I read this book because I wanted to understand Christianity more deeply and maybe even to appreciate it more. I don't think this was the right book fI read this book because I wanted to understand Christianity more deeply and maybe even to appreciate it more. I don't think this was the right book for that though. I understand that Thomas Aquinas is an immensely important figure in Christian thought, but after reading this short introduction I'm left not fully understanding why.
I do feel like I have a better handle on what Thomas Aquinas was about though. It's interesting to get submerged in the theological thought and practice of the time, even if much of it does not seem that relevant today.
I'm not sure if the book is that well written, it may be a consequence of the subject matter, but some sentences were difficult to read and understand and it was not always clear whether the author was speaking their own views or those of Thomas Aquinas. I did find the consideration of the modern reader and the explorations of context and the changing meaning of words insightful.
All in all I learned some interesting things about theology at the time and one thing I found very interesting was how Aristotle came to the Christian world from the Classical world via the Islamic world. However, I suspect that only a very niche audience would be interested in this book....more
The explanatory text was helpful as a guide through the Gita. Some of the concepts here are quite foreign to me (like gunas for instance, which I'm stThe explanatory text was helpful as a guide through the Gita. Some of the concepts here are quite foreign to me (like gunas for instance, which I'm still not sure I have fully grasped), but some of the most profound parts of the book require no explanation. In the Gita I found some of the most compelling descriptions of God and oneness I have found in any text I've read so far. The advice on how to live your life was valuable too, but I'd love to be able to explore it further in my own dialog with Krishna.
The text is fairly short and well worth a read for anyone interested in these sorts of things....more
I feel like I learned a lot from this book and it definitely had an impact on the way I think about happiness. This isn't a book that gives you all thI feel like I learned a lot from this book and it definitely had an impact on the way I think about happiness. This isn't a book that gives you all the answers, but it gives you plenty to think about and reflect on. It covers a very broad range of topics (love, work, morality, politics, psychology, religion etc) all from a modern scientific perspective - the author is clearly very well-read and although there was plenty in this book I'd already heard of, there was also plenty that I hadn't and I gained some new and really interesting insights.
My main personal takeaway from this book is that I should invest more in the people in my life and the relationships I have, and it's interesting that I could say that from an entirely selfish point of view as evidence suggests that it is likely to make me happier!
There were some other interesting personal takeaways in here, like how Buddhism and Soicism are correct in saying happiness comes from within, but may not be entirely correct in implying it does not come from external conditions. I also like the traditional idea of morality as virtue and am quite compelled by the idea of developing my strengths and character as a path towards virtue (as opposed to focussing solely on the moral quality of my actions).
The author's discussion on religion has also made me wonder whether we have not lost something in the process of removing the categories of profane and sacred from our world, and I found the discussion around the axis of conservative vs liberal quite interesting - I definitely agree both sides of the political spectrum can be guilty of painting the other as evil which can harm political discourse and blind them from attaining a more holistic and integrative perspective.
Very good book and worth reading for anyone with an interest in the area of positive psychology....more
This book wasn't really "A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion" so probably should not have been called that as it is misleading. Instead it was a This book wasn't really "A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion" so probably should not have been called that as it is misleading. Instead it was a presentation of thoughts, ideas and research around subjects like spirituality, religion, meditation, gurus, near death experiences and psychoactive drugs. Even though it wasn't really a guide of any sort it was still pretty interesting, informative and engaging.
One of the core tenets of the book is that spirituality is about realizing the self is an illusion, but I'm left at the end of the book not really sure what Sam Harris means by the "self" here or why it's so important to free myself from it....more