Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: September 2014
Duration: 5 hours 55 minutes
Thirty percent of the American public – a growing number – describe themselves as "spiritual, but not religious." Skeptical of religious dogmas and unwilling to believe anything without sufficient evidence, they nevertheless are searching for sacred truth: insights that not only alter their understanding of the world but transform and improve their experience of it. Embarrassed by the hucksterism of the "New Age," they still believe there must be some truth at the heart of the world's spiritual traditions.
Waking Up is written for them. A work of science that is informed by Sam Harris’s personal experience with meditative study, Waking Up is part introduction to cognitive neuroscience, seeker's memoir, ode to contemplative literature, and illumination of the scientific underpinnings of spirituality. By examining the experience of "self-transcendence" and other contemplative insights in the context of our current scientific understanding of the human mind, Harris reveals how the personal transformations available to us—from loving our neighbors as ourselves to transcending the feeling of self altogether—are understood in the context of neuroscience, psychology, and related fields.
Warmer in nature than his previous books, yet asserted with the same intellectual rigor and conviction that we have come to expect, Harris makes the case that virtues like love, compassion, moral goodness and self-transcendence have origins in the sciences. He also reveals how the latest scientific research supports a number of venerable spiritual truths: the ego is a cognitive illusion; positive emotions, like compassion, are trainable skills; and the way we think directly influences our experience of the world. Just as the The Moral Landscape showed how we can derive moral systems without religion, Waking Up reveals how we can achieve spiritual satisfaction and a sense of a higher purpose without the confines of dogma and metaphysics.
Marshaling a large body of neuroscientific and psychological research on the self, social cognition, mental suffering, meditation, and other phenomena, Waking Up shows that it is possible for people to transform their lives by changing the way they pay attention to their moment to moment experience. No other book has married contemplative wisdom and modern science in this way, and no author other than Sam Harris – a scientist and philosopher in one – could write it.