THE ENDNOTES for Sam Harris' first book, The End of Faith, contain several positive . Further, in Waking Up, Harris refers several dozen times to his own. For the millions of Americans who want spirituality without religion, Sam Harris’s latest New York Times bestseller is a guide to meditation as a rational practice informed by neuroscience and psychology. Waking Up is part memoir and part exploration of the scientific. PDF | Waking Up: Searching for Spirituality without Religion Sam Harris Bantam Press, , £20, hb, pp. ISBN: Sam.
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From Sam Harris, neuroscientist and author of numerous New York Times bestselling books, Waking Up is for the twenty percent of Americans. Download PDF Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, PDF Book Details Author: Sam Harris Pages: Publisher: Simon. For the millions of Americans who want spirituality without religion, Sam Harris's latest New York Times bestseller is a guide to meditation as a rational practice.
Maddeningly, his book does not deliver on this promise, as other reviewers have also noted. What it does do is present a trivial prescription, not at all original, which is easily summarized: 1 "you" don't exist, and 2 empty "your" mind of all thought. Those that have read Waking Up, should see evidence of my displeasure by noting the deliberately frequent use of "I" and "me" in this review: "I" being the very one who read his book and subsequently wrote this text with some passion.
You, on the other hand, are free to believe what you will concerning yourself. Of course, in this demotion of self and mind, Harris only reiterates ancient well-known aspects of Buddhist philosophy.
He does so here without adding anything new. That reduces what's left of the book to its only other theme: that of the meaning and origin of human consciousness.
Again, Harris adds nothing, this time to the relevant science, which is covered in great depth in several recent authoritative books by other scientists.
Published in , it's quite comprehensive, covering many of the points in Harris's book, with more depth and authority, and going far beyond. In the final analysis, what's left?
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From Sam Harris, neuroscientist and author of numerous New York Times bestselling books, Waking Up is for the twenty percent of Americans who follow no religion but who suspect that important truths can be found in 4.
Throughout this book, Harris argues that there is more to understanding reality than science and secular culture generally allow, and that how we pay attention to the present 5. A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, click button download in the last page 7. You just clipped your first slide! Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.
Although the claim seems to annoy believers and atheists equally, separating spirituality from religion is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. It is to assert two important truths simultaneously: Our world is dangerously riven by religious doctrines that all educated people should condemn, and yet there is more to understanding the human condition than science and secular culture generally admit.
One purpose of this book is to give both these convictions intellectual and empirical support. Before going any further, I should address the animosity that many readers feel toward the term spiritual. Whenever I use the word, as in referring to meditation as a spiritual practice, I hear from fellow skeptics and atheists who think that I have committed a grievous error. The word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus , which is a translation of the Greek pneuma , meaning breath.
Around the thirteenth century, the term became entangled with beliefs about immaterial souls, supernatural beings, ghosts, and so forth. It acquired other meanings as well: We speak of the spirit of a thing as its most essential principle or of certain volatile substances and liquors as spirits.
Nevertheless, many nonbelievers now consider all things spiritual to be contaminated by medieval superstition. I do not share their semantic concerns. And no other word links this spectrum of experience to our ethical lives. Throughout this book, I discuss certain classically spiritual phenomena, concepts, and practices in the context of our modern understanding of the human mind—and I cannot do this while restricting myself to the terminology of ordinary experience.
So I will use spiritual , mystical , contemplative , and transcendent without further apology.
However, I will be precise in describing the experiences and methods that merit these terms. I hope that I have been sufficiently energetic on this front that even my most skeptical readers will trust that my bullshit detector remains well calibrated as we advance over this new terrain. Perhaps the following assurance can suffice for the moment: Nothing in this book needs to be accepted on faith. Although my focus is on human subjectivity—I am, after all, talking about the nature of experience itself—all my assertions can be tested in the laboratory of your own life.
In fact, my goal is to encourage you to do just that. Authors who attempt to build a bridge between science and spirituality tend to make one of two mistakes: Scientists generally start with an impoverished view of spiritual experience, assuming that it must be a grandiose way of describing ordinary states of mind—parental love, artistic inspiration, awe at the beauty of the night sky.
New Age thinkers usually enter the ditch on the other side of the road: They idealize altered states of consciousness and draw specious connections between subjective experience and the spookier theories at the frontiers of physics.
Here we are told that the Buddha and other contemplatives anticipated modern cosmology or quantum mechanics and that by transcending the sense of self, a person can realize his identity with the One Mind that gave birth to the cosmos. Few scientists and philosophers have developed strong skills of introspection—in fact, most doubt that such abilities even exist. Conversely, many of the greatest contemplatives know nothing about science.
But there is a connection between scientific fact and spiritual wisdom, and it is more direct than most people suppose. Although the insights we can have in meditation tell us nothing about the origins of the universe, they do confirm some well-established truths about the human mind: Our conventional sense of self is an illusion; positive emotions, such as compassion and patience, are teachable skills; and the way we think directly influences our experience of the world.
There is now a large literature on the psychological benefits of meditation.
Different techniques produce long-lasting changes in attention, emotion, cognition, and pain perception, and these correlate with both structural and functional changes in the brain.
This field of research is quickly growing, as is our understanding of self-awareness and related mental phenomena. Given recent advances in neuroimaging technology, we no longer face a practical impediment to investigating spiritual insights in the context of science. Spirituality must be distinguished from religion—because people of every faith, and of none, have had the same sorts of spiritual experiences. While these states of mind are usually interpreted through the lens of one or another religious doctrine, we know that this is a mistake.
Nothing that a Christian, a Muslim, and a Hindu can experience—self-transcending love, ecstasy, bliss, inner light—constitutes evidence in support of their traditional beliefs, because their beliefs are logically incompatible with one another. A deeper principle must be at work.
That principle is the subject of this book: The feeling that we call I is an illusion. There is no discrete self or ego living like a Minotaur in the labyrinth of the brain. And the feeling that there is—the sense of being perched somewhere behind your eyes, looking out at a world that is separate from yourself—can be altered or entirely extinguished.
Although such experiences of self-transcendence are generally thought about in religious terms, there is nothing, in principle, irrational about them. From both a scientific and a philosophical point of view, they represent a clearer understanding of the way things are. Deepening that understanding, and repeatedly cutting through the illusion of the self, is what is meant by spirituality in the context of this book.
Confusion and suffering may be our birthright, but wisdom and happiness are available. I am often asked what will replace organized religion. The answer, I believe, is nothing and everything.
Nothing need replace its ludicrous and divisive doctrines—such as the idea that Jesus will return to earth and hurl unbelievers into a lake of fire, or that death in defense of Islam is the highest good. These are terrifying and debasing fictions. But what about love, compassion, moral goodness, and self-transcendence? Many people still imagine that religion is the true repository of these virtues. To change this, we must talk about the full range of human experience in a way that is as free of dogma as the best science already is.
I have not set out to describe all the traditional approaches to spirituality and to weigh their strengths and weaknesses. Rather, my goal is to pluck the diamond from the dunghill of esoteric religion.
There is a diamond there, and I have devoted a fair amount of my life to contemplating it, but getting it in hand requires that we remain true to the deepest principles of scientific skepticism and make no obeisance to tradition. Readers who are loyal to any one spiritual tradition or who specialize in the academic study of religion, may view my approach as the quintessence of arrogance.