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Unused words such as love: Sam Harris Daily Meditation 2022.10.11

Today´s meditation is a repeat of many before. There is no specific quote I wanted to chose.

So, this time I will notice some of the words Sam Harris never or only exceptionally uses.

  • To abide

  • To arise

  • To awaken

  • Bliss

  • Compassion

  • To dwell

  • Enlightenment

  • Mindful

  • Wisdom

He studiously avoids a set of emotionally loaded terms and expressions such as love, compassion, and bliss. Special state terms such as awakening and enlightenment. But also more technical terms such as meta-cognitive awareness. Insider terms such as to abide. Even a core term like mindful is used extremely rarely (5 times in 8 weeks).

Avoiding jargon

Highly unusual for a meditation teacher, Sam Harris studiously avoids terms that have the smell of Buddhist insider-speak and might put some people off.

For example, Sam Harris does not use the verb "to abide" (to be in, to rest in) whichinevitablye tells you that someone is steeped in the linguistic tradition of Buddhism. Or, "love" might come across as too touchy-feely.

He addresses a wide audience, some of which are not dyed-in-the-wool Buddhists, but just like to meditate as a mental expansion, without any ideological baggage. This is somewhat like the "secular dharma".

This is quite different from, for example, Daniel P Brown who uses a term like "awareness-love" and believed in rebirth and rainbow body. Or Daniel Ingram, whose writings are full of "awakening". Or Culadasa, whose "The Mind Illuminated" underpins his closeness to cognitive science.

Of course, this approach makes Sam Harris´ meditations acceptable to a much wider audience than the Buddhist community.

I, for example, must admit that I stumble over expressions like "abide" which to me have a signalling function, letting me know that there is a community in which this is spoken, who use words no one else uses.

Here is an example from David Deida, the "spiritual sex teacher" (quoted here). Please note that I believe that he is talking complete bullshit here, but it demonstrates what I said above about signalling spirituality.

If you are truly more Masculine-identified than Feminine, when you stop thinking, the deep silence is blissful. You don’t need to feel something moving, like your thoughts or emotions or body. Intensely awake stillness is sufficient for you to relax. As soon as you stop thinking, you abide as a changeless, ever-present, objectless consciousness, and that feels like your peaceful home.

It´s worth noticing that the above quote contains at least two "jargon terms": to abide, and bliss.

In 8 weeks of daily meditation, Sam Harris has used the term "bliss" only once, and then looks at it from a completely different angle, saying "that´s NOT it", dismissing it as a mere transitory experience.

If at any point when you're practicing You begin to feel especially calm, peaceful, even blissful and you think well, there it is, Meditation is finally working, Notice that inclination to grasp at a transitory experience And, relinquish it. There's no state that you can produce that matters.

About love

It´s not that Sam Harris , as a person, avoids the area of emotions, feelings and compassion entirely. In one Daily Meditation, for example, the suggests being less judgemental and more understanding.

It is also worth listening to "Sam´s Mushroom Trip", his most recent public psychedelic experience, that culminates in "love".


Batchelor, S. (2022, June 3). Stephen Batchelor’s ten theses of secular dharma. Secular Buddhist Network. Retrieved 12 October 2022, from

Harris, S. (2020, March 22). Sam’s Mushroom Trip [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved 12 October 2022, from

Sam Harris Wordlist.

Here it is if you want to check out his weighted but otherwise unprocessed word list of ca 8 weeks. You can run it through, for example.

Mindful Motion 2
Download CSV • 836B


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