Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment

Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment➮ [Ebook] ➩ Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment By Robert Wright ➺ – Jobs-in-kingston.co.uk From one of America s greatest minds, a journey through psychology, philosophy, and lots of meditation to show how Buddhism holds the key to moral clarity and enduring happinessRobert Wright famously is True: ePUB ↠ From one of America s greatest minds, a journey through psychology, philosophy, and lots of meditation to show how Buddhism holds the key to moral clarity and enduring happinessRobert Wright famously explained in The Moral Animal how evolution shaped the human brain The mind is designed to often delude us, he argued, about ourselves and about the world And it is designed to make happiness hard to sustain But if we Why Buddhism MOBI :¿ know our minds are rigged for anxiety, depression, anger, and greed, what do we do Wright locates the answer in Buddhism, which figured out thousands of years ago what scientists are only discovering now Buddhism holds that human suffering is a result of not seeing the world clearly and proposes that seeing the world clearly, through meditation, will make us better, happier people In Why Buddhism is True, Wright leads readers on Buddhism is True: Epub Þ a journey through psychology, philosophy, and a great many silent retreats to show how and why meditation can serve as the foundation for a spiritual life in a secular age At once excitingly ambitious and wittily accessible, this is the first book to combine evolutionary psychology with cutting edge neuroscience to defend the radical claims at the heart of Buddhist philosophy With bracing honesty and fierce wisdom, it will persuade you not just that Buddhism is true which is to say, a way out of our delusion but that it can ultimately save us from ourselves, as individuals and as a species. A faraccurate title for this book would be Why Mindfulness Meditation is Good For as Wright who does not consider himself a Buddhist admits, he is not really here to talk about any form of traditional Buddhism He does not even present a strictly orthodox view of any secular, Western variety of Buddhism Instead, this is a rather selective interpretation of some Buddhist doctrines in the light of evolutionary psychology Wright s essential message is that the evolutionary process that A faraccurate title for this book would be Why Mindfulness Meditation is Good For as Wright who does not consider himself a Buddhist admits, he is not really here to talk about any form of traditional Buddhism He does not even present a strictly orthodox view of any secular, Western variety of Buddhism Instead, this is a rather selective interpretation of some Buddhist doctrines in the light of evolutionary psychology Wright s essential message is that the evolutionary process that shaped the human brain did not adequately program us for life in the modern world and that mindfulness meditation can help to correct this bad programming The first of these claims is fairly uncontroversial To give an obvious example, our love of salt, beneficial when sodium was hard to come by in natural products, has become maladaptive in the modern world where salt is cheap and plentiful Our emotions, too, can misfire nowadays Caring deeply that people have a high opinion of you makes sense when you are, say, living in a small village full of people you know and interact with daily but it makes little sense when you are surrounded by strangers on a bus This mismatch between our emotional setup and the newly complex social world is one reason for rampant stress and anxiety Something like a job interview trying to impress a perfect stranger to earn a livelihood simply didn t exist for our ancestors This can also explain tribalism, which Wright sees as the most pressing danger of the modern world It makes evolutionary sense to care deeply for oneself and one s kin, with some close friends thrown in and those who fall outside of this circle should, following evolutionary logic, be treated with suspicion which explains why humans are so prone to dividing themselves into mutually antagonistic groups But how can mindfulness meditation help Most obviously, it is a practice designed to give us some distance from our emotions This is done by separating the feeling from its narrative In daily life, for example, anger is never experienced purely we always get angry about something and the thought of this event is a huge component of its experience But the meditator does her best to focus on the feeling itself, to examine its manifestation in her body and brain, while letting go of the corresponding narrative Stripped of the provoking incident, the feeling itself ceases to be provocative and the anger may even disappear completely Explained in this way, mindfulness meditation is the mirror image of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT In CBT the anger is attacked from the opposite side by focusing on the narrative and subjecting it to logical criticism In my experience, at least, the things one tells oneself while angry rarely stand up to cool analysis And when one ceases to believe in the thought, the feeling disappears The efficacy of both mindfulness meditation and CBT, then, is based on the interdependence of feeling and thought If separated either by focusing on the feeling during meditation, or the thought through analysis the emotion disappears This, in a nutshell, is how mindfulness meditation can be therapeutic But Wright wants to make a fargrandiose claim that mindfulness meditation can reveal truths about the nature of mind, the world, and morality One of the central ideas of Buddhism is that of emptiness that the enlightened meditator sees the world as empty of essential form The first time I encountered this idea in a Buddhist text it made no sense to me but Wright gives it an intriguing interpretation Our brain, designed to survive, naturally assigns value to things in our environment based on how useful or harmful they are to us These evaluations are, according to Wright s theory, experienced as emotional reactions I have quite warm and fuzzy feelings about my laptop, for example and even the communal computers where I work evoke in me a comforting sense of familiarity and utility These emotions, which are sometimes very tiny indeed, are what give experiential reality a sense of essence The emotions, in other words, help us to quickly identify and use objects I don t have to closely examine the computers, for example, since the emotion brings their instrumental qualities quickly to my attention The advantages of this are obvious to anyone in a hurry Likewise, this emotional registering is equally advantageous in avoiding danger, since taking time to ponder a rattlesnake isn t advisable But the downside is that we can look at the world quite narrowly, ignoring the sensuous qualities of objects in favor of an instrumental view Visual art actively works against this tendency, I think, by creating images that thwart our normal registering system, thus prompting us into a sensuous examination of the work Good paintings make us into children again, exploring the world without worrying about making use of things Mindfulness meditation is supposed to engender this same attitude, not just with regards to a painting, but to everything Stripped of these identifying emotional reactions, the world might indeed seem empty empty of distinctions, though full of rich sensation With objects, it is hard to see why this state of emptiness would be very desirable Also it should be said that this idea of micro emotions serving as registers of essential distinctions is Wright s interpretation of the psychological data, and is rather speculative But with regards to humans, this mindset might have its advantages Instead of attributing essential qualities of good and bad to somebody we might see that their behavior can vary quite a bit depending on circumstances, and this can make us less judgmental andforgiving Wright also has a go at the traditional Buddhist idea that the self is a delusion According to what we know about the brain, he says, there is no executive seat of consciousness He cites the famous split brain experiments, and others like it, to argue that consciousness is not the powerful decision maker we once assumed, but islike a publicity agent making our actions seemcogent to others This is necessary because, underneath the apparent unity of conscious experience, there are several domain specific modules such as for sexual jealousy, romantic wooing, and so on that fight amongst themselves in the brain for power and attention Each module governs our behavior in different ways and environmental stimuli determine which module is in control Our consciousness gives a sense of continuity and coherence to this shifting control, which makes us look better in the eyes of our peers or that s how the theory goes, which Wright says is well supported In any case, the upshot of this theory still would not be that the self doesn t exist only that the self isfragmented and less executive than we once supposed Unfortunately, the book steeply declines in quality in the last few chapters where Wright tackles the most mystical propositions of Buddhism when the final stage of the no self argument is given This leads him into the following speculations If our thoughts are generated by a variety of modules, which use emotion to get our attention and if we can learn to dissociate ourselves from these emotions and see the world as empty if, in short, we can reach a certain level of detachment from our thoughts and emotions then, perhaps, we can see sensations arising in our body as equivalent to sensations arising from without And maybe, too, this state of detachment will allow us to experience other people s emotions as equivalent to our own, like how we feel pain from seeing a loved one in pain In this case, can we not be said to have seen the true oneness of reality and the corresponding unreality of personal identity These lofty considerations aside, when I am struck by a car they better not take the driver to the emergency room and when Robert Wright gets a book deal he would be upset if they gave me the money My point is that this experience of oneness in no way undermines the reality of distinct personal identity, without which we could hardly go a day And this state of perfect detachment is arguably, contra Wright, a far less realistic way of seeing things, since being genuinely unconcerned as to whom a pain belonged, for