Top positive review
A treasure chest of ideas.
7 August 2018
This book is a treasure trove of interpretations, scientific findings and stimulus for thought and debate. Compassion features strongly reflecting our cultural admiration of and aspiration towards it. There is no counterbalancing point of view about the possible benefits of the way we actually are (i.e. a mix of good and bad) that, say, an evolutionary perspective could offer.
The book dispels the myth that you just need to meditate and eventually magic will happen and everything will be super, but it still dangles phrases that inspire e.g.
page 159 ......... a delight in sheer being
page 172 ..........it gets easier to handle life's upsets
page 286 ..........content in ourselves as we are.
Reminds of Stephen Batchelor's --re-enchanting the world.
The book leads up to and explores the implication on page 148---We live in a world our minds build rather than actually perceiving the endless detail of what is happening. It discusses consciousness as an integrator.
The discussion of the mind wandering Default Mode Network links it with the generation of the self (in its many guises) and clarifies the experience of 'flow'.
The three main strands of meditation i.e concentration, insight and loving kindness seem to recruit different aspects of brain activity and possible long term modification.
One omission is the description of the size of the statistical relations discussed in most cases. Such information would help the cost benefit to be evaluated.
The main message, unfortunately, is that long term change can occur, but the amount of training necessary is beyond the majority of people. However from a personal point of view, having some amateur meditation experience enables an understanding of the insight strand. Books like this help the understanding of the mechanics of mental activity and reveals the various misapprehensions (e.g. the flexible, transient dynamic nature of the self, the integration of the pain sensation with the impulse to fix it because I'm hurting) and modify or at least question the resulting intention of behaviour accordingly. That's got to be good.
Daniel Goleman Richard J Davidson have every reason to be proud of their life's work making significant contributions to the subject and helping others to understand it.