At one point in 2017, this was the most popular book in all of Washington state. Given my interest in yoga and meditation, I decided to give it a try. If you've heard about it and were similarly intrigued, an honest review for you below:
About: Buddhist philosophy, the nature of reality, mindfulness meditation, the ideas of not-self and emptiness, Darwin's theory of evolution and natural selection.
Read If You Like: philosophical proofs for ideas, a logic-based approach to spirituality, The Matrix, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind,
Writing Quality: I wished this read a little tighter. It often felt unnecessarily verbose and circular. I understand that writing about philosophy is a tough job, but I definitely felt that the quality of writing left something to be desired.
What You'll Learn:
- How our default perception of reality is deluded, thanks to natural selection's sole emphasis on getting your genes into the next generation.
- How to ease suffering by mindfully interacting with your attractions (food, sex, approval, etc.) and aversions (annoyances, filth, death, etc.) and removing their heavily-connoted essence.
- "An understanding of why natural selection engineered various feelings into the human brain" so as not to automatically act on those feelings and instead critically assess from which to accept guidance.
- Why Buddhist principles and, more concretely, meditation have the potential to make us happier and more moral beings.
My Thoughts: This wasn't necessarily an easy or fun read, but it was compelling enough to pass my 50-Page Rule. I found that the parts about non-identification with feelings and more broadly the self to be helpful in dealing with cravings and anxiety. It's also cool to be able to ground Buddhist practice in the theory of evolution, as it's helpful in conveying the benefits of the practice to more left-brain, science-minded folk.