Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion a book by Sam Harris (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014) was reviewed by Edward Tabash, a constitutional lawyer and chair of the board of directors of the Center for Inquiry, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. Tabash raises many questions about Harris’s claims of meditation.
Originally published in Secular Humanism
Harris writes: “In subjective terms, each of us is identical to the very principle that brings value to the universe. Experiencing this directly—not merely thinking about it—is the true beginning of spiritual life” (206). Excuse me? Play it again, Sam. So, there is a principle that brings value to the universe, identical to ourselves, that we can experience directly, over and above thinking about it? Either prove it or provide us with a surefire technique so we can all experience this.
Harris does not successfully demonstrate that it is more likely than not that our day-to-day awareness of ourselves as a separate being, a “self,” is incorrect. Regardless of what we may experience in meditation, we are still separate human beings in our own separate bodies.
Harris does not convincingly show that his recommended meditation practices are the most effective means of reducing or eliminating human suffering. However, even if these techniques yield only a modest amount of the benefits that Harris claims for them, they are still worth exploring.
Harris says that nothing he writes “needs to be accepted on faith” and that all of his “assertions can be tested in the laboratory” of our own lives (7). Sam, help me have these experiences in a way that I will have no choice other than to regard them as objectively verifiable by anyone who meditates as you recommend. Then, I will be happy to revise what I have written here.
Read the full article via Claims for Meditation’s Benefits Overreach – Council for Secular Humanism.