Joshua Rothman (Boston Globe): Buddhism is in vogue in the West, partly because Buddhist practices, especially meditation, are popularly associated with contentment and well-being. As religions go, Buddhism strikes many people as a sensible and practical lifestyle choice.
Owen Flanagan, a distinguished philosopher at Duke, thinks this purely practical approach to Buddhism misses the point. In a new book, “The Bodhisattva’s Brain: Buddhism Naturalized,’’ Flanagan argues Buddhism matters not just for practical reasons, but for philosophical ones. Subtract the “hocus-pocus” about reincarnation and karma, he argues, and you’ll find a rigorous, clear-eyed account of the universe and our place in it – one that would satisfy even the most ardent modern-day materialist. Buddhism matters, in … Read more »
Buddhists who meditate may be able to train their brains to feel genuine happiness and control aggressive instincts, research has shown.
According to Owen Flanagan, professor of philosophy at Duke University in North Carolina, Buddhists appear to be able to stimulate the left prefrontal lobe – an area just behind the forehead – which may be why they can generate positive emotions and a feeling of well being.
Writing in today’s New Scientist, Professor Flanagan cites early findings of a study by Richard Davidson, of the University of Wisconsin, who used scanners to analyse the active regions of a Buddhist’s brain.
Professor Flanagan said the findings are “tantalising” because the left prefrontal lobes of Buddhist … Read more »