ichimunki (194887)

The salient point of the article is not that Buddhism per se is a "happier religion" (which you kind of pointed out) but that there seems to be scientific evidence for the idea that a regular program of a certain kind of meditative practice can have a positive effect on the brain.

The activity, which meditation most certainly is, is not unlike parts of standard hypnotherapy or yoga. Concentrating on nothing or simply on breathing, putting the body into a state of complete relaxation, etc, are not unique ideas to Buddhism. In fact, the same positive effects may well flow from other more overtly religious activities like saying the Rosary.

But scientists haven't studied that as much I'm guessing-- perhaps because prominent Catholics aren't as interested in working with science as prominent Buddhists are. The Dalai Lama meets regularly with western scientists and pseudo-scientists to discuss similarities and differences between Buddhist thought and scientific theory. Further, Buddhism generally says that there is no infallible word of God, which may or may not be contradicted by scientific evidence, so Buddhists do not cling to their beliefs out of "faith", but generally welcome any opportunity for greater understanding.

And when it comes to Buddhist doctrine, reincarnation and/or non-rebirth are certainly more comforting "afterlife" theories than the prospect of eternal torment. Once you stop worrying that the slightest mistake on your part could result in infinite pain after death, you can relax a bit. ;)

The final sentence in which ichimunki jokes about views on eternity as contrasted between Buddhism and Judaism is an excellent point, perhaps stronger than was intended, but the Judiac tradition includes a major stressor in its fundamental beliefs, that if you fail in this life, you will spend eternity in torment. Perhaps people work better under stress, but I don't believe they develop better morals. If Buddhism had been the dominant religion of Europe the world would be a very different place now. We probably would not have had the Industrial Revolution, but we also would not have had major wars. Its a tradeoff but ask any mother who has lost a child to war which she would rather have, no microwave or no child.

A recent study http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3047291.stm claimed that Buddhists are calmer and happier, depending on how you define happiness. The study was interesting, but the more interesting part was this discussion that developed. Various people chimed in with their views on Buddhism and as my desire, I judged the "religion" through the actions of its followers and other relatively wise people. I've included quotes here from the ones I found most provocative and I'll add my own phrasing to hopefully weave a coherent essay.

qengho (54305) <slashdot@electronworks.com> on Thursday May 22, @09:21AM (#6014512)

No worship of gods and deities indeed, but worship of budda.

Not worship [reference.com], but reverence [reference.com]. The Buddha is not considered a deity like Christ, or someone with a direct line to God like Mohammed, but rather a regular guy who thought real hard about What It's All About and came up with an interesting insight, for which his followers are grateful.

Another excellent view about the simplicity of Buddhism and how it is not a religion in the traditional sense as there is no worship, however there is respect. Its a fine line, but it is distinct. Siddhartha came up with a concept that leads to contentment and for that we remember and honor him, but he was not divine..

I am Jack's username (528712) on Thursday May 22, @11:50AM (#6015527)

" The fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality." - George Bernard Shaw, 1912, Androcles and the lion

"Not only is there nothing to be gained by believing an untruth, but there is everything to lose when we sacrifice the indispensable tool of reason on the altar of superstition." - Freedom from religion foundation

"Thus that which is the most awful of evils, death, is nothing to us, since when we exist there is no death, and when there is death we do not exist." - Epicurus, 341/270 BCE

I do however agree with: "Doubt everything. Find your own light." - Siddhartha Gautama (circa 563/483 BCE).


I've long thought the quote by Epicurus to be one of the most powerful Kones I've ever experienced. We exist therefor we experience the universe. If we did not exist then we would not be around to question why. This is what amuses me about discussions of alternate universes where there are 7 quarks or muons weigh 1.739 GeV. If we had originated in such a universe we would find it perfectly normal and if we could not survive there, we would not be able to question why. Until such time as we develop a method to travel between universes and/or dimensions, discussion of alternate physical laws is purely speculative and fundamentally ludicrous, however, it is an excellent mental exercise in alternative thought processes.

speaker4thedead (193887) <swalters@tfn.net>

In Buddhism, Karma is not seen as a physical or metaphysical force that forces you to pay back your evil deeds, but rather as a psychological principle.

I could go on for a while about this, but I'll try to keep it short.

Ideally, once an action has happened, it is gone. Our mind, however, likes to hold on to what was and will not let go. Since the past is already gone, it is not a good place for the mind to dwell. Your karma is the part of you that holds onto the past and measure the present in terms of the past. If you measure the present in terms of the past, then you see more of what was than what is. A buddhist strives to see things as they are in the present (this is what meditation teaches) No buddhist claims that they will ever be free of karma, of their attachment to the past, but if they could be, they would be "enlightened."

A quick example: Let's say that you spent the past two years building your own house by hand. On the night that you move into the house, it burns down. If you hold on to the past and your memories of what was, then you will suffer at the thought of loss and the "wasted" time you spent building the house. If you see things as they are, then you will be happy that you are alive and start planning for a new place to live and perhaps rebuilding the house.

Thank you Buddha. The concept of Karma being an external force has always seemed strange and created by man to ease explanation of an internal motivation. For me, my regrets form my negative Karma, however i still believe in a positive flow to the universe, so that if one behaves well, good things will flow from the universe to you, only those who struggle against the cosmic flow suffer. At least that is what I like to think, but of course it is never that simple, but the thing about Buddhism, it is almost that simple. These layers of human interface that we apply for our own comfort are unnecessary. Ahimsa is arguably all you need, to not cause harm keeps you neutral with the universe, to do good biases you towards happiness, but doesn't necessarily cause good things to come to you because of the universe, but because of the fundamental nature of life. If you help something, it will be inclined to help you in the future.

Goronguer (223202)

When you encounter an obstacle in your life, do you freak out and ask "WHY ME?", or do you face it calmly and rationally, with the confidence that you are up to the challenge. Since I have become a Buddhist, I increasingly find myself taking the latter approach.

Less time spent freaking out = more time spent being happy.