Harris (2014). Chapter 5: Gurus, Death, Drugs, and Other Puzzles. (Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.)

Harris, S. (2014). Chapter 5: Gurus, Death, Drugs, and Other Puzzles. In Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (EPUB). New York: Simon & Schuster.

“If your golf instructor were to insist that you shave your head, sleep no more than four hours each night, renounce sex, and subsist on a diet of raw vegetables, you would find a new golf instructor.” (¶2)

“Apart from parenthood, probably no human relationship offers greater scope for benevolence or abuse than that of guru to disciple. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the ethical failures of the men and women who assume this role can be spectacular and constitute some of the greatest examples of hypocrisy and betrayal to be found anywhere.” (¶6)

“… nothing is intrinsically boring — indeed, boredom is simply a lack of attention.” (¶14)

“For someone who has not yet succeeded at anything and who probably fears failure, a doctrine that criticizes the search for worldly success can be very appealing. And devotion to a guru — a combination of love, gratitude, awe, and obedience — can facilitate an unhealthy return to childhood. In fact, the very structure of this relationship can condemn a student to a kind of intellectual and emotional slavery. ” (¶16)

“A relationship with a guru, or indeed with any expert, tends to run along authoritarian lines. You don’t know what you need to know, and the expert presumably does; that’s why you are sitting in front of him in the first place. The implied hierarchy is unavoidable.” (¶18)

“… the discomfort one feels when meeting another’s gaze seems like nothing more than a ramification of the very feeling of being a self. For this reason, open-eyed meditation with another person can be a very powerful practice. When one overcomes the resistance to staring into another person’s eyes, the absence of self-consciousness can be especially vivid.” (¶31)

“… numerology is where the intellect goes to die.” (¶42)

“… the ability to meditate — to rest as consciousness for a few moments prior to the arising of the next thought — can offer a profound relief from mental suffering. We need not come to the end of the path to experience the benefits of walking it.” (¶47)

[“Mind On The Brink Of Death” …]

“The truth is that, whatever happens after death, it is possible to justify a life of spiritual practice and self-transcendence without pretending to know things we do not know.” (¶87)

[“The Spiritual Uses Of Pharmacology” …]

“Everything we do is for the purpose of altering consciousness. We form friendships so that we can feel love and avoid loneliness. We eat specific foods to enjoy their fleeting presence on our tongues. We read for the pleasure of thinking another person’s thoughts. Every waking moment — and even in our dreams — we struggle to direct the flow of sensation, emotion, and cognition toward states of consciousness that we value.” (¶88)

“It is possible, however, if not actually plausible, to seize this evidence from the other end and argue, as Aldous Huxley did in his classic _The Doors of Perception_, that the primary function of the brain may be _eliminative_: Its purpose may be to prevent a transpersonal dimension of mind from flooding consciousness, thereby allowing apes like ourselves to make their way in the world without being dazzled at every step by visionary phenomena that are irrelevant to their physical survival.” (¶99)

“Search your mind, or pay attention to the conversations you have with other people, and you will discover that there are no real boundaries between science and any other discipline that attempts to make valid claims about the world on the basis of evidence and logic. When such claims and their methods of verification admit of experiment and/or mathematical description, we tend to say that our concerns are ‘scientific’; when they relate to matters more abstract, or to the consistency of our thinking itself, we often say that we are being ‘philosophical’; when we merely want to know how people behaved in the past, we dub our interests ‘historical’ or ‘journalistic’; and when a person’s commitment to evidence and logic grows dangerously thin or simply snaps under the burden of fear, wishful thinking, tribalism, or ecstasy, we recognize that he is being ‘religious.'” (¶126)

“Once one recognizes the selflessness of consciousness, the practice of meditation becomes just a means of getting more familiar with it. The goal, thereafter, is to cease to overlook what is already the case. Paradoxically, this still requires discipline, and setting aside time for meditation is indispensable. But the true discipline is to remain committed, throughout the whole of one’s life, to waking up from the dream of the self.” (¶128)

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