example, would make us unable to help Also in this way, contra Wright, it would make us obviously less moral More generally, I think Wright is wrong in insisting that meditation can help us to experience realitytruly Admittedly, I know from experience that meditation can be a great aid to introspection and can allow us to deal with our emotionseffectively But the notion that a meditative experience can allow us to see a metaphysical truth the unreality of self or the oneness of the cosmos I reject completely An essentially private experience cannot confirm or deny anything, as Wright himself says earlier on I also reject Wright s claim that meditation can help us to see moral realityclearly By this he means that the detachment engendered by meditation can allow us to see every person as equally valuable rather than selfishly considering one s own desiresimportant Now, I do not doubt that meditation can make people calmer and even nicer But detachment does not lead logically to any moral clarity Detachment is just that detachment, which means unconcern and morality is impossible without concern Indeed, it seems to me that an enlightened person would be even less likely to improve the world, since they can accept any situation with perfect equanimity Granted, if everyone were perfectly enlightened there would be no reason to improve anything but I believe the expression about hell freezing over applies here Aside from the intellectual weakness of these later chapters, full as they are of vague hand waving, the book has other flaws I often got the sense that Wright was presenting the psychological evidence very selectively, emphasizing the studies and theories that accorded with his interpretations of Buddhism, without taking nearly enough time to give the contrasting views On the other hand, he interprets the Buddhist doctrines quite freely so in the end, when he says that modern science is confirming Buddhism, I wonder what is confirming what, exactly And the writing, while usually quite clear, was too hokey and jokey for me Last, I found his framing of meditation as a way to save humanity from destructive tribalism as both na ve and misguided In brief, I think that we ought to try to create a society in which the selfish interests of the greatest number of people are aligned Selfish attachment, while potentially narrow, need not be if these selves are in enmeshed in mutually beneficial relationships and some amount of attachment, with its concomitant dissatisfactions, seems necessary for people to exert great effort in improving their station and thus changing our world Encouraging people to become selflessly detached, on the other hand, besides being unrealistic, also strikes me as generally undesirable For all the suffering caused by attachment of which I am well aware I am not convinced that life is better without it As Orwell saidMany people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings The problem with introspection is that it has no endPhilip K Dick For years I ve told people I was a Zen Mormon More as a way to squirm into the edges of LDS cosmology, and less because I was practicing anything really approaching a hybrid of Buddhism and Mormonism But I ve always been attracted to Buddhism, like many Westerners before me I m thinking of Herman Hesse, W Somerset Maugham, Jack Kerouac, and Peter Matthiessen I ve always been attracted to the intersection of cultures, pThe problem with introspection is that it has no endPhilip K Dick For years I ve told people I was a Zen Mormon More as a way to squirm into the edges of LDS cosmology, and less because I was practicing anything really approaching a hybrid of Buddhism and Mormonism But I ve always been attracted to Buddhism, like many Westerners before me I m thinking of Herman Hesse, W Somerset Maugham, Jack Kerouac, and Peter Matthiessen I ve always been attracted to the intersection of cultures, philosophies, etc So, I guess it is natural for me to be attracted if somewhat lazily to Western Buddhism, Zen gardens, and the potential of mediation.I m also a big, nerdy fan of Robert Wright I ve read most of his books It is probably easier to just post the one book of his I haven t read, rather than list the ones I have I enjoy Wright s evolution from Evolutionary Psychology to Buddhist writings I think the premise of Wright s book is mostly correct There is something that evolution has burdoned us with, that meditation specifically Mindfulness Meditation and Buddhism can help us with The books title, I should note here, IS a little off putting I think Wright almost meant it as a joke with a hook of truth It comes across like some Mormon, Southern Baptist or Jehovah s Witness tract a bit evangelical But Wright is not just trying to convert the reader and he s not exactly NOT trying to convert the reader either He lays out pretty good arguments about how Evolutionary Psychology and behavioral psychology show lots of caveats, obviously the mind is complex and not everyone agrees with everything that a lot of our feelings, motives, choices are built on genetic coding which might actually make us unhappy, unhealthy, etc The Buddhists seemed to have climbed that mountain before us Wright seems less of a philosophical or religious Buddhist andof a pragmatic Buddhist I think his time studying how religion, the mind, behaviors, etc., have evolved over time has also provided him with ample evidence about how these traits that were evolved to help ourprimitive selves reproduce, survive, etc., don t always help us in a modern age that includes HR departments, Facebook, politics, etc Buddhism, Wright would argue, can help untangle some of these evolutionary knots So What does this book mean for me Someone who calls himself mostly in jest a Zen Mormon who has spent exactly 10 minutes mediating in a half assed way Well, I m thinking of hooking up with a local Buddhist Meditation group and giving Mindful Mediation a try I m pretty chill, but I think mindfulness can only help I m also not above exploring truth beyond my own familiar cosmology When I told my wife and kids of my plan, they did laugh however My wife suggested meditation might not be easy for me, given my competitive nature.Wife You can t win at meditation D8u Sure you can, isn t enlightenment basically winning Daughter Yeah Mom, the Buddha definitely won D8U See My daughter, laughing, said the closest I ve come to meditating was my nightly scalding bath, with headphones in my ears, a cold diet Dr Pepper, and candy She thinks anything that would help me unplug one or two of my sensory addictions might not be a bad thing I agree It is worth a shot I haven t read Three Scientists and Their Gods Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information I ve read every book Wright s written and all have been fantastic This is my favorite It s the perfect book for the cultural moment we re in Forget the title it s misleading The book is a nice primer on meditation and evolutionary theory with some helpful insights Basically, our brains are not wired for peace and happiness only to propel our genes forward There s a yearning forprogrammed into us and the only antidote is mindfulness meditation I ve read a ton of evolutionary theory I ve read every book Wright s written and all have been fantastic This is my favorite It s the perfect book for the cultural moment we re in Forget the title it s misleading The book is a nice primer on meditation and evolutionary theory with some helpful insights Basically, our brains are not wired for peace and happiness only to propel our genes forward There s a yearning forprogrammed into us and the only antidote is mindfulness meditation I ve read a ton of evolutionary theory and a bunch of buddhism lite, but this one is exactly the synthesis I ve been waiting for without knowing it It changed the way I think about meditation and my thoughts and feelings Read it and pass it along We all need this book right now or we re going to nuke ourselves off the planet or otherwise destroy it through greed in no time This is a fact based and serious book that uses brain science, evolutionary psychology biology and sociobiology to prove each claimed assumption and maybe one of the best explanations of how and why mindfulness and a livelong training and evolution of meditation and self reflection might be advisable A few examples Someone working hard and achieving amazing results after decades of training and exercising to become a leading expert, master, maybe even a prodigy, world elite People bursting fu This is a fact based and serious book that uses brain science, evolutionary psychology biology and sociobiology to prove each claimed assumption and maybe one of the best explanations of how and why mindfulness and a livelong training and evolution of meditation and self reflection might be advisable A few examples Someone working hard and achieving amazing results after decades of training and exercising to become a leading expert, master, maybe even a prodigy, world elite People bursting full of enthusiasm, charisma and happiness, spreading it as if it was a renewable energy source they could never run short of A classical, stereotypical Buddhistic monk or a kung fu master A surgeon, soldier or emergency doctor, staying cool and focused for hours Etc.They all have what all others are desperately searching for, control over their minds Be it innate, epigenetic or just regular practice, guess what way could work for nearly everyone By starting practicing right now and never stop being mindful again many of personal, unreachable seeming goals can become possible But that s just about controlling the mad monkey in one s single brain.Where other books about the topic end, Wright begins to dissect the functioning of all aspects of a human mind and how a loss of objective serenity just always leads to problems, no matter if it is a family of 4 or a state of hundreds of millions or humankind All those group dynamics, ego, being right or wrong, getting angry, sad, etc were really fancy vehicles as long as we were nothingthan animals, but in highly developed civilizations, where uncontrolled emotions are no evolutionary advantage any, they just bring pain and sadness Of course, it s about the bad, negative emotions, not cutting love and joy out of one s soul.Wright has the idea of a new, real life based Buddhism without focus on afterlife, reincarnation, heaven, hell, etc and instead a basis on the philosophical and scientific ideas that help everyone to become a better human by integrating the knowledge of psychology and evolutionary biology