Sam Harris on Psychedelics, How to Cope During a Pandemic, Taming Anxiety, and More (#433)

Photo by Christopher Patey

“Nothing’s changed, but yet, on some level, everything has changed, and I feel like I’m in a spaceship where at any moment, the leak or the breach in the wall can be catastrophic. It’s a very bizarre feeling, which I know everyone is sharing to one or another degree.” Sam Harris

Sam Harris (@SamHarrisOrg) is a neuroscientist, philosopher, and author of five New York Times bestsellers. His work covers a wide range of topics—neuroscience, moral philosophy, religion, meditation practice, human violence, rationality—but generally focuses on how a growing understanding of ourselves and the world is changing our sense of how we should live. His books include The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, Lying, Waking Up, and Islam and the Future of Tolerance (with Maajid Nawaz).

Sam hosts the popular Making Sense podcast and is also the creator of the Waking Up app, which offers a modern, rational approach to the practice of meditation. Sam has practiced meditation for over 30 years and has studied with many Tibetan, Indian, Burmese, and Western meditation teachers, both in the United States and abroad. He holds a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

This podcast is brought to you by FreshBooks and “5-Bullet Friday.” More on both below. 


This episode is brought to you by FreshBooks. I’ve been talking about FreshBooks—an all-in-one invoicing + payments + accounting solution—for years now. Many entrepreneurs, as well as the contractors and freelancers that I work with, use it all the time.

FreshBooks makes it super easy to track things like expenses, project time, and client info, and then merge it all into great-looking invoices. FreshBooks can save users up to 200 hours a year on accounting and bookkeeping tasks. Right now FreshBooks is offering my listeners a free 30-day trial, and no credit card is required. Go to FreshBooks.com/tim and enter “Tim Ferriss” in the “How did you hear about us?” section!


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It’s free, it’s always going to be free, and you can subscribe now at tim.blog/friday.


What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

Want to hear Sam’s previous appearance on the show? Check out this episode in which Sam discusses guided meditation, the optic blind spot, the distinction between meditation and psychedelics as tools, Sam’s post-MDMA perspective of spirituality, and much more.


SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Sam Harris:

Website | Waking Up (App) | Making Sense (Podcast) | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

SHOW NOTES

  • In the midst of a pandemic, is the time nigh for meditation, psychedelics, pangolins, musings on nuclear annihilation, and other dangerous ideas? Let’s see if Sam’s commitment to making the worst episode of the Tim Ferriss Show ever aired pays off. [04:16]
  • Three things Sam has learned about fear. [08:18]
  • A situation in which Sam was experiencing acute anxiety or fear and used mindfulness as an intervention. [11:37]
  • How long does it take to clean and reassemble the gun of mindfulness? [18:41]
  • What has Sam changed his mind about recently? [24:21]
  • Is there anything Sam has been particularly surprised or excited to learn about in the past year? [30:27]
  • Where can curious listeners find out more about Sam’s recent mushroom trip? Where can twisted listeners find out more about crocodile rape? [38:07]
  • Did Sam notice any persistent changes to his perception or behavior after the immediate effects of the mushrooms wore off? How does it compare to other psychedelic experiences he’s endured? [39:36]
  • Navigating time and in-between spaces on different psychedelics — in different increments — and returning to planet Earth and its delicious Triscuits. [46:05]
  • Can psychedelics kill you? Why does Sam prefer to err on the side of more over less when it comes to taking them? [50:28]
  • Is MDMA a psychedelic? What constitutes I? Another consequence to consider when underdosing without a sitter. [55:57]
  • In his youth, Sam’s LSD experiences were free from the famous “bad trips” everyone warned him about — until they weren’t. [59:42]
  • What we hope to see in the future for the use of psychedelics and empathogens as therapy. [1:02:32]
  • The messiah complex in novice users of psychedelics: You’re not Jesus. You’re not even Woody Allen. And against all instincts telling you otherwise, your grandma, nephew, and Sunday school teacher probably don’t need to do ayahuasca. Here are some great reasons to hold off on being a psychedelic evangelist after only trying these powerful compounds once or twice. [1:05:32]
  • Is self-quarantining an ideal time for an introductory experience with psychedelics? Well… [1:11:21]
  • Honestly, you couldn’t be blamed for wanting to do crazy amounts of drugs of every variety right now. These are trying times that make all of us question everything we know. [1:17:33]
  • What methods of relief would Sam recommend to people who are scared and suffering right now? What’s the best thing we can each do to make things easier for all of us? [1:23:22]
  • Worthwhile nonprofits and the most important four-word sentence you can be asking in abundance right now. [1:31:15]
  • Why it’s worth remembering how disruptive this emergency really is and why the stress you’re feeling is not a character flaw, but something everyone on the planet is enduring at some level right now. [1:34:20]
  • Stray bullets and silver linings. [1:38:34]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:44:14]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with over 400 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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