412 Spirituality, what is that again?

Since reading  Waking Up  I have come across a few critiques, one of which  (in the Christian Post, by Mike Dobbins) is scathing. He accuses Harris of lying, as he refers to 'spirituality' in the absence of duality and denies the existence of a soul.

this photo is one in a series

Sam Harris: 

"We must reclaim good words and put them to good use, this is what I intend to do with 'spiritual'. Of course, 'spiritual' and its cognates have unfortunate associations unrelated to their etymology, and I will do my best to cut those ties as well."

Mike Dobbins: 

“The ‘unfortunate associations’ Harris refers to are the very pillars of spirituality which make the word meaningful to the millions of non-religious and spiritual people - like myself - who use it. By rejecting the modern definition of spirituality that may include a higher mystical force or power, reference to a soul, or something that transcends the material world, Harris strips the word of all present day significance. In its place, he substitutes a diminutive definition based strictly on etymology. In other words, an Iron age definition only a handful of people use or are even aware exists.”

This is a critique that supports my own stance of the existence of duality and a soul ... so for better or worse, I find myself agreeing with an opinion piece published on a Christian forum.


Another article  (in the  Huffington Post)  by  Steve McSwain  is more conciliatory and talks about personal experiences in spirituality. Mc Swain refers to my favourite book on Atheist Spirituality, by the French philosopher André Compte Sponville:


André Compte Sponville

“I cannot explain what it was that happened to me but, for a moment, maybe many moments, I felt something, experienced something, so transcendent, so amazing, so joyful and unifying, I felt completely free, unburdened, and in unity with everything … at one with all that is. The whole thing defies explanation, but the consequence of it, has changed me forever. Now, I see things, even life itself, so differently … so fresh. I feel toward all people differently, too. I feel a sense of oneness with everyone, the likes of which I've never ever felt before. I doubt if I will ever be the same."


Steve McSwain:

“Though spirituality goes by many names, the experience itself is quite similar … spirituality, or spiritual experiences, share something in common and that commonality goes something like this: This experience of spirituality, or whatever you wish to call it, does seem to change people for the better. They become more self-aware, self-accepting, self-forgiving. They seem to be more at peace with themselves, with the world, and, equally as important, more at peace with others. They seem more committed to living and leaving a legacy that changes the world, too. Whenever you seek to limit spirituality to your group and then demonize anyone else and their experience, you only limit yourself …”

We are very much on the same page here. I write about my own spiritual experiences in my essay  WHY MEDITATE  in my book with no title but instead three definitions for the term  en.light.en.ment

I also have essays on  SPIRITUAL  and  SPIRITUALITY