This is my second book recommendation and here I am again recommending a book authored by Sam Harris. And it’s probably not the last time I’ll recommend his books. Allow me to justify why his content gets so much promotion on this blog.
Why I Promote Sam Harris Content
When someone holds a false belief, especially if it’s a core belief, they are likely to accept other concomitant falsehoods. This is why you don’t hear about theoretical physicist flat earthers. Being a theoretical physicist entails beliefs about the physical universe which are incompatible with believing the earth is flat. To knowingly hold contradictory beliefs, the phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance, is psychologically distressing. So people make some effort, however minimal, to reconcile their beliefs to create a consistent picture of reality.
The converse is also true. When someone holds true core beliefs, they’re usually right about concomitant truths as well. I’m vastly oversimplifying and I could mention many caveats but that’s generally the case. On several subject areas of my interest Sam Harris consistently gets it right. He’s adept at navigating the pitfalls others find themselves trapped in when talking about spirituality. Sometimes I learn completely new information from him but I also find that he often expounds on my own thoughts better than I can. I hope I will eventually be as articulate on this blog as he is in his writing. Nonetheless I don’t agree with him about everything and I also don’t desire for my own voice to be identical to his.
When it comes to introducing spirituality to atheists and skeptics, Waking Up is the book to read. I’ve read it and reread it and I couldn’t find any unsupported claims. It’s expressive, relevant and intelligible to sincere truth seekers. Waking Up elaborates on the self in a clearer, more comprehensible way than my own past attempts. It mentions the idea of headlessness which I’ve also talked about before. So before you read anything from other popular spiritual authors, I’d recommend reading Waking Up first. It gives the broader context that other books on spirituality leave out.
Waking Up is a refreshing, rational middle ground on spirituality avoiding both denial of spiritual experiences by skeptics and mystical woo-woo peddled by Deepak Chopra and other pseudointellectuals. I recommend it to anyone remotely interested in spirituality.
To finish off this post, I’ll leave you with a quote from the book.
“Until we can talk about spirituality in rational terms—acknowledging the validity of self-transcendence—our world will remain shattered by dogmatism. This book has been my attempt to begin such a conversation.” – Sam Harris in Waking Up