I thought this was a great introduction to both modern Buddhist thought and evolutionary psychology. Professor Wright is an excellent lecturer, and his office hours are informative as well as amusing.
Engaging content and excellent pace. While the level is introductory (I'd have liked a bit more depth), I would expect this from a lower-division/breadth course—and even more so from a MOOC like this.
par Pramod A•
Language fails in describing the Buddha's teaching of concepts such as Non-Self and the experience of deep meditation common to long-time meditators. This is even harder when you consider many learners are from the Western tradition represented by logic, rationale, science, and monotheism. Yet Professor Wright has done a brilliant job of getting the learner to understand what the Buddha taught, using language, metaphors, office hours and interviews with many scientists, scholars and monks to do so very well.
More than the cerebral understanding of the content of any book I have read on Buddhism, I can honestly say I now have a far clearer understanding of the profoundness of the Buddha's teaching and why he insisted we all have to find our own way. I will even go so far as to say I now don't really see my much vaunted mind as my true self. In that sense, this is truly mind-blowing! For that, my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Professor Wright and to his interview guests.
par Robert Q•
What a great course! Learning and practicing of Buddhism and Buddhist meditation helped me relieve some stress and let go of unnecessary clinging. Great learning experience from an awesome professor.
par Alfredo P•
Very very introductory. This course explores the Buddhist theory of suffering and liberation by comparing it to evolutionary psychological theories.
It is not a deep course on Buddhism - it lacks any substantive discussion of differences between Buddhist schools, of the difficulty of reconstructing the "historical" Buddha (a problem as difficult as reconstructing the "historical Christ"), of the fact that Buddhism as popularized in the West is actually quite different from any of the Asian forms of Buddhism, etc.
Also, evolutionary psychology is controversial in its own right - one criticism of it is that it creates "just-so" stories about the origins of mental processes that are impossible to verify (or falsify). These objections are well known, but are not confronted in the course.
A scholarly much sounder and deeper course is the one on Tibetan Buddhism from University of Virginia. It suffers from truly appalling presentation (the video lectures are some of the most boring I have ever watched), but the diversity of angles from which Buddhism is examined, and the depth of content are really outstanding.
par Kristoffer H•
This is a good course on the intersection of Buddhist ideas and modern science (specifically evolutionary psychology and cognitive sciences). Professor Wright has managed to make a very cohesive course; the topics that are covered flow and progress in a very nice way, the back-and-forth between religious and scientific ideas goes smoothly, and the course doesn’t try to cover too many topics given its length. Wright manages to bring up philosophical ideas and theories associated with scientific discoveries in a thought-provoking way — he doesn’t tell you what to think as much as he guides you through different ideas and counter-ideas. This is helped by the weekly office hours, were Wright reflects on the past week and brings up points brought up by students. I’ve appreciated Wright’s obvious humble and reflective attitude towards the subject.
par Kevin B•
I got a lot out of this course. While the curriculum was by necessity very condensed, I thought that Dr. Wright did an impressive job of organizing the progression of concepts and including key information. The interviews he conducted with guest speakers in each of the lectures were helpful, and relevant to the topics being discussed. I also appreciated the supplementary reading materials included with each week's lesson. Most of all, I enjoyed Dr. Wright, who has a very relaxed, common sensical approach to what he's discussing. I would recommend this class to anyone who has interest in the topic and also to anyone who wants to learn from a very knowledgeable and effective teacher.
par Ksenia Y•
For me, this course is incredibly useful because it helped me build the basic skills of understanding myself and the world around us.
par Javier E A•
A really interesting course for those who are looking for a view of Buddhism and Science converging together.
par Lucia C•
Very insightful and great intro to Buddhism and psychology. Liked the way the course was formed and the whole platform for it.
par Elena O•
Excellent course. Deep insights are presented in a brilliant way by Prof Wright.
par Yann M•
Amazing course. Would recommend to everyone. This is what MOOCs are meant to be!
par Marta M P•
Buddhism and Modern Psychology takes to an existential and inspiring adventure.
par Luca S•
Great teacher and awesome course, every module is very interesting
par Angel A T N•
I suggest giving a better order to the structure of the course
par Tarun g•
Amazing videos and knowledge full
Budhdham sharnam Gachchami
par Jon L M•
Excellent, quick course with a great professor!
par Himanshu S P•
par Jasmin C•
Interesting introduction to Buddhism and psychology. Dr. Wright does a good job providing examples of how modern science supports Buddhist thoughts and ideas. He also invites a wide range of fascinating speakers from Buddhist monks to psychologists to weigh in on the subject. The quiz questions and essay assignments were a bit too easy.
par Davide L•
The course is well articulated, subject are interesting and the forefront of the research between eastern practices and western discoveries. It teaches me many things and make me reflect on important buddhist topics.
