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Sam Harris: Transcending the Illusion of the Self & Mindful Meditation

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Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion | Big Think

Sam Harris describes the properties of consciousness and how mindfulness practices of all stripes can be used to transcend one's ego.
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Sam Harris is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation. The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction.

Mr. Harris' writing has been published in over ten languages. He and his work have been discussed in Newsweek, TIME, The New York Times, Scientific American, Rolling Stone, and many other journals. His writing has appeared in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Times (London), The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, Nature, The Annals of Neurology, and elsewhere.

Mr. Harris is a graduate in philosophy from Stanford University and holds a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA, where he studied the neural basis of belief with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). He is also a Co-Founder and CEO of Project Reason.
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TRANSCRIPT

Sam Harris: What one of the problems we have in discussing consciousness scientifically is that consciousness is irreducibly subjective. This is a point that many philosophers have made – Thomas Nagel, John Searle, David Chalmers. While I don’t agree with everything they’ve said about consciousness I agree with them on this point that consciousness is what it’s like to be you. If there’s an experiential internal qualitative dimension to any physical system then that is consciousness. And we can’t reduce the experiential side to talk of information processing and neurotransmitters and states of the brain in our case because – and people want to do this. Someone like Francis Crick said famously you’re nothing but a pack of neurons. And that misses the fact that half of the reality we’re talking about is the qualitative experiential side. So when you’re trying to study human consciousness, for instance, by looking at states of the brain, all you can do is correlate experiential changes with changes in brain states. But no matter how tight these correlations become that never gives you license to throw out the first person experiential side. That would be analogous to saying that if you just flipped a coin long enough you would realize it had only one side. And now it’s true you can be committed to talking about just one side. You can say that heads being up is just a case of tails being down. But that doesn’t actually reduce one side of reality to the other.

And to give you a more precise example, we have very strong third person “objective measures” of things like anxiety and fear at this moment. You bring someone into the lab, they say they’re feeling fear. You can scan their brains with FMRI and see that their amygdala response is heightened. You can measure the sweat on their palms and see that there’s an increased galvanic skin response. You can check their blood cortisol and see that its spiking. So these now are considered objective third person measures of fear. But if half the people came into the lab tomorrow and said they were feeling fear and showed none of these signs and they said they were completely calm when their cortisol spiked and when their palms started to sweat, these objective measures would no longer be reliable measures of fear. So the cash value of a change in physiology is still a change in the first person conscious side of things. And we’re inevitably going to rely on people’s subjective reports to understand whether our correlations are accurate. So the hope that we are going to talk about consciousness shorn of any kind of qualitative internal experiential language, I think, is a false one. So we have to understand both sides of it subjective – classically subjective and objective.

I’m not arguing that consciousness is a reality beyond science or beyond the brain or that it floats free of the brain at death. I’m not making any spooky claims about its metaphysics. What I am saying, however, is that the self is an illusion. The sense of being an ego, an I, a thinker of thoughts in addition to the thoughts. An experiencer in addition to the experience. The sense that we all have of riding around inside our heads as a kind of a passenger in the vehicle of the body. That’s where most people start when they think about any of these questions. Most people don’t feel identical to their bodies. They feel like they have bodies. They feel like they’re inside the body. And most people feel like they’re inside their heads. Now that sense of being a subject, a locus of consciousness inside the head is an illusion.

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Sam Harris - Death and the Present Moment
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The Science Of Consciousness | Russell Brand & Sam Harris

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How meditation can change your life and mind | Sam Harris, Jon Kabat-Zinn & more | Big Think

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Whether you're hatching new-you resolutions or need to end a bad habit, there's a world of transformative wellness tech at your fingertips. Though some of it may shock you – literally.Willow Group, a company that aims to leverage technology to bring people peace of mind, is led by CEO Nichol Bradford. She is the first to admit that nothing replaces human connection, but the other side of the coin is that we don’t live in an all-or-nothing world; there can be a suite of tools to help people cope in their lives. If your loved ones can support you in breaking a bad habit, for example, that’s excellent. You could meditate and read to expand your understanding of what’s beneath your bad habit. Or, another tool in the box is the Pavlock.

