Buddha’s Brain

Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson

  • What you think changes your brain
    • “The mind is what the brain does”
    • “When you change your brain, you change your life”
    • “What flows through your mind sculpts your brain. Thus, you can use your mind to change your brain for the better”
    • “What flows through your attention sculpts your brain. Therefore, controlling your attention may be the single most effective way to shape your brain, and thus your mind.”
    • “Being mindful simply means having good control over your attention: you can place your attention wherever you want and it stays there; when you want to shift it to something else, you can
    • “Your brain is built more for avoiding than for approaching”
      • “Your brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones
    • Progression of self-control: “unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence.”
  • Fundamentals of Buddhist practice are mirrored in brain function
    • “Virtue, mindfulness (also called concentration), and wisdom. These are the three pillars of Buddhist practice, as well as the wellsprings of everyday well-being, psychological growth, and spiritual realization”
    • “These three processes—being with whatever arises, working with the tendencies of mind to transform them, and taking refuge in the ground of being—are the essential practices of the path of awakening. In many ways they correspond, respectively, to mindfulness, virtue, and wisdom—and to the three fundamental neural functions of learning, regulating, and selecting”
    • “Virtue, mindfulness, and wisdom are supported by the three fundamental functions of the brain: regulation, learning, and selection.”
  • “Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional”
    • “The remedy is not to suppress negative experiences; when they happen, they happen. Rather, it is to foster positive experiences—and in particular, to take them in so they become a permanent part of you”
    • “If you can break the link between feeling tones and craving—if you can be with the pleasant without chasing after it, with the unpleasant without resisting it, and with the neutral without ignoring it—then you have cut the chain of suffering, at least for a time.”
    • “Recognize the fleeting nature of rewards and that they usually aren’t actually all that great. See, too, that painful experiences are transient and usually not that awful. Neither pleasure nor pain is worth claiming as your own or identifying with. Further, consider how every event is determined by countless preceding factors so that things can not be any other way. This is not fatalism or despair: you can take action to make the future different. But even then, remember that most of the factors that shape the future are out of your hands. You can do everything right, and still the glass will break, the project will go nowhere, you’ll catch the flu, or a friend will remain upset.”
    • “Buddhism has a metaphor for the different conditions in life. They’re called the Eight Worldly Winds: pleasure and pain, praise and blame, gain and loss, fame and ill repute.”
  • Unilateral virtue as a tactic to break controlling behavior
    • “When you are virtuous no matter what other people do, their behavior is not controlling you. As a therapist, I’ve seen many couples in which each person says essentially the same thing: I’ll treat you well after you treat me well. They’re stuck in a standoff—which neither one of them truly wants—because they’re each letting the other person determine their behavior.”
    • “May you be safe. May you be healthy. May you be happy. May you live with ease.
    • “Resentment is when I take poison and wait for you to die.”
  • Closing thoughts
    • “No self, no problem.”
    • “Be breathing. There’s nothing else to do.”
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3 Responses to Buddha’s Brain

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