Category Archives: Science and Spirituality

Non-dual spirituality non-self vs Atheist non-self

When you believe* in the spiritual concept of ‘liberation’ i.e. a recognition/realisation of the delusion of a separate self, but you don’t have ‘life after death’ beliefs e.g. a belief in heaven, reincarnation etc. – then ‘liberation’ amounts to this:

1) either ‘dying’ when you die i.e. the concept of a separate self dies when your body dies – as for most people

2) or ‘dying’ a few years before you die i.e. the concept of a separate self dies and one’s own experience is transformed into ‘life experiencing life’

Given that for these people liberation only amounts to a few years of changed experience (often quite joyful) … does ‘liberation’ actually amount to much anyway? Is it actually such a ‘big deal’?

Presumably this is ‘something’ like the way Sam Harris (an atheist philosopher) and Tony Parsons (a ‘liberated’ ‘person’) experience the world (at least sometimes during meditation in the case of the former, permanently in the case of the later).

Since neither ‘believe’ in free-will, do they both doubt that you can ‘do’ anything about the outcome either?

* Strictly speaking – perhaps its not appropriate to refer to spiritual teachers as ‘believing’ certain words such as those written here – since they would say that this is the way they ‘experience’ reality – not a set of beliefs they have ‘about’ reality.

Sam Harris:

Tony Parsons:


Apophatic science: An attempt to assist in experiencing ultimate reality by developing scientific (largely psychological/neuroscientific) insights into and models of the mental processes which inhibit this experience. Apophatic science is a complement to apophatic theology which attempts – through non-scientific means – to achieve unity with ultimate reality, by gaining knowledge of what ultimate reality is not.


With the relaxing of just one rarely-doubted but firmly-held assumption – that we have a separate ‘self’ – the seemingly incoherent and mundane utterances of certain spiritual teachers can become meaningful, significant and perhaps even scientifically tractable.


Measuring non-attachment

Perhaps the most beautiful and insightful – albeit double-barrelled – personality test item I have ever seen –

“I find I can be calm and/or happy even if things are not going my way.”

Answer with the following:
1 = Disagree Strongly,
2 = Disagree Moderately,
3 = Disagree Slightly,
4 = Agree Slightly,
5 = Agree Moderately, and
6 = Agree Strongly.

From paper: A Scale to Measure Nonattachment

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