Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  3,114 ratings  ·  276 reviews
Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and other great teachers were born with brains built essentially like anyone else's. Then they used their minds to change their brains in ways that changed history.

With the new breakthroughs in neuroscience, combined with the insights from thousands of years of contemplative practice, you, too, can shape your own brain for greater happiness, love,...more
Paperback, 1st edition, 252 pages
Published November 1st 2009 by New Harbinger Publications
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The Power of Habit by Charles DuhiggThe Brain That Changes Itself by Norman DoidgeBuddha's Brain by Rick HansonChange Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. AmenSocial by Matthew D. Lieberman
3rd out of 46 books — 62 voters
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. CoveyHow to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale CarnegieGetting Things Done by David AllenOh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. SeussOrchids by Lisa Jey Davis
Motivational and Self-Improvement Books
183rd out of 585 books — 663 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Nicholas Litterski
Really enjoying this book.

It is well-laid out, not overly technical, and has a handy-dandy "review" section at the end of each chapter. I'm limiting myself to one chapter/day. I could definitely read it quicker, but that seems to defeat my purpose in reading a book like this. In explaining some of the emerging brain science surrounding motivation, happiness, and (Eastern) Wisdom: it succeeds fantastically. It is a nice mix of Western "why" and Eastern "practice". Hence "Practical Neuroscience"....more
An enlightening book, full of useful techniques to promote compassion, insight and wisdom. Many of the ideas were familiar, but that did not detract from the book. I liked the combination of neuroscience and meditative techniques. I will attempt to use the techniques in my daily life.

"All joy in this world comes from wanting others to be happy, and all suffering in this world comes from wanting only oneself to be happy."

I wish all Goodreaders well!
Alisa Bowman
This book seemed to want to come into my life. I kept walking past it in the bookstore and it kept coming up as a recommendation on Amazon. Finally one day I broke down and bought it. I was not disappointed. In in, the authors take many of Buddha's teachings and show, through neuroscience, how they change the brain for the better. I've been meditating and studying Dharma for several years, but I still got a lot out of this book. The authors show how certain practices can rewire the brain--helpin...more
Tara SG
* * * 3/4

In Six Words :
never thought about it like that

What I Loved :
As a non-Christian science nerd, this was geared towards me. Not to say that you couldn’t enjoy this book if you are a Christian (but you have to take the evolution sections with a grain of salt if that doesn’t fit with your beliefs) or that if you aren’t into science that this will be boring (this is probably the opposite).

I really enjoyed the sections that explained why we react the way we do to certain situations and related...more
Less interesting than it sounds. Buddhism distinguishes itself from other religions by accepting the value of science. Hence, writing a book discussing the intersection of Buddhist practices and potential scientific bases for their value, particularly meditation in this case, is a peanut butter and chocolate fit. The neuroscience will be familiar to anyone with a few neurobiology classes behind them - the singulate gyrus, amygdala, pre-frontal cortex, brain wave variations and other familiar st...more
Buddha's Brain is a surprisingly quick, "easy" read, using neuroscience to explain why meditation and mindful awareness work to improve your contentment and get over bad experiences. For anyone who has ever dismissed meditation as hippie new age nonsense, or for those of us who just like to know why things work, this book presents the brain as a well-oiled machine: do this or that, and your brain is made to react in a certain way. In a way, it's inspirational; if you're having trouble "getting s...more
I only have a few things to say about this book. First of all it's heavy on the vocabulary of the brain. It basically gives you a science lesson throughout much of the book. The "exercises" in this book are more like tips for using the information. I should warn a lot of you that if you are interested in this book then use the physical copy or eBook and not the audio-book. This is a book that you may want to read slow and write notes in. I fell asleep twice to the audio-book and I'm not sure if...more
This is a very interesting subject for me. This book is serious science, not fluffy new-age nonsense. It is very satisfying for me to learn exactly HOW something happens. I appreciated all the details of the nuts and bolts of neurology,always a fascinating subject. Most importantly the information within this gem is very encouraging. I can set my own self free from worry and depression that has haunted all my life. What little I have learned from other meditation resources so far does indeed wor...more
Buddha's brain is a model of how to write a self-help book about meditation and science, presenting complex material with outstanding clarity and making it accessible, readable and digestible. It distills the authors’ considerable understanding of both meditation and neuroscience into punchy advice and things that people can actually do. However, I came to it with some doubts about the whole project of expounding meditation in neuro-scientific terms and my response was mixed. Its scientific fram...more
I don't even know what to say - there's no coherent way I can review this book. It was truly one of the best most helpful books I've ever read, especially in dealing with depression and other mental illnesses. I learned so much from this book: the way my brain has developed, how it works, what helps it work the right way; exercises to calm and still myself. It was like a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) course without the therapists. :) If I weren't reading a Kindle copy it'd be dog-eared an...more
The ideas are worthwhile, but I found the writing-- especially the pacing-- disengaging. I would find my mind wandering away with no clear idea what I had just read. Obviously, I was not managing my Buddha brain while reading. The ideas are good and clear, but it just wasn't inspiring reading for me. Might give it another chance one of these days. I read about seventy-percent of it, so I'm in no real hurry to get back to it, sticking to my philosophy that there is no reason I should finish a boo...more
Jeanine Marie Swenson
One of the most difficult things in medicine is to present an incredibly complex subject in readable but simple and understandable language to reach every level of reader. Drs. Hanson and and Mendius do this beautifully and skillfully, to make this nonfictional work blending mind & body both broadly accessible and interesting. I really enjoyed and learned from this uniquely preventative and helpful guide to neuroscience with a gentle, spiritual twist.

