Book Review by Rob Roi
Neuroscientist, philosopher and best-selling author Sam Harris, in Waking Up, explores important and controversial questions about the human mind, society and current events.
Because 20 percent of Americans claim to be spiritual, but not religious, Harris discusses spiritualty in his first chapter. He attempts to show that a certain form of spirituality is part of understanding the nature of the mind.
He makes it clear that our minds, rather than circumstances themselves, determine the quality of our lives, and that our minds are the basis for everything we experience and every contribution we make to the lives of others—so it only makes sense to train them. Harris claims training the mind can be done through meditation and lists steps on how to meditate.
In his chapter The Mystery of Consciousness, Harris states, “Consciousness is also what gives our lives a moral dimension. Without consciousness, we would have no cause to wonder how we should behave toward other beings. Nor could we care how we were treated in return.”
In the conclusion, he points out that although the stories in the religions might make us feel good, science and technology have proven them false, so we need to change before it’s too late.
Harris concludes, “Spirituality begins with a reverence for the ordinary that can lead us to insights and experiences that are anything but ordinary.”
The Reverend Rob Roi is a parish deacon at St. James’ Dundas.