Buddhism and Modern Psychology

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Rednaxela, modified 6 Years ago at 9/15/15 7:52 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/15/15 7:50 AM

Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Posts: 158 Join Date: 12/23/11 Recent Posts
Here's a course that i just found and registered in last night.  It's offered by Priceton for free through Coursera.

From the course webpage:

The Dalai Lama has said that Buddhism and science are deeply compatible and has encouraged Western scholars to critically examine both the meditative practice and Buddhist ideas about the human mind. A number of scientists and philosophers have taken up this challenge. There have been brain scans of meditators and philosophical examinations of Buddhist doctrines. There have even been discussions of Darwin and the Buddha: Do early Buddhist descriptions of the mind, and of the human condition, make particular sense in light of evolutionary psychology?

This course will examine how Buddhism is faring under this scrutiny. Are neuroscientists starting to understand how meditation “works”? Would such an understanding validate meditation—or might physical explanations of meditation undermine the spiritual significance attributed to it? And how are some of the basic Buddhist claims about the human mind holding up? We’ll pay special attention to some highly counterintuitive doctrines: that the self doesn’t exist, and that much of perceived reality is in some sense illusory. Do these claims, radical as they sound, make a certain kind of sense in light of modern psychology? And what are the implications of all this for how we should live our lives? Can meditation make us not just happier, but better people?


https://www.coursera.org/learn/science-of-meditation

T
hose who like Coursera and modern brain research can also check out Tibetan Buddhism Meditation and the Modern World, offered through the University of Virginia.  It's already started and is in its second week.

Best
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Paul Philip Goddard, modified 6 Years ago at 9/15/15 11:19 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/15/15 11:19 PM

RE: Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Posts: 8 Join Date: 9/7/15 Recent Posts
Thanks man, exactly something I would love to dig into!
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Rednaxela, modified 6 Years ago at 9/16/15 12:24 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/16/15 8:47 AM

RE: Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Posts: 158 Join Date: 12/23/11 Recent Posts
you're welcome, hope you find it of some use.  From my first day yesterday, i'd observe that the professor Robert Wright is quite good.  Emphasis on evolution and so far no too controversial.  I look forward to strarting week 2.

The Tibetan Course does seem to have more practice based stuff.  Hope you can check that one out and get caught up if you're interested.

I wont ask you what brought you here or what you think of it.  but you're welcome to share.  Anyway, Congrutalions on your first post!  
Alex 
Mark, modified 6 Years ago at 9/16/15 9:47 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/16/15 9:47 AM

RE: Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
I registered as well, so now if either of you comment on this thread I'll hopefully see it emoticon Thanks for the link.
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Rednaxela, modified 6 Years ago at 9/16/15 12:26 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/16/15 12:26 PM

RE: Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Posts: 158 Join Date: 12/23/11 Recent Posts
Sounds good.  If you have comments on the course, the prof seems receptive to hear them though he admits he's overwhelmed with the volume of feedback.  I think there's a course facebookpage and twitter handle if you do that sort of thing.
Mark, modified 6 Years ago at 9/22/15 5:45 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/22/15 5:45 AM

RE: Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Alex L:
Sounds good.  If you have comments on the course, the prof seems receptive to hear them though he admits he's overwhelmed with the volume of feedback.  I think there's a course facebookpage and twitter handle if you do that sort of thing.
Alex, are you still following the course ? I think the course was run for the first time last year, on the Facebook page on 14 September 2015:  "I’m delighted to announce that my Buddhism and Modern Psychology course has just been re-launched as a self-paced course"

I've watched the first 2 weeks. Did not see anything surprising so far, I'm hopeful the insights will be more surprising as the course progresses.
Derek, modified 6 Years ago at 9/22/15 7:19 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/22/15 7:19 AM

RE: Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
Alex, Paul, Mark:

Chapter 14 of my book The Slacker's Guide to Stream-Entry covers the subject of no-self and modern psychology:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/567671
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Rednaxela, modified 6 Years ago at 9/22/15 9:25 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/22/15 9:25 PM

RE: Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Posts: 158 Join Date: 12/23/11 Recent Posts
Hi Mark,

yes i was disappointed to see that i was participating in a rerun yet, still, i've been reasonably happy with the course.  i just started week 3 lecture but know there's some good stuff around the corner as i accidentally listened to the week 4 lectures already.  

i wont say much more but expect that you might enjoy them.

Alex
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Rednaxela, modified 6 Years ago at 9/23/15 2:42 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/22/15 9:28 PM

RE: Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Posts: 158 Join Date: 12/23/11 Recent Posts
Thanks Derek,

did you complete the course the last time around or recently pick it up?  I have enjoyed these lessons on no-self which i believe to have supported my experiencial understanding

Alex
Derek, modified 6 Years ago at 9/23/15 9:15 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/23/15 9:15 AM

RE: Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
Alex L:
did you complete the course the last time around or recently pick it up?  I have enjoyed these lessons on no-self which i believe to have supported my experiencing understanding

No, I haven't. For me, developmental psychology provides satisfying explanations. I don't find any need to go down to the nuts-and-bolts level of neuroscience. But don't let that stop you from enjoying the course!
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Rednaxela, modified 6 Years ago at 9/23/15 2:47 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/23/15 2:47 PM

RE: Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Posts: 158 Join Date: 12/23/11 Recent Posts
there's actually no neuroscience in it, thankfully.  I was enjoying a Tibettan Buddhist Meditation course until i was inundated with neuroscience gobbledigook.  Which i couldnt even pretend to be interested in.

