Examines sages such as Buddha, Upanishadic sages, Daoist sages, Confucius, Socrates, and Stoics as doctors of the soul who are concerned with the pervasive suffering of the human condition. Each thinker's ideas are examined and evaluated and then key common concepts extracted. The common concepts start with the idea that people are ignorant about the true nature of reality and that this ignorance leads to suffering. The conclusion from this first idea is that suffering can be alleviated through the journey from ignorance to enlightenment. The various thinkers thought that the primary form of ignorance is the ignorance of the underlying unity of being. People see reality as being made up of many individual and independent entities and behave according to thie misunderstanding. Wjhen people think they are separate from and in opposition to everything else, they feel threatened and this leads to fear, aggression, craving, and egocentrism. When they come to see the underlying unity of being, these unskillful ways of dealing with reality can be replaced by less self-centered and more compassionate behaviors. The second part of the book looks at the brain and the neuroscience of suffering. Special attention is paid to the fear/aggression system, the reward system, the selfing system (that creates one's sense of self and the resultant self-centered behaviors), and the stress system. The analysis particularly looks at the ways that fear, aggression, craving, and self-preoccupation are created by the brain and then how areas of the brain can be used to modulate these behaviors. In the final section, mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavior therapy are examined as practical therapeutic tools that can be used to transform the brain and turn down the above noted problem behaviors.
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