Free Buddhism Course: Robert Wright

robert_wrightRobert Wright is the famous author of the following booksThe Moral Animal (1994), Nonzero (2001) and The Evolution of God (2009). I’ve read all these books and been affected by his thoughts whether by agreeing, changing my mind or disagreeing. Wright always offers us good stuff to chew on.

Well, today I discovered that Wright is offering a free course on Coursera called: “Buddhism and Modern Psychology“.  Some of you may be interested in this free course for various reasons:

  • To learn about Buddhism
  • To critically evaluate Wright’s thoughts
  • To learn about psychology
  • To interact with my critical posts concerning this course

Below I will link to the posts I write relating to the course.  Let me know if you are thinking of watching some of his lectures too.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

10 responses to “Free Buddhism Course: Robert Wright

  1. Funny coincidence, but I’ve been watching some videos on buddhism. I’ve even watched again the “Wheel of Time”, a documentary by Werner Herzog, on youtube. In some of these videos, I remembered some of the comments you made in the past about buddhism.

  2. I have read “Gospel of Buddha” by Paul Carus; it is a concise and nice collection of Buddha’s teachings ascribed to him.

    I have also read “The Dhammapada” translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

    I like to read the main books of religions to have my own insight into a religion.

    Buddha was not a Skeptic or Agnostic or Atheist.

  3. @ Paarsurrey:
    Well, we are not really sure what the “Buddha” said, all we have is sayings written many years after his death. But the Pali scriptures surely show him to be a “Skeptic” — do not take things on faith, but test them first. Next, he did not attest to a creator-spirit or an intervening-spirit which are both part of theism — thus, he was certainly an a-theist (a non-theist).

    But we already know your that your religion says that all great religion teachers taught the truth of Allah, but his followers perverted it. So you want to believe he was not an atheist, and you want to believe that if Buddhist scriptures say otherwise, that they were perverted. THUS, any claim you make, paarsurrey, is totally untestable — you faith is pure untestable opinion.

  4. You are simply wrong.

    Buddha spoke vehemently against Skepticism agnosticism
    In fact Buddha spoke against Skepticism/Agnosticism in very clear terms:

    Chapter 46:
    Avoiding the Ten Evils”Free your mind of ignorance and be anxious to
    learn the truth, especially in the one thing that is needful,
    lest you fall a prey either , to scepticism or to errors.

    Scepticism will make you indifferent and errors will lead
    you astray, so that you shall not find the noble path that
    leads to life eternal.” Verse -13The Gospel of Buddha

    “The Buddha was NOT an Agnostic. It is scripturally false to say he was an Agnostic. He was in fact vehemently opposed to Agnosticism and he called them “evasive eel-wrigglers.” See the Brahmajala Sutta and the Samannaphala Sutta.

    Buddha terms Skepticism/agnosticism/atheism as ignorance; never to find the noble path leading to life eternal.

    “The idea is that the person isn’t considering the arguments presented (see Kalama Sutta), but stubbornly adhering to irrational agnosticism out of feelings of fear or hatred.”


  5. @ Paarsurrey,
    Show me anywhere that the Pali Scriptures have the Buddha saying he believed in a creator-all-powerful spirit [a-theist (a non-theist). It is in relation to this term concerning “skepticism” and “agnosticism” that I am talking about.

    I know your religion wants him to be an Allah-lover, but you are wrong. You want every great religious teacher of history to confirm your beliefs. It is an obviously misguided effort.

  6. @Sabio:
    In the west, the emphasis of Buddhism is not on god. Perhaps this is the attractive part of it. As I have understood, however, Buddhists in many places in the world (Tibet, for example), are laden with superstitions and ridiculous practices. I don’t have the time to take this course, but I was wondering what it is about. About what Buddhism should be like or about the state of Buddhism worldwide? I read a book by Matthieu Ricard, a Frenchman who became a Buddhist monk, and watched some videos. He never speaks about god. He emphasizes things that people (in the West, at least) may find useful or, simply, want to hear. Certainly, seeking happiness is not a bad thing. It’s even better when you can achieve it without the fear of a revengeful god.

  7. @ Takis
    Just like the word “poetry”, or “art” or “religion”, “Buddhism” has to be defined — there are lots of different flavors and ways of doing it. Without agreed definitions, people will talk past each other. Each using words to push their own agendas — a paarsurrey does above.

    I am writing a post now about Wright’s Buddhism — which discusses some of the issues you bring up. You are right — the vast majority of Buddhisms in the world are hugely superstitious. Matthieu Ricard is not superstitious, but his forms of Buddhism are a minority. He is indeed an interesting fellow.

  8. earnest

    The more I read about Buddhism the more I feel like I do not understand. I guess I too should go back to the Pali Scriptures, Sabio what is your favorite translation of them?

  9. @ earnest,
    I guess it depends on what sort of Buddhism you want to learn.
    Theravada, Dzogchen/Tantra (my favorite), Mahayana, Western New Age Romantic forms, Shin (Pure Land) or many more.

    Or do you just want to learn mind technology. Or are you interested in some writers metaphysics.

    It all depends! ;-0

  10. Earnest

    Thanks for the Dzogchen links, seems quite informative. I like the interspersed historical information.

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