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Sam Harris is a big part of my daily life.
I meditate with his meditation app, listen to his podcast or interviews he has given, and of course, there are his social media accounts. There is not a single day that I don’t consume some sort of content created by him.
This is weird because being the book lover that I am you would think I have a whole shelf full of his printed material.
I don’t. It’s sad.
Not because he is not a great writer or his books are not well written, there is just something missing from them.
His voice. His actual voice.
Having him as my meditation teacher brings me peace whenever I hear him speak. It calms me down and reminds me that all is well.
I come back to the present moment and focus on my breath. It doesn’t even matter if he is complaining about Trump, as long as I can hear him speak.
It sounds strange, I am aware, but seeing as he does have a meditation app that I am in love with where he only uses his voice, this is not that weird.
But as a supporter of his work, I wanted to dive in and read all that he has ever written. Waking Up was already my favourite book, so The Moral Landscape seemed like a perfect reading material to continue my journey.
A few weeks ago, I added The End Of Faith to the list. I have no idea where I am going next but I am looking forward to reading everything I already heard him speak about on the internet.
I think this might be it.
I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of Sam talking about things like free will, religion, meditation, AI and politics that going back to reading about it in written form seems like a waste of time.
After all, he is always sharing content from the books online and on the app.
As I said, I do not know (when and) what I will read next, but I do want to talk about the first three I bought already.
Seeing how unique each one of them is, you are bound to find something for yourself.
So… which books by Sam Harris should you read?
Leaving a cult/religion called New Age made me land right on my back from where I could see people move forward while I was injured trying to get up without the help of god.
When I first read Waking Up, it was also the first time that I was told it is possible to have a spiritual practice without believing in the divine.
I grew up with parents that had no faith and I learnt about god on my own.
When I got into New Age my world was rocked because I was convinced this could save me from suffering and heartbreak. But it didn’t, it just pushed it so far to the back of my head that it appeared as if I was healed.
Waking Up gave me permission to take something that I loved before, meditation, and do it the way it was first intended to be used. Not to please god, but to look within and taste the freedom.
It’s a perfect book for sceptics who want an attachment-free practice (that is, who would’ve thought, all about not being attached to anything).
There are things that are wrong and there are things that are right. Those who do wrong are wrong, those who do right are right.
Or something along those lines.
I never thought about morality and how we can determine what is best for us. I mean, you look at a rapist and you know that they are wrong, no?
But then they say this type of behaviour is okay in their country and of course, we judge them and feel morally superior. Is there any evidence that we are in the right here, though?
How can we claim that something is morally superior? How can we determine what moral code we should follow to be better than we were yesterday?
Well, if you have no idea where to start and how to even begin thinking about such complex topics that are not a part of our daily conversations, The Moral Landscape is the perfect start.
I am still not quite sure how much I agree with Sam’s claims, and I’ve read the book a few times already, so I will stay away from sharing my thoughts.
That’s kind of the point. To think about morality and our actions, not just for five minutes when we are sitting on the beach, but also while talking to our parents and examining where our choices come from.
The first book Sam shared with the world.
I will not compare it to the likes of God Is Not Great or The God Delusion because I don’t think they are in the same category. While all three are about religion as the main (or only) topic, The End Of Faith explores other territories as well.
If anything, it is the book from which all other books Sam wrote evolved.
You have chapters that talk about morality and mindfulness, which obviously took the center stage in The Moral Landscape and Waking Up. It feels like Sam just wanted to talk about everything and wrote about all things that interested him in the same book.
Understandably, as it was his first one and you never know where life will take you and how much longer you have on this Earth.
That’s why I am not sure where to put this book. I would say that if you want one that takes you on a journey across different lands, you will love it.
If you want perfect rebuking of every single claim a religious person has ever made, try Hitchens, Dawkins or something else by Harris – there is plenty of material to choose from.
Each of these books will make you think about the big questions – morality, meaning and faith.
Before I was introduced to Sam Harris I was a New Age radical Lefty feminist. After consuming everything he has ever said, I am an atheist Centrist that just wants to practise mindfulness and think about animal rights.
Through his podcast, I learnt about how important freedom of speech was and why questioning things that sound too good to be true is a crucial part of living in our world. Looking at the facts before making my final judgment is now my favourite thing to do.
Although these books by Sam Harris were written a while ago, they are not radically different from what he thinks now.
Balancing the reading (of his books) with the listening (of his podcast) is a perfect way to understand who Sam Harris is.