ad for revenue. Its even weirder to complain about something you can prevent if you were mindful of what you were getting into.

  6. An Atheist Challenge to Dr Sam Harris: The Koan he couldn't Solve https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ec7Lx3fNkKk

  7. The interminable question you always get with meditation is, "How do I know I'm doing it right?"

    For me, the best indications come from the body, not the mind, since the only tool for investigate the mind that you have is your mind. It would be like trying to check if your hand is open by closing it so as to get a sense of where your fingers are.
    When my mind is clear and at ease, I find it precipitates what appears to be a psycho-physiological change in the body that causes it to slacken without going completely limp.
    Having said that, meditation should not by virtue of this turn into a game of trying to relaxing the body because then you'll be forcing something that needs to happen on it's own. Just be aware of what you're experiencing, even if that experience is tension, and you will make progress towards a stable meditation practice.

  8. The biggest obstacle to meditation is how easy it is.

    People come into it expecting all kinds of fantastic things to happen that they fail to recognize the meditative state when they finally enter it.

  9. Meditation doesn't eliminate narcissism, only God's grace does. The "serenity" of meditating atheists is superficial. If you trigger their ego they are still the same animals we all are after the fall of mankind from heaven. They have "peace" they ARE NOT peace though. They have some secular "love", they ARE NOT Love though.

  10. Far too many people are upset at this point…not me. Not even a little bit. This sounded like a video I need to watch as meditation could do a crazy person like me some good. So I sat cross-legged and drew in a deep breath. Then my eyes drifted to the name Pangburn.

    I calmly stood, sat back in my chair and popped a bottle of wine (though I don’t even drink wine) and for some time I just swirled it around in a ridiculously over-sized glass, taking in the aroma, and anticipating just how Pangburn would fuck this up. They don’t even fuck up in predictable ways. It’s often quite unique and impressive.

    Would a coked-up used car salesman create sustained awkward tension with his failed attempts to rouse the crowd into a frenzied state for a calm philosophical discussion?

    For a cameraman, would they hire a train station junkie who's more interested in filming his ongoing battle with jock itch than the presentation?

    Perhaps due to budgetary concerns they would film with the stage curtains closed.

    Waiting for your audience to enter a meditative state in order to hit them with advertisements had not even occurred me. Didn’t know that was in the cards. That is why I’m a nobody, and they are where they are. Such Elon Musk-like vision for their craft is how Pangburn is establishing itself as the GOAT of dicking up simple speaking venues.

  11. It's sad to see everybody having to complain about the ads, when Pangburn goes out of their way to upload this video for us and should deserve to get paid for the work T_T. A clear catch 22 with a meditation video though. Not sure what the ideal solution here would be.

  12. Hey Harris , speaking as a chinaman , why you not stay TF away from meditation and I stay away from open driving school.

  13. Any experienced Dzogzhen meditators here or people who do the kind of meditation Sam Harris prescribes in his book waking up either Dzogzhen one or self inquiry. I need some help asap!

  14. Many of the things Sam is associating with meditation aren't so different for me between my normal cognitive state and my meditative state (though I've only done a bit of this). I've always made a point of attending to the actual details of the experience before the construct of the experience. It's a form of mindful observation that greatly assists A) debugging complex software systems and B) not winding up on the couch after a difficult discussion with the spouse. (Anyone who is any good at debugging has a war story of that one time they spent 8 or 16 solid hours debugging a preconception formed in the first five minutes. Some developers never get past that place, and end up seeking jobs higher up in the ecosystem, where you have less control, but also less responsibility). I've also never equated phenomenology of feeling like I'm behind my own eyes with meaningful introspection. Some things are just artefacts, with little import. I also became an atheist around the time I left elementary school, in part because I couldn't conceive of a deity so wrapped up in the Dark Art of Judgement. My whole life, almost, I've known that judgement was a dark art.

