by Jonathan Drake 53 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Jonathan Drake
    Jonathan Drake

    If you are a current practitioner of some religious faith i would appreciate it if you abstained from this thread entirely. Thank you to those who do.

    Im curious if anyone has had what could be discribed as a spiritual experience. I'm currently reading Sam Harris book Waking Up and it's very good so far. It has me thinking about this subject because of how he explains such an experience.

    he states in the book that he responsibly tried ecstasy when he was younger and the alteration of his conscious state brought on a seriously life changing moment in which he realized that love is boundless and no one need love, "because". He realized that were a perfect stranger to walk through the door he would love them. He would want them to be happy.

    He is writing about mankind a inherent spiritual desire. It is his opinion that this desire has been monopolized and misrepresented and misunderstood by religion because the famous sages and prophets who had these experiences viewed them through a lens of faith and dogma.

    i can attest to this, because I have had one such experience as he is describing. And it was literally the same experience, but without the assistance of a drug. I was watching Les Miserables and something about how the message of the plot was portrayed and demonstrated brought on this sudden realization that fits exactly what he is discribing. It was like all at once I realized love is not a two way street and I want everyone to be happy; I will do what I can to make this so at whatever cost to myself I can afford. Of course, at the time I believed in God and I, as he said, viewed this experience through a lens of faith. But the experience was, all the same, life changing. I no longer had certain selfish traits I realized in that moment we're absurd. It can be said that it literally changed my personality.

    So, I'm curious if anyone has had experiences such as these?

  • cappytan
    Coincidentally I just got that same book from the library. Haven't started it yet.
  • Xanthippe

    Yes I have JD but I am not going to describe them on this forum so that some of the philistines here can tear my experiences to pieces just for their own amusement. Very interested in Sam Harris's book, thanks. Totally agree with him and have felt for years, religion has hijacked spirituality, it annoys me intensely.

    I also feel that's why religion has such a hold over people because the feelings we have are part of the human experience, part of our evolutionary development, they are real, not delusional, but we don't know what's going on and sometimes people are frightened by these things. Religion comes along and gives people pathetic, trite explanations that make them feel safe, warm and cosy. Who wants to feel safe, warm and cosy? Bring it on!

  • LisaRose

    I haven't had such a thing happen, but I believe in the possibility as it explains what people of faith experience, speaking in tongues, or why some JWs feel they are of the anointed. Since I don't believe God is talking to them I felt there must something that happens to a person that puts them in an altered state of consciousness.

  • azor
    Just finished listening to it on audio book. The full version is available on YouTube.
  • sparrowdown

    I think many people experience brief moments when they have glimpses of what pure love feels like, and I don't think you have to be high or religious (same thing really) to experience it.

    Mothers and fathers can experience something similar like these waves of pure love when their child is born.

    Very interesting. I love Les Mis as well btw.

  • Oubliette

    JD, great thread. Thanks for starting it.

    I'm a big fan a Sam Harris. Although I don't agree with everything he says or promotes, I appreciate that he gets dialogues going on topics which a lot of people tend to avoid for what I think are obvious reasons: they are controversial because they challenge people's beliefs.

    You should have quoted the full title of Sam's book: Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion

    What I appreciated most about his book was the frank discussion of our "spiritual" nature. I also understood why he had to spend (several pages?) explaining just what HE means by the word "spiritual" in his discussion. I don't have a copy of the book handy, but as I recall he discusses how that word can mean so many different and often conflicting things--ideas and beliefs which he certainly does NOT hold. Nevertheless, we don't really have an appropriate word in English for the ideas which he has come to believe and want to share. And so, within the constraints of meaning as he explains it, that is the word he uses.

    I also like the fact that he exposes how susceptible we are to charlatans and scam-artists (can you say WTBTS?) because of our innate desire for the spiritual.

    As much as I really enjoyed his book for the reasons I listed above, I had a couple of gripes about it.

