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Making Sense of Meditation | Episode 10 of The Essential Sam Harris

Making Sense with Sam Harris

Release Date: 06/18/2023

#376 — How Democracies Fail show art #376 — How Democracies Fail

Making Sense with Sam Harris

Sam Harris and Anne Applebaum discuss the nature of modern autocracies and how democracies fail. They discuss the power of ideas, why autocracies seek to undermine democracies, cooperation among dictators, how Western financial experts and investors have enabled autocracies, how Putin came to power, the failure of engagement and investment to create political change, what’s at stake in the war in Ukraine, Trump’s charisma, the current symptoms of American democratic decline, the ideologues around Trump, the hollowing out of institutions, how things might unravel in America, anti-liberal...

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#375 — On the Attempted Assassination of President Trump show art #375 — On the Attempted Assassination of President Trump

Making Sense with Sam Harris

If the Making Sense podcast logo in your player is BLACK, you can SUBSCRIBE to gain access to all full-length episodes at .  

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#374 — Consciousness and the Physical World show art #374 — Consciousness and the Physical World

Making Sense with Sam Harris

Sam Harris speaks with Christof Koch about the nature of consciousness. They discuss Christof’s development as a neuroscientist, his collaboration with Francis Crick, change blindness and binocular rivalry, sleep and anesthesia, the limits of physicalism, non-locality, brains as classical systems, conscious AI, idealism and panpsychism, Integrated Information Theory (IIT), what it means to say something “exists,” the illusion of the self, brain bridging, Christof’s experience with psychedelics, and other topics. If the Making Sense podcast logo in your player is BLACK, you can...

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#373 — Anti-Zionism Is Antisemitism show art #373 — Anti-Zionism Is Antisemitism

Making Sense with Sam Harris

Sam Harris speaks with Michal Cotler-Wunsh about the global rise of antisemitism. They discuss the bias against Israel at the United Nations, the nature of double standards, the precedent set by Israel in its conduct in the war in Gaza, the shapeshifting quality of antisemitism, anti-Zionism as the newest strain of Jew hatred, the “Zionism is racism” resolution at the U.N., the lie that Israel is an apartheid state, the notion that Israel is perpetrating a “genocide” against the Palestinians, the Marxist oppressed-oppressor narrative, the false moral equivalence between the atrocities...

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#372 — Life & Work show art #372 — Life & Work

Making Sense with Sam Harris

Sam Harris speaks with George Saunders about his creative process. They discuss George’s involvement with Buddhism, the importance of kindness, psychedelics, writing as a practice, the work of Raymond Carver, the problem of social media, our current political moment, the role of fame in American culture, Wendell Berry, fiction as way of exploring good and evil, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, missed opportunities in ordinary life, what it means to be a more loving person, his article “The Incredible Buddha Boy,” the prison of reputation, Tolstoy, and other topics. If the Making Sense podcast...

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#371 — What the Hell Is Happening? show art #371 — What the Hell Is Happening?

Making Sense with Sam Harris

Sam Harris speaks to Bill Maher about the state of the world. They discuss the aftermath of October 7th, the cowardice and confusion of many celebrities, gender apartheid, the failures of the Biden campaign, Bill’s relationship to his audience, the differences between the left and right, Megyn Kelly, loss of confidence in the media, expectations for the 2024 election, the security concerns of old-school Republicans, the prospect of a second Trump term, totalitarian regimes, functioning under medical uncertainty, Bill’s plan to stop doing stand-up (maybe), looking back on his career, his...

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#370 — Gender Apartheid and the Future of Iran show art #370 — Gender Apartheid and the Future of Iran

Making Sense with Sam Harris

In today’s housekeeping, Sam explains his digital business model. He and Yasmine Mohammed (co-host) then speak with Masih Alinejad about gender apartheid in Iran. They discuss the Iranian revolution, the hypocrisy of Western feminists, the morality police and the significance of the hijab, the campaign, kidnapping and assassination plots against Masih, lack of action from the U.S. government, the effect of sanctions, the cowardice of Western journalists, the difference between the Iranian population and the Arab street, the unique perspective of Persian Jews, Islamism and immigration, the...

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#369 — Escaping Death show art #369 — Escaping Death

Making Sense with Sam Harris

Sam Harris speaks with Sebastian Junger about danger and death. They discuss Sebastian's career as a journalist in war zones, the connection between danger and meaning, his experience of nearly dying from a burst aneurysm in his abdomen, his lingering trauma, the concept of "awe," psychedelics, near-death experiences, atheism, psychic phenomena, consciousness and the brain, and other topics. If the Making Sense podcast logo in your player is BLACK, you can SUBSCRIBE to gain access to all full-length episodes at . Learning how to train your mind is the single greatest investment you can make...

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#368 — Freedom & Censorship show art #368 — Freedom & Censorship

Making Sense with Sam Harris

Sam Harris speaks with Greg Lukianoff about free speech and cancel culture. They discuss the origins of political correctness, free speech and its boundaries, the bedrock principle of the First Amendment, technology and the marketplace of ideas, epistemic anarchy, social media and cancellation, comparisons to McCarthyism, self-censorship by professors, cancellation from the Left and Right, justified cancellations, the Hunter Biden laptop story, how to deal with Trump in the media, the state of higher education in America, and other topics. If the Making Sense podcast logo in your player is...

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#367 — Campus Protests, Antisemitism, and Western Values show art #367 — Campus Protests, Antisemitism, and Western Values

Making Sense with Sam Harris

Sam Harris discusses the recent protests on college campuses, why focusing narrowly on the problem of "antisemitism" will be counterproductive, widespread confusion about the threat of Islamic extremism, and the necessary defense of Western values. A transcript of this podcast is available on . If the Making Sense podcast logo in your player is BLACK, you can SUBSCRIBE to gain access to all full-length episodes at .

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More Episodes

In this episode, we traverse a decade of Sam’s conversations on the topic of meditation. 

We start with the very first recorded episode from the archives: a conversation with Sam’s meditation teacher and friend, Joseph Goldstein. Goldstein recalls how his thinking was unlocked—allowing him to fully realize the power of the practice—by the utterance of one single word.

We then hear from author Richard Lang as he guides us towards a strangely obvious insight that came to be known as “the headless way.” Next, philosopher and neuroscientist Thomas Metzinger employs his vast expertise in both neurobiology and meditation to show how our brains generate a model of the world and self, and how meditation can help us catch that process in the act.

Psychiatrist Judson Brewer then shifts the conversation to some very practical applications of mindfulness meditation, addressing the problem of addiction to things like food, smoking, or drugs by retraining the reward centers in our brains. Next, Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson dig into the neuroscience of meditation and discuss how experienced meditators may actually be physically altering their brains. 

We then listen in on Sam’s conversation with author Robert Wright, who defends the claim that “Buddhism is true.” Sam and Wright discuss the validity of this claim while ensuring they keep it separate from the political and moral behaviors of Buddhist nations and individuals.

We conclude with Sam delivering the answer to a question posed by the Belgian neuroscientist Steven Laureys. In doing so, Sam provides a comprehensive tour of his philosophies. He ties together his personal brand of moral analysis, his reverence for science and truth seeking, and his reasoning as to why he still meditates and why he proudly promotes the practice.

 

About the Series

Filmmaker Jay Shapiro has produced The Essential Sam Harris, a new series of audio documentaries exploring the major topics that Sam has focused on over the course of his career.

Each episode weaves together original analysis, critical perspective, and novel thought experiments with some of the most compelling exchanges from the Making Sense archive. Whether you are new to a particular topic, or think you have your mind made up about it, we think you’ll find this series fascinating.