This book takes a scientific look the Buddha’s teachings through the lens of evolutionary psychology:
- Why do we give in to delusions?
- Why can’t enough, be enough?
- Why do we let our feelings run the show?
Robert Wright, Why Buddhism is True
“Natural selection doesn’t want us to be happy.”
I can’t get no satisfaction.
It makes sense that we would want to pursue pleasure. It also makes evolutionary sense that once we attain it, it won’t last, otherwise “our first meal would be our last.” We are also designed not to realize this fact. Because if we understood that the pleasure would subside soon after attainment then we would stop seeking it out, and we would all become philosophers.
Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones
“I can’t get no satisfaction.”
The Hedonic Treadmill
We overestimate how much satisfaction we will get from thing we desire:
– Eat a 🍩.
– Pass a test.
– Get promoted.
– Hit 10k followers on Instagram.
– Change partners.
– Run 10k in sub 45 min.
We spend more time visualizing the perks of something that will come in the future then the possible burdens it will put on us ( I.e promotion = more duties.).The Buddha saw the Hedonic Treadmill before we saw it. Evolution doesn’t care about our happiness. It only care about us spreading our genes. It wants us to be productive in a narrow sense of the word and this is done by making the desire for pleasure strong, but the pleasure itself not long-lasting.
The mystery of essence
A ring worn by a president is considered more valuable (to some) than the same ring worn by no one in particular. We assign “essence” to things and people based on our feelings:
Now imagine the face of someone getting the news that his precious Nixon ring actually never was worn by Nixon. The essence evaporate!
What’s going on here? Our assignment of essence warp reality and can create emotional backlashes.
I’m back on the mediation cushion!
“If you don’t feed a stray cat it quits coming to your door.” Thoughts think themselves, and you are not your thoughts. Don’t feed thoughts that don’t serve you.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in the Buddhist ideas but want a scientific approach to the subject. One of my favorite books this year so far! And it’s been a really good year for reading!