“The fact that one can lose one’s sense of self in an ocean of tranquility does not mean that one’s consciousness is immaterial or that it presided over the birth of the universe.” Sam Harris
Another fascinating and insightful read of the year. Sam Harris is the author of five New York Times best sellers including this one and writes on the topics of neuroscience, religion, meditation, politics and philosophy. He also has a kick-ass podcast that was introduced to me by a friend that has become a bit of a favourite.
Sam Harris is deep and very knowledgeable. If I am honest much of what he talks about is over and beyond my simplistic mind but when I do manage to handle his language and thoughts I am inspired beyond which words can’t describe – speechless!
This book is an insightful perspective on how one can lead a spiritual existence without religion. Sam picks apart most faiths to expose the deeper truth. I believe he highlights both the beauty and falseness of religion. In doing so he shows how one can obtain greater happiness by adopting a contemplative life.
Meditation is something very new to me. While I have practiced is now for about 3 years with some level of consistency there is still much that I don’t understand and much more that I can learn and improve in practice. Sam assists to illuminate the science behind meditation and mindfulness in a way that has given me greater perspective.
Happiness is one topic that I discuss often at The Hidden Why. The reason is because I seek greater happiness in my own life, and I seek to inspire others to do the same. On the surface I may appear wise and composed but within there is a constant battle. I seem to have an unquenchable dissatisfaction with life. Perhaps I am not alone. As things seem to improve and make greater sense I find myself constantly falling back to a sense of hollowness and emptiness.
This me or I that I talk about is the source of my suffering. It is the driver of my ambitions, it is the strength of my existence, it is the weakness of my world, it is the pain and inner turmoil. My mindfulness and meditation practice has seen gradual healing in this regards. Like water on a fire meditation has calmed this need to please the “I” to a mere smoulder.
Harris talks about selflessness. He shares a story of a time he sat on top of the mountain where it was said the Jesus gave his most famous sermon and as he fell deep into gaze and thought and as he described it, “I no longer felt like I was separate from the scene, peering out at the world from behind my eyes.”
I talk about the why and often refer to it as our soul and essence. Sam would surely argue that there is no such thing. He refers to this kind of experience as “selflessness consciousness.” The self he would say is a cognitive illusion. There is no “I” driving our ship in life. We just think it exists. Meditation can help us see beyond this illusion.
However, what sense do we make of life without a self. The science and thoughts that Sam shares are perhaps beyond my current understanding but I would suggest that an attachment to a “Self” allows us to explore greater meaning and happiness in life. If I cannot relate me with me than who am I and what is this existence. Is the purpose of life and indeed our consciousness to give us meaning to this existence? There is truth and then there is what’s true.
I agree that a Self and the need to please it often causes much of our suffering in life but using mindfulness to our benefit we can help train the illusive monster of Self to be better controlled and ensuring it does not control us. It has helped me to see beyond this Self, making my significance and importance less than it is, and being more at one with the world and existence itself. With this I find greater calmness, pleasure, happiness and meaning.
There is much to reflect on with Sam’s thoughts. It has left me feeling with a sense of wow! I attest that spiritualty is not saved for those enlightened ones or religious followers but everyone that seeks greater meaning in life. We can all find it if we simply need to spend more time observing the mind and when we do that we find greater peace.
If this book sounds of interest you can purchase Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion here.
Please leave your thoughts, comments & questions below.
Peace, passion and purpose…
Other books of interest…