Top critical review
31 people found this helpful
easy to pick up, too easy to drop
on 6 December 2011
Two stars, because several people find Buddha's Brain helpful; plus it gives several interesting facts about how suffering arises, how meditation affects the brain, and so on. But as a meditation practitioner and scientist for several years I have concerns:
Buddha's Brain offers "to weave together information and methods like an operating manual for your brain combined with a tool box", but under a heading "Relax your body", one line says "relaxation drains away anxiety like pulling the plug in a bathtub", then we are directed to methods described earlier in the chapter. Yes, there are four quick "methods", but these seem random. It gives tools, yes, but in my view isn't easy to use as an "operating manual".
At the outset they say "you don't need any background in meditation to use the book", but it's suggested we first establish some equanimity, some mental spaciousness for the Loving Kindness Meditation on page 171. Again, methods have been given beforehand but aren't referenced, and without the support of a meditation practice, I can't see how the method described can be followed in practice. There isn't an index, and this makes searching and cross referencing more difficult.
With several parts (The Causes of Suffering, Happiness, Love, Wisdom) dotted with enticing subsections (e.g. Boundless Kindness, Empathy) the book is easy to pick up, at any page; but for reasons described, it could also be too easy to drop.
It seems well referenced. I wonder whether science is being applied appropriately to link brain and mind because several sections begin by describing a brain state before describing the related mental event. Are discoveries about the brain being used to wow, or for wisdom? For me, trying to "Hush the verbal centres" p 187, by sending "a gentle instruction", doesn't really work....
Facts this book presents may spark interest and help someone to connect, but even though I was inspired to buy it because of the interesting subsections, it's not for me.