A bestselling author sets out to improve the world by encouraging mindful meditation.
By his bold title, Pulitzer finalist Wright (The Evolution of God, 2009, etc.) means to assert that "the core of Buddhism's assessment of the human condition…its conception of certain basic aspects of how the mind works and of how we can change how the mind works...warrants enough confidence to get the label that the title of this book gives it.” The author finds this corroboration in recent developments in psychology and evolutionary biology, contending that current theories suggesting a modular structure for the mind in place of a single executive support the Buddhist doctrine of "not-self.” Furthermore, demonstrable distortions of our perceptions of the world, also anticipated by ancient Buddhist thought, originally served valuable evolutionary purposes but are now obsolete and contribute to personal and social dysfunction. Wright puts forth the mindfulness meditation offered by many Buddhist traditions as a means of overcoming our evolutionary-determined and intuitive habits of thinking and of perceiving the physical world and the human condition with greater clarity and compassion. The author aims to make some fundamentally bizarre-sounding doctrines of Buddhism accessible to skeptical and secular readers by offering scientific support for its assertions in simple language and an engaging style. He keeps explicitly religious references and exotic Asian-language terminology to a minimum; no prior familiarity with Buddhist teachings is required. Wright lightens the trek through some challenging philosophical concepts with well-chosen anecdotes and a self-deprecating humor as he discusses the pinnacles and setbacks of his own meditative experiences. While critical readers may take issue with the logic underlying some of his contentions, the author presents a well-organized, freshly conceived introduction to core concepts of Buddhist thought.
A cogent and approachable argument for a personal meditation practice based on secular Buddhist principles.