    Sometimes there's a voice inside my head (though that detail is irrelevant) telling me I'm a shit. So I go, "well, that negative voice is probably there because it has a job to do, even if it pretends to have far more authority than it really possesses". So you go "thank you for the message, your job is done now." And maybe it fades or maybe it doesn't. But now it's just one voice among many, with no special urgency or particular authority. I had all this figured out before I tried meditating. My wife sometimes struggles with anxiety, and had trouble at first with managing ten to twenty minutes. I pretty much started at forty minutes. Chasing away the thoughts is mildly entertaining, but no great challenge, it just requires some persistence. The reason I started at 40 minutes was because somewhere around the 30 minute mark, if the session is going well, I'll get five to ten minutes of a trance-like state, which seems to be deeper than the mere absence of noisy thoughts. I find that quite refreshing. (Wouldn't surprise me it shows up as a change in dominant EEG wavelengths.) It also seems to change the way people respond to me for the next day or two. I guess I project as being more emotionally centered than normal (by choice, I live a highly cerebral life). Nice, but not life changing, as far as I've gone so far.

    So Sam is rattling on here about the dissolution of self, and I don't especially experience that in my limited meditation practice (or if I do, the contrast is smaller for me than other people). But here's the funny thing: I've managed to get there by another route. For a couple of years, I would do two to three hours of intense improvisational writing on a daily basis. I would cheerfully embrace every complication, and pretty soon I would be so deep in complication, with so many balls in the air, and so much ambiguous word play still to resolve, that I couldn't have kept it all in my conscious mind at one time even if I had tried to do this.

    But my subconscious cauldron would come to my rescue, time after time. Things that I needed—that solved three or four or five constraints simultaneously—would just show up right as I needed to type them out, almost as if I had had a plan in the first place, though my entire conscious resolve was to break away from any direction where I tell where the ball would land ahead of time. I almost at times got into a meditative state where I could vaguely perceive the busy cauldron below, kicking around all manner of idea fragments, in endless permutations and combinations. Meanwhile, back at the keyboard, my conscious mind is occupied to the hilt merely getting all the surface details to mesh together. The basics of grammar and punctuation and spelling (and deliberate misspelling) and rhyme and meter and hyphenating compound modifiers, and not having too many replications of the same preposition all in a row. Like the meditation, it used to take about thirty minutes to arrive at this state, after I'd piled one complication upon another in the piece I was writing. The whole point was to subvert any effort by the reader to read along standard grooves. I wanted to immerse the reader in little puzzle rooms of erudite ambiguities with no singular solution. Me: I'm just priming the pump with all these fancy words. Whatever sense you manage to make from all this is entirely your own. Sometimes I would call it anti-didactic writing, but that doesn't do it justice.

    The whole time I was doing this I was thinking mainly about one thing: what is "voice"? Voice is this subject that comes up among writers whenever you read a deep discussion of their methods. It's this thing you grow into, gradually, if you write long enough (by this I mean years), and deep enough. Nobody knows how this process works.

    As a software person (since forever) the orthodox didactic/pedagogic frame comes way too easily to me. The hip bone is connected to the leg bone, the rational numbers are connected to the integers, and on and on. In this realm, one can become a great expositor with little voice at all (by the time you get to explaining QED, however, Feynman had one of the most intense and recognizable voices of all time).

    Opportunities for voice expands as subjects become larger and messier and impossible to comprehend all at once (the elephant problem). If your subject expands to life itself, you either develop voice, or you're doomed.

    Now I would say that my subconscious (the portion I've been able to peer into to some shallow depth) is a fairly orderly place, in its own way (if very pluralistic, with everything happening all at once). But it's certainly not as orderly as conventional English grammar. The conscious mind does a fair amount of shoe-horning to turn thoughts into word sequences. The shoe horn can be quite brusque and formal, as I was trained, mathematically. Or it can be extremely playful (as required for improvisational writing). Or the shoe horn can merely be very flexible, and adaptive, and intuitive on its own terms. Problem solved. Gordian knot sundered. Now you have voice. If your shoe horn manages to preserve more of your innate, subconscious patterns and priorities, your voice will shine through. You'll need to be as flexible and creative as fuck, though, if you want your grammar to be formally admissible at the same time. When the regimented external conventions of grammar, didacticism, and pedagogy are running your show, you won't exhibit much voice at all. When the internal mess is running your show (a mess on the surface, like fable, but with its own deep, internal logic) then you'll express plenty of voice. (Handy road map not included.)