psychology at a purely scientific base without any faith or potential for extremism.Happiness and joy is a free choice and everyone can freely choose between it and neutral or pessimistic, but both the neurological and Buddhistic approach show that it might just hurt oneself It is much healthier and makes one stronger, because we are social animals that are functioning better, be it as extroverted people lovers or as introverted stay at homers, when we enjoy what we do It s a shield against any harm and it s an armor that is easy to wear and impossible to permeate, because if someone is cool about everything and takes everything negative, even provocations, positive, she he is indestructible In contrast, someone who protects her himself by anger and hate, is permanently boiling her himself in everything negative the biochemistry of the body can provide and is much easier to attack or be provoked to overreact.As long as we were evenprimitive and hairier apes how I love calling everyone a monkey, hey, chimpanzee over there, yea, looking at you, do you want a banana Don t forget, anger is your enemy, I am just helping you, don t throw sh at me please many of those mental dysfunctions were helpful Find oneself great and think that everyone else is an idiot Check Prone to group dynamics, opportunism and hierarchies to build mighty tribes Done Building a conscience, ego and higher intelligence by repeatedly believing and thinking the same things to shape the wetware Bingo And then, well, it quickly escalated, because narcissistic, cognitive dissonant, psycho primates ha, got you again are a true pain in the gluteus maximus for themselves, all other groups and those poor, innocent planet under their swift paws.A short utopia Out of calm and mindful minds growwhen they reproduce and thethey get theinfluence they have on the state and if everyone would be enlightened and realized how destructive ego and negative emotions are world peace and a sustainable economic system would come and, but wait, stop, dystopia just called, saying humans are humans The sad end of the story.No, just joking, forget the misguided and deluded ones who aren t guilty, just had no chance and are impossible to heal, focus on the next generation instead With each kid, able to control her his emotions, self reflection, self criticism, stay objective, believe nothing, stay evolving and adapting and always curious, you make Buddha laugh.And questioning and changing anything may bring us away from many self destructive paths we are currently on as humankind, to realize that there may be the too objective, too easy and egoistic and wrong Buddhistic approach to say that there is no right and wrong, nothing matters, no true or false, the mind is empty, total objectivity is king, all is an illusion, etc That s a sophisticated way to say that one s own peace of mind and easy, stressless life isimportant than to stay motivated, positive, neutral and engaged in both civil society and politics to make a change happen.Not all that seems bad is just evil and not all that seems good is pure gold, instead the wrong, destructive, dangerous and misleading ideas out of all ideas humans ever had, have to be eliminated because there is just a collective way in the middle of the road together, not with everyone walking angrily, sulky and offended as far at each side of this metaphorical entity that is our all lives But all compromises have to be evidence based, no soft science, no mumbo jumbo humanities, just real, hard science based long term, reproducible studies, not funded by anyone interested in a certain outcome This is also how this amazing author wrote a must read book and how we as a society can overcome our animalistic roots, urges and instincts to somethingworthy of the Latin name sapiens in the article description A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real life outside books in a nutshell made a video toohttps www.youtube.com watch v WPPPF I disagree with the author s view of meditation as a study of one s thought But then there are so many schools of meditation I m primarily interested in the evolutionary psychology angle here, but have to sit through these pages that don t entirely accord with my Soto Zen dharma But as Shunryu Suzuki roshi once said read This was a really compelling book for me it made me think deeply about myself and the world and opened my eyes a bit too It s no coincidence that multiple of my smarter friends have told me to read it Meditation is a subject that is interesting to me because of how many smart successful people that I ve talked to or read about highly recommend it I wanted to better understand it, but I didn t predict all the directions this book would take One of the main interesting takeaways was how stron This was a really compelling book for me it made me think deeply about myself and the world and opened my eyes a bit too It s no coincidence that multiple of my smarter friends have told me to read it Meditation is a subject that is interesting to me because of how many smart successful people that I ve talked to or read about highly recommend it I wanted to better understand it, but I didn t predict all the directions this book would take One of the main interesting takeaways was how strongly the book ties the theory of natural selection with meditation So if you ask the question What kinds of perceptions and thoughts and feelings guide us through life each day the answer, at the most basic level, isn t The kinds of thoughts and feelings and perceptions that give us an accurate picture of reality No, at the most basic level the answer is The kinds of thoughts and feelings and perceptions that helped our ancestors get genes into the next generation This makes sense, we evolved over millions of years according to an algorithm that simply said the ones who live pass on their genes This has a lot of implications however, the foremost being that our ancestors the ones that passed their genes on to us evolved to be particularly good at finding food, mating and having kids, being alert to and surviving various dangers, and being positive contributors of their tribe as outcasts don t survive They did NOT evolve to be happy Natural selection doesn t want us to be happy, after all it just wants us to be productive, in its narrow sense of productive And the way to make us productive is to make the anticipation of pleasure very strong but the pleasure itself not very long lasting This to me was a huge insight I am constantly seeking new experiences, and am fortunate to have experienced many amazing things But each thrill quickly fades and I find myself worrying about whatever is next remarkably quickly To know that we were evolved that way on purpose because our ancestors who killed a mammoth would only survive if they killed another one next week is both fascinating and illuminating This is why it is true that money doesn t make you happy, nor do successes in career The book delved into our emotions around human relationships a lot, which I found very interesting Because as much as I would love to say I don t care what others think of me , it s simply not true In fact, random encounters with people I don t know and will never see again can bother me Also, encounters with people I do know can worry me quite a lot too So it s somewhat comforting to realize that we evolved to be this way Interestingly, interactions with strangers is a newer thing to us and has likely added to our modern day stress The book also talks a lot about essence, as many of us have impressions of others eg nice, not nice, helpful, jerk, selfish, weird, etc that aren t really accurate they are just our perceptions, and by being aware of this, it can better help us interact with such people We re designed by natural selection to care and care a lot about what other people think of us During evolution, people who were liked, admired, and respected would have beeneffective gene propagators than people who were the opposite But in a hunter gatherer village, your neighbors would have had a vast database on your behavior, so you d be unlikely, on any given day, to do anything that radically revised their opinion of you, for better or worse Social encounters wouldn t typically have been high pressure events So meditation can help us by recognizing that our mind is running these algorithms , which come in the form of emotions, and cause us to worry about things, instead of focusing on being present in the moment By observing which emotions and worries pop up, we can becomeaware of them, and somewhat strangely worry a lot less about them The routine business of mindfulness observing the world inside you and outside you with inordinate care can dothan tone down troublesome feelings and enhance your sense of beauty It can, in a slow, incremental, often uneven yet ultimately systematic way, transform your view of what s really out there and what s really in here What begins as a modest pursuit a way to relieve stress or anxiety, cool anger, or dial down self loathing just a notch can lead to profound realizations about the nature of things, and commensurately profound feelings of freedom and happiness An essentially therapeutic endeavor can turn into a deeply philosophical and spiritual endeavor This is the third virtue of mindfulness meditation it offers a path to liberation from the Matrix The book had an interesting section on the self Most of us think there is an I inside of us that is calling the shots in our lives, or as the book calls it, our internal CEO But in Buddhism, one of the key concepts as you advance is you are supposed to learn that there is no self But we aren t really in control of ourselves if we were we wouldn t have all kinds of thoughts all day worrying about or contemplating all kinds of random things The book proposes that what is really going on is that there are a number of modules or algorithms as I prefer to think that are competing for our attention There is the mating module, the get food module, the look good socially module, etc Any thought or anything we see or hear or smell can easily trigger the emotion that starts any of these modules Buddhist thought and modern psychology converge on this point in human life as it s ordinarily lived, there is no one self, no conscious CEO, that runs the show rather, there seem to be a series of selves that take turns running the show and, in a sense, seizing control of the show If the way they seize control of the show is through feelings, it stands to reason that one way to change the show is to change the role feelings play in everyday