Sep 11, 2009
For years westerners have assumed that Buddhists must be a miserable lot: their teachings dwell so much on suffering. But recent scientific research suggests what Buddhists have believed all along. Buddhism — or at least Buddhist meditation — leads to happiness.
Media headlines in the last few years have trumpeted new research into the effects of meditation on brain activity, behavior and even resistance to disease. The findings are still provisional, but as the philosopher Owen Flanagan commented in New Scientist magazine: “The most reasonable hypothesis is that there’s something about conscientious …
Feb 17, 2009
Evolution — at least in the United States — has a deeply troubled relationship with religion. Or at least it does with some religions.
As you can see from the Pew Trust chart below, Buddhists on the whole (81% of them) think that evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on Earth.
In fact of all the religious traditions included on the chart, Buddhists are the most accepting of evolution, with evangelical Christians, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses being the least accepting.
Those of us who value an objective and evidence-based (read “scientific”) understanding of the world are greatly disturbed by attempts to displace sound science from the classroom, to introduce …
Jun 23, 2008
Anne Morrow Lindbergh: “If one is estranged from oneself, then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others…”
Lindbergh’s comment reminds me that being fully aware of others involves awareness of oneself. There’s nothing particularly mystical about this — it’s just a question of psychology and neurophysiology. And without this awareness of oneself, friendship is simply impossible.
On a psychological level, next time you’re interacting with someone, pay attention to what’s happening on a gut level. You’ll notice that there are sensations in the body, mostly focused on the abdomen, that arise in response to the other person. In Buddhist terminology these are vedanas, which are often translated as “feelings.” Vedanas are not emotions, but are a basic response to perceptions. These responses are traditionally categorized as pleasurable, …
Feb 23, 2007
Don’t be put off by the title: this book should really be called “Positive emotions and how to develop them.”
A new book from Buddhist author Daniel Goleman (“Emotional Intelligence”) is always going to be an exciting event. More so in this case because of the extraordinary background out of which the book emerged.
The Dalai Lama, a fan of science since boyhood (he famously enjoys tinkering with watches and has been known to rubberneck when passing electronics stores) annually gathers the world’s eminent minds in order to educate himself about the latest scientific findings and in