Sam Harris: The Mystery of Being [ audio ]

This brand-new release is one of the best statements I have ever heard — EVER HEARD — on the essence of meditation, its “purpose” and ontological truth. Less than 10 minutes, it is the clearest, most intrinsically emphatic “call to action” for meditation from one of the world’s greatest living teachers of the nature of consciousness.

His books — among them especially The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, and Free Will — have had major impacts on my life: as much as providing any new information, it felt like meeting someone speaking many truths I had already felt, and had even spoken about publicly, yet in far less careful, far less informed, far less intelligent phrasing. The sober clarity of his thought-flow, his incisive wisdom, his stunning brilliance, his compassion for the suffering of others, his stark bravery, and his beautifully dry sense of humor are all things I connect with deeply. I often say to people that Sam Harris is the one thinker, writer, or teacher who I have never felt even the slightest disagreement with a single one of his words. Read that again: not just his ideas, but especially the way he says them, the very words he uses and the turns of phrase, the subtle emphases and stresses, the sly under-commentaries expressed in his deliciously sarcastic tone-range — I find and feel a far far more perfect, dismayingly perfected expression of things that I have vaguely, even brutally considered, yet never had the sobriety to express so well, with such calm and such balanced measurement and delicacy and pure intelligence as him. There is even shame in the listening: some part of the ego recognizes in him a person of my own generation, of my own culture and even with similar life-experience, a person who I would have/could have become had I been a person of less intemperate behaviors and addictions of thought, and emotion. What did Ralph Waldo Emerson say, in his 1841 essay, “On Self-Reliance”? “In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”

Sam Harris is central in my little Pantheon of the truly greats who influence my view and expression of the minutiae of life in the universe, right up there with Emerson and Cioran, with Wallace Stevens, Thomas Mann, and Rainer Maria Rilke and Franz Kafka and a few others. Only above him stand the true cosmic Immortals: Mahler and Blake, Schopenhauer and Shakespeare, and Dogen Zen-ji.

Subscribing to Sam’s podcast beginning some 5 years ago has been one of the wisest investments I ever made. Gratitude without end for being in a world where Sam Harris speaks. So simple and clear and yet passionate, a true living Bodhisattva — Manjushri, wielding the sharp sword of wisdom.