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Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment (2017)

by Robert Wright

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1,0562719,597 (4)83
Family & Relationships. Health & Fitness. Self-Improvement. Nonfiction. HTML:From one of America's most brilliant writers, a New York Times bestselling journey through psychology, philosophy, and lots of meditation to show how Buddhism holds the key to moral clarity and enduring happiness.
/> At the heart of Buddhism is a simple claim: The reason we sufferâ??and the reason we make other people sufferâ??is that we don't see the world clearly. At the heart of Buddhist meditative practice is a radical promise: We can learn to see the world, including ourselves, more clearly and so gain a deep and morally valid happiness.

In this "sublime" (The New Yorker), pathbreaking book, Robert Wright shows how taking this promise seriously can change your lifeâ??how it can loosen the grip of anxiety, regret, and hatred, and how it can deepen your appreciation of beauty and of other people. He also shows why this transformation works, drawing on the latest in neuroscience and psychology, and armed with an acute understanding of human evolution.

This book is the culmination of a personal journey that began with Wright's landmark book on evolutionary psychology, The Moral Animal, and deepened as he immersed himself in meditative practice and conversed with some of the world's most skilled meditators. The result is a story that is "provocative, informative and...deeply rewarding" (The New York Times Book Review), and as entertaining as it is illuminating. Written with the wit, clarity, and grace for which Wright is famous, Why Buddhism Is True lays the foundation for a spiritual life in a secular age and shows how, in a time of technological distraction and social division, we can save ourselves from ourselves, both as individuals and as a… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
An apology for the usefulness of western Buddhism in the modern world.

Not really anything new here for me, but an interesting read nonetheless. ( )
  electrascaife | Nov 16, 2023 |
I’m really liking this book but there’s parts of it that almost feels like a punishment because it shows me all the petty things that I do and I really should stop doing and gives me all the great reasons for stopping, and yet I am still unable to stop this pettiness. ( )
  laurelzito | Nov 4, 2023 |
This book gets a lot of points for ambition. Wright tries to create a unified theory of "naturalistic" Buddhism and evolutionary psychology and does a very good job of selling it.

In some ways I am inclined to put this book in the same genre as the The Good Place on TV, I Heart Huckabees in film and some early Alain de Botton. The reason I love these texts is not so much the quality of the answers they provide, but the fact that they pose the question, "what if we took these sorts of questions seriously?" Wright asks the question whether science can inform our spiritual understanding and practice and grapples with it earnestly and wholeheartedly.

However, what raises the book even higher is the fact that some of the ideas seem pretty good. Wright has proposed a model of the human mind, as shaped by evolution, that accords with a certain reading of Vipassana mindfulness practice. On the whole it hangs together, giving a real sense of how it is that meditation operates - all the way from the first sitting to enlightenment.

There are some large and serious problems, but they belong more as a tribute to the ambition of the project than as damning evidence against Wright's case. The most important is a simplistic view of evolution in humans as a social species. Even our blind instincts are not devoted exclusively to furthering our own genes. There is ample evidence now that species have evolved to propagate not just their own genes, but the genes of their community, including other species in some cases. In order to support the notion of the selfish gene, Wright characterises every one of our first insincts as aggressive or selfish. In fact, we have many generous, communal instincts, like those that impel you toward someone who hurts themselves and not away from them or the fact that eating while someone hungry looks on is very unpleasant.

Despite this somewhat tendentious characterisation of natural selection and our inner lives, most of the descriptions of internal states rang fairly true for me. It is so common in a Buddhist text to read some ludicrous story about how we're all on the verge of blinding road rage at all times or completely incapable of compassion, that it's a nice change to find a representation of inner life that rang fairly true.

There is also a heteronormativity that's sort of tied to the model of natural selection used which erases the possibility of other modes of reproduction than the biological. Given how many people in the West are foregoing having children and how many have sexual and romantic lives that are not ever going to be genetically procreative, this error leaves out many potential readers. Hopefully these readers can fill in the blanks, though, because overall this book was inspiring and motivating as well as somewhat eye opening. ( )
  robfwalter | Jul 31, 2023 |
nonfiction audio (ISBN: 9781508235408, 10:29:42)

stressed out guy with TMJ tries Buddhist meditation and waxes philosophical. I listened to maybe an hour but couldn't imagine listening for another 9 hours, so I abandoned it.
  reader1009 | Jun 23, 2023 |
Quick takeaway:

If Darwin is right, then all selfishness and human foibles are the ways in which we propagate our genes.

If Buddha is right, then going in the exact opposite direction brings us closer to balance, happiness and enlightenment on a personal, interpersonal, social and spiritual context. ( )
  Ricardo_das_Neves | Jan 14, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Wright’s book is provocative, informative and, in many respects, deeply rewarding.
 
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Family & Relationships. Health & Fitness. Self-Improvement. Nonfiction. HTML:From one of America's most brilliant writers, a New York Times bestselling journey through psychology, philosophy, and lots of meditation to show how Buddhism holds the key to moral clarity and enduring happiness.
At the heart of Buddhism is a simple claim: The reason we sufferâ??and the reason we make other people sufferâ??is that we don't see the world clearly. At the heart of Buddhist meditative practice is a radical promise: We can learn to see the world, including ourselves, more clearly and so gain a deep and morally valid happiness.

In this "sublime" (The New Yorker), pathbreaking book, Robert Wright shows how taking this promise seriously can change your lifeâ??how it can loosen the grip of anxiety, regret, and hatred, and how it can deepen your appreciation of beauty and of other people. He also shows why this transformation works, drawing on the latest in neuroscience and psychology, and armed with an acute understanding of human evolution.

This book is the culmination of a personal journey that began with Wright's landmark book on evolutionary psychology, The Moral Animal, and deepened as he immersed himself in meditative practice and conversed with some of the world's most skilled meditators. The result is a story that is "provocative, informative and...deeply rewarding" (The New York Times Book Review), and as entertaining as it is illuminating. Written with the wit, clarity, and grace for which Wright is famous, Why Buddhism Is True lays the foundation for a spiritual life in a secular age and shows how, in a time of technological distraction and social division, we can save ourselves from ourselves, both as individuals and as a

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