Samuel Benjamin Harris is an American author, philosopher, neuroscientist, and podcast host. Profoundly inspirational Sam Harris quotes will brighten up your day and make you feel ready to take on anything.
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Famous Sam Harris Quotes
We do not know what we intend to do until the intention itself arises. To understand this is to realize that we are not the authors of our thoughts and actions in the way that people generally suppose.
What we call reality is just when we all agree about our hallucinations.
The feeling that we call I” is itself the product of thought. Having an ego is what it feels like to be thinking without knowing that you are thinking.
There is no divine purpose, only a plurality of human purposes.
I take seriously the idea that we’re in a simulation. I have no idea whether or not it’s true, but if it is, if we are in a simulation, it’s not that nothing is real, not that there are no tables and chairs and trees. Rather, it’s that they exist in a different form from what we first thought.
The fact that one can lose one’s sense of self in an ocean of tranquility does not mean that one’s consciousness is immaterial or that it presided over the birth of the universe.
How we pay attention to the present moment largely determines the character of our experience and, therefore, the quality of our lives. Mystics and contemplatives have made this claim for ages—but a growing body of scientific research now bears it out.
Religious faith is the one species of human ignorance that will not admit of even the possibility of correction.
Every person is a puppet who didn’t pick his own strings and those strings reach back to the big bang.
Religion is nothing more than bad concepts held in place of good ones for all time. It is the denial-at once full of hope and full of fear-of the vastitude of human ignorance.
The idea that any one of our religions represents the infallible word of the One True God requires an encyclopedic ignorance of history, mythology, and art even to be entertained—as the beliefs, rituals, and iconography of each of our religions attest to centuries of cross-pollination among them.,
My choices matter—and there are paths towards making wiser ones—but I cannot choose what I choose. And if it ever appears that I do—for instance, after going back between two options—I do not choose to choose what I choose. There is a regress here that always ends in darkness.
A puppet is free as long as he loves his strings.
You can do what you decide to do — but you cannot decide what you will decide to do.
It is time we recognized that belief is not a private matter; it has never been merely private. In fact, beliefs are scarcely more private than actions are, for every belief is a fount of action in potential.
One of the greatest challenges facing civilization in the twenty-first century is for human beings to learn to speak about their deepest personal concerns about ethics, spiritual experience, and the inevitability of human suffering in ways that are not flagrantly irrational.
We are all seeking fulfillment while living at the mercy of changing experience. Whatever we acquire in life gets dispersed. Our bodies age. Our relationships fall away. Even the most intense pleasures last only a few moments. And every morning, we are chased out of bed by our thoughts.
Inspirational Sam Harris Quotes
Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance.
If your denial of death is sufficiently explicit and persuasive that you believe death isn’t real, then what you deny isn’t death but the significance of life.
Many of my fellow atheists consider all talk of ‘spirituality’ or ‘mysticism’ to be synonymous with mental illness, conscious fraud, or self-deception.
We are not self-caused little gods.
If you pay attention to your inner life, you will see that the emergence of choices, efforts, and intentions is a fundamentally mysterious process.
Merely accepting that we are lazy, distracted, petty, easily provoked to anger, and inclined to waste our time in ways that we will later regret is not a path to happiness.
A moment or two of serious self-scrutiny, and you might observe that you no more decide the next thought you think than the next thought I write.
Our minds are all we have. They are all we have ever had. And they are all we can offer others.
Spirituality must be distinguished from religion—because people of every faith, and of none, have had the same sorts of spiritual experiences.
We will see that the greatest problem confronting civilization is not merely religious extremism: rather, it is the larger set of cultural and intellectual accommodations we have made to faith itself.
Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance. […] By failing to live by the letter of the texts [scripture], while tolerating the irrationality of those who do, religious moderates betray faith and reason equally.
We’re not really free unless we can put matters in our own words. And if we can’t put them in our own words, we can’t talk to other people, because if we speak the words of the internet or the TV news, other people will recognize that, and they are not really in our company, but somewhere else.
Every moment of the day—indeed, every moment throughout one’s life—offers an opportunity to be relaxed and responsive or to suffer unnecessarily.
The sea squirt—a very simple marine creature—swims about during its juvenile phase looking for a place to settle, and once it settles and starts filter-feeding, it digests its own brain, because it no longer has any need for perceptual or motor competence. This is often used as an unkind analogy for getting tenure in academia.
How can we be free” as conscious agents if everything that we consciously intend is caused by events in our brain that we do not intend and of which we are entirely unaware?
Everything we do is for the purpose of altering consciousness.
Losing a belief in free will has not made me fatalistic—in fact, it has increased my feelings of freedom. My hopes, fears, and neuroses seem less personal and indelible.
You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm.
It’s awfully hard to define consciousness. But I’d start by saying that it’s the subjective experience of the mind and the world.
My mind begins to seem like a video game: I can either play it intelligently, learning more in each round, or I can be killed in the same spot by the same monster, again and again.
Top Sam Harris Quotes
If you are thinking without knowing you are thinking, you are confused about who and what you are.
The idea, therefore, that religious faith is somehow a sacred human convention—distinguished, as it is, both by the extravagance of its claims and by the paucity of its evidence—is really too great a monstrosity to be appreciated in all its glory.
The moral landscape is the framework I use for thinking about questions of morality and human values in universal terms.
Your mind is the basis of everything you experience and of every contribution you make to the lives of others. Given this fact, it makes sense to train it.
Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity—a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible.
I consistently encounter people in academic settings and scientists and journalists who feel that you can’t say that anyone is wrong in any deep sense about morality or with regard to what they value in life. I think this doubt about the application of science and reason to questions of value is really quite dangerous.
Some people are content in the midst of deprivation and danger, while others are miserable despite having all the luck in the world. This is not to say that external circumstances do not matter. But it is your mind, rather than circumstances themselves, that determines the quality of your life.
Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion.
The science of morality is about maximizing psychological and social health. It’s really no more inflammatory than that.
There’s something it’s like for me to see the green leaves outside my window right now, so that’s a conscious state to me. But there may be some unconscious language-processing going on in my head that doesn’t feel like anything to me or some motor processes in the cerebellum.
It’s simply untrue that religion provides the only framework for a universal morality.
Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him, or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever.
Morality and values depend on the existence of conscious minds and specifically on the fact that such minds can experience various forms of well-being and suffering in this universe.