life I m not aware of a better way to do that than mindfulness meditation So, to summarize, humans suffer from dukkha or unsatisfactoriness, which means we have a constant craving or thirst or desire, which can t be quenched because if we attain our desire we will just have a new one The only solution is to be mindful of the desires we have To notice when we have a feeling, to examine the feeling, turn it over until you understand its root By doing this, it loses its power over you You can also start to recognize patterns in your thoughts if you do this a lot The book says meditating 20min a day is a great start, but the difference between 30min a day and 50min is huge, as is the difference between 30min and 90min But it also seems to imply that a weeklong retreat is likely also required if you really want to see benefits You might say that the path of meditative progress consists largely of becoming aware of the causes impinging on you, aware of the way things manipulate you and aware that a key link in that manipulation lies in the space where feelings can give rise to tanha, to a craving for pleasant feelings and an aversion to unpleasant feelings This is the space where mindfulness can critically intervene This all leads to a question that is interesting to ponder but the book only touches lightly on, which is that is the way we evolved the way we need to behave to be happy and thrive in modern times The answer is likely not as humans over the past 1000 years have changed a lot even the past 100 years So how could we help a lotpeople be aware of this and what impacts could that have A good question There s a lot to dislike about the world we re born into It s a world in which, as the Buddha noted, our natural way of seeing, and of being, leads us to suffer and to inflict suffering on others And it s a world that, as we now know, was bound to be that way, given that life on this planet was created by natural selection Still, it may also be a world in which metaphysical truth, moral truth, and happiness can align, and a world that, as you start to realize that alignment, appearsandbeautiful This is a truly remarkable, fantastic book It is one of those rare volumes that will turn your head inside out and leave you seeing the world differently, not because he or it is extreme, but because reality is extreme he is sewing together science and philosophy and offering readers a breathtaking tapestry for their consideration Briefly, his argument is that our minds are populated by evolved psychological adaptations that were naturally selected for their adaptive utility, NOT for seeing This is a truly remarkable, fantastic book It is one of those rare volumes that will turn your head inside out and leave you seeing the world differently, not because he or it is extreme, but because reality is extreme he is sewing together science and philosophy and offering readers a breathtaking tapestry for their consideration Briefly, his argument is that our minds are populated by evolved psychological adaptations that were naturally selected for their adaptive utility, NOT for seeing the world objectively And especially when it comes to our feelings and emotions, our minds often saddle us with perceptual and conceptual distortions that lead to unnecessary suffering This state of affairs, as revealed by psychological science, aligns well with Buddhist renderings of the human predicament, and evenremarkably psychological science is also showing that the Buddhist prescription of mindfulness meditation can indeed help alleviate much of this suffering Mindfulness meditation works as a kind of cognitive exercise a kind of mental resistance training , that over time affords us distance from the tumultuous workings of our mind and allows us to see thingsclearly which often drains anxiety and anger of their motivational power and helps foster our ability to chart where our mind goes next Not only does mindful distance get us closer to the Truth or at least further from delusion , but Wright argues that it can also bring us closer to moral truth, enhancing our capacity for responding in idealistically ethical ways And that s just scratching the surface The deeper details, duly contemplated, will leave readers enchanted head often spinning, occasionally agitated Robert Wright has always had a keen ability to integrate disparate ideas in science and philosophy stepping back to view things in wider perspective than the original scientists whose work he builds upon and this book is a gem that will not disappoint those who enjoyed his earlier books e.g The Moral Animal, Nonzero, The Evolution of God , especially his dry wit, everyday guy accessibility, pragmatic reasoning, and clear writing As a psychology professor who teaches courses in evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and psychology of religion, I m in something of a unique position to review the work Certainly I can say that Wright s command of the subject matter, ranging from evolutionary psychology to abstruse Buddhist philosophy, is excellent Experts in those fields will find details to quibble about, of course, but Wright does his homework and to his credit modestly concedes that his interpretations are his own best renderings And they are good renderings I think everyone should read this wonderful and important book I worry that many will be put off by the title alone I worry that those conversant with the subtleties of Buddhist thought will not invest the time and effort to grapple with the subtleties of psychological science and evolutionary biology and vice versa It IS a book that, I think, requiresof a cognitive commitment from readers than others But it will reward all who do Whether readers come away in general agreement with Wright or not, I don t think it is possible to read the book and come away WITHOUT a better understanding of yourself and a better appreciation what it means to be human That alone makes it an engine of insight Thank you to NetGalley for the advance review copy Neither scientific, nor philosophical, nor in fact, enlightened, this book is the perfect example of facile thinking You will say, I won t deal with the supernatural part of a religion, god, reincarnation and karma etc., but will riff only about what you like mindfulness practice that helped you out of your southern baptist metaphysical prejudices You will not question one iota of the theory of evolutionary psychology, or darwinism in general and claim that the buddhism you prefer is consist Neither scientific, nor philosophical, nor in fact, enlightened, this book is the perfect example of facile thinking You will say, I won t deal with the supernatural part of a religion, god, reincarnation and karma etc., but will riff only about what you like mindfulness practice that helped you out of your southern baptist metaphysical prejudices You will not question one iota of the theory of evolutionary psychology, or darwinism in general and claim that the buddhism you prefer is consistent with darwinist natural selection, therefore must be true You will not engage with neuroscience or biology You will not engage with cognitive behavioural therapy, which aims at the same goal but approaches it from a different angle, namely loosen the grip of feelings on behaviour You will explain Hume and his theory of self in one paragraph You will have endless silly examples of sugar covered donuts for quick and unhelpful examples of bad choices etc But you will publish this book with a straight face and probably go on talk circuits and make money off motivational buddhism Wow I like this buddhism a lot it is SO easy Count me in 62nd book of 2017.I imagine the author at a diner party, demanding complete attention from those present, while he describes at length being at an intense macho meditation retreat in the Maine woods, having the unfortunate luck of sitting next to a fat flatulent person Telling all present very seriously that he s not the sort of person who is OK with flatulence, especially from other people, especially if they are fat, but because of his very serious but also very modest attempts at mediation 62nd book of 2017.I imagine the author at a diner party, demanding complete attention from those present, while he describes at length being at an intense macho meditation retreat in the Maine woods, having the unfortunate luck of sitting next to a fat flatulent person Telling all present very seriously that he s not the sort of person who is OK with flatulence, especially from other people, especially if they are fat, but because of his very serious but also very modest attempts at mediation he was able to step back from his intense hatred of the person sitting next to him, and was able to experience the beauty of each particular fart in turn, smelling different notes, and if not loving them, at least seeing their beauty for what they are He also felt some sort of oneness with the farter next too him Now he tells us how some super meditator, that he blush could never be, was put in a brain scanner, and showed almost no brain response when smelling evil odours Imagine that Now throw in some random passage from either Buddhist scripture or some other pre 20th C source to make some sort of weak point Now repeat for another 300 pages.I would have been much happier if it had either 1 been a serious attempt at accessing the science and philosophy of meditation and enlightenment or 2 been offered a serious discussion of Buddhism The book offers neither It s a shame because I think the topic itself is worthy of a serious book Even if this book has its occasional thought provoking moment, my overwhelming reaction is shock at how fluffy and slipshod the writing is It seems as if Wright submitted a rough draft to make some quick cash Why waste time on an editor just throw a goldfish on the cover and wait for the Whole Foods goers to take out their mandala adorned hemp wallets A promising book was undermined by the author s unwillingness to do research or teach himself about Buddhism or anthropology.Instead, he oft Even if this book has its occasional thought provoking moment, my overwhelming reaction is shock at how fluffy and slipshod the writing is It seems as if Wright submitted a rough draft to make some quick cash Why waste time on an editor just throw a goldfish on the cover and wait for the Whole Foods goers to take out their mandala adorned hemp wallets A promising book was undermined by the author s unwillingness to do research or teach himself about Buddhism or anthropology.Instead, he often takes the easy route by focusing on his own personality, his own anxieties insecurities This might have been okay if he had come across as alikable person, but I felt trapped in a room with an uptight, narcissistic, falsely modest bloviator I m glad to finally be liberated

Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of
    EPUB is an ebook file format that uses the epub brain The mind is designed to often delude us, he argued, about ourselves and about the world And it is designed to make happiness hard to sustain But if we Why Buddhism MOBI :¿ know our minds are rigged for anxiety, depression, anger, and greed, what do we do Wright locates the answer in Buddhism, which figured out thousands of years ago what scientists are only discovering now Buddhism holds that human suffering is a result of not seeing the world clearly and proposes that seeing the world clearly, through meditation, will make us better, happier people In Why Buddhism is True, Wright leads readers on Buddhism is True: Epub Þ a journey through psychology, philosophy, and a great many silent retreats to show how and why meditation can serve as the foundation for a spiritual life in a secular age At once excitingly ambitious and wittily accessible, this is the first book to combine evolutionary psychology with cutting edge neuroscience to defend the radical claims at the heart of Buddhist philosophy With bracing honesty and fierce wisdom, it will persuade you not just that Buddhism is true which is to say, a way out of our delusion but that it can ultimately save us from ourselves, as individuals and as a species. A faraccurate title for this book would be Why Mindfulness Meditation is Good For as Wright who does not consider himself a Buddhist admits, he is not really here to talk about any form of traditional Buddhism He does not even present a strictly orthodox view of any secular, Western variety of Buddhism Instead, this is a rather selective interpretation of some Buddhist doctrines in the light of evolutionary psychology Wright s essential message is that the evolutionary process that A faraccurate title for this book would be Why Mindfulness Meditation is Good For as Wright who does not consider himself a Buddhist admits, he is not really here to talk about any form of traditional Buddhism He does not even present a strictly orthodox view of any secular, Western variety of Buddhism Instead, this is a rather selective interpretation of some Buddhist doctrines in the light of evolutionary psychology Wright s essential message is that the evolutionary process that shaped the human brain did not adequately program us for life in the modern world and that mindfulness meditation can help to correct this bad programming The first of these claims is fairly uncontroversial To give an obvious example, our love of salt, beneficial when sodium was hard to come by in natural products, has become maladaptive in the modern world where salt is cheap and plentiful Our emotions, too, can misfire nowadays Caring deeply that people have a high opinion of you makes sense when you are, say, living in a small village full of people you know and interact with daily but it makes little sense when you are surrounded by strangers on a bus This mismatch between our emotional setup and the newly complex social world is one reason for rampant stress and anxiety Something like a job interview trying to impress a perfect stranger to earn a livelihood simply didn t exist for our ancestors This can also explain tribalism, which Wright sees as the most pressing danger of the modern world It makes evolutionary sense to care deeply for oneself and one s kin, with some close friends thrown in and those who fall outside of this circle should, following evolutionary logic, be treated with suspicion which explains why humans are so prone to dividing themselves into mutually antagonistic groups But how can mindfulness meditation help Most obviously, it is a practice designed to give us some distance from our emotions This is done by separating the feeling from its narrative In daily life, for example, anger is never experienced purely we always get angry about something and the thought of this event is a huge component of its experience But the meditator does her best to focus on the feeling itself, to examine its manifestation in her body and brain, while letting go of the corresponding narrative Stripped of the provoking incident, the feeling itself ceases to be provocative and the anger may even disappear completely Explained in this way, mindfulness meditation is the mirror image of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT In CBT the anger is attacked from the opposite side by focusing on the narrative and subjecting it to logical criticism In my experience, at least, the things one tells oneself while angry rarely stand up to cool analysis And when one ceases to believe in the thought, the feeling disappears The efficacy of both mindfulness meditation and CBT, then, is based on the interdependence of feeling and thought If separated either by focusing on the feeling during meditation, or the thought through analysis the emotion disappears This, in a nutshell, is how mindfulness meditation can be therapeutic But Wright wants to make a fargrandiose claim that mindfulness meditation can reveal truths about the nature of mind, the world, and morality One of the central ideas of Buddhism is that of emptiness that the enlightened meditator sees the world as empty of essential form The first time I encountered this idea in a Buddhist text it made no sense to me but Wright gives it an intriguing interpretation Our brain, designed to survive, naturally assigns value to things in our environment based on how useful or harmful they are to us These evaluations are, according to Wright s theory, experienced as emotional reactions I have quite warm and fuzzy feelings about my laptop, for example and even the communal computers where I work evoke in me a comforting sense of familiarity and utility These emotions, which are sometimes very tiny indeed, are what give experiential reality a sense of essence The emotions, in other words, help us to quickly identify and use objects I don t have to closely examine the computers, for example, since the emotion brings their instrumental qualities quickly to my attention The advantages of this are obvious to anyone in a hurry Likewise, this emotional registering is equally advantageous in avoiding danger, since taking time to ponder a rattlesnake isn t advisable But the downside is that we can look at the world quite narrowly, ignoring the sensuous qualities of objects in favor of an instrumental view Visual art actively works against this tendency, I think, by creating images that thwart our normal registering system, thus prompting us into a sensuous examination of the work Good paintings make us into children again, exploring the world without worrying about making use of things Mindfulness meditation is supposed to engender this same attitude, not just with regards to a painting, but to everything Stripped of these identifying emotional reactions, the world might indeed seem empty empty of distinctions, though full of rich sensation With objects, it is hard to see why this state of emptiness would be very desirable Also it should be said that this idea of micro emotions serving as registers of essential distinctions is Wright s interpretation of the psychological data, and is rather speculative But with regards to humans, this mindset might have its advantages Instead of attributing essential qualities of good and bad to somebody we might see that their behavior can vary quite a bit depending on circumstances, and this can make us less judgmental andforgiving Wright also has a go at the traditional Buddhist idea that the self is a delusion According to what we know about the brain, he says, there is no executive seat of consciousness He cites the famous split brain experiments, and others like it, to argue that consciousness is not the powerful decision maker we once assumed, but islike a publicity agent making our actions seemcogent to others This is necessary because, underneath the apparent unity of conscious experience, there are several domain specific modules such as for sexual jealousy, romantic wooing, and so on that fight amongst themselves in the brain for power and attention Each module governs our behavior in different ways and environmental stimuli determine which module is in control Our consciousness gives a sense of continuity and coherence to this shifting control, which makes us look better in the eyes of our peers or that s how the theory goes, which Wright says is well supported In any case, the upshot of this theory still would not be that the self doesn t exist only that the self isfragmented and less executive than we once supposed Unfortunately, the book steeply declines in quality in the last few chapters where Wright tackles the most mystical propositions of Buddhism when the final stage of the no self argument is given This leads him into the following speculations If our thoughts are generated by a variety of modules, which use emotion to get our attention and if we can learn to dissociate ourselves from these emotions and see the world as empty if, in short, we can reach a certain level of detachment from our thoughts and emotions then, perhaps, we can see sensations arising in our body as equivalent to sensations arising from without And maybe, too, this state of detachment will allow us to experience other people s emotions as equivalent to our own, like how we feel pain from seeing a loved one in pain In this case, can we not be said to have seen the true oneness of reality and the corresponding unreality of personal identity These lofty considerations aside, when I am struck by a car they better not take the driver to the emergency room and when Robert Wright gets a book deal he would be upset if they gave me the money My point is that this experience of oneness in no way undermines the reality of distinct personal identity, without which we could hardly go a day And this state of perfect detachment is arguably, contra Wright, a far less realistic way of seeing things, since being genuinely unconcerned as to whom a pain belonged, for example, would make us unable to help Also in this way, contra Wright, it would make us obviously less moral More generally, I think Wright is wrong in insisting that meditation can help us to experience realitytruly Admittedly, I know from experience that meditation can be a great aid to introspection and can allow us to deal with our emotionseffectively But the notion