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

Robert Wright. Simon & Schuster, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4391-9545-1
Wright (The Moral Animal) fascinates readers with this journey through evolutionary psychology in search of answers to the question of whether Buddhism’s diagnosis of the human condition is true. Rather than conceiving of the self—or the mind, for that matter—as an autocrat, Wright opts for the modular model of mind, in which behavior is shaped by the interplay of networks dedicated to different tasks and situations with conflicting goals. Because there are ultimately many versions of the self (or “no-self”) in the modular model, Wright argues that emotions are far more integral than reason in constructing perceptions and interpretations of the world. He recommends meditation as a process of dispelling the illusions that natural selection has created (which have since gone haywire outside of natural pressures), suggesting that it can be used to interrogate, contemplate, and disengage from the foundation of feelings that color experience. Through mindfulness, Wright says, one can achieve clarity of vision, breaking out of tribalistic notions of thinking to begin helping others and the world. But this is not easy to accomplish, and Wright’s stories about his meditation experiences include his failures, anxieties, and faults. Wright’s joyful and insightful book is both entertaining and informative, equally accessible to general audiences and more experienced practitioners. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/08/2017
Release date: 08/08/2017
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-5082-3540-8
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