Samuel B. Hanser

Since 2017, the Mind & Life Institute’s PEACE grants program has funded projects to support research on interdisciplinary approaches for investigating wholesome qualities related to Prosociality, Empathy, Altruism, Compassion and Ethics (PEACE). Mind & Life is especially interested in research proposals that relate to interconnection or societal issues of othering and disconnection with implications for mental health and well-being. 

We are honored to announce that beginning this year, one PEACE grant of $25,000 will be awarded annually as the Samuel B. Hanser Visionary Grant. (Selections will be made internally for this special designation; no separate application process is required.) This grant, funded by the Samuel B. Hanser Memorial Trust endowment, continues Sam’s legacy by supporting innovative research on contemplative practices for creating a more peaceful world.

Sam believed that the world can be changed—one individual at a time—and he dreamed of developing a center that would use integrated holistic therapies. Through his own exploration of energy work and mind-body practices, he found meditation and looking inward to be powerful tools for healing. It was Sam’s goal to share these methods with others.

At the time of his death, Sam had just defended his Master’s thesis in Somatic Psychotherapies at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Together with his knowledge of interior design, cultivated at the Parsons School of Design in New York City, Sam had hoped to build a clinic for healing and empowerment based on his recent studies of spirituality, counseling, and mind-body practice. 

Sam held the blueprints for a space that bridged traditional therapies with philosophy and contemplative wisdom. His philosophy was to empower inner healing of his clients by addressing the mind, body, and spirit. Healthcare workers would become facilitators and offer a multi-layered support system with meditation at its core, and through the cultivation of internal power, knowledge, and responsibility, those who suffered could live happier and healthier lives. 

In his Master’s thesis, Sam wrote, “Life made a promise to us. It promised us that we are meant to flourish, to blossom and thrive. It promised us that no matter where we find ourselves, things can get better and that we are deeply supported by something much bigger than us.” Sam’s vision inspires Mind & Life to continue fostering flourishing and interconnection, to understand how each of us is part of something much bigger.

“No matter where we find ourselves, things can get better and we are deeply supported by something much bigger than us.”

The Mind & Life Institute is grateful to play a role in honoring Sam’s curiosity, compassion, and determination. The Samuel B. Hanser Visionary Grant will be awarded annually starting in 2020, to be presented by the Hanser family at the Mind & Life Summer Research Institute.