Tuesday, September 8, 2015

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

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without ReligionWaking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I try to approach books with an open mind. As I go through my cycle I have religion/philosophy as a genre I try to read each cycle. An added little thing that I try to do is switch between Christian and other books each time I read. The non-Christian book doesn't have to be anti-Christian, just non-Christian. The last Sam Harris book I read wasn't terrible. It didn't convince me to abandon religion/Christianity, but it did make me think and it was more well argued than anything I've read or heard by the other two parts of the "New Atheist 'Trinity'" (Christopher Hutchins or Richard Dawkins). This is probably in part because Harris is actually a philosopher rather than having his main career in another field. None-the-less, other than me having a passing curiosity about meditation this book was a lot of crazy. Somehow, Harris argued that the self doesn't exist. I think I followed the argument, but I do not buy it, maybe I need to meditate to be enlightened, but it seems like a stretch to me. He also claims that although religion is bunk religious ideas can be good, especially if they are eastern and deal with mediation or a focus on oneself rather than a god. The other thing that really bothered me about the book is his insistence on finding a good guru to help guide you, and that he wasn't a good guru, and yet he tried to do the work anyway, rather than just recommending someone else's works. I'm sure you don't have to be an expert to teach beginning level stuff (after all I teach a variety of science topics and am not an expert on any specific field), but it seems to me that it would be better to be a guide who shows the way to good resources, rather than trying to be a poor resource to those being guided. Anyway, I'm glad this wasn't the first Harris book I read because otherwise I think I would have lost any respect I had for him.

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