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Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without…

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (edition 2015)

by Sam Harris (Author)

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4351724,192 (3.69)None
Title:Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion
Authors:Sam Harris (Author)
Info:Simon & Schuster (2015), Edition: Reprint, 256 pages
Collections:Your library, Read

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Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris



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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Very intriguing reading - found myself wanting to underling many passages in the book. Harris' main thesis is that self-transcendence what spirituality is all about, and that it can be achieved through meditation and/or through pharmacology. Not sure that I follow his arguments well or at all sometimes, but I do think he's worth keeping an eye on and re-reading over time. I'm probably not ready for this book yet. ( )
  tgraettinger | Jul 10, 2017 |
Didn't quite resonate with me. May have to re-read... but before that I should read another work by Harriss. If I ever want to. Podcasts of his didn't resonate with me either. ( )
  shakazul | Jul 3, 2017 |
This took me a while to get through, considerably so with that it's not the biggest tome or that its super laden with jargon as some philosophical or scientific books can be. And you definitely get out of this exactly what you expect from the cover "Spirituality without Religion".

I have a hard time placing my thoughts on where this should fall (2 stars, 3 stars, 4 stars, somewhere in between, a mixture of all three?). Because there is some good in here, and there is some real bad in here. Firstly, it's by Sam Harris, one of the upmost atheist commentators alive today (like Hitchens, Dennit, Maher, etc.), and he definitely spends a fair bit of time taking more or less pot-shots at religions (all of them, even gurus like Ginsberg's, etc.). While these are unnecessary, its not out of the realm of expectations going in considering its Harris and the format of the book, but its still pretty needless. Now, while this is needless, I don't find it too problematic (given my bent and given my knowledge of Harris going in), but I can see how this would be a turnoff for some people reading it.

I think his views on ego, and the self, and consciousness is.... a bit .... un-erudite but trying to be erudite? (See what I did there?) He overly poses things scholarly at times with some things that don't have a scholarly background, which I can get his attempts at doing -- trying to make scientific that which never was before. Thats fine and noble... but you need to do a lot more than anecdotal (ie. [not verbatim] this one time I had a bad LSD trip on a boat off shore in Kathmandu, but all of my prior times were perfectly great on it). He does have a very lengthy list of sources and many of them look interesting to look up, but a fair bit of what he speaks of is about his times with this guru or that meditation center, or this learning, or that learning. And while that's all interesting, and fascinating, it doesn't provide the depth to what he's trying to pass off as it should - or maybe as he thinks it should. And I think thats a bit of where Harris's ego comes into play with this, because he's definitely one of the many notable writers with an ego that works into his writings, (see his friend Hitchens), so because of his ego he assumes we should take his views as scientific fact immediately, and due to that ego we (as readers) almost view it in the opposite light (insofar at least I do).

I definitely think I was expecting a little bit (maybe a lot?) more out of this than there was, and it wraps up and ends rather quickly without a huge concrete conclusion. The overall thesis of it is a bit muddled and his thoughts are good... but it does go downhill as the work progresses.

I'm still not sure how to fully think about this or to summarize it even, I am definitely planning on checking out some of his sources, and I really do think there is a lot more to go (scientifically as a community) on our research into the 'ego' and conscious [brain] and consciousness, especially in the mind/self departments. ( )
  BenKline | May 31, 2017 |
Don't be deceived by the title as I was. This is meditation mumbo jumbo cast in the claimed trappings of secularism. I didn't think I ever thought something I'd read from Sam Harris would be a waste of time. Engaging? Usually. Annoying? Occasionally. But this claptrap? Seems a lot of people read this expecting something enlightening about meditation and were disappointed. I read it NOT expecting anything about meditation (silly me) and was disappointed. I'm not sure if I'll be able to read else anything by him in the same way as I did before reading this. I'm having a hard time not docking him credibility points after this ... interesting ... subject.

Now, I should allow that I started reading this in a "mood", and the mood was exacerbated by just finishing Buddhist Boot Camp. I was hoping that Harris could banish that silliness with some intellectual discourse worth considering. Maybe lead me in a good direction on a troubling question of mine: what is the secular equivalence of "spirituality"? Had I not known his particular position with respect to religion, his protestations and assurances that he was not speaking in such terms throughout this book would have appeared to be lip service. This is fuzzy stuff unbecoming a critical thinker. And this is a meandering essay on the "illusion of self" and alleged benefits of mediation and...

Well, let's just say I am annoyed that I read it through, hoping for something redeeming only to have my initial anticipation dashed and my disdain build through the reading.

Apart from my issues with the premise and text, I found some of the writing disturbing...example:“Arranging atoms in certain ways appears to bring about an experience of being that very collection of atoms. This is undoubtedly one of the deepest mysteries given to us to contemplate”.
(Emphasis mine.) "given to us"??? By whom? Typical piss-poor choices of words like that from amateurs open the door for nutcases to distort and undermine intellectual discourse. It's worse when they come from one of Harris's particular pedigree. "Given" implies an outside agency. Maybe that's nitpicking, but even a favorable confirmation bias couldn't get past it.

So it turns out this is a mix of meditation nonsense and things I already knew about the brain. I'm (I assume obviously) not a neuroscientist, but I've read a bit on some of the research refuting Sperry with respect to his so-called "split brain" conclusions. Harris perpetuates them.

And meditation? What the hell is this supposed to mean? We wouldn’t attempt to meditate, or engage in any other contemplative practice, if we didn’t feel that something about our experience needed to be improved.

Really? I can't "contemplate" because I want to think about something? Almost set it aside again after that. But I persisted.

Harris also seems to have some strange love affair with philosophers. This jars my sensibilities, as my confirmation bias on that front is in complete opposition. I consider the career choice of thinking about thinking or some "meaning of life" an abrogation of intellect.

Now, his notes were good. I like well sourced writings with actual, direct references. Too many lazy authors don't source, or don't footnote, preferring instead to provide none or only as detached endnotes. So...one good point to recommend. And it keeps this from getting just one star.

I couldn't help wondering if maybe I had the wrong Sam Harris, but he references the writings of the Sam Harris I thought I was reading. Advocating not thinking? Jeez. I've read enough Buddhist BS on that nonsense to drive anyone with a brain nuts. Thinking is a moral imperative. Not thinking is an affront to the intellect. Reading Harris push it? Yeah...no.

I'm glad this is not the first Harris book I've read. Were it so, there would be no more. As it is, I have to keep looking for someone smarter on the subject of spiritual equivalency with religion. And I have docked him credibility points. A lot.

Don't mistake my generous two stars. This is not a book anyone should read. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
So far the Harris book I liked the most. Clearly written and engaging. He argues his points well - thankfully; often I had to re-read a passage three times in order to grasp it - but remains sober and humble. Above all, he tries exceptionally hard not to be as dogmatic as some of the gurus he refers to. I'm not even sure if I'll actually start practicing meditation, but the book is full of great insight and wonderful tips that one can use without having to sit still for hours on end.
  bartt95 | Mar 3, 2017 |
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