I finally finished reading this book. It’s not long or particularly difficult to read, I just had a lot of other things going on. I started reading it the first week of July, so it’s taken about 3-1/2 weeks to finish. Not bad for nonfiction, in my opinion.
The full title is Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom, by Rich Hanson, Ph.D., with Richard Mendius, MD. Daniel Siegel wrote the foreword, and Jack Kornfeld wrote the preface. Big names in American Buddhism.
I expected something more related to Buddha’s teachings. Instead, it combines neuroscience with meditation and Buddhist practice. The book has a lot of brain science in it, but it’s written at a level that almost anyone who’s had a biology course in college (or a bright high-schooler) can understand. People who don’t like science can skip over those parts and still get a lot out of it.
The book contains four sections, on the causes of suffering, happiness, love, and wisdom. Each chapter has a nice summary of key points.
The book also contains an appendix on nutritional neurochemistry, that is, how you can support your brain’s functioning through skillful nutrition. It was written by Jan Hanson (whom I take to be the author’s wife), L.Ac.
This information has already influenced my diet and supplements.
Some fundamentals that underlie the rest of the book are:
- The mind depends on the brain. Actually, the mind is what the brain does.
- The brain evolved to help you survive, but its three primary strategies — separation, stopping change, and grasping pleasure/avoiding pain — make you suffer.
- The path of awakening is described as uncovering your true nature that was always present, as transforming your mind and body, or as both.
- Small actions every day add up to large changes over time — you are building new neural structure.
- Wholesome changes in many brains could tip the world in a better direction.
I learned a lot and recommend this book for anyone interested in the meditating brain and fully awakening their body/mind.