New Atheists like to sell themselves as people who are critical of religion, but in reality, they are better described as anti-Christian and anti-Muslim. A nice illustration of this is Sam Harris. As we know, Harris is a Buddhist who preaches about meditation, psychedelic drug use, and even floated the plausibility of reincarnation in his first book.
Thus, it’s not all that surprising that Harris is the secretary/treasurer of the the Hanuman Foundation. This foundation is essentially a New Age religious organization:
The Hanuman Foundation was established in 1974 as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit educational and service organization in order to “promulgate spiritual well-being among members of society through: a) education and media including events, trainings, publications and recordings, and b) community service programs that support practical applications of benevolent knowledge and ongoing spiritual wisdom traditions in the areas of health, education, the arts, social responsibility, civil society, water and environmental sustainability.”
Jonas Spooner & JB Stubbings note the Foundation is a “Non-Profit whose tax documents list it’s purpose as “Religious publishing activities; Other religious activities”.
The Foundation’s web page states:
From 1974-1997 the Foundation served as a primary vehicle for producing and facilitating educational workshops, retreats, lectures, and gatherings led by Ram Dass (a.k.a., Richard Alpert, Ph.D., see: http://www.ramdass.org ), as well a host other well-known teachers from diverse Eastern and Western contemplative spiritual traditions and practices.
Ram Dass’s web page describes himself as follows:
Ram Dass first went to India in 1967. He was still Dr. Richard Alpert, a prominent Harvard psychologist and psychedelic pioneer with Dr. Timothy Leary. He continued his psychedelic research until that fateful Eastern trip in 1967, when he traveled to India. In India, he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, affectionately known as Maharajji, who gave Ram Dass his name, which means “servant of God.” Everything changed then – his intense dharmic life started, and he became a pivotal influence on a culture that has reverberated with the words “Be Here Now” ever since. Ram Dass’ spirit has been a guiding light for three generations, carrying along millions on the journey, helping to free them from their bonds as he works through his own.
According to Wiki:
Richard Alpert was born to a Jewish family in Newton, Massachusetts. His father, George Alpert, was a lawyer in Boston, president of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, one of the founders of Brandeis University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, as well as a major fundraiser for Jewish causes. While Richard did have a bar mitzvah, he was “disappointed by its essential hollowness”. He considered himself an atheist and did not profess any religion during his early life, describing himself as “inured to religion. I didn’t have one whiff of God until I took psychedelics.”
It sure looks like Sam Harris was influenced by Ram Dass (servant of God).
BTW, the president of the Hanuman Foundation is Jai Lakshman. He was associated with Project Reason when Project Reason still existed.