Summary

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 happiness.
Robert 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 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 discovering only now. Buddhism holds that human suffering is a result of not seeing the world clearly - and proposes that seeing the world more clearly, through meditation, will make us better, happier people.
In Why Buddhism Is True, Wright leads listeners on 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.
©2017 Robert Wright. All rights reserved. (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Critic reviews

"I have been waiting all my life for a readable, lucid explanation of Buddhism by a tough-minded, skeptical intellect. Here it is. This is a scientific and spiritual voyage unlike any I have taken before." (Martin Seligman, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and best-selling author of Authentic Happiness)
"This is exactly the book that so many of us are looking for. Writing with his characteristic wit, brilliance, and tenderhearted skepticism, Robert Wright tells us everything we need to know about the science, practice, and power of Buddhism." (Susan Cain, best-selling author of Quiet)
"Robert Wright brings his sharp wit and love of analysis to good purpose, making a compelling case for the nuts and bolts of how meditation actually works. This book will be useful for all of us, from experienced meditators to hardened skeptics who are wondering what all the fuss is about." (Sharon Salzberg, cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society and best-selling author of Real Happiness)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 12-09-17

One of the best books on secular Buddhism and it's relationship to natural selection and neuroscience

I would recommend this book to anyone interested how we are programmed towards dissatisfaction and suffering in this world and how Buddhism's solutions to this dilemma are backed up by modern science. An amazing, well written and read masterpiece.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By John Turner on 03-01-18

Brilliant Overview

Buddhism, given its very nature, can appear enigmatic and paradoxical. The writer explores the nature of the belief system, as well as his own gradual enlightenment over the course of many retreats.

This is a well-read and insightful book. Wright doesn't shy away from the philosophy, nor does he try to give a one-size-fits all approach. Though he clearly advocates what he sees to be the merits of mindfulness meditation, he leaves the choices with the reader, encouraging them to discover (or not) themselves.

I've read a lot of fluff in the subject, and this one is both accessible and substantial.

Recommended.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Rugger Burke on 12-09-17

More than a beginner's guide...

Would you consider the audio edition of Why Buddhism Is True to be better than the print version?

Having purchased and read/listened to both, consider them equal. One caveat: is not a beginner's guide to Buddhism. Therefore, would suggest others choose the medium best suited for taking in information. In either instance, however, the text flows easily as if having a conversation with a knowledgeable friend about a topic of mutual interest.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Why Buddhism Is True?

Wright's explanation of subjects typically glossed over by most books on Buddhism such as emptiness and non-self stood out for their clarity. Most books on Buddhism cover the basics of the branches of Buddhism, an explanation of the four noble truths, and the virtues of the eight-fold path. Instead of a general overview, Wright writes about some of the more seemingly esoteric areas of secular Buddhism. He does this well integrating both personal experience as well as helpful examples. He then pulls the threads together to demonstrate the importance of understanding these topics and why they are relevant to how we relate to our selves and the world around us.

Have you listened to any of Fred Sanders’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes. Sanders strikes a good tone in conveying the material, though sometimes the emphasis of a line or two may have been different than the author's internal voice while writing.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

If you will give two hours of time for your entertainment, why not meditate an hour a day to claim your life?

Any additional comments?

Wright commented in the book that one his teachers commented that writing the book may impede his progress toward enlightenment. Hopefully, this is not so. Instead, the book served as a reason for him to explore further and record his discoveries along the way, Regardless, he left firm footing for others following a similar path.

Thus, it's easy to recommend this book for someone with a basic to intermediate understanding of Buddhism looking for further reading on topics beyond the basic tenants of Buddhism or a meditation guide who prefers a contemporary, secular point of view. While this sounds like a relatively small group, perhaps so. But maybe this book will continue to expand its number.

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20 of 20 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By George on 10-08-17

Clear Explanation of How the Mind Works

Most books on Buddhism teach you how to drive; this book is like having Click and Clack lift the hood of the car and explain very clearly why the engine works. I think it may be one of the most helpful books I've ever read. The clarity with which emotions are explained is amazing. The author convinced me of the effectiveness of mindfulness. He is always careful to say where the science is uncertain or where the Buddhism is not grounded in science. I think I can now read other Buddhism texts, like the Suttas, with a framework for understanding that I did not have before. The author has a conversational, self-depreciating, and personal style of writing that I like. Narration is good.

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68 of 74 people found this review helpful

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