C O U R S E L E C T U R E
Notes taken on March 26, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
as with other religions, there are varieties of Buddhism
different varieties of Buddhism in Asia
people who weren't born Buddhist but who have chosen to adopt Buddhism
don't pay much attention to the supernatural parts of Buddhism
e.g. being reincarnated as a hungry ghost
naturalistic ideas in Buddhism
what is the human mind?
why do people behave unkindly?
does the human mind deceive people about the nature of reality?
can we change the way the mind works, and in particular through meditation?
these questions apply to both religious and naturalistic Buddhism
consolation in times of sorrow
equanimity in the turbulence of life
whether you consider naturalistic Buddhism a religion depends on how you define religion
"The life of religion consists of the belief that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto." - William James
Buddhism asserts that we should harmoniously adjust ourselves to the hidden truth that our mind is being hidden from, and lays out a path for this harmonious adjustment
the Buddhist claim is that by doing this, we can alleviate and even end our suffering, and in the process align ourselves with moral truth
modern psychology lends support to some Buddhist ideas
that certain distortions are built into the human mind and we suffer as a result
that there is a sense that the self, that thing inside me that is running the show, does not exist
modern psychology includes evolutionary psychology
the study of how the human mind was shaped by natural selection
that some of the delusions that we have were built in by natural selection for purposes which can be understood in terms of how humans were thus able to better live until age of reproduction
just because something is natural, or formed by natural selection, doesn't mean it isn't changeable
part of the idea of Buddhism is a counter-programming of the brain through such techniques as mediation and to neutralize some of the tendencies that were built into the brain by natural selection
Buddhism very much wants to run into opposition to some of the logic by which natural selection wired the brain
however, Buddhism does make use of some things that natural selection engrained in us including love, compassion, and rational thought
the interesting question is not whether meditation has made people happier or suffer less, but whether it has done this by dispelling illusions that the mind has build into it