What’s that? The Pavlock is an example of transformative technology that are coming into the market to help improve people’s lives. It’s a bracelet or cuff you wear, you can select a bad habit you want to break, and when you engage in that bad habit, the Pavlock will… electric shock you. It sounds like a gimmick, but this device works on our reptilian brains, creating an aversion that becomes associated with the habit you want to quit. There’s also a toned-down vibration setting that can promote awareness and mindfulness without all the voltage.

The Pavlock is a great example of transformative tech because it has a counterpart that helps you reach the same goal by a very different road. If the Pavlock is disciplinary, the MOTI works on positive incentives. It’s a small device that sits on your desk or table, and every time you engage in a good behavior you’d like to do more of, you touch it and it blinks colors, vibrates and coos. That’s pretty strange, but it turns out that on a deep level, humans love it. If you’re going to bed early, going for a short run, cooking dinner instead of getting take out, you press it for reinforcement, and it accumulates rewards for your positive action.

In transformative tech, the limit is our imagination, and in remembering that you choose your level of involvement. Nothing beats human connection, but a few science-backed bots can be empowering in achieving your personal and professional goals.

Nichol Bradford is the author of The Sisterhood.
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NICHOL BRADFORD:

Nichol Bradford, CEO/Founder, Willow. Nichol Bradford is fascinated by human potential, and has always been interested in how technology can help individuals expand beyond their perceived mental limits to develop and transform themselves to the highest level. She spent the last decade exploring these ideas in the online game industry, serving as a senior executive with responsibility for strategy, operations and marketing for major brands that include: Activision/Blizzard, Disney, and Vivendi.


Most recently she managed the operations of Blizzard properties, including World of Warcraft, in China. Now, as the CEO of the Willow Group, Nichol is applying same skills to the realm of elevating psychological well-being. Willow is a transformative technology company focused on employing rigorous scientific research to develop training protocols, hardware and software that can produce a reliable and positive change in the human experience.

Nichol has an MBA from Wharton School of Business in Strategy, a BBA in Marketing from the University of Houston, and is a graduate of Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Program 2015. She is a fellow of the British American Project, currently serves on the board of the Project 375/Brandon Marshall Foundation for Mental Health, and is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is the author of The Sisterhood, and an amatuer boxer.
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TRANSCRIPT:

Nichol Bradford: People often ask me what I think the limitations are for transformative technology. And I would say that I don’t think anything replaces sitting down one-on-one with someone that you love or care about. There’s nothing that replaces that. But we don’t live in an only one thing world. I really believe in having a suite of tools that we use. And so when you can’t be one-on-one with your loved one and you are forced to be at distance then to have things that support you in that. And in terms of other limitations I think a lot of the limitations are really our imagination because it’s out of our imaginations that we develop products. It isn’t really a coincidence that the first flip phones look like the communicators on Star Trek.
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Sam Harris: Transcending the Illusion of the Self & Mindful Meditation

Mayim explains the benefits and historical role of meditation with her former colleague and UCLA PHD graduate buddy Sam Harris. Sam talks about his journey discovering mindfulness through an altered state as a teenager which led him to a life dedicated to encouraging others to get in touch with their base desires through a meditative practice. How do you unlink your thoughts and uncover patterns of emotion, behavior, and beliefs that no longer serve you? How do you transcend the constructed notion of who you are to access your soul? Mayim and Jonathan get put into a meditative trance by the silky timber of Sam's voice as he tackles misperceptions about meditation and explains how to access different realms of consciousness and connect to your true self.


