Buddhism in the News
- Hi Everyone. I found the following article on the Electronic Telegraph. I thought it was interesting.
"Why Buddhists are calmer
By Robert Uhlig, Technology Correspondent
(Filed: 22/05/2003) Electronic Telegraph
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."