Similar authors to follow
See more recommendations
About Robert Wright
Customers Also Bought Items By
At the heart of Buddhism is a simple claim: The reason we suffer—and the reason we make other people suffer—is that we don’t see the world clearly. At the heart of Buddhist meditative practice is a radical promise: We can learn to see the world, including ourselves, more clearly and so gain a deep and morally valid happiness.
In this “sublime” (The New Yorker), pathbreaking book, Robert Wright shows how taking this promise seriously can change your life—how it can loosen the grip of anxiety, regret, and hatred, and how it can deepen your appreciation of beauty and of other people. He also shows why this transformation works, drawing on the latest in neuroscience and psychology, and armed with an acute understanding of human evolution.
This book is the culmination of a personal journey that began with Wright’s landmark book on evolutionary psychology, The Moral Animal, and deepened as he immersed himself in meditative practice and conversed with some of the world’s most skilled meditators. The result is a story that is “provocative, informative and...deeply rewarding” (The New York Times Book Review), and as entertaining as it is illuminating. Written with the wit, clarity, and grace for which Wright is famous, Why Buddhism Is True lays the foundation for a spiritual life in a secular age and shows how, in a time of technological distraction and social division, we can save ourselves from ourselves, both as individuals and as a species.
In Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, Wright asserts that, ever since the primordial ooze, life has followed a basic pattern. Organisms and human societies alike have grown more complex by mastering the challenges of internal cooperation. Wright's narrative ranges from fossilized bacteria to vampire bats, from stone-age villages to the World Trade Organization, uncovering such surprises as the benefits of barbarian hordes and the useful stability of feudalism. Here is history endowed with moral significance–a way of looking at our biological and cultural evolution that suggests, refreshingly, that human morality has improved over time, and that our instinct to discover meaning may itself serve a higher purpose. Insightful, witty, profound, Nonzero offers breathtaking implications for what we believe and how we adapt to technology's ongoing transformation of the world.
Nearly a decade in the making, The Evolution of God is a breathtaking re-examination of the past, and a visionary look forward.
It was known that the Cossack army, spread wide across the barren Steppe, dreamed of nothing finer than swelling their ranks with cutthroat tribes enlisted along the way in a charge towards lush and exotic South, with Kashmir as their first prize. It was also known that successive Tsars had coveted a warm-water port on the shores of the Arabian Sea, by way of Persia, in order to increase their military capabilities and trade, and thereby further threaten Britain’s possession of India.
The petty chiefs along this frontier were seen either as ‘puppets of the British’, or as ‘creatures of the Tsar’, and so Russia’s evident interest across the Pamir mountains led to a race to map the dwindling unexplored areas of wilderness remaining between the two empires so that first influence could be claimed over them.
Other than selected gifted officers there were no lower ranking white British troops ever posted to the sensitive Gilgit frontier. Where the history was of tyrants, royal patricides, and few heroes; of the cruelties of slavery and the drudgery of serfdom; alleviated by the tribal pastime of looting the silk route caravans, nomads with herds of yaks for transport. In 1862 it was reported to the British Agent in Leh that ten richly laden caravans had been robbed – meanwhile the Abolitionists in Parliament saw the Chinese slave markets of Kashgar and Yarkhand as the blackest blots left on earth.
A state of affairs that was to be overturned by stories of the young subalterns’ gung-ho battles and camaraderie framed in isolation amidst a sublime mountain chain. With only 16 officers theirs was an astonishing campaign to train and lead a rag-bag army of Gurkhas, Afghan rogues, and Kashmir Dogra troops, all of them speaking several languages, and then show them the way to force open a bandits’ stronghold.
Those mostly young officers had to think for themselves, behave confidently, be devoted and robust in spirit, and ever determined to do what they saw as right. ‘Forward policy’ on the border demanded such qualities. Their initial campaigns hardly needed their provoking, and although small were as thrilling as they could hope for in which to win their medals and promotions.
