Are human beings hard-wired to be perpetually dissatisfied? It’s a provocative question – and one that was put recently to the author Robert Wright, who teaches about the place where religion meets evolutionary biology and religion. Wright’s answer? In a word, Yes. He says that because evolution rewards the pursuit of pleasure, human beings are almost hard-wired to be unsatisfied: "We are condemned,” he says, “to always want things to be a little different, always want a little more." Wright’s latest best-selling book, Why Buddhism is True, suggests that Buddhist practices can, in effect, rewire the brain, to overcome a host of anxieties and emotional pain that afflict so many people. "I think of mindfulness meditation as almost a rebellion against natural selection," says Wright. "And Buddhism says, 'We don't have to play this game.'"
It’s a fascinating book, a fascinating argument, and a fascinating nexus of neuroscience and ancient religious practice.
As part of the Asia Society “Buddhism and Beyond” season, join us for a special event with Robert Wright, in conversation with Juju Chang, ABC News Anchor.
Robert Wright is the New York Times best-selling author of Why Buddhism Is True, The Evolution of God, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Nonzero; The Moral Animal; and Three Scientists and Their Gods, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and at Princeton, where he also created the popular online course “Buddhism and Modern Psychology.” In 2009, Foreign Policy named him one of its Top 100 Global Thinker. He has written for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Time, Slate, and The New Republic.
Juju Chang is an Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of ABC News “Nightline”. She has covered several high-profile stories, from interviewing transgender soldier Chelsea Manning to the Orlando nightclub and the Boston Marathon Bombing. She has also profiled newsmakers including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, former Vice President Joe Biden and Oprah Winfrey. She joined ABC news in 1987 as a desk assistant and has since risen as a correspondent and anchor for the network. Chang graduated with honors from Stanford University with a B.A. in political science and communication. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a founding board member of the Korean American Community Foundation