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Friday, May 12, 2023

The RAW Semantics book club [UPDATED] [UPDATED AGAIN]


Brian directs our attention to a book on sale for practically nothing as a Kindle: "Chris Niebauer's 192-page 'No Self, No Problem Workbook' - going for £0.79 or $0.99 on Amazon Kindle format. He uses a left/right brain model, has lots of fun head "exercises", and, like RAW, deconstructs abstract generalisations and group fictions, etc." [UPDATE] Note that he's actually talking about the workbook version of the title. There are actually two very similar titles, and I bought both; both are dirt cheap. 

It sounded interesting so I bought it. Certainly the doctrine of "no self" is important to Buddhism, and I'm pretty sure Alan Watts wrote a book on it, e.g. The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

Here is some of the publisher's description for Niebauer's book: 

"While in grad school in the early 1990s, Chris Niebauer began to notice striking parallels between the latest discoveries in psychology, neuroscience, and the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, and other schools of Eastern thought. When he presented his findings to a professor, his ideas were quickly dismissed as “pure coincidence, nothing more.”

"Fast-forward 20 years later and Niebauer is a PhD and a tenured professor, and the Buddhist-neuroscience connection he found as a student is practically its own genre in the bookstore. But according to Niebauer, we are just beginning to understand the link between Eastern philosophy and the latest findings in psychology and neuroscience and what these assimilated ideas mean for the human experience."

Update: The idea of an online book club has been floated on Twitter.  If you aren't on Twitter and you want to indicate that you would take part, perhaps leave a comment here. 


Hugh said...

Thanks for sharing this, Tom! Am definitely going to check it out. No-self, non-dualism, ego death, headlessness, whatever you want to call it, has been a focus and fascination for me since RAW introduced me to the topic.

I can't say I've yet had the kind of samadhi experience described by RAW or any of the other mystics. But it's certainly something I'm "working" toward, fully aware that working toward it may result in never "getting" it.

Watts's book you reference here is one the more impactful for me. I've lately found advaita teachings to resonate the most. One particular book I loved was I Am That by Sri Maharaj. Philip Kapleau's Three Pillars of Zen is another great one. It has conversations between students and the roshi where the roshi tries to discern whether they've had a legitimate satori experience (I forget what those sessions are called?).

I've only recently stumbled upon the Christian contemplative tradition through Cynthia Bourgeault's work, and find it too to be powerful. She makes a strong case that Jesus's teachings were koans aimed at transforming dualistic consciousness -- yet she presents them as having unique and additional elements beyond traditional eastern spirituality.

I also really like Sam Harris's Waking Up app for non-dualistic teachings and meditations too. I imagine most people only know him as one of the New Atheists, but I find his interest in Buddhism and non-dual consciousness to be very deep and profound. He introduced me to the work of Douglas Harding (of the "Headless Way" school), who RAW references in a few places (and who incidentally died the same day as RAW). The Waking Up App has been a great source for finding new non-dual teachings.

Would love to hear anything and everything others have to say on this topic. Is this something most of us here are into? I've always wondered that.

Brian Dean said...

I should have mentioned that there are two books - the original 'No Self, No Problem' (2019) and the 'No Self, No Problem Workbook', which was published a few weeks ago (and which was the book I originally tweeted about). BOTH are the same ultra-cheap price on Amazon (for Kindle editions). The 'Workbook' seemed more RAW-relevant, because of its practical format with "exercises" (and it also gives the general approach and "theory" - you don't need to read the other book first). It'd be good to get your thoughts in the proposed discussion, Hugh.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

OK, I've bought both. Still cheaper than most cups of coffee these days.

Lvx15 said...

I’m into it. It being Emptiness. Will pick those up.

Here’s a connection that might be RAW relevant. I think of my meditation teacher as Michael Taft… check out the “deconstructing yourself” podcast - title another emptiness reference. Taft worked for Sounds True years back and is the interviewer of on their Robert Anton Wilson Explains Everything release.

He’d be a great Hilaritas podcast guest.

Hugh said...

Not on Twitter but would def take part.