Sam Harris states German Nazis are “comparatively benign” compared to Hamas.

A trauma probably feeds his intensity of views to his one million followers

Samuel Harris, 57 is an American neuroscientist, author, and podcast host. His work touches on the rational mind, neuroscience, meditation, Islam/Jihadis, and artificial intelligence. He has attended Buddhist retreats, spent time in India, explored Advaita (Non-Duality). His latest book is called Waking Up. Sub title: Searching for spirituality without religion. Sam has attended insight meditation (vipassana) retreats since the 1990s. Senior Buddhist teacher, Joseph Goldstein, co-founder of Insight Meditation Society (IMS), Barre, Massachusetts, USA, is one of his primary teachers.

Last year, Sam Harris kindly invited me to have a dialogue with him on his podcast. He has a million subscribers. People take an interest in his views. Prior to the meeting, he kindly gave me as a gift a top of the range voice recorder and microphone for our online dialogue between Totnes and USA.

After the meeting, Sam invited me to record some short guided meditations on themes of non-duality for his listeners. I submitted them but they did not fit with what he had mind. He gave me  a donation (dana) of $3000.00 for my efforts – a generous and supportive gift.

Lady Gaga describes impact of trauma

Last month, I watched on YouTube Lady Gaga speaking to US chat show host, Stephen Alpert, on the eve of the launch five years ago of A Star is Born, a film (movie), which she had the central role.

At the end of the interview, she spoke briefly about her experience as a sexual assault survivor. I edited her words on the impact of a trauma on a person.

Sam Harris has said numerous times over the years that 9/11 had a big impact on him. I believe this horrendous event traumatised him. In Sam’s case, 9/11, seems to trigger a rage directed against Hamas, Jihadis, Muslims and Palestinians, as the closed box opens inside  of himself. It looks like it happened again last week, and other times since the massacre by Hamas upon Israeli citizens on 7 October.

Scene shows the aftermath of the Hamas massacre of 364 Israelis attending the Supernova Festival and 40 others were taken hostage.

This is what Lady Gaga said

“If someone is assaulted, or experiences trauma, there is science and scientific proof. It’s biology that people change. The brain changes and literally, what it does is it takes the trauma and it puts it in a box and it files it away and shuts it so that we can survive the pain.

It can cause complete avoidance of what to even remember, think about what happened to you.

Lady Gaga then referred to a specific example in the news in 2019.

She continues: I believe that I have seen is that when this woman saw on a television a man to be possibly put in the highest position of power in the judicial system of this country, she was triggered and that box opened ….

It seems to me this what happens to Sam – a situation like 7 October triggers the repressed trauma from 9/11.

Lady Gaga specifies one of the ways trauma manifests. Yes, some people, like Sam, can get on with their life until the trigger that exposes the trauma.

Others experience trauma as an ongoing daily impact and in other ways.

When a trauma erupts, it can generate a blind spot to the traumas of all those condemned, such as much of the population of the people of Gaza, the West Bank, Israel and elsewhere. His mind does not understand the deep concerns of much of the world applying their humane and rational views to events in Gaza. Here are a few expressions of those deep concerns

·        Via the UN, 153 countries have appealed to the Israeli government to announce a ceasefire.

·        UN leaders have put out numerous appeals to Israel on behalf of member states to end the wilful destruction of Gaza.

·        USA, the primary defender of Israel and arms providers to the IDF, have finally called for an immediate ceasefire to protect Palestinian civilians.

·        South Africa has taken Israel to the International Criminal Court for allegations of genocide in Gaza.

·        Men, women and children in Gaza die daily while buried under the rubble, from their wounds, die from starvation, lack of medical supplies and denial of basic needs due to Israel’s blockage of aid supplies or allowing only a trickle to enter Gaza through the use of red tape.

·        IDF has engaged in wilful destruction of hospitals, clinics, schools, mosques, offices for international aid and kill medical staff, teachers, social workers, aid workers and journalists…..

·        Eye witness reports of acts of cruelty and terror by IDF soldiers on Palestinians, men, women and children.

Sam Harris refers briefly to the fate Gaza and its children. The immense degree of international pressure on Israel has brought about a small degree of restraint in Israel on the war on Gaza and elsewhere.

IDF has killed around 13,800 children since the war on Gaza started

“This is Sam Harris.”

This is the start of his podcast Making Sense with Sam Harris on 9 April 2024. I have made tiny tweaks for readability.


Well, it’s been six months since October the seventh 2023 and a blizzard of moral confusion about the atrocities committed on that day, and about Israel’s response to them remains something to behold.

The IDF accidentally killed some of the staff working for the chef, Jose Andrea’s aid organisation, World Central Kitchen. This is obviously a tragic accident, and yet much of the world has responded as though it weren’t an accident. That is somehow plausible that the IDF is intentionally murdering aid workers.

The fact that so many people have responded in this way tells you everything you need to know about the status of Israel and the level of moral intelligence out there.

Some people have asked me if the ongoing carnage in Gaza and in particular this killing of aid workers has changed my view of the war. The short answer is No which might be surprising to some of you.

