Imagine Balance

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Buddha’s Brain {book review}

Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson & Richard Mendius

– non-fiction, philosophy, religion/spirituality –

purchased eBook via


Author’s Website :

Amazon : paperback / eBook (92 reviews : 4.5 avg)

Add To Your GoodReads TBR List (101 ratings : 4.04 avg)

In Six Words

never thought about it like that

Brief Summary

Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and other great teachers were born with brains built essentially like anyone else’s. Then they used their minds to change their brains in ways that changed history.

With the new breakthroughs in neuroscience, combined with the insights from thousands of years of contemplative practice, you, too, can shape your own brain for greater happiness, love, and wisdom.

Buddha’s Brain joins the forces of modern science with ancient teachings to show readers how to have greater emotional balance in turbulent times, as well as healthier relationships, more effective actions, and a deeper religious or spiritual practice.

Well-referenced and grounded in science, the book is full of practical tools and skills readers can use in daily life to tap the unused potential of the brain-and rewire it over time for greater peace and well-being.

If you can change your brain, you can change your life.


What I Loved

As a non-Christian science nerd, this was geared towards me. Not to say that you couldn’t enjoy this book if you are a Christian (but you have to take the evolution sections with a grain of salt if that doesn’t fit with your beliefs) or that if you aren’t into science that this will be boring (this is probably the opposite).

I really enjoyed the sections that explained why we react the way we do to certain situations and related these back to why our brains developed that way to begin with. While the book was full with the minute details of the inner-working of the brain, the author did a good job of breaking it down and relating it to things we’re more likely to understand.

I also really loved that the author even admits to not being perfect about following these steps. He often encourages you to not be upset if you can’t “think” this way, we aren’t meant to. It takes work and practice.

My favorite sections were on empathy, attention/concentration, and how to intensify rapture and joy.

What I Liked

Each chapter ends with a “key points” overview that sums things up really nicely. There also were some great tips for furthering your meditation practice, or beginning one if you don’t meditate. I also thought it was great that they included references in the book. It gives you an idea of where they are getting their information and allows you look up more if you want to.

What I Disliked

At first I was shocked that this had such high ratings with all the science in it. I thought it would bore people. However, I think my brain was triggered to lose interest due to having studied the way the brain works in college. I probably saw terms I had to learn and instantly lost interest. After about halfway, I started really getting into the book and finding that I was learning more than I intended. For me it was easier to gloss over some of the details and focus on the big picture.

Favorite Quotes

…in relationships, it typically takes about five positive interactions to overcome the effects of a single negative one.

“In my heart, there are two wolves: a wolf of love and a wolf of hate. It all depends on which one I feed each day.”

– I had heard this story prior to reading the book and my computer background actually says “Don’t feed the bad wolf”

Say only what is well-intended, true, beneficial, timely, expressed without harshness or malice, and – ideally – what is wanted.

Ill will tries to justify itself: This is just an animal. In the moment, the rationalizations sound plausible, like the whisperings of Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings. Only later do we realize how we have tricked ourselves.


If you are interested to learn more about how and why the brain functions the way it does while also learning tricks to wire yourself to be more positive and compassionate, then this is the book for you. It does include sections on evolution and how the brain has evolved, so if this goes against your religious beliefs, you might want to pass on this one. It has amazing reviews on both Amazon and GoodReads, so I don’t think only science nerds like it.


4 responses to “Buddha’s Brain {book review}

  1. Y is for Yogini February 9, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    …going on the Amazon wish list. thanks! 🙂

  2. tabatharose February 15, 2011 at 3:24 am

    sounds good! I love the wolf quote..
    Hadn’t heard of it, so thank you x

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