For its physical and political geography, and for the unique scientific discoveries abounding in the area, Hunza is simply the most extraordinary valley I know of in the greater Himalayan chain. The only things they ever had an abundance of were rocks and ice; and their greatest achievement is that from such unfavourable beginnings they have created the most peaceful, least fanatical, best educated and well organised gardened valley in Pakistan today.
A secondary intention has been to represent some more friendly experiences of Pakistan, rather than the dire ‘bad press’ the country receives in the West, as in four visits between 1970 and 1988, totalling a year in the country, I never had any trouble with anyone whatsoever. To archaeologists, anthropologists, mountaineers, and elitist back-packers Pakistan is well known as one of the most exciting and hospitable countries in the world.
These present stories and essays are taken from notes written during two visits to Hunza totalling nine months in 1987 and 1988. Some were originally intended to be included in my British colonial history titled "Hunza and the Raj", which, after several years of wide ranging research, had simply become too long. So this potentially useful trekking journal mostly deals with my personal experiences of the Hunza, as well as giving plenty of local informative. I have published these notes separately here as a complimentary supplement for those who have read the full work – and also as a taster for those who have not.
A secondary intention has been to represent some more friendly experiences of Pakistan, rather than the dire ‘bad press’ the country receives in the West, as in four visits between 1970 and 1988, totalling a year in the country, I never had any trouble whatsoever. To archaeologists, anthropologists, mountaineers, and elitist back-packers Pakistan is well known as one of the most exciting and hospitable countries in the world.
The 24 photos included were taken on Kodachrome slide film during my second visit.
Skeptisch? Das war Robert Wright auch. Dann begann der preisgekrönte Journalist der Sache auf den Grund zu gehen. Er fing an zu meditieren. Er wertete die neuesten Studien aus Medizin und Neurowissenschaft aus. Er sprach mit Forschern und buddhistischen Lehrern aus aller Welt. Und er stellte zweifelsfrei fest: Der Buddhismus trägt in höchstem Maße zu unserem körperlichen und seelischen Wohlergehen bei. Und jeder Interessierte kann hier und heute davon profitieren.
«Estimulante, educativo? Não só me vi a concordar com o autor, como a aplaudi-lo.» - António Damásio, neurocientista
Um dos melhores livros do ano para a revista Publishers Weekly
O Budismo Tem Razão é uma estimulante viagem pela psicologia, filosofia e meditação. Robert Wright, um dos mais brilhantes pensadores americanos, mostra neste livro como o budismo detém a chave para a clareza moral e a felicidade duradoura.
Wright explica que a mente humana foi concebida para, com frequência, nos enganar sobre nós próprios e sobre o mundo, tornando a felicidade um estado difícil de atingir. Mas, se sabemos que as nossas mentes são desenhadas para sentir ansiedade, depressão, ira e ganância, o que devemos fazer?
A resposta encontra-se no budismo, que descobriu há milhares de anos aquilo que agora os cientistas comprovam: que o sofrimento humano é resultado de não vermos o mundo de uma forma clara e que isso pode mudar se usarmos a meditação para nos tornarmos melhores pessoas.
Ao mesmo tempo ambicioso e acessível, este é o primeiro livro a combinar a psicologia evolutiva com a neurociência para defender a validade dos principais ensinamentos budistas e mostrar que o budismo pode salvar-nos de nós mesmos, como indivíduos e como espécie.
«É precisamente este o livro que muitos de nós procuramos. Escrito com a destreza, brilhantismo e ceticismo sensível que lhe são característicos, Robert Wright diz-nos tudo o que precisamos de saber sobre a ciência, a prática e o poder do budismo.» - Susan Cain, autora bestseller de Silêncio
Throughout it all I enjoyed writing travel letters – until after a cacophonous night adventure sleeping out in the jungle, I realised that I could do far better than that – simply by starting a fresh adventure book, while also setting down some past escapades born of my alternative perspective on life.
Thus I deliberately over-stayed my Indian visa by three and a half years and settled down in Hampi in the Central South, with the firm intention of becoming a recluse and a book writer.
