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Why Buddhism Is True Audiobook

Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Enlightenment

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Publisher's Summary

From one of America's greatest minds, a journey through psychology, philosophy, and lots of meditation to show how Buddhism holds the key to moral clarity and enduring happiness.

Robert Wright famously explained in The Moral Animal how evolution shaped the human brain. The mind is designed to often delude us, he argued, about ourselves and about the world. And it is designed to make happiness hard to sustain.

But if we know our minds are rigged for anxiety, depression, anger, and greed, what do we do? Wright locates the answer in Buddhism, which figured out thousands of years ago what scientists are discovering only now. Buddhism holds that human suffering is a result of not seeing the world clearly - and proposes that seeing the world more clearly, through meditation, will make us better, happier people.

In Why Buddhism Is True, Wright leads listeners on a journey through psychology, philosophy, and a great many silent retreats to show how and why meditation can serve as the foundation for a spiritual life in a secular age. At once excitingly ambitious and wittily accessible, this is the first book to combine evolutionary psychology with cutting-edge neuroscience to defend the radical claims at the heart of Buddhist philosophy. With bracing honesty and fierce wisdom, it will persuade you not just that Buddhism is true - which is to say, a way out of our delusion - but that it can ultimately save us from ourselves, as individuals and as a species.

©2017 Robert Wright. All rights reserved. (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What the Critics Say

"I have been waiting all my life for a readable, lucid explanation of Buddhism by a tough-minded, skeptical intellect. Here it is. This is a scientific and spiritual voyage unlike any I have taken before." (Martin Seligman, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and best-selling author of Authentic Happiness)

"This is exactly the book that so many of us are looking for. Writing with his characteristic wit, brilliance, and tenderhearted skepticism, Robert Wright tells us everything we need to know about the science, practice, and power of Buddhism." (Susan Cain, best-selling author of Quiet)

"Robert Wright brings his sharp wit and love of analysis to good purpose, making a compelling case for the nuts and bolts of how meditation actually works. This book will be useful for all of us, from experienced meditators to hardened skeptics who are wondering what all the fuss is about." (Sharon Salzberg, cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society and best-selling author of Real Happiness)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (852 )
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    jon orourke 08-12-17
    jon orourke 08-12-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Excellent Explanation of Theravada Buddhism & Mind"
    Where does Why Buddhism Is True rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 25% ... but I've read/listened to several Audible books about a variety of topics ...


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Why Buddhism Is True?

    the explanation of the interconnectedness of feelings and thoughts ... how they are different and how interact to determine human behavior.


    7 of 15 people found this review helpful
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    George 08-10-17
    George 08-10-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Clear Explanation of How the Mind Works"

    Most books on Buddhism teach you how to drive; this book is like having Click and Clack lift the hood of the car and explain very clearly why the engine works. I think it may be one of the most helpful books I've ever read. The clarity with which emotions are explained is amazing. The author convinced me of the effectiveness of mindfulness. He is always careful to say where the science is uncertain or where the Buddhism is not grounded in science. I think I can now read other Buddhism texts, like the Suttas, with a framework for understanding that I did not have before. The author has a conversational, self-depreciating, and personal style of writing that I like. Narration is good.

    37 of 42 people found this review helpful
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    william wheeler Florida 08-16-17
    william wheeler Florida 08-16-17 Member Since 2017
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    "fantastic book"

    I loved the way the author drew comparison to science and psychology and the buddhist belief in a way that was very easy to understand and follow. if you jave had a difficult time understanding Buddhism read this book

    8 of 14 people found this review helpful
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    Anonymous 08-15-17
    08-15-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Very clear and helpful"

    A great argument. Very clear and well structured. The best kind of introduction to Buddhism in a modern context. This helped me a lot to sort out some of the Buddhist concepts which seemed confusing or vague as they're commonly presented. (Something I was expecting for Sam Harris' book on spirituality)

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Searcher 08-19-17
    Searcher 08-19-17 Member Since 2013
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    "Worth some of your time..."

    Worth some of your time...
    The author makes a number of important observations. However, there is also quite a bit of filler to work through.
    For example, there are numerous personal anecdotes many of which are rather banal.
    So, I think your time would be better spent with essential Buddhist texts. Plus, it seems to me that the more analytical parts of the book are at least partly based on speculation; precisely what the Buddha advised us not to spend time on.
    As you can see, the author's argument and presentation left me with mixed feelings.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom 09-11-17
    Tom 09-11-17 Member Since 2015
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    "I do not recommend this book"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Nothing really. This author's perspective and story telling style simply does not resonate with my own life experience and preferences. Other readers/listeners may appreciate this book.


    What could Robert Wright have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    The author could have interviewed other people and presented a broader range of perspectives on Buddhism than just his own.


    What does Fred Sanders bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He was a neutral reader, and he did not add or subtract from the content.


    What character would you cut from Why Buddhism Is True?

    N/A.


    Any additional comments?

    It seems the author is an intellectual, possibly somewhat neurotic (no offense, some people are just that way), city-dwelling American whose internally focused mind is preventing him from understanding the subject of this book. He struggles with the most basic questions and never seems to satisfactorily answer them for himself, and certainly not for the reader. Ask anyone who has been through hard core physical/mental training for sports or military purposes, and they will provide a much better explanation of what it means for the self not to exist. As other reviewers have noted, his personal anecdotes are beyond mundane. In some ways it is cool that a feeling of detachment from a tingling sensation in his toe rocked his world, but it's not great fodder for storytelling. That said, I am sure there are many readers who will relate to the author's perspective on Buddhism, so if you are more on the cerebral end of the spectrum, definitely give it a try. Hearing this while driving through Montana dodging cows and whitetail deer on my way to the field for work was rough going for me, though. One final point; as I understand it, compassion is a central theme of Buddhism and he barely mentions it.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anonymous 08-19-17
    08-19-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Compelling argument."