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Waking Up with Sam Harris - Looking for the Self (26 Minute Meditation)

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Sam Harris: Why identification with the self creates suffering

June 25, 2019


Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion


I’m not making any spooky claims about its metaphysics. What I am saying, however, is that the self is an illusion. The sense of being an ego, an I, a thinker of thoughts in addition to the thoughts. An experiencer in addition to the experience. The sense that we all have of riding around inside our heads as a kind of a passenger in the vehicle of the body. [...] Now that sense of being a subject, a locus of consciousness inside the head is an illusion. It makes no neuro-anatomical sense. There’s no place in the brain for your ego to be hiding. We know that everything you experience – your conscious emotions and thoughts and moods and the impulses that initiate behavior – all of these things are delivered by a myriad of different processes in the brain that are spread out over the whole of the brain. They can be independently erupted. We have a changing system. We are a process and there’s not one unitary self that’s carried through from one moment to the next unchanging.
- Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion


Sam Harris: The Self Is an Illusion


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Sam Harris: Death and the Present Moment (2012)

Sam Harris Q&A: Self-illusion and No-self

Sam Harris answers fan questions about free will, Noam Chomsky, upcoming elections, his vote for Hilary Clinton, Islam, and meditation.
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Sam Harris | The Self Is an Illusion

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Sam Harris on mindfulness

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He really nails it here for big think and for all of us in regards to meditation

or....PRACTICAL UNIFYING TRANSCENDENCE....hmmm...

Harris Self Illusion

Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion

Sam Harris 2018 - The Self Is Not An Illusion (BEST)

Sam Harris 2018 - The Self Is Not An Illusion (BEST)

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Sam Harris on Consciousness

This is a compilation of Sam Harris quotes on consciousness, meditation, the present moment, and self transcendence.

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Sam Harris: talking about the illusion of the self

This is Sam Harris talking about the illusion of the self. He is referring to the reality of consciousness as being something which isn't actively authored by individuals but is instead a passive process dictated to us through natural biology and observation of our environment.

What we perceive as reality seems to be the product of neurological activity shaped entirely outside ourselves. We experience everything from the sources that govern the world: other members of the group, dominant paradigms, memes, traditions, etc. which are independent of a self or some actual being that we represent.

The photo here is from a study of Chimpanzees. It poses an important question: what happens we we observe arbitrary behavior? If we observe this in Chimpanzees, could we humans also be the victims of arbitrary social customs and behavioral patterns? To what degree do these govern us? We should probably remember humans share 98-99% of our DNA with the great apes.

Grass in the ear behavior or GIEB is a behavior observed in Chimpanzees where groups members copy what appears to be a useless behavior. It spreads through the group as a trend - even after the originator leaves the group.


Considering that reality may sometimes be simply a conglomeration of arbitrary traditions slammed together, this could be a call for consensus building and greater scrutiny of any traditions which bind society to a primitive (often dysfunctional and stupid) past.

Cuz some of us judge without knowing the man's inner
And some of us find fault in the sin and not the sinner -Jurassic 5 Sum of Us

However, many people fall victim to a fallacious notion of a true self. This feeds an ego which sees great pride in successes not earned, but inherited. The reverse is true with failure in that too many people personally blame themselves for structural, society-wide failures.

Sam Harris: Seeking Transcendence without Religion

Harris asserts that experiences such as bliss and transcendence must be removed from the realm of sectarianism, but that “one of the great holes in secularism” is that “we don’t have a ready answer for someone who wakes up tomorrow morning with an extraordinary change in their conscious life which they deem positive.”

Harris talks about the search for this answer, as well as the illusion of the self, expanding our moral circle to include other creatures, and an evaluation of the progress secularism has made since the time “new atheism” was still new.

Sam Harris: The Self is an Illusion

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Sam Harris describes the properties of consciousness and how mindfulness practices of all stripes can be used to transcend one's ego. Harris is the author of .

.Sam Harris on the Genocidal Stupidity of Religion. --- Please subscribe to Science & Reason: .

Sam Harris discusses the virtues of psychedelics such as LSD and MDMA. While he does not condone the use of these drugs without caveat, he does .

One of my favorite Sam Harris comments.

How To Change Your Thoughts To Positive (and Take Control) | Sam Harris

Sam Harris' dives deep on how to change your thoughts to positive and take control of your life! Sam is a successful author who wrote his first book The End of Faith which spent 33 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list. Sam Harris is an expert on the mind and overcoming negative thought patterns which if implemented can drastically change your life. Follow his mind training and change your thoughts today. Enjoy!

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Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for fair use for purposes such as criticism, commenting, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favour of fair use.

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Sam Harris - Death

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