    I've invested immense hours and effort into reforming and reformulating my inner shoe horn. I would class it as a meditation practice, on broad terms. Sam's style of mindfulness meditation has never done quite as much for me, though I do really like sinking into that transcendental fugue (using the word "transcendental" in the opposite sense to the one Sam defined here in this talk).

    Back when it came out, I read Sam Harris's Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (2014) where Sam details his awakening to universal compassion (which I recall was originally a drug experience, back when Sam was a young adult). I've laughed about this ever since—compassion arrived with the blazing subtext: I am the truth and the light. Sam never comments on this little detail. We don't believe the PR department of consciousness (I am not a horse behind my nose). So why should we innately believe compassion's PR department, either? How do we know that universal compassion is the truth and the light? Sam professes to have had an intense personal experience of exactly this. In other contexts, one might be tempted to call that a religious conviction. Our emotions lie to us all the time. (Without that, Sex in the City wouldn't even have a plot.) So there's room to doubt.

    Leaving off, I want to add one thing about improvisational writing. It's a voracious consumer of all your content. If you aren't reading books on a daily basis, and watching great movies on a weekly basis, and reading all the best content on the internet (edge, aldaily) it just sucks you dry. Your resources are most active and available when recently consumed. It's the tension of the new settling into the old that you must constantly dig into, to find your next phrase. Two hours of improvisational writing demands another two to three hours (daily) of content consumption to fill the well again. So that ends up being a very heavy practice compared to mindfulness. At least, that's how it worked for me.

  15. Codes & practices Buddhism truly has scientific basis which will not be a fair description of the codes & practices of most other spiritual guidelines …

  16. Took me a while to get why Sam is taking this approach… It's an audience of normal people needing a lot of explanation…
    Would go about it differently, but then I'm a Soto-Zen type. Just do Za-Zen. Just… Sit.
    The rest, for sure the mindfulness part and the understanding of it, comes on it's own.
    I disagree with Sam on his notion of thought-control, then again that is the Za-Zen-approach: Do not interact with your thoughts. They emerge, but do not hold on to them, nor push them away; you may want to with those you cling to or dread – but don't. They will vanish again of their own accord. This is the moment when they are processed. Things that stacked up on your… stack of memory. Be passive observer. This type of meditation clears your mind of old crap over time. True meditation begins once that stack is empty, which may take a few weeks to months, but for common human clearing the stack is the most important and helpful, for which meditation is the tool.
    Sam on the other hand is actively exploring his mind, which is something you can do in this state of mind but it is not the same thing at all.

  17. "You'll realize that your thought is in fact a waste of time that is making you unhappy, and that's when mindfulness becomes a sort of superpower." Profoundly accurate

  18. You can go a lot further in explaining consciousness
    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Michael_Spivey/publication/258096158_The_Continuity_of_Mind/links/55e37a4308ae6abe6e8e746c/The-Continuity-of-Mind.pdf?origin=publication_detail

  19. An even more powerful and effective way to meditate is to: relax, un-focus, breathe ever-so-gently, and then try, try as hard as you possibly can … to NOT meditate at all whatsoever! – j q t –

  20. People who have never had the grand and earth shattering experience of enlightenment — actual physical enlightenment without the use of drugs, should not present themselves as teachers in this manner. This is mere blinding flashes of the obvious by a pop intellectual posing as one-who-knows.
    Try the later talks of Jan Cox — none of which are available on Youtube, though some of his early stuff is. Then you will have at least given yourself the opportunity to be exposed to someone who actually knows what is going on in this regard. Alternately try the sifi novel Xellex, by Carlos Dwa — who obviously has had such experiences.

