I am a free-thinker. I am not a joiner. I tend to walk my own path. In life’s big dividing lines; whether it is politics, religion, philosophy, moral issues, raising my children, I do not follow a religion nor a political party and try to stay away from pre-scripted ideas. Given this mindset, I have been drawn to Sam Harris’ ideas on religion and morality. I do not follow his brand of atheism, as it is just another pre-scripted mindset that closes the mind, but I certainly do follow his example of objective reasoning for drawing personal conclusions.
So it was with enthusiasm that I began his latest book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion to dig deeper into the world of human spirituality without the structure of religion. Overall, I would not recommend this book over a few others that focus on this topic but here are the parts I highlighted as meaningful and true to my own spiritual experiences.
“I make no claims in support of magic or miracles in this book. However, I can say that the true goal of meditation is more profound than most people realize—and it does, in fact, encompass many of the experiences that traditional mystics claim for themselves. It is quite possible to lose one’s sense of being a separate self and to experience a kind of boundless, open awareness—to feel, in other words, at one with the cosmos.”
“Meister Eckhart (ca. 1260–ca. 1327) often sounded very much like a Buddhist: “The knower and the known are one. Simple people imagine that they should see God, as if He stood there and they here. This is not so. God and I, we are one in knowledge.” But he also sounded like a man bound to be excommunicated by his church—as he was.”
“Meditation is a technique for waking up. The goal is to come out of the trance of discursive thinking and to stop reflexively grasping at the pleasant and recoiling from the unpleasant, so that we can enjoy a mind undisturbed by worry, merely open like the sky, and effortlessly aware of the flow of experience in the present.”
“Indeed, the human mind is the most complex and subtle expression of reality we have thus far encountered. This should grant profundity to the humble project of noticing what it is like to be you in the present. However numerous your faults, something in you at this moment is pristine— and only you can recognize it.
Open your eyes and see.”
Harris, Sam (2014-09-09). Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (p. 206). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.