    One, he talked a lot about the illusion of self. He used this and similar expressions all throughout the book but never clearly articulated exactly what he meant by them. This is, I have found, a common trait of his writing and speaking. It's a little odd because he clearly understood the need to define what he means when he uses the term "spirituality," so I expected he would have done the same regarding his idea of "the illusion of self," but unfortunately--at least as far as I could tell-he never clearly did.

    His 2012 speech on "The Delusion of Free Will" has similar problems. He is clearly using the expression free will to mean something different than what most people mean when they use it, but he never clarifies or defines those shared meanings or differences. Alas, the curse of knowledge.

    Free Will

    Finally, and perhaps this explains his omission regarding the self, the organization of the book was kind of clunky; it didn't flow. It felt like he cobbled together a bunch of essays, notes and blog posts to create a book, yet didn't take the time or effort to edit it for flow and continuity.

    All that being said, I think this is an important book for ex-JWs that are well on their way out of the cult and into a life of purpose and meaning without the baggage of religion. Although not definitive on the subject, Harris' book is thought-provoking and intriguing. While not claiming to provide final answers, it will definitely get you asking the right questions for yourself, which is ultimately what I think Harris is after in this book as well as his general body of work.


  • Jonathan Drake
    Jonathan Drake

    I also appreciate that initial explanation of what he means by spiritual very much.

    Ive not finished it yet, but so far he's made one point in particular that has stuck with me quite strongly. This point he makes is regarding the reality of spirituality and why it need not be taken on faith; he says that the experiences of Buddha, Jesus and other sages and prophets are in agreement with each other with things like loving ones neighbor as yourself. These agreements transcend the religions which spawned in their wake, they agree with each other despite the irreconcilable differences and hatred of one another. If these spiritual experiences are able to agree across the religious board when nothing else can be such a bridge - then there is truly something there.

    i didn't put it quite as elequently as him but that was the jist of his point and I felt it a very powerful and valid one.

  • Xanthippe
    This point he makes is regarding the reality of spirituality and why it need not be taken on faith; he says that the experiences of Buddha, Jesus and other sages and prophets are in agreement with each other with things like loving ones neighbor as yourself. These agreements transcend the religions which spawned in their wake, they agree with each other despite the irreconcilable differences and hatred of one another.

    Well there was an awakening if you want to call it that about 500 BC when the writings of Greek philosophers such as Plato and also ConfucIus and the teachings of Bhudda reflect that people were discussing treating strangers well and being just in dealing with slaves and people from other nations. See the 'Golden Rule' and particularly notice how Confucius used it 500 years before Jesus. Why across the world people decided to suddenly start using ethics in dealing with their fellow man we don't know.

    If you look at scientific discoveries you will find something similar. Usually two or three people were working on the same project before a discovery was made, in different parts of the world, long before the Internet or even telephones.

  • Jonathan Drake
    Jonathan Drake

    So I just had an interesting experience I'm not sure if is legitimate. But I'm going to share it.

    on page 100 of this book Harris suggests sitting for 60 seconds and just being aware without thinking. I did this, and I tried it several times. My latest attempt I was sitting here with my eyes closed just being aware. I heard birds and thought "birds" and and let the thought go by without addressing it. The same happened with vehicles on the road, music I heard next door. And then it hit me all at once that absolutely NONE of these thoughts were mine. They were as involuntary as breathing. They are not what makes me conscious.

    In the moment of this realization I experienced this feeling of not being a self, which is exactly what he states the point is. It startled me out of trying to meditate it was so severe (though brief). It left me with the experience and realization that thinking does not define being. In challenging the famous line, "I think therefore I am" I feel after this experience that this is completely false. Our thoughts, ALL of them, originate with entirely involuntary ideas. I.e., you see the garbage can full and it triggers the thought that it must go out. The thought is completely involuntary. The subsequent decision of whether to take it out or ignore it is another matter, but the mere act of thinking says nothing in terms of being because thoughts are not voluntary - they do not come about by choice.

    as I said, I am unsure of the legitimacy of this experience. This is because it is only my 8th attempt or so at meditation. But it feels very significant to me. It was sort of frightening tbh, but in a sort of fashion I imagine skydiving to be.

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