So it was that my first published journal, Monkey Mischief, was set in the here-and-now, living in a lonely house in semi jungle in a tough, feverish, and slightly lawless area. In monsoon or hot-season the sky exerted an overpowering atmosphere due to the prehistoric lake-bed landscape of millions of giant boulders piled into hills. They absorbed the day’s fierce heat, and radiated it out all night. Yet, almost unbelievably, built and carved from the boulders everywhere are the temples, palaces and pleasure gardens of a city long-since in ruin.
No wonder then that the single Flashman chapter here is set 1,400 miles due North up in the clean air of the Karakoram snow giants. I wrote it in grief when the master-writer George MacDonald Fraser died, as I just wanted to write him some fun he might have enjoyed – or perhaps would have fumed about. Just as with Kipling I feel a debt towards GMF for educating me and showing me the way.
In Flashman’s day the patricidal bandit chiefs ordered their serfs to loot the silk route caravans, and were also feared slave suppliers for the Chinese Kashgar market – and yet today Hunza is the most educated, liberal, peaceful valley there is in Pakistan. An alpine paradise, but on a massive scale. With no reliable rainfall their oases are turned green by many miles of small water channels running down from their glacier reservoirs.
In the twenty-three disparate papers given here it pleases me most that readers will often find themselves surprised, and perhaps puzzled at who had written such an odd variety of misdeeds.
It is not an historian’s job to offer his opinions, nor is it duty to take sides in bygone disputes – and when his balanced work is finished his conscience should be clear that he wronged none of the statesmen or soldiers who played their part in great events.
There is a second popular school of British history writers who see it as their duty to eat shame for our erstwhile Empire and look for every chance to sharpen their pen accusingly at their countrymen’s misdeeds. This is a fashionable policy, accepted in British literary circles as politically correct – and one which rewards their authors with sales figures and acclaim.
Alas, in the foreign field, there is a third rustic school of local history writing in which heart-felt beliefs have become indisputable facts. Your Facebook know-it-all will adamantly stand by the prejudices of his grandfathers’ and will hear of no other version of events. They are easily found online, where they vent their anger at the present political situation in Gilgit, and turn past heroes into cowards to blame for it.
One such maligned hero is Major William Brown MBE, for whom the compelling reason to write this book is that I felt that such an extraordinary commander has been greatly wronged in print. In later years, on a Calcutta pavement at night, he was very nearly beaten to death as he was seen only as an enemy of the Sikhs; whereas in fact he had saved hundreds more civilian Sikh lives, than the few score of soldiers killed in fair battle on his orders.
Undoubtedly it was Major Brown, along with his second-in-command Captain Jock Matheison, who secretly and intelligently master-minded and led the Liberation of Gilgit from Kashmiri occupation in 1947 – yet there are many liberated Gilgitis today who believe him to have been a coward and a traitor.
This unique and extraordinary story is written in defence of a 25 year old Scottish officer who seized a huge tract of land from India, including most of the vast Karakoram mountain range with K2, Nanga Parbat, and then handed the area over to Pakistan. He achieved this feat with a minimal death toll too. This was exactly what the vast majority of people in Gilgit and Baltistan were clamouring for at the time. He had served them faithfully and with great success and so the people gave him a hero’s ceremonial departure, with many dashing forward to touch his stirrup, just to tell their grandchildren.
Today the younger Gilgitis have turned against Brown, cursing him as the one who gave away their Independence – whereas in fact it was their grandfathers who saw greatest faith and hope in joining Pakistan, which seemed to be a pure and shining new Islamic country to them. Yet still with no vote, and therefore with no elected Member in their erstwhile ‘National parliament’, the Gilgitis find themselves overrun by down-country immigrants – who look down on them just as the Kashmiri Dogras had done before them.
Yet what Major Brown knew to be a solid certainty was that with the internal division of three religions among them, with potential enemies in valleys all around, and with the aggressive USSR hovering just fifty miles away, Independence was by far the most dangerous and unworkable solution. So as the only option he promoted Pakistan as the safest country to harbour them – and all the hill chiefs agreed with him.
When one looks at the comparative heartbreaking history of Indian occupied Kashmir, then one has to say he has been perfectly vindicated.