Recently, you may have read the shocking...more
I have to say that I was quite disappointed by this book. I bought it after hearing a talk by the author where he presented an introduction to the ideas in the book. I found the lecture interesting but tinged with a little bit of "the power of positive thinking" new age evangelism. Much to my chagrin, the same tone was present in the book. I found the scientific evidence presented to be thought provoking but limited and a little over simplistic and I do not know to what extent the research he pr...more
Michael Greenwell
This book is a compelling marriage of practical elements of mindfulness and character development from Buddhism with a light neurological overview that allayed my preconceived skepticism of the practices described. I did find myself wondering why some elements were thoroughly referenced and other points simply stated, I understand that it is a book written for the popular press, but while I accept the results of mindfulness and meditative practices both intuitively and practically I don't think...more
Where this book may be of benefit is when it focuses on how one mental process can excite or inhibit another mental process. Kind of a book of Buddhist tips with brain anatomy lessons thrown in for scientific authenticity. For instance, if your mind is chattering away, do a body scan or bring a visual image to the forefront since it's difficult to be both visual and verbal at the same time.

Yet sometimes all that detail about the brain structure seemed extraneous and sometimes distracting to the...more
In the beginning I was somewhat turned off by what I interpreted as the author's attempt to use neuroscience and psychology as a vehicle to "prove" the legitimacy of Buddhism. It was annoying, particularly coming from someone claiming to to have some scientific background. As the book continues however, it pays less homage to Buddhism and more to neuroscience. I find it a very illuminating book with practical suggestions as to practices which might help in the attainment of happiness.

In the last...more
AJ LeBlanc
When I’m not being judgmental, cold, cynical, sarcastic, fatalistic, angry, or hopeless, I try to be a better person. Have a positive attitude, practice active kindness, find beauty and good in the world and all that crap.

My therapist recommended Buddha’s Brain to me after I tried to explain that I sort of understood that my brain was telling me things that weren’t necessarily true. I understand on a logical level that my brain is trying to keep me alive and to fear change, even though in the lo...more
Read this book slowly, perhaps a chapter a day. I read it all in a couple of days, and that was a mistake because it got tedious and repetitive. If you're familiar with meditation practices, you'll be familiar with most of the practices presented. The neuroscience parts also aren't very detailed or deep, and the studies cited seem to be there just to help justify the benefits of meditative practice and not necessarily provide insight into the inner workings of the brain, which was a bit disappoi...more
Frank Jude
The sub-title of this book describes it's content and purpose: "The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom." Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist and meditation teacher, and he does a good job explaining in lay-person's terms the neurological anatomy and functioning of the brain behind the effects of meditation.