that a meditative experience can allow us to see a metaphysical truth the unreality of self or the oneness of the cosmos I reject completely An essentially private experience cannot confirm or deny anything, as Wright himself says earlier on I also reject Wright s claim that meditation can help us to see moral realityclearly By this he means that the detachment engendered by meditation can allow us to see every person as equally valuable rather than selfishly considering one s own desiresimportant Now, I do not doubt that meditation can make people calmer and even nicer But detachment does not lead logically to any moral clarity Detachment is just that detachment, which means unconcern and morality is impossible without concern Indeed, it seems to me that an enlightened person would be even less likely to improve the world, since they can accept any situation with perfect equanimity Granted, if everyone were perfectly enlightened there would be no reason to improve anything but I believe the expression about hell freezing over applies here Aside from the intellectual weakness of these later chapters, full as they are of vague hand waving, the book has other flaws I often got the sense that Wright was presenting the psychological evidence very selectively, emphasizing the studies and theories that accorded with his interpretations of Buddhism, without taking nearly enough time to give the contrasting views On the other hand, he interprets the Buddhist doctrines quite freely so in the end, when he says that modern science is confirming Buddhism, I wonder what is confirming what, exactly And the writing, while usually quite clear, was too hokey and jokey for me Last, I found his framing of meditation as a way to save humanity from destructive tribalism as both na ve and misguided In brief, I think that we ought to try to create a society in which the selfish interests of the greatest number of people are aligned Selfish attachment, while potentially narrow, need not be if these selves are in enmeshed in mutually beneficial relationships and some amount of attachment, with its concomitant dissatisfactions, seems necessary for people to exert great effort in improving their station and thus changing our world Encouraging people to become selflessly detached, on the other hand, besides being unrealistic, also strikes me as generally undesirable For all the suffering caused by attachment of which I am well aware I am not convinced that life is better without it As Orwell saidMany people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings The problem with introspection is that it has no endPhilip K Dick For years I ve told people I was a Zen Mormon More as a way to squirm into the edges of LDS cosmology, and less because I was practicing anything really approaching a hybrid of Buddhism and Mormonism But I ve always been attracted to Buddhism, like many Westerners before me I m thinking of Herman Hesse, W Somerset Maugham, Jack Kerouac, and Peter Matthiessen I ve always been attracted to the intersection of cultures, pThe problem with introspection is that it has no endPhilip K Dick For years I ve told people I was a Zen Mormon More as a way to squirm into the edges of LDS cosmology, and less because I was practicing anything really approaching a hybrid of Buddhism and Mormonism But I ve always been attracted to Buddhism, like many Westerners before me I m thinking of Herman Hesse, W Somerset Maugham, Jack Kerouac, and Peter Matthiessen I ve always been attracted to the intersection of cultures, philosophies, etc So, I guess it is natural for me to be attracted if somewhat lazily to Western Buddhism, Zen gardens, and the potential of mediation.I m also a big, nerdy fan of Robert Wright I ve read most of his books It is probably easier to just post the one book of his I haven t read, rather than list the ones I have I enjoy Wright s evolution from Evolutionary Psychology to Buddhist writings I think the premise of Wright s book is mostly correct There is something that evolution has burdoned us with, that meditation specifically Mindfulness Meditation and Buddhism can help us with The books title, I should note here, IS a little off putting I think Wright almost meant it as a joke with a hook of truth It comes across like some Mormon, Southern Baptist or Jehovah s Witness tract a bit evangelical But Wright is not just trying to convert the reader and he s not exactly NOT trying to convert the reader either He lays out pretty good arguments about how Evolutionary Psychology and behavioral psychology show lots of caveats, obviously the mind is complex and not everyone agrees with everything that a lot of our feelings, motives, choices are built on genetic coding which might actually make us unhappy, unhealthy, etc The Buddhists seemed to have climbed that mountain before us Wright seems less of a philosophical or religious Buddhist andof a pragmatic Buddhist I think his time studying how religion, the mind, behaviors, etc., have evolved over time has also provided him with ample evidence about how these traits that were evolved to help ourprimitive selves reproduce, survive, etc., don t always help us in a modern age that includes HR departments, Facebook, politics, etc Buddhism, Wright would argue, can help untangle some of these evolutionary knots So What does this book mean for me Someone who calls himself mostly in jest a Zen Mormon who has spent exactly 10 minutes mediating in a half assed way Well, I m thinking of hooking up with a local Buddhist Meditation group and giving Mindful Mediation a try I m pretty chill, but I think mindfulness can only help I m also not above exploring truth beyond my own familiar cosmology When I told my wife and kids of my plan, they did laugh however My wife suggested meditation might not be easy for me, given my competitive nature.Wife You can t win at meditation D8u Sure you can, isn t enlightenment basically winning Daughter Yeah Mom, the Buddha definitely won D8U See My daughter, laughing, said the closest I ve come to meditating was my nightly scalding bath, with headphones in my ears, a cold diet Dr Pepper, and candy She thinks anything that would help me unplug one or two of my sensory addictions might not be a bad thing I agree It is worth a shot I haven t read Three Scientists and Their Gods Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information I ve read every book Wright s written and all have been fantastic This is my favorite It s the perfect book for the cultural moment we re in Forget the title it s misleading The book is a nice primer on meditation and evolutionary theory with some helpful insights Basically, our brains are not wired for peace and happiness only to propel our genes forward There s a yearning forprogrammed into us and the only antidote is mindfulness meditation I ve read a ton of evolutionary theory I ve read every book Wright s written and all have been fantastic This is my favorite It s the perfect book for the cultural moment we re in Forget the title it s misleading The book is a nice primer on meditation and evolutionary theory with some helpful insights Basically, our brains are not wired for peace and happiness only to propel our genes forward There s a yearning forprogrammed into us and the only antidote is mindfulness meditation I ve read a ton of evolutionary theory and a bunch of buddhism lite, but this one is exactly the synthesis I ve been waiting for without knowing it It changed the way I think about meditation and my thoughts and feelings Read it and pass it along We all need this book right now or we re going to nuke ourselves off the planet or otherwise destroy it through greed in no time This is a fact based and serious book that uses brain science, evolutionary psychology biology and sociobiology to prove each claimed assumption and maybe one of the best explanations of how and why mindfulness and a livelong training and evolution of meditation and self reflection might be advisable A few examples Someone working hard and achieving amazing results after decades of training and exercising to become a leading expert, master, maybe even a prodigy, world elite People bursting fu This is a fact based and serious book that uses brain science, evolutionary psychology biology and sociobiology to prove each claimed assumption and maybe one of the best explanations of how and why mindfulness and a livelong training and evolution of meditation and self reflection might be advisable A few examples Someone working hard and achieving amazing results after decades of training and exercising to become a leading expert, master, maybe even a prodigy, world elite People bursting full of enthusiasm, charisma and happiness, spreading it as if it was a renewable energy source they could never run short of A classical, stereotypical Buddhistic monk or a kung fu master A surgeon, soldier or emergency doctor, staying cool and focused for hours Etc.They all have what all others are desperately searching for, control over their minds Be it innate, epigenetic or just regular practice, guess what way could work for nearly everyone By starting practicing right now and never stop being mindful again many of personal, unreachable seeming goals can become possible But that s just about controlling the mad monkey in one s single brain.Where other books about the topic end, Wright begins to dissect the functioning of all aspects of a human mind and how a loss of objective serenity just always leads to problems, no matter if it is a family of 4 or a state of hundreds of millions or humankind All those group dynamics, ego, being right or wrong, getting angry, sad, etc were really fancy vehicles as long as we were nothingthan animals, but in highly developed civilizations, where uncontrolled emotions are no evolutionary advantage any, they just bring pain and sadness Of course, it s about the bad, negative emotions, not cutting love and joy out of one s soul.Wright has the idea of a new, real life based Buddhism without focus on afterlife, reincarnation, heaven, hell, etc and instead a basis on the philosophical and scientific ideas that help everyone to become a better human by integrating the knowledge of psychology and evolutionary biology psychology at a purely scientific base without any faith or potential for extremism.Happiness and joy is a free choice and everyone can freely choose between it and neutral or pessimistic, but both the neurological and Buddhistic approach show that it might just hurt oneself It is much healthier and makes one stronger, because we are social animals that are functioning better, be