For the millions of Americans who want spirituality without religion, Sam Harris’ new book is a guide to meditation as a rational spiritual practice informed by neuroscience and psychology.
From multiple New York Times best-selling author, neuroscientist, and "new atheist" Sam Harris, Waking Up is for the 30 percent of Americans who follow no religion, but who suspect that Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Rumi, and the other saints and sages of history could not have all been epileptics, schizophrenics, or frauds. Throughout the book, Harris argues that there are important truths to be found in the experiences of such contemplatives - and, therefore, that there is more to understanding reality than science and secular culture generally allow.
Waking Up is part seeker’s memoir and part exploration of the scientific underpinnings of spirituality. No other book marries contemplative wisdom and modern science in this way, and no author other than Sam Harris - a scientist, philosopher, and famous skeptic - could write it.
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An Excellent and Inspiring Listen
I have been a big admirer of Sam Harris's books for some time now. Many of his previous efforts have hinted at the kind of exposition found in Waking Up, and I have eagerly awaited the release of this book as a consequence. I wasn't disappointed. To the contrary, and I can only say this about a handful of books I've read in the past few years, it has truly inspired me. Waking Up gives sober, practical, and yet highly compelling accounts of how we can approach the issues of consciousness and spirituality without the burdens of organized religion and all the toxic baggage it entails. Harris gives a scientific as well as journalistic/experiential account of how the "ego," the subject, the "I" that pervades Western consciousness is an illusion that is a basic source of unnecessary mental anguish in our modern lives. He then walks us through his own journey through several meditating traditions and their transformative effect on his life. Each section of the book is captivating, and truly inspires you to set out on your own journey.
As a secular guy who is deeply troubled by religion, this is precisely the kinds of book I have been looking for. Highly recommended.
Sam Harris is an excellent writer and speaker. His prose is always elegant and concise. His narration is the same -- no nonsense, subdued, yet confident. It is a very engaging listen.
I don't completely agree. BUT THAT SAID...
BOTH spiritual folks AND skeptics need to read this book.The skeptics need to acknowledge the elephant in the room that there is a real phenomenon of expanded consciousness that needs to be studied from a scientific perspective before being dismissed out of hand. And the spiritual folks who don't understand the potential science of "spiritual" consciousness and who think science is an enemy of a spiritual expansion of consciousness... those folks ALSO need this gentle slap to the back of the head. Because spirituality is actually closer to science than it is religion.The reason I love this book is that... as a formerly religious guy who left religion for the contemplative approach to spirituality, I was able to meditate myself into an experience of a complete endogenous 5MeO DMT flush in my brain that catalyzed the dramatic consciousness shift we typically call "spiritual enlightenment". It changed my life. So I'm a completely spiritual guy who is coming into scientific understanding of spirituality from the spiritual side. Sam is simply coming from the other direction, but into the same arena where science meets "spirituality", and they actually coexist happily.While I'm not sure if I agree with Sam that free will is entirely an illusion, I really respect Sam for his open mindedness as a scientist to start to acknowledge something that science has ignored for years out of fear of how to deal with it; subjective experience and subjective data. Subjective experience as seen through a malleable mind is what creates our entire human existence. Therefore the sciences of explaining humanity and our universe should start reflecting this truth, and Sam addresses that elephant in the room eloquently and honestly. Simply put, we DON'T have all the answers to the expanded conscious existence that seems to be beyond the regular operation of brain that we call "spiritual" and that has spawned every major religion on the planet. And it IS rather ridiculous when the religious or new age woo-woo folks start making leaps into trying to link to the quantum sciences to explain their crazy theories about God or consciousness and the phenomenon of consciousness expansion beyond the regular operation of the Default Mode Network in the brain. But there IS something beyond the DMN. We CAN change our brain rhythms and form and function of the brain (and thus consciousness) through our conscious will. That is empirical fact as it has been presented via peer reviewed published studies on plasticity. So we simply need to admit we're at a place where we can neither prove nor disprove how consciousness and shifts in consciousness work, and move to understand the phenomenon with careful and skeptical study on the matter.Yay for Sam! Great book!
I really enjoyed Sam's no-nonsense perspective.
His honesty and open mindedness in discussing what lies beyond waking consciousness from a scientific perspective.
The film tag line for this book should be; "...written by an intellectual bad-ass."
I'm not sure who needs this book more; the religiously atheist folks who deny any potential for non-local consciousness out of hand before even considering the data... or the religiously woo-woo spiritual folks who have no clue that science is focusing in on the things we call "spiritual" and is actually suggesting there is a scientific basis for some of the phenomena we call "spiritual" (but with caveats attached which can help us understand our "spiritual" existence better).