The strength of this book is that it doesn't merely tell you what parts of the brain are involved in various functions like decision making, impulse inhibition, and emotions...more
I was delighted to find a book that mixes modern science with an age old tradition. The science is extremely clear and readable, and Hanson offers so many practical suggestions, some of which are quite fresh, giving the book added value. The practice of "taking in the good" is among my favorites and it alone was worth the price of the book. His guidelines for effective communication, based as they are on compassion AND how our brains work, expanded my understanding of reflective listening and gr...more
Mads P.
I enjoyed the talks on wisdom, love and happiness here, but those came after wading through all the technical talk about the brain. I'm glad doctors and scientists are learning more about which parts of the brain do what, but I'm not that interested in those types of anatomical specifics. I would have liked more detailed descriptions of the nature of mind and the different types of meditation. They get into this, but another source might be better if you want to go deep into the subject of medit...more
Deepak S
Dec 03, 2010 Deepak S rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those seeking awareness as a way of life
Shelves: spirit
On the practical aspect, it gives clear methods to do meditation exercises for the general well being. Being established in brain science, the author doesn't torment the reader with too much technicalities, but nevertheless many information about the brain were taken to be granted. Lots of study based evidence are listed throughout the book.

I have this calling for a peace within me for a long time. I read osho, jk, eckhart tolle, matthieu ricard and now this book did its part in aiding my path.


Like "The Winner's Brain" (TWB) this might be more interesting to people that haven't read so many other brain books. (I still like "Brain Rules" the best.)

Also like TWB, it's a recent book, so lots of new research is referenced. I actually picked this book up for the meditation exercises, since it was mentioned in TWB that meditation increases the thickness of the cortex. (Also mentioned in "Buddha's Brain".)

So I'm bumping this to a 3 star rating since I think that better reflects how the stan...more
This interesting book details the neuroscience of how our brains are wired--e.g., we are hardwired to veer toward the negative because the primitive part of our brain was originally on the lookout for danger (essential to our continued survival). However, we don't have to be held hostage to this: we can take active steps to change our brains and be happier. There is also an appendix that lists and describes vitamin supplementation that can enhance our brain's functioning.
Enjoyed this book a lot! I'm a science nerd but also a very spiritual person - so this book was the perfect intersection of these two fields for me. It gave me a good scientific understanding of how spiritual practices are positive from a neuroscience perspective as well. It's not extremely detailed scientifically and uses some vague, evocative language to describe emotions etc that may not appeal to the overly "rational" minds.
Well worth reading as a guide to finding your own internal happiness, love and wisdom. A good guidebook for a healthy life, presented with a smooth synthesis of mindfulness and neuroscience. Fairly dense in parts so takes some time to get through. I appreciated suggestions of practices going along with topics for each chapter, so the ideas can be very practically applied in your life.
I'll have to read this again - I feel like I took away many good things, but that there are more levels here than I grok at this time. Which is fine. Lots of good insight into why our minds work the way they do and how to work with our minds to make them more calm. Interesting stuff with an exhaustive appendix of references to scientific studies.
Uses the latest research on neuroscience and applies it to the effects of meditation. Most of the statements claimed in this book are backed up by research. I look forward to looking up many of these studies and reading this book again to make more sense of their insights.
Andrea Cleland
Really liked the last chapter the best; that's what sealed it for me.
My professor raves about this book, so I decided to read it. It is a complicated book, but Dr. Rick Hanson does an incredible job on simplifying certain aspects of neuroscience. I truly enjoyed reading all the technical stuff because as a person who studies and has a degree in psychology, I truly enjoy studying the brain and its functions. I totally geeked out when I read the part about the Triune Brain because my professor talked about it, and advised me that when I begin to see patients/client...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom
  • Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation
  • Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering
  • Open to Desire: Embracing a Lust for Life - Insights from Buddhism and Psychotherapy
  • The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology
  • Breathe! You Are Alive: Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing
  • Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation
  • Toward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation
  • In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon
  • Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life
  • Rebel Buddha: On the Road to Freedom
  • Food for the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah
  • The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya
  • The Experience of Insight: A Simple & Direct Guide to Buddhist Meditation (Shambhala Dragon Editions)
  • Becoming Enlightened
  • How to Meditate with Pema Chodron: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind
  • The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist, a Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and a New York Times best-selling author. His books include Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence (in 14 languages), Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom (in 25 languages), Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha...more
More about Rick Hanson...
Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time Hardwiring Happiness: The Practical Science of Reshaping Your Brain--and Your Life Meditations to Change Your Brain Stress-Proof Your Brain: Meditations to Rewire Neural Pathways for Stress Relief and Unconditional Happiness Meditations for Happiness: Rewire Your Brain for Lasting Contentment and Peace

Share This Book

“Nurturing your own development isn’t selfish. It’s actually a great gift to other people.” 5 likes
“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.” 3 likes
More quotes…