The Conceptual Lens

“The conceptual lens through which we view (a situation) largely determines how we feel about it. This is one of the ways our thinking about an experience changes the character of the experience. The frame we put around the present moment is important (…) But it seems possible to experience life more nakedly than this, to experience it without an obvious frame.”

Sam Harris, speaking at the 2012 Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne. After making this point, he leads the audience through an exercise in mindfulness (beginning at 29:30.) The stated subject of his talk is death. Really, it’s life.

YouTube video here.

One thought on “The Conceptual Lens

  1. This is the lecture Sam Harris gave at the 2012 Global Atheist Convention in Australia. I found it incredibly interesting and informative. Basically he starts with how death and the fear of death is one of the foundations of religion and the consolation it offers. Atheism doesn’t provide an alternative to this consolation in itself, obviously, so he suggest one way of approaching the issue would be through realising that our present moments are the fundamental places where we can change our conscious experiences for the better. If death really is the end, then we have to value our lives and experiences more, and we shouldn’t spend so much time on needless suffering, anxiety and problems of our mind’s creation. He then does a quick experiment using “mindfulness meditation” to show how we can become more aware of our present conscious experience, our thoughts and sensations, and how we can then possibly change them for the better. This if of course a very simplistic and brief explanation of what he says, so please watch the video if you’re interested. I find myself agreeing with him, and would like to know what you all think about it. I’d especially like to hear Nick333’s thoughts, as I’ve seen him mention meditation a few times.

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