NONFICTION

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

S. & S. Aug. 2017. 304p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781439195451. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781439195475. REL
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Given the book's title, you may be surprised to learn that Wright (The Evolution of God) is not a Buddhist. Rather, he is a journalist and author of several best-selling books about science and religion, as well as a practitioner of mindfulness meditation. Here, he shares his journey with mindfulness and links the outcomes of his practice with evolutionary psychology. Wright argues that natural selection conditions humans to experience suffering, one of the foundational tenets of Buddhism. Strong emotions, such as fear, anxiety, and anger, helped our ancestors to survive, and so these survival mechanisms are still genetically part of us and the way we are wired. Reactions based on these emotions cause us to suffer, but meditation can help to control these reactions as one begins to see that these emotions are devoid of any inherent essence. Wright's treatment of key Buddhist concepts, such as nonself or emptiness, may initially seem glib. However, as he develops his argument, it becomes clear that Wright is trying to help readers to deconstruct and then reconstruct these fundamental concepts.
VERDICT An important read for anyone interested in practicing meditation but not necessarily interested in becoming an expert in Buddhist philosophy.

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