Thursday, August 25, 2011

Buddhism: The Most Accurate World Religion?

Buddhism is in vogue in the West, and has been for a long time. Partly, it's that Buddhism seems "spiritual" without being too religious; perhaps more importantly, Buddhist practices, especially meditation, are widely associated with happiness, contentment, and well-being. To distracted, dissatisfied, and overworked Americans, being Buddhist is a sensible and practical lifestyle choice: Exercise, eat well, get enough sleep, and meditate.

In The Bodhisattva's Brain: Buddhism Naturalized , Owen Flanagan, a distinguished philosopher at Duke, argues that this practical approach to Buddhism misses the point. Buddhism matters not just for practical reasons, but for philosophical ones. Subtract the "hocus-pocus" about reincarnation, karma, and "bodhisattvas flying on lotus leaves," and you'll find a rigorous, clear-eyed account of the universe and our place in it -- an account, in fact, designed to satisfy even the most ardent modern-day materialist. Buddhism matters, in other words, because it's actually right....

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