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Why Buddhists Are Calmer


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Why Buddhists are calmer

By Robert Uhlig

Last Updated: 4:41PM BST 22 May 2003

That transcendental smile on many a Buddhist's face could hide a deeper truth: their religion appears to be the secret of long-term happiness.

Researchers in America have found that a spot in the brain called the left prefrontal lobe which is associated with positive emotions and good moods, is unusually active among practising Buddhists.

Richard Davison, a researcher at the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin, made the discovery after scanning the brains of committed Buddhists.

Owen Flanagan, professor of philosophy at Duke University in North Carolina, writing in New Scientist, said the results were "tantalising".

He said: "We can now hypothesise with some confidence that those apparently happy, calm Buddhist souls really are happy.

"Behind those calm exteriors lie persistently frisky left prefrontal lobes. If these findings are widely confirmed, they will be of great importance."

He said the prefrontal lobes had long been known to play a major role in foresight, planning and self control. They were now also known to be crucially involved in emotion, mood and temperament. Prof Flanagan said he did not think it reasonable to suppose that Tibetan Buddhists were born with a "happiness gene" that activated their left prefrontal lobes.

A more likely explanation was there was something about Buddhist practice that produced happiness, he said.

Prof Flanagan said that other research suggested Buddhists might be able to control a second part of the brain's emotion system which is normally automatic.

The amygdala - twin almond-shaped structures in the forebrain - act as a quick trigger that deals with fear, anxiety and surprise, and also probably helps to make us angry. It is hard to override the amygdala's 'feelings' simply by thinking rationally.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechn...are-calmer.html

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Why Buddhists are calmer

Although my background is science...my degrees in the geosciences doesn't help me review this article. From a purely personal background, I can only say that becoming a Buddhist made a difference to me. In my commuting I can clearly remember pounding the steering wheel and cursing BEFORE, but not after adopting just a few Buddhist principles. Over time a number of people at work, where I was "the boss", mentioned that I seemed calmer and listened more. When I do stress out, simply saying to myself, "To the Buddha I go for refuge, to the Dharma I go for refuge, to the Sangha I go for refuge," often helps...along with a little Paxil! Obviously I'm still working on it. That's not to say that I am convinced that Buddhism is THE answer for everyone, but it certainly made a difference to me.

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I don't think you have to be a Buddhist, but just to have studied and taken on board the Buddha's teachings is going to help you be calmer. The teachings make sense. Once you accept that, whether you then identify as a "Buddhist" or not, you're going to have a more rational approach to the vicissitudes of life.

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I don't think you have to be a Buddhist, but just to have studied and taken on board the Buddha's teachings is going to help you be calmer. The teachings make sense. Once you accept that, whether you then identify as a "Buddhist" or not, you're going to have a more rational approach to the vicissitudes of life.

True. I recall a long conversation I once had with a monk back in the time I had decided to "convert" to Buddhism. I asked him what kind of ceremony I had to go through (a question that was a result of a teenaged conversion to Catholicism). He said, "No ceremony. If you think like a Buddhist thinks, if you talk like a Buddhist talks, if you act like a Buddhist acts, then you are a Buddhist."

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I don't think you have to be a Buddhist, but just to have studied and taken on board the Buddha's teachings is going to help you be calmer. The teachings make sense. Once you accept that, whether you then identify as a "Buddhist" or not, you're going to have a more rational approach to the vicissitudes of life.

True. I recall a long conversation I once had with a monk back in the time I had decided to "convert" to Buddhism. I asked him what kind of ceremony I had to go through (a question that was a result of a teenaged conversion to Catholicism). He said, "No ceremony. If you think like a Buddhist thinks, if you talk like a Buddhist talks, if you act like a Buddhist acts, then you are a Buddhist."

Excellent points, both. Let's not get caught up with labels. The path, as Xangsamhua said, makes sense. The laws of nature are universal. Following these principles will benefit all beings, regardless of alignment/affiliation.
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