Comfortably numb: Sam Harris on meditation - The Spectator

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Sam Harris offers a peek into some of the philosophy of meditation. But if you want to go deeper, you'll have to go elsewhere
Sam Harris has been in several tangles in his busy career. This is to be expected from a leader of the New Atheist movement, a vocal critic of Islam (he called the term 'Islamophobia' a 'pernicious meme'), a member of the Men's Movement (shocker: some non-men found it anti-woman), and a gleeful saboteur of the notion of free will. But for years now, Harris has been using his background in neuroscience and meditation to help people untangle their minds through his podcast Making Sense.

It's hard to find a podcast about meditation that is not made by or for quasi-spiritual, anti-vaxxer yoga moms. Making Sense is for the more serious inquiring mind. Harris, dry and wry, discusses not only meditation but philosophy, science, politics and ethics. The podcast can help you stay grounded after a pandemic year when our minds have wandered far wider than our physical selves. Perhaps we have never needed meditation more.

An episode titled 'Knowing the Mind' features the neurologist Steven Laureys extolling the medical uses of meditation. In fact, Laureys says he has prescribed meditation as a substitute for general anesthesia during thousands of surgeries. We do not, of course, hear from the un-anesthetized.

Meditation isn't just for numbing you while someone makes an incision in your peritoneum. Harris began practicing meditation at 18 after taking MDMA, better known as Ecstasy. He's advocated psychedelic and euphoric drugs as a 'gateway towards self-inquiry'. Meditation strengthens focus and self-control, Harris says, and has even helped him overcome the 'subject-object illusion', which is 'the primary illusion that meditation is designed to cut through'.

The real enemy of self-enquiry, he says, is distraction.…
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