it as extroverted people lovers or as introverted stay at homers, when we enjoy what we do It s a shield against any harm and it s an armor that is easy to wear and impossible to permeate, because if someone is cool about everything and takes everything negative, even provocations, positive, she he is indestructible In contrast, someone who protects her himself by anger and hate, is permanently boiling her himself in everything negative the biochemistry of the body can provide and is much easier to attack or be provoked to overreact.As long as we were evenprimitive and hairier apes how I love calling everyone a monkey, hey, chimpanzee over there, yea, looking at you, do you want a banana Don t forget, anger is your enemy, I am just helping you, don t throw sh at me please many of those mental dysfunctions were helpful Find oneself great and think that everyone else is an idiot Check Prone to group dynamics, opportunism and hierarchies to build mighty tribes Done Building a conscience, ego and higher intelligence by repeatedly believing and thinking the same things to shape the wetware Bingo And then, well, it quickly escalated, because narcissistic, cognitive dissonant, psycho primates ha, got you again are a true pain in the gluteus maximus for themselves, all other groups and those poor, innocent planet under their swift paws.A short utopia Out of calm and mindful minds growwhen they reproduce and thethey get theinfluence they have on the state and if everyone would be enlightened and realized how destructive ego and negative emotions are world peace and a sustainable economic system would come and, but wait, stop, dystopia just called, saying humans are humans The sad end of the story.No, just joking, forget the misguided and deluded ones who aren t guilty, just had no chance and are impossible to heal, focus on the next generation instead With each kid, able to control her his emotions, self reflection, self criticism, stay objective, believe nothing, stay evolving and adapting and always curious, you make Buddha laugh.And questioning and changing anything may bring us away from many self destructive paths we are currently on as humankind, to realize that there may be the too objective, too easy and egoistic and wrong Buddhistic approach to say that there is no right and wrong, nothing matters, no true or false, the mind is empty, total objectivity is king, all is an illusion, etc That s a sophisticated way to say that one s own peace of mind and easy, stressless life isimportant than to stay motivated, positive, neutral and engaged in both civil society and politics to make a change happen.Not all that seems bad is just evil and not all that seems good is pure gold, instead the wrong, destructive, dangerous and misleading ideas out of all ideas humans ever had, have to be eliminated because there is just a collective way in the middle of the road together, not with everyone walking angrily, sulky and offended as far at each side of this metaphorical entity that is our all lives But all compromises have to be evidence based, no soft science, no mumbo jumbo humanities, just real, hard science based long term, reproducible studies, not funded by anyone interested in a certain outcome This is also how this amazing author wrote a must read book and how we as a society can overcome our animalistic roots, urges and instincts to somethingworthy of the Latin name sapiens in the article description A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real life outside books in a nutshell made a video toohttps www.youtube.com watch v WPPPF I disagree with the author s view of meditation as a study of one s thought But then there are so many schools of meditation I m primarily interested in the evolutionary psychology angle here, but have to sit through these pages that don t entirely accord with my Soto Zen dharma But as Shunryu Suzuki roshi once said read This was a really compelling book for me it made me think deeply about myself and the world and opened my eyes a bit too It s no coincidence that multiple of my smarter friends have told me to read it Meditation is a subject that is interesting to me because of how many smart successful people that I ve talked to or read about highly recommend it I wanted to better understand it, but I didn t predict all the directions this book would take One of the main interesting takeaways was how stron This was a really compelling book for me it made me think deeply about myself and the world and opened my eyes a bit too It s no coincidence that multiple of my smarter friends have told me to read it Meditation is a subject that is interesting to me because of how many smart successful people that I ve talked to or read about highly recommend it I wanted to better understand it, but I didn t predict all the directions this book would take One of the main interesting takeaways was how strongly the book ties the theory of natural selection with meditation So if you ask the question What kinds of perceptions and thoughts and feelings guide us through life each day the answer, at the most basic level, isn t The kinds of thoughts and feelings and perceptions that give us an accurate picture of reality No, at the most basic level the answer is The kinds of thoughts and feelings and perceptions that helped our ancestors get genes into the next generation This makes sense, we evolved over millions of years according to an algorithm that simply said the ones who live pass on their genes This has a lot of implications however, the foremost being that our ancestors the ones that passed their genes on to us evolved to be particularly good at finding food, mating and having kids, being alert to and surviving various dangers, and being positive contributors of their tribe as outcasts don t survive They did NOT evolve to be happy Natural selection doesn t want us to be happy, after all it just wants us to be productive, in its narrow sense of productive And the way to make us productive is to make the anticipation of pleasure very strong but the pleasure itself not very long lasting This to me was a huge insight I am constantly seeking new experiences, and am fortunate to have experienced many amazing things But each thrill quickly fades and I find myself worrying about whatever is next remarkably quickly To know that we were evolved that way on purpose because our ancestors who killed a mammoth would only survive if they killed another one next week is both fascinating and illuminating This is why it is true that money doesn t make you happy, nor do successes in career The book delved into our emotions around human relationships a lot, which I found very interesting Because as much as I would love to say I don t care what others think of me , it s simply not true In fact, random encounters with people I don t know and will never see again can bother me Also, encounters with people I do know can worry me quite a lot too So it s somewhat comforting to realize that we evolved to be this way Interestingly, interactions with strangers is a newer thing to us and has likely added to our modern day stress The book also talks a lot about essence, as many of us have impressions of others eg nice, not nice, helpful, jerk, selfish, weird, etc that aren t really accurate they are just our perceptions, and by being aware of this, it can better help us interact with such people We re designed by natural selection to care and care a lot about what other people think of us During evolution, people who were liked, admired, and respected would have beeneffective gene propagators than people who were the opposite But in a hunter gatherer village, your neighbors would have had a vast database on your behavior, so you d be unlikely, on any given day, to do anything that radically revised their opinion of you, for better or worse Social encounters wouldn t typically have been high pressure events So meditation can help us by recognizing that our mind is running these algorithms , which come in the form of emotions, and cause us to worry about things, instead of focusing on being present in the moment By observing which emotions and worries pop up, we can becomeaware of them, and somewhat strangely worry a lot less about them The routine business of mindfulness observing the world inside you and outside you with inordinate care can dothan tone down troublesome feelings and enhance your sense of beauty It can, in a slow, incremental, often uneven yet ultimately systematic way, transform your view of what s really out there and what s really in here What begins as a modest pursuit a way to relieve stress or anxiety, cool anger, or dial down self loathing just a notch can lead to profound realizations about the nature of things, and commensurately profound feelings of freedom and happiness An essentially therapeutic endeavor can turn into a deeply philosophical and spiritual endeavor This is the third virtue of mindfulness meditation it offers a path to liberation from the Matrix The book had an interesting section on the self Most of us think there is an I inside of us that is calling the shots in our lives, or as the book calls it, our internal CEO But in Buddhism, one of the key concepts as you advance is you are supposed to learn that there is no self But we aren t really in control of ourselves if we were we wouldn t have all kinds of thoughts all day worrying about or contemplating all kinds of random things The book proposes that what is really going on is that there are a number of modules or algorithms as I prefer to think that are competing for our attention There is the mating module, the get food module, the look good socially module, etc Any thought or anything we see or hear or smell can easily trigger the emotion that starts any of these modules Buddhist thought and modern psychology converge on this point in human life as it s ordinarily lived, there is no one self, no conscious CEO, that runs the show rather, there seem to be a series of selves that take turns running the show and, in a sense, seizing control of the show If the way they seize control of the show is through feelings, it stands to reason that one way to change the show is to change the role feelings play in everyday life I m not aware of a better way to do that than mindfulness meditation So, to summarize, humans suffer from dukkha or unsatisfactoriness, which means we have a constant craving or thirst or desire, which can t be quenched because if we attain our desire we will just have a new one The only solution is to be mindful of the desires we have To notice when we have a feeling, to