- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Bantam Press (29 January 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0593074009
- ISBN-13: 978-0593074008
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.9 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality without Religion Paperback – 29 Jan 2015
"Sam Harris reminds us that awakening does not depend on religious belief. With his usual probing clarity, Sam points out the rational methodology for exploring the nature of consciousness." (Joseph Goldstein, author of 'Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening' and 'One Dharma')
"So entirely of this moment, so keenly in touch with the growing number ... who are willing to say that they do not find the succor they crave, or a truth that makes sense to them, in organized religion." (Frank Bruni New York Times)
"Sam Harris ranks as my favourite sceptic, bar none. In Waking Up he gives us a clear-headed, no-holds-barred look at the spiritual supermarket, calling out what amounts to junk food and showing us where real nutrition can be found. Anyone who realizes the value of a spiritual life will find much to savour here – and those who see no value in it will find much to reflect on." (Daniel Goleman, Author of 'Emotional Intelligence' and 'Focus')
"Harris shows how our egos are illusions [and] how abandoning this illusion can wake us up to a richer life, more connected to everything around us." (Jerry Coyne, Professor of Biology at the University of Chicago)
"Waking Up is an extraordinary book ... It will shake up your most fundamental beliefs about everyday experience, and it just might change your life." (Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University)
Spirituality for atheists.See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Especially when as a young Buddhist one of the first things I remember learning is Buddha's admonishment to "Never believe in Dogma. But to sift all teachings(including his) through your own experiential filter. Then if it it still seems valid to try it on". When you just take that teaching into heart and try on the concepts Karma & Reincarnation; it makes the 8 fold noble path a moot point.
But Sam Harris brings a new perspective. Damn You Sam Harris! your arguments takes away my excuses for staying away from the meditation cushion.
It is a pretty dense subject matter. With a chapter on Consciousness and another one on Self. While some of it was new and interesting, other ideas might take 2nd or 3rd reading to get through my thick skull.
I think every Buddhist should read and consider what is laid out here. I highly recommend to anyone who has a intellectual curiosity about spirituality. Yet from my experience I know that only few of the most ardently spiritual would dare to tackle it. Between Sam Harris and Stephen Batchelor's writing they extend the Buddhas admonishment for experiential learning by applying 21st century rationality to the inquiry. These two writers and their writing gives a good intellectual foundation to wade into spirituality with healthy dose of 21st century agnosticism.
All these questions and more are posed to the reader, than Sam Harris explains his views on it via science and logic. I found his arguments sound and in my opinion hard to argue against. Sam Harris is a neurosurgeon and a non-religious spiritual teacher, so he has plenty of experiences to answer these deep questions.
I cannot recommend this book enough. I also suggest listening to his podcast "Waking Up".
According to the author, this book is “an introduction to the brain, a manual of contemplative instruction, and a philosophical unraveling of what most people consider to be the center of their inner lives: the feeling of self we call “I.” There is a deeper principle at work – that the feeling of “I” or “self” is an illusion. The author uses his personal experience to help readers see the nature of their own minds in a new light. We are shown that a rational approach to spirituality seems to be what’s missing from secularism and the lives of most people. The author has spent considerable time seeking experiences of the kind that gave rise to the world’s religions. For example, he notes that he spent two years on a silent retreat in increments of one week to two months practicing different types of meditation for up to eighteen hours per day. That’s determination!
We are introduced to a concept called mindfulness. Facilitating this state may involve a technique called vipassana (meaning insight), or consolation of the Satipatthana Sutta (an empirical guide to freeing the mind from suffering). No worry, we are provided with some instructions from the author on how to meditate properly. In life, we grasp at transitory pleasures, we worry about the future – life is stressful. The “spiritual life” promoted by the author is a solution to bringing this stress to an end. He starts by investigating the nature of consciousness and shows us that by transforming its contents through deliberate training we can achieve the basis of spiritual life.
We our next introduced to a more detailed discussion of “self.” He tries to convince us that this sense of self is just an illusion and that spirituality consists of realizing this moment to moment. He supports this notion by showing that nothing a Christian, Muslim, or Hindu can experience constitutes evidence in support of their belief whether it be ecstasy, bliss, inner-light, or whatever. It is because their beliefs are logically incompatible with one another. In the book, we see that the illusion of the self can be investigated and dispelled. Harris shows how he reached his conclusion through much meditative practice with various “gurus,” and Dzogchen masters. More support for his views comes from a discussion of near-death experiences and drug use.
The author concludes: “Until we can talk about spirituality in rational terms – acknowledging the validity of self-transcendence – our world will remain shattered by dogmatism. This book has been my attempt to begin such a conversation.”