Anyway, the BMP course does talk a lot about no-self and i've enjoyed.  No more than 1-2hrs a week of videos.

i will check out Slacker's Guide and post in anything interesting comes out of that or the BMP course.

Best
Mark, modified 6 Years ago at 9/24/15 2:39 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/24/15 2:38 AM

RE: Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Alex L:
Hi Mark,

yes i was disappointed to see that i was participating in a rerun yet, still, i've been reasonably happy with the course.  i just started week 3 lecture but know there's some good stuff around the corner as i accidentally listened to the week 4 lectures already.  

i wont say much more but expect that you might enjoy them.

Alex
Hi Alex,

I pushed on, week 4 was interesting. The concept of the modular mind is something I'd heard of but connecting that with variability of personality made a lot of sense. I've often found personality concepts limited and the modular mind offers an explanation. 

The non-self discussion has come up plenty of times on DhO. But he took another angle and that was interesting. I was surprised that he did not mention the notion of atman as similar to the notion of a soul. That seems a good way to get part of the concept across to a non-secular audience.

The idea of the self being fundamentally a "promoter" seems doubtful to me. Certainly that is part of what we do. So far I think he is missing the social dimension - that the self is a way to have the individual conform to social expectations. It seems evolution would favor individuals who can benefit from knowledge that is transmitted through some degree of social conformity.

I'm not sure evolution can be limited to the passing on of genes when there is a social environment. To some extent we can see society taking over the role of genetic adaptation. Society constructs the mind and adapts much faster than genes so we don't have much genetic change in the last 10k years but the mind has changed radically e.g. most people being educated in schools.
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Rednaxela, modified 6 Years ago at 9/25/15 8:41 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/24/15 7:50 AM

RE: Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Posts: 158 Join Date: 12/23/11 Recent Posts
i have to say, i was only mildly interested in the modular theory of the mind.  It seemed to me like an obvious theory (there's a bunch of modules that do a bunch of things, mostly related to successful evolution, ..). 

I was much more interested in the idea of the self as promoter and the split brain experiments, where patients rationalized away behaviour that they weren't even aware of. i like the discussion with Rob Kurzban ("Why Everyone Else is a Hypocrite").  I realize you have your doubts on this Promoter idea but i kind of like the explanatory power of it.

what i took away from week 4  was that the idea of control is more of an idea.  Many Dho'ers have reported witnessing things as they just happen.  i know it would be nice if i could find a Dho link on such a discussion - i may come back and add that. 


]The non-self discussion has come up plenty of times on DhO. But he took another angle and that was interesting. I was surprised that he did not mention the notion of atman as similar to the notion of a soul. That seems a good way to get part of the concept across to a non-secular audience.

Mark, modified 6 Years ago at 9/24/15 8:40 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 9/24/15 8:40 AM

RE: Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Posts: 550 Join Date: 7/24/14 Recent Posts
Alex L:
i have to say, i was only mildly interested in the modular theory of the mind.  It seemed to me like an obvious theory (there's a bunch of modules that do a bunch of things, mostly related to successful evoluation, ..). 

I was much more interested in the idea of the self as promoter and the split brain experiments, where patients rationalized away behaviour that they weren't even aware of. i like the discussion with Rob Kurzban ("Why Everyone Else is a Hypocrite").  I realize you have your doubts on this Promoter idea but i kind of like the explanatory power of it.

what i took away from week 4  was that the idea of control is more of an idea.  Many Dho'ers have reported witnessing things as they just happen.  i know it would be nice if i could find a Dho link on such a discussion - i may come back and add that. 


]The non-self discussion has come up plenty of times on DhO. But he took another angle and that was interesting. I was surprised that he did not mention the notion of atman as similar to the notion of a soul. That seems a good way to get part of the concept across to a non-secular audience.


An interesting point for me was that while a module is active the "personality" can be different. So rather than the concept of a somewhat stable personality we can imagine a somewhat stable personality associated with each module. So for example that theory of 7 major sub-modules could correlate with 7 different personalities.

The Promotor must have good explanatory power. But I think we see very different promotion depending on the culture, I wonder if the researchers have a western (particularly US) bias. I'm not sure it could show a coherent evolution, I think there would have to be a much simpler concept of self that evolves into a more sophisticated concept. I suspect those simpler "selves" were not primarily about promotion. I'd guess the early self is related to having a "theory of mind" i.e. when I can model the intentions of other animals I also get the ability to model my own intentions. A big advantage of this would be being able to communicate more complex behaviors (because I have an idea of what the other person is misunderstanding)

Agreed the experience of behavior "unfolding" rather than being decided is something I've seen references to often. Will be interesting to see if those types of states are discussed in the course.

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