Harris believes that the guru-disciple relationship is not necessarily to be avoided or thrown out. Mentors can be useful, and sometimes necessary for gaining certain insights. He gives one sign of a potentially healthy guru: humility.
He also prudently warns about the dangers of having a Guru. He gives four clear indicators of a fraud:
- a history as fabulist or con artist (i.e. Joseph Smith)
- a fetish for numbers (i.e. Pythagoras)
- the uttering of prophecy (i.e. Benny Hinn)
- the suggestion that he can change world events through magic
Harris stimulates our philosophical muscles with this book by inviting us to seek an understanding of the nature of the soul or the self. He raises questions about whether a subject even needs an object in order to properly exist, saying that anesthesia awareness is a “cure for much bad philosophy”. I tend to agree.
But he also claims that consciousness is the only thing that’s not an illusion. This implies that there is no concrete, tangible reality out there. I wholeheartedly disagree there. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Harris’ stimulating discourse, and I hope that these conversations will be mulled over and carried forward. Thank you, Sam Harris, for bringing us closer to a science of spirituality.