But what about the way of teaching? Sorry to say that it doesn't make use of the opportunities of the audiovideo media. It has been quite hard for me to reach the end of the course even though I think to be a motivated pupil.
par Teresa S Y T•
An absolute gem! Professor really presents the right breadth and depth required whether you are new to Buddhism, experienced Buddhist practitioner or someone who just want to know the Buddhism and its correspondence with Modern psychology (or someone who just want to analyse and review validity either/or/both Buddhism and Modern psychology for themselves). Professional also makes exceptional effort to interview some of the most important names in Modern psychology and Buddhism researches to interpret scriptures and shares their empirical experiences.
I must admin, the first 2 weeks was a little tedious for me as those are concepts that I am quite familiar with and that on a practical level, it was introducing fundamental Buddhism concepts, its scholastic interpretations and the importance of experiential aspect of meditation, all of those I was both familiar with (on an experiential level) and contains an academic depth that was not exactly required by me.
But from week 3 onwards that's where things get SUPER interesting and fascinating. Professor start debunking different interpretations of the "No-self" notion taught by Buddhism's 2nd sermon. This is an aspect of Buddhism that I always had difficulty accepting its mainstream interpretation and voila - the 3 parts lecture really clears all the mist for good. Office hour provides further doubt clearing and discussions forums are active and bustling with students with all arrays of discussions!
A completely random sidenote: This course provides a bonus perks for dog lover from week 2 office hours onwards... :D
par David J•
I have just completed this course. This is my first attempt to understand Buddhism and have approached this with all the biases inherent in having lived my whole life as a Westerner who has spent very little time trying to understand mysticism or meditation. The abstract concepts of Buddhist thought stretched my mind greatly and at times I had to stop the video just to reflect on some concept so abstract I had to play segments of the video lecture over and over again. Dr Wright seems to labor greatly on getting his explanations as plain and straightforward as he could. He held my attention without gimmicks and if I didn't get the point the first time, the video playback format made it possible for me to go over one point or another as I needed. If you come with all the usual Western bias and baggage toward Eastern (in this case Buddhist) concept and thought and would like to learn. This is the place to start. You won't be disappointed.
par John Q•
I’ve been a fan of Robert Wright for 3 years. I was a bit lost and going through a difficult time 2017 and I found Robert Wright’s “Why Buddhism is True” at a book store and it really helped me. I read parts of it in the book store and It was like a life preserver in a rough ocean. Much of this course eventually became what was published in that book. I went back and re-read the book twice in 2018.
This course also introduced me to Paul Bloom’s “How Pleasure Works,” Rob KUzban’s “Why Everyone Else is a Hypocrite”, Douglas Kendrick’s “The Rational Animal,” and Judson Brewer’s “The Craving Mind”.
Another great book by Robert Wright is “The Moral Animal”. I highly recommend that one. Read it 2 or 3 times if you get a chance. He also wrote another good one called “The Evolution of God”. And another good book he wrote was “Non Zero”.
He also has a podcast that I highly recommend.
par JOHN R A J•
I was inspired to take Robert Wright's course Buddhism and Modern Psychology after reading the book he researched and wrote while teaching this course, with the provocative title Why Buddhism is True. I've read Wright's previous books The Moral Animal, NonZero and The Evolution of God. Wright's academic interests lie at the intersection between Darwinian evolutionary psychology, religion and moral philosophy. This course and his latest book offer convincing arguments for why scientific evidence supports both the Buddhist diagnosis of the "human predicament" and its prescriptions for coping with, if not exactly overcoming, the inevitable dissatisfaction and displeasure that we all experience. I highly recommend the course to anyone interested in this particular perspective and especially to the religious skeptics and empiricists out there.
par Sean M•
Outstanding course. I had been meditating for a year prior to taking this course and was just beginning to see the long-term benefits of the practice. I am not a spiritual person. My interest in religion goes only as far as it's impact on culture and society. I have been pursuing Buddhist philosophy and practice to the extent that it has shown substantive scientific benefits. I was really getting interested in the intersecting links between Buddhist thought and practice and the underlying science behind the results when this course came along. It was everything I hoped it would be. The material was relevant and thought - provoking and Professor Wright did an amazing job with its presentation.
The best psychological view of Buddhism I've ever seen