I’ll make a few very condensed points here, which might help explain why I think Israel has absolutely to win this war. Any call for a ceasefire, especially one that doesn’t first demand, the return of the hostages, is not only absurd, but obscene.

Now, generally, I’m very hawkish on the topic of jihadism. I have been ever since September 11 2001.

Please believe me when I say that I wish I never had to touch this topic ever again. It is vile and confusion about it, especially on the part of secular liberals is also vile.

Nothing reduces my faith in humanity more than routinely confronting educated people who have no capacity to discern the moral hierarchy here but difference is so stark and so simple.

There are people who use their own children as human shields or worse as bombed. Or the people who kill their own daughters for the crime of getting raped because they have stayed in the families either.

As is the question of why so many Palestinians have come to support (Hamas), it would be like asking in 1941, why the SS became so radicalised and why do so many millions of Germans support it? I feel exactly the same way about jihad.

Jihad is worse than the Nazis in my view. They don’t have the same power than theirs is heading in the 30s and 40s, which is very good thing and we should keep it that way. But their ideology is actually worse.

Jihadism is essentially Nazism, plus religious fanaticism, plus an eagerness to be martyred and to see their children martyred.

There are many differences between Nazism and jihadism, of course, but they only make the Nazis look comparatively benign.

I have made clear many times before my support for Israel in this conflict is not born of my identity as a Jew, not born of my attachment to the religion of Judaism, of which I have none.

My support for Israel… is born of a spiritual connection to civilization to the norms of open societies to individual rights and freedom of thought, and to secularism and rationality and basic decency that is defined everything that jihadist seek to destroy.

As for the loss of civilian life in Gaza is absolutely horrific as I said before.  That makes sense when you’re watching the bodies of dead children pulled from rubble.

As terrible as the destruction of Gaza is, Hamas is ultimately culpable for what has happened there since October 7.

There was a ceasefire on October 6. IDF has done a better job in waging this war ethically than we (USA) have done

Israel really must destroy Hamas, I haven’t known  how they should go about doing that. Surely the strategy of bombing and occupying Gaza can be debated.

But after October 7th, what can’t be debated is whether Israel is justified in doing what it needs to do to destroy Hamas…

What it needs to do to destroy Hamas, and it does seem quite plausible that some significant invasion and destruction and occupation of Gaza was the only way to do that.

Section of my podcast conversation with  Sam Harris with little signal of trauma when we spoke in 2023 – (00:36:43):


After speaking of his love for his time in India, he said: “ This also could be a remnant of how I came to the conversation in the first place. I came to talk about these things publicly first in the immediate aftermath of September 11th, when we had people flying planes into our buildings thinking they’re going to get to paradise. We had fundamentalists to speak specifically of the American experience. We had fundamentalist religious Christians calling for a holy war against Islam. We have delusional people saying that Islam is a purely a religion of peace that’s been hijacked by extremist and there are no religious or spiritual concerns wrapped up in what Al-Qaeda was doing.

So there’s just an immensity of confusion around people’s existential concerns and beliefs. So I wandered into that morass with at least two very strong convictions. One is, there is a reality to recognize through meditation and other contemplative methods, and that part is true, and yet, there’s no reason why humanity needs to be divided from itself on the basis of religious dogmatism. We have a common project, so.


I mentioned to you of having the benefit of my experiences through the Catholic upbringing with all the limitations…I travelled through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Malaysia, Sumatra and Java (in Indonesia) – all Muslim countries, plus six years as a Buddhist monk.  I spent more than seven years in India and made annual visits to Palestine and Israel for nearly 30 years (1992-2020) . I have experience of Muslim and Jewish communities, a reasonably wide range of international experience. I teach people of all faiths, no faiths, secular and scientific. Years of experience have  a significant influence (of my views).

There are the varieties of extremism and idealism in  religion there, but there are much more as well.

I am not a Buddhist…I think there is a healthy dialogue to be made between the religious, secular and spiritual. That’s the way forward in the 21st century. What’s your response?

Sam Harris

Well, I think most of what people are getting from religion are right to want to get from religion, which is to say the right to value, the good stuff. Community can be gotten without religion. Right? I would be the first to admit that we don’t have great secular alternatives for every aspect of community….

Final Response

I believe Sam has much to offer but his compulsive desire to promote his rage on podcast towards Hamas, Islam and Palestinians blocks the capacity to see outside his probable trauma.

In my view, his decades of Buddhist meditation practices and non-dual practices have not addressed this unresolved issue within, though he surely benefitted in other areas, as his recent book shows.

Teachings of Non-duality (Advaita) includes absence of identification with claims to ‘civilization’ of the West/Israel as one extreme and absence of hate of Hamas as the other extreme in dualistic thinking, so often prevalent in trauma.

I believe it is time for Sam to look into secular therapies to develop a humane and civilised view rather than explore Buddhism/spiritual teachings.

A humane and civilised life shows itself in the dedication to resolve suffering through wise means – regardless of secular, spiritual or religious beliefs.

I am sending this post onto Sam.

May all beings understand dynamics of the mind
May all beings live with clarity
May all beings speak and act with wisdom.

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