  21. Just stop your thoughts and you won't have to worry about all this instruction at all. Hint: you cannot stop your thoughts with thought. I won't tell you how to do it in public, but others have at times, in somewhat obscure circumstances. It's easy, requires no practice or much effort at all and works one hundred percent of the time, and if I told you how to do it, you wouldn't do it anyway.

  22. It's funny, Harris criticizes Gurdjieff in other talks, then uses the idea of identifying with one's thoughts here.

  23. Listen folks don't give up. The real thing is far beyond this adulation of somnolence. Awakening is possible, and this ain't it. Not only that, it doesn't bare any resemblance to it. This kind of stuff is what happens when someone who is fast asleep tries to teach awakening — as if that is a thing. There is no teaching awakening. Awakening is not, and cannot be a subject. And as Carlos Dwa says regarding such matters, "If you can think it — it cannot be correct."

  24. I'm sure its good – I love his earlier ones which have helped me meditate enormously, but the ads utterly destroy it. (Not his fault I'm sure). D.A. NYC

  25. 1:14:47 I do not think it's a safe bet. A lot of people without intensive training can meditate 60 sec. without thoughts.

  26. too imagine the one you once hated to be even more happy than yourself, does make you more happy than you thought possible, it works! i didn't understand what the meaning of sisyphus,to imagine someone happy is the greatest gift we have as a human, use your imagination and build images in your mind of your dream life and live that way, do not think it would be nice to be rich, KNOW! with 100% certainty that you are rich in bank account,heart and mind, becuase your mind does not know the diffrence between what you imagine in your mind and what is happening in 3-d. affirmations duing meditation can dramaticly change your world view. and love the world around you even your worst enemy and you're a true stoic.

  27. I like his shoes. Although it is a bit weird to see him dressed so casually (for his standards).

  28. People getting ads is hilarious, I'd be so thrown off getting an advertisement 15 minutes into a guided meditation, truly that would be hell on earth. Good thing Adblock exists.

  29. Well, I saw the comments about the ads and decided to download the video later to watch/listen without interruptions. Advertisement has its place but the in the middle of meditation is not one of them.

  30. Thanks Sam. Thanks for sharing this helpful video.I have been in pursuit of this allure of meditative state for many years, and have read, listened and to many teachers over the time. But, I can safely say that, you put it best. There is no confusion or playing with words here. No vague concepts or precepts ;No philosophy or ideology to obscure the thinking. When it comes to mindfulness, you hit the core.
    Some of the insights that are part of your instruction for mindfulness that seems worth mentioning, and which I am trying to penetrate are-
    1. There is no distinction between inner space or outer space. There is only one space of consciousness in which all out thoughts arise or experience occur.
    2. There is no thinker or experiencer. There are only thoughts or experience.
    3. The self is an illusion.
    etc.

  31. Sam Harris comes along and is like "I've worked out what the cause of all your problems are. And here it is." And I'm like "Oh yeah!" And then he's like "But the good news is I've also worked out what you need to do to solve these problems. And here it is." And I'm like "Oh yeah!" And then he's like "Plus I'm literally going to walk you through the process step by step, better than anyone else on the planet could, and completely for free. And you can dip in and out at your leisure, barely moving a muscle. Literal freedom from the torment of existence is here and it's waiting for you." And I'm like "OH YEAH!" And then he's like "Let's get started shall we?. Close your eyes." And I'm like "yeaaaaah…. i'm……maybe later."

  32. Sam's meditation app is only compatible with newer iOS devices. This has forced my hand with a choice to either buy a newer device or miss out on his content for financial reasons. It's been frustrating because I really like Sam and have greatly benefitted from his previous material. How can he be both conscientious about critically important issues in the world and not recognize that forcing some number of us to update our equipment just to access his content contributes to the growing tons of electronic garbage that are piling up? In the meantime I will access him through YouTube… to whom I remain grateful. Sorry to air this complaint instead of add a fun or helpful thought.

  33. TO EVERYONE COMPLAINING ABOUT THE ADS: Get a freaking ad blocker! They’re free, and they work!

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