This book is about much, much more than the truth of Buddhism. Yes, it convincingly makes the argument that the central tenet of Buddhism (i.e. there is no “you”) is true but it does so by marshalling the best that cognitive psychology and behavioral science has to offer. It’s as much a tour of how the mind works as it is a book about Buddhism.
Perhaps most interesting for this struggling meditator is Wrights deep look into how the brain betrays us when we try to focus, and why it does so. Perhaps it isn’t a surprise that thousands and thousands of years of subsistence farming in small communities hasn’t prepared us for the world of social media, mass interaction with strangers, and, perhaps most disturbingly, the type of “deep work” so often praised these days.
We are hard wired to be easily distracted by the shiny object. That’s how we survived. But we aren’t wired to routinely interact with strangers, that’s why we’re anxious. Addressing, and ameliorating the negative aspects of these facts of modern life is what Buddhism (or, perhaps even just secular mindfulness) can help us with.
Wright tells this story with the light confidence of someone who deeply knows the research, and he weaves in enough personal anecdotes to keep it from seeing dry. Its all in all an excellent book. In terms of my own mental health and well being, this is probably the best book I read this year. I think you’ll enjoy it.