examine the feeling, turn it over until you understand its root By doing this, it loses its power over you You can also start to recognize patterns in your thoughts if you do this a lot The book says meditating 20min a day is a great start, but the difference between 30min a day and 50min is huge, as is the difference between 30min and 90min But it also seems to imply that a weeklong retreat is likely also required if you really want to see benefits You might say that the path of meditative progress consists largely of becoming aware of the causes impinging on you, aware of the way things manipulate you and aware that a key link in that manipulation lies in the space where feelings can give rise to tanha, to a craving for pleasant feelings and an aversion to unpleasant feelings This is the space where mindfulness can critically intervene This all leads to a question that is interesting to ponder but the book only touches lightly on, which is that is the way we evolved the way we need to behave to be happy and thrive in modern times The answer is likely not as humans over the past 1000 years have changed a lot even the past 100 years So how could we help a lotpeople be aware of this and what impacts could that have A good question There s a lot to dislike about the world we re born into It s a world in which, as the Buddha noted, our natural way of seeing, and of being, leads us to suffer and to inflict suffering on others And it s a world that, as we now know, was bound to be that way, given that life on this planet was created by natural selection Still, it may also be a world in which metaphysical truth, moral truth, and happiness can align, and a world that, as you start to realize that alignment, appearsandbeautiful This is a truly remarkable, fantastic book It is one of those rare volumes that will turn your head inside out and leave you seeing the world differently, not because he or it is extreme, but because reality is extreme he is sewing together science and philosophy and offering readers a breathtaking tapestry for their consideration Briefly, his argument is that our minds are populated by evolved psychological adaptations that were naturally selected for their adaptive utility, NOT for seeing This is a truly remarkable, fantastic book It is one of those rare volumes that will turn your head inside out and leave you seeing the world differently, not because he or it is extreme, but because reality is extreme he is sewing together science and philosophy and offering readers a breathtaking tapestry for their consideration Briefly, his argument is that our minds are populated by evolved psychological adaptations that were naturally selected for their adaptive utility, NOT for seeing the world objectively And especially when it comes to our feelings and emotions, our minds often saddle us with perceptual and conceptual distortions that lead to unnecessary suffering This state of affairs, as revealed by psychological science, aligns well with Buddhist renderings of the human predicament, and evenremarkably psychological science is also showing that the Buddhist prescription of mindfulness meditation can indeed help alleviate much of this suffering Mindfulness meditation works as a kind of cognitive exercise a kind of mental resistance training , that over time affords us distance from the tumultuous workings of our mind and allows us to see thingsclearly which often drains anxiety and anger of their motivational power and helps foster our ability to chart where our mind goes next Not only does mindful distance get us closer to the Truth or at least further from delusion , but Wright argues that it can also bring us closer to moral truth, enhancing our capacity for responding in idealistically ethical ways And that s just scratching the surface The deeper details, duly contemplated, will leave readers enchanted head often spinning, occasionally agitated Robert Wright has always had a keen ability to integrate disparate ideas in science and philosophy stepping back to view things in wider perspective than the original scientists whose work he builds upon and this book is a gem that will not disappoint those who enjoyed his earlier books e.g The Moral Animal, Nonzero, The Evolution of God , especially his dry wit, everyday guy accessibility, pragmatic reasoning, and clear writing As a psychology professor who teaches courses in evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and psychology of religion, I m in something of a unique position to review the work Certainly I can say that Wright s command of the subject matter, ranging from evolutionary psychology to abstruse Buddhist philosophy, is excellent Experts in those fields will find details to quibble about, of course, but Wright does his homework and to his credit modestly concedes that his interpretations are his own best renderings And they are good renderings I think everyone should read this wonderful and important book I worry that many will be put off by the title alone I worry that those conversant with the subtleties of Buddhist thought will not invest the time and effort to grapple with the subtleties of psychological science and evolutionary biology and vice versa It IS a book that, I think, requiresof a cognitive commitment from readers than others But it will reward all who do Whether readers come away in general agreement with Wright or not, I don t think it is possible to read the book and come away WITHOUT a better understanding of yourself and a better appreciation what it means to be human That alone makes it an engine of insight Thank you to NetGalley for the advance review copy Neither scientific, nor philosophical, nor in fact, enlightened, this book is the perfect example of facile thinking You will say, I won t deal with the supernatural part of a religion, god, reincarnation and karma etc., but will riff only about what you like mindfulness practice that helped you out of your southern baptist metaphysical prejudices You will not question one iota of the theory of evolutionary psychology, or darwinism in general and claim that the buddhism you prefer is consist Neither scientific, nor philosophical, nor in fact, enlightened, this book is the perfect example of facile thinking You will say, I won t deal with the supernatural part of a religion, god, reincarnation and karma etc., but will riff only about what you like mindfulness practice that helped you out of your southern baptist metaphysical prejudices You will not question one iota of the theory of evolutionary psychology, or darwinism in general and claim that the buddhism you prefer is consistent with darwinist natural selection, therefore must be true You will not engage with neuroscience or biology You will not engage with cognitive behavioural therapy, which aims at the same goal but approaches it from a different angle, namely loosen the grip of feelings on behaviour You will explain Hume and his theory of self in one paragraph You will have endless silly examples of sugar covered donuts for quick and unhelpful examples of bad choices etc But you will publish this book with a straight face and probably go on talk circuits and make money off motivational buddhism Wow I like this buddhism a lot it is SO easy Count me in 62nd book of 2017.I imagine the author at a diner party, demanding complete attention from those present, while he describes at length being at an intense macho meditation retreat in the Maine woods, having the unfortunate luck of sitting next to a fat flatulent person Telling all present very seriously that he s not the sort of person who is OK with flatulence, especially from other people, especially if they are fat, but because of his very serious but also very modest attempts at mediation 62nd book of 2017.I imagine the author at a diner party, demanding complete attention from those present, while he describes at length being at an intense macho meditation retreat in the Maine woods, having the unfortunate luck of sitting next to a fat flatulent person Telling all present very seriously that he s not the sort of person who is OK with flatulence, especially from other people, especially if they are fat, but because of his very serious but also very modest attempts at mediation he was able to step back from his intense hatred of the person sitting next to him, and was able to experience the beauty of each particular fart in turn, smelling different notes, and if not loving them, at least seeing their beauty for what they are He also felt some sort of oneness with the farter next too him Now he tells us how some super meditator, that he blush could never be, was put in a brain scanner, and showed almost no brain response when smelling evil odours Imagine that Now throw in some random passage from either Buddhist scripture or some other pre 20th C source to make some sort of weak point Now repeat for another 300 pages.I would have been much happier if it had either 1 been a serious attempt at accessing the science and philosophy of meditation and enlightenment or 2 been offered a serious discussion of Buddhism The book offers neither It s a shame because I think the topic itself is worthy of a serious book Even if this book has its occasional thought provoking moment, my overwhelming reaction is shock at how fluffy and slipshod the writing is It seems as if Wright submitted a rough draft to make some quick cash Why waste time on an editor just throw a goldfish on the cover and wait for the Whole Foods goers to take out their mandala adorned hemp wallets A promising book was undermined by the author s unwillingness to do research or teach himself about Buddhism or anthropology.Instead, he oft Even if this book has its occasional thought provoking moment, my overwhelming reaction is shock at how fluffy and slipshod the writing is It seems as if Wright submitted a rough draft to make some quick cash Why waste time on an editor just throw a goldfish on the cover and wait for the Whole Foods goers to take out their mandala adorned hemp wallets A promising book was undermined by the author s unwillingness to do research or teach himself about Buddhism or anthropology.Instead, he often takes the easy route by focusing on his own personality, his own anxieties insecurities This might have been okay if he had come across as alikable person, but I felt trapped in a room with an uptight, narcissistic, falsely modest bloviator I m glad to finally be liberated "/>
  • Audiobook
  • 336 pages
  • Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment
  • Robert Wright
  • English
  • 07 December 2019
  • 1508235406