1. Test shows that smart subject is smart (capacity to learn, etc).
2. Subject of the test says meditation makes you happy.
3. The author then tries to make science say meditation makes you happy: 'It is not difficult to see why scientists declared Matthieu Ricard the happiest man they had ever tested.'
What's with this dismissive attitude?
I looked into the available devices and so far no decent hardware for a decent price is available without hacking.
All the best to you guys to bring this to the mainstream. The neurosky apps and headset are not my cup of tea.
This is completely foreign to me, it fails my bs test but to hear not just the words scientific, but quantifiable, piques my interest.
I'd love to hear a description about what you're trying to do there though.
Our startup is bringing those findings from the lab onto our mobile phone (check out www.brainbot.me for some info, although admittedly not much yet!) Right now we're busy prototyping and working on our first release.
I was on the fence on whether claimed effects of meditation were real, and reading this book clinched it for me. It anchored the claims I'd read elsewhere in something I actually believe - fMRI scans of brain activity.
"“I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness." -Dali Lama
Helping other (altruism) is also a good thing - since it serves your own selfishness (makes you more happy to see people happy - especially if you made them happy). The only limit is the damage it may cause them (ex: encouraging sloth)
The only bad thing is sacrifice - sacrificing the others or even worse, yourself, is very rarely a good thing - a good rule of thumb is thus to avoid sacrifices.
(words from a libertarian who finds many interesting things in buddhism)
So while maybe it could be argued becoming happy is selfish, actually being happy is not selfish. But then again becoming anything is selfish, I think the point is what happens after the point of becoming that thing. There is a lot of this logic in buddhism, which is why more importance is usually given to your volition for doing something than what it actually is your doing (think karma).
There was a man traveling down a road while it was raining. He came across a statue of Lord Buddha. He thought to himself, "The Buddha is getting all wet, that is not right. I shall cover his head so he doesn't get wet". He took off his shoe and put it over the Buddha's head.
Now, in those days (and even today in many parts of Asia) the act of putting something from your feet onto a Buddha's head is very disgraceful. In Thailand people don't even let their toes point at a statue of Buddha. Many people would think that man did something very wrong. However, his motivation was to protect Buddha and that single act was the eventual cause for himself to become a Buddha.
I am no expert and am just repeating what I have read elsewhere. Hopefully I did not mess the story up to bad and someone will still benefit.
If it is direct, it means you are sacrificing others. It is not a good thing as said above. You can find happiness and be selfish in various ways that will not directly harm others.
In Atlas Shrugged, refusal to remain a part of the system is just this (John Galt, the gulch) - trying to find one's happiness, without directly causing damage to others.
The whole society may be less happy due to the refusal of a few to sacrifice, but it is an indirect damage, an indirect cost. The alternative would be their sacrifice - a direct damage.
IMHO no man is entitled to happiness at the direct expanse of others.
But let's take them one by one.
Physical coercion is always wrong - it has a direct cost on others.
Layoffs are fine - no one has a right to work.
Hostile takeover - ownership right are respected so that's ok.
Fracking is an edge case - a negative externality if people already lived in a place and expected no such new industry would show up - so in that case, at a direct cost - and it becomes a bad thing.
If however similar or identical industries were already in place, yet people decided to move in, it's freedom - and it's fine.
Medical testing - I guess that would depend on what you mean by unethical. I'm sorry I can't answer for that one, expect by default a "direct cost" if you mean people entered medical testing while not being told the whole truth if laws requiring the whole truth to be disclosed exist, or in their absence if they were lied to. That's because it's just like cheating in a contract.
I hope this helps.
+1'ing you anyway since it's an interesting questioning about limit cases (and flipping the bird to the downvoters)
I'm not here to discount the potential benefits of meditation but I think it's important to keep in mind how much effort the monks put into living an altruistic life.
Meditation may help bring to the surface subconscious thoughts and feelings, but the responsibility of taking action and improving negative circumstances that are realized through meditation is the real chance for improvement. Meditation without action I would argue is meaningless.
I guess my point is, there is so much much that plays a role in the overall happiness other than meditation. I read "The Art of Happiness" recently where an American psychologist interviews the Dalai Lama and juxtaposes western and eastern schools of thought on the pursuit of happiness. I highly recommend it if you haven't checked it out before.
I read an article a decade or so ago that challenged people to think "bless you" at everyone they encountered. Just walking down the street, at work, whatever.
Visualizing all those people sneezing did make me feel happier.
Oops sorry, my cynicism slipped out a bit there. Let me just tuck that back in!