Siddhartha's Brain

  • by James Kingsland
  • Narrated by Steven Crossley
  • 10 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking exploration of the "science of enlightenment", told through the lens of the journey of Siddhartha (better known as Buddha), by Guardian science editor James Kingsland.
In a lush grove on the banks of the Neranjara in Northern India - 400 years before the birth of Christ, when the foundations of Western science and philosophy were being laid by the great minds of ancient Greece - a prince turned ascetic wanderer sat beneath a fig tree. His name was Siddhartha Gautama, and he was discovering the astonishing capabilities of the human brain and the secrets of mental wellness and spiritual "enlightenment" - the foundation of Buddhism.
Framed by the historical journey and teachings of the Buddha, Siddhartha's Brain shows how meditative and Buddhist practices anticipated the findings of modern neuroscience. Moving from the evolutionary history of the brain to the disorders and neuroses associated with our technology-driven world, James Kingsland explains why the ancient practice of mindfulness has been so beneficial to and so important for human beings across time. Far from a New Age fad, the principles of meditation have deep scientific support and have been proven to be effective in combating many contemporary psychiatric disorders. Siddhartha posited that "our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think". As we are increasingly driven to distraction by competing demands, our ability to focus and control our thoughts has never been more challenged - or more vital.
Siddhartha's Brain offers a cutting-edge, big-picture assessment of meditation and mindfulness: how they work, what they do to our brains, and why meditative practice has never been more important.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


This book is worth four stars based solely on the skillful summary of scientific evidence on the benefits of mindfulness. The author is an experienced science writer and it shows.

The book earns a fifth star for the surprising, ambitious, thoughtful chapter on "The Fall," which claims that mental illness and suffering evolved in the African Savannah, when humans diverged from chimps. It is a fascinating theory that puts the book's claims in a much broader perspective. As I listened to the final chapters on the mindfulness studies, I found myself anxious for this chapter to arrive.

Any drawbacks are minor: The summaries of the science are repetitive at times, but the author breaks up the parade of data with interesting and illustrative anecdotes. The speculation about the biology of "Siddhartha's Brain" feels a little clumsy and forced at times—but it's a small part of the book, and it helps to emphasize the secular and scientific dimension of the book's argument. (I.e., the Buddha had a brain, too, like the rest of us.)
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- C. Rosky

An Excellent Book.

The author did an excellent job of comparing Science and Buddhism. One of my all time favorite 100 books. Well written and read.
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- Ken Beller

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-26-2016
  • Publisher: HarperAudio