Gilbert’s Social Science of Mind 

UPDATED: Jan. 24, 2017

“All mental phenomena have mind as their forerunner; they have mind as their chief; they are mind-made. If one speaks or acts with a sick mind, ‘dukkha‘ follows him just as the wheel follows the hoofprint of the ox that draws the cart. . . If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness (sukha) follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.” The Dhammapada, verses 1 & 2.

Dr. Paul Gilbert’s The Compassionate Mind.  (2009) I couldn’t resist–got it out of the library to save a few bucks. I like it even better than Mindful Compassion because it’s closer to Paul Gilbert’s empirical heart, and his writing style, so the prose just flows. Gilbert started out as an economist, of the ‘social economist’ stripe, I would guess. He’s certainly very critical of mainstream economics and “the business model.” (I wonder if there’s a place in Sukhavati for Buddhist Materialists. I’d like to know because I am one.) Gilbert gets into the empirical meat of evolutionary psychology and brain science. He brilliantly relates it, as a good social economist would, to motivations for behavior and implications for social systems. My kind of Buddhist.

I’ve read the first 6 chapters of Gilbert’s Compassionate Mind, and I’m blown away. What I’m about to tell you is not an exaggeration, but how deeply I feel about Gilbert’s work:

If you read this book and practice what it teaches, you will become a buddha as the Buddha taught in the Nikaya texts and Mahayana tradition.. You will finally understand the Four Noble Truths. You will understand suffering, the root of suffering, the end of suffering and the path to the end of suffering. This book, based primarily on neuroscience but interpreted through a Buddhist lens, is what I have been looking for all my life. I can now understand and have compassion for my own faulty (but normal) mind. And I have augmented may capacity to deal with life going forward. This teaching will give you what you have been seeking and hoping for in Buddhist practice. If you read this book, you will never have to read another Buddhist book or go on another retreat, except for enjoyment. This is it.

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