    Wright does an amazing job linking evolutionary psychology and Buddhism. The justification of core Buddhist concept via natural selection is a refreshing way of looking at Buddhism. I found this way to follow since just prior to this book, I listened to the Selfish Gene by Dawkins.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
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    Alexander Hardy 08-20-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Incredibly impactful"

    This is one of the most impactful books I have ever read. It is truly a "Quake" book for me regarding its seismic impact on my worldview. I highly recommend it.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
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    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 08-15-17
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 08-15-17 Member Since 2012
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    "The problem w/ introspection is that it has no End"

    “The problem with introspection is that it has no end.”
    ― Philip K. Dick

    For years I've told people I was a Zen Mormon. More as a way to squirm into the edges of LDS cosmology, and less because I was practicing anything really approaching a hybrid of Buddhism and Mormonism. But I've always been attracted to Buddhism, like many Westerners before me. I'm thinking of Herman Hesse, W. Somerset Maugham, Jack Kerouac, and Peter Matthiessen. I've always been attracted to the intersection of cultures, philosophies, etc. So, I guess it is natural for me to be attracted (if somewhat lazily) to Western Buddhism.

    I'm also a fan of Robert Wright. I've read most of his books. It is probably easier to just post the one book of his I haven't read, rather than list the ones I have.* I enjoy Wright's evolution from Evolutionary Psychology to Buddhist writings. I think the premise of this book is mostly correct. There is something that evolution has burdened us with, that meditation (specifically Mindfulness Meditation) and Buddhism can help us with.

    The books title, I should note here, IS a little off putting. I think Wright almost meant it as a joke (with a hook of truth). It comes across like some Mormon, Southern Baptist or Jehovah's Witness tract; a bit evangelical. But Wright is not just trying to convert the reader (and he's not exactly NOT trying to convert the reader either). He lays out pretty good arguments about how Evolutionary Psychology and behavioral psychology show (lots of caveats, obviously the mind is complex and not everyone agrees with everything) that a lot of our feelings, motives, choices are built on genetic coding which might actually make us unhappy, unhealthy, etc. The Buddhists seemed to have climbed that mountain before us. Wright seems less of a philosophical or religious Buddhist and more of a pragmatic Buddhist. I think his time studying how religion, the mind, behaviors, etc., have evolved over time has also provided him with ample evidence about how these traits that were evolved to help our more primitive selves reproduce, survive, etc., don't always help us in a modern age that includes HR departments, Facebook, politics, etc. Buddhism, Wright would argue, can help untangle some of these evolutionary knots.

    So? What does this book mean for me? Someone who calls himself (mostly in jest) a Zen Mormon who has spent exactly 10 minutes mediating in a half-assed way? Well, I'm thinking of hooking up with a local Buddhist/Meditation group and giving Mindful Mediation a try. I'm pretty chill, but I think mindfulness can only help. I'm also not above exploring truth beyond my own familiar cosmology. When I told my wife and kids of my plan, they did laugh however. My wife suggested meditation might not be easy for me, given my competitive nature.

    Wife: "You can't win at meditation."
    D8u: "Sure you can, isn't enlightenment basically winning?"
    Daughter: "Yeah Mom, the Buddha definitely won."
    D8U: "See?"

    My daughter, laughing, said the closest I've come to meditating was my nightly scalding bath, with headphones in my ears, a cold diet Dr. Pepper, and candy. She thinks anything that would help me unplug one or two of my sensory addictions might not be a bad thing. I agree. It is worth a shot.

    * I haven't read Three Scientists and Their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information.

    24 of 37 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rob 09-04-17
    Rob 09-04-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Robotic voice"

    I've taken Robert wright on coursers which was excellent and human. Hence I bought this audio book. I can hardly bear listening to Fred sanders and his voice, cadence, lack of connection to the content destroys the value of this book. Sorry to so harsh but I'm being completely honest

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
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  • Amazon Customer
    Carlsbad, San Diego
    9/12/17
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    "One of the best books on secular Buddhism and it's relationship to natural selection and neuroscience"

    I would recommend this book to anyone interested how we are programmed towards dissatisfaction and suffering in this world and how Buddhism's solutions to this dilemma are backed up by modern science. An amazing, well written and read masterpiece.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Roman Nowak
    9/8/17
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    "A practical take on benefits of meditation"

    Very practical and science oriented view! Nice humour to keep one engaged and related. I will add that one needs to keep focus listening, but then that IS one of the points of learning to meditate!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • James S.
    10/21/17
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    "the case for everyone to benefit from meditation"

    the case for everyone to benefit from meditation to improve the lives of all of us put in a very clear and readable account. a must read for anyone who cares about there own and others wellbeing

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • edmund
    9/14/17
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    "must read"

    this is one of the top 3 Buddhist books I've read. very thorough and illuminating

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Karen Ellen
    10/3/17
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    "I think I now ish understand why meditation ..."

    a new perspective of how the mind works. Using psychology and appropiate anologies of life i know understand (i think) how meditation trains the brain and helps to organise the chaos that thinking causes. Time to meditate more and settle my noisy stressed mind

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    9/29/17
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    "An entertaining read with excellent arguments!"

    Robert Wright's book examines Buddhism from a psychological and Darwinian perspective and finds it true!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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