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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Buddhism and Modern Psychology by Princeton University

5,287 ratings
1,804 reviews

About the Course

The Dalai Lama has said that Buddhism and science are deeply compatible and has encouraged Western scholars to critically examine both the meditative practice and Buddhist ideas about the human mind. A number of scientists and philosophers have taken up this challenge. There have been brain scans of meditators and philosophical examinations of Buddhist doctrines. There have even been discussions of Darwin and the Buddha: Do early Buddhist descriptions of the mind, and of the human condition, make particular sense in light of evolutionary psychology? This course will examine how Buddhism is faring under this scrutiny. Are neuroscientists starting to understand how meditation “works”? Would such an understanding validate meditation—or might physical explanations of meditation undermine the spiritual significance attributed to it? And how are some of the basic Buddhist claims about the human mind holding up? We’ll pay special attention to some highly counterintuitive doctrines: that the self doesn’t exist, and that much of perceived reality is in some sense illusory. Do these claims, radical as they sound, make a certain kind of sense in light of modern psychology? And what are the implications of all this for how we should live our lives? Can meditation make us not just happier, but better people? All the features of this course are available for free. It does not offer a certificate upon completion....

Top reviews

Mar 2, 2016

Engaging content and excellent pace. While the level is introductory (I'd have liked a bit more depth), I would expect this from a lower-division/breadth course—and even more so from a MOOC like this.

Nov 15, 2015

I have been practicing meditation for two years already.In so far I have attended all Deepak Chopra meditation experiences which I found very helpful but not as helpful this course provided me so far.

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1576 - 1600 of 1,773 Reviews for Buddhism and Modern Psychology

By john l

Feb 16, 2019

From this course, a book is born! Buddhism is True, in the sense that the secular practice is validated by Evolutionary Psychological scientific experiment and research. Thus, one can take step to ameliorate ones pain, suffering, and dissatisfaction of life. Nirvana can be achieved with the right view and effort.

By Ruth G

Nov 14, 2017

Excellent course provoking much thought. However, did think that week 6 was a little rushed with lots to review and think about and then to write an essay. I would have liked more time to assimilate the final week with longer time to write the final assignment. However did enjoy and would recommend to others.

By Sam T

Oct 16, 2016

For those interested in what Buddhism has to offer regarding the mind, but without any of the religious aspects, this is a good course both for information as well as for being thought-provoking/stimulating. The online environment enables contact with people and materials which might otherwise be beyond reach.

By Irina N

Jun 13, 2016

Very nice course, very interesting. I really liked the professor's specific sence of humour in examples he makes. The course was a little boring because of a lot talking about things already talked and understood, lots of specifications for people who might argue or disagree, or might feel offended.

By ritesh m j

May 17, 2020

very well this i learned that how buddhism and modern science is related and in this its shows that how important meditation is to see the world more clearly and how to work on your emotions in right manner. this course shows how to think and organise your thoughts in positive way.

By Carlos V H

Jun 4, 2020

It is a full and long course with many interesting concepts to compare and learn. The only problem I see is the monotony of the classes, which sometimes make it difficult to follow in a suitable activacion. Maybe I should focus on streghten my concentration, but I think it could be more dynamic

By Huanglei P

Dec 27, 2017

A good introduction course for buddhism and its relationship to modern psychology. Some of the illustrator's idea are really innovative. However, most of the video lessons are in lecture format and lack of summary slides for logical structure during each lesson, so I might get confused somehow.

By Van d t

Jun 28, 2020

The topic was very interesting and well taught. I read the book as well and I am a great admirer of Robert Wright ever since I read the Moral Animal in 1999 or so. I feel we could have gone a little deeper and could have had an even better course if we did. It was basically a bit short


Nov 14, 2017

short and sweet, a good introduction to the ideas of Buddhism and how they might connect to modern psychology. Some very interesting resources I don't think I would have encountered otherwise especially in the last couple of weeks.

Really annoyed there is no certificate for it though.

By Omer G

Dec 22, 2020

I thought the course was great. The instructor is very clear in his explanations and a lot of ground is covered in the lectures. I didn't give the full amount of stars because you can't get a certificate in the course, for some reason. I was hoping I could get a certificate :(

By Pamela W

Apr 18, 2018

The material was quite valuable and I had one good discussion in the Forums. I perceive that the Office Hours segments became less useful at Lecture 6. I would have appreciated a briefer description of the questions and answers on the forums and much less on 'mindful dogs.'

By Danilo R

Nov 15, 2015

An awesome course on psychology, for both newbies and students, but also an excellent introduction to Buddhism. I'm just perplex about the view of evolution as an entity that (seems to) shapes biological and psychological features with the purpose of obtaining advantages.

By Marcus B

Apr 13, 2016

The course goes a long way in proving what it sets out to prove. However, it would have been good to hear from some people (I am sure they exist) who dispute the stipulated thesis that modern psychology confirms that accuracy of the Buddhist analysis of the human mind.

By Hagar T

Mar 17, 2021

The course is very well structured, but I would say that it doesn't go enough in-depth, and sometimes considers popularist psychological theories instead of more scientific ones. However, the professor does a very good job at clearly explaining what he does!

By Daniel K

Aug 18, 2017

Lectures are engaging and clear. Assessment process is good although some quizzes to test comprehension of relevant studies.

Clearer sources and citation for arguments from evolutionary psychology would be good, too. Overall, however, an excellent course.

By Ajeetha B

Apr 3, 2018

Very good references, really liked the various people who were interviewed, especially liked Bhiku Boddhi's audio's on Buddhism.

Somehow not convinced on the modular view of the brain, perhaps need to read more on arguments for and against this theory.

By Melissa M

May 20, 2020

Great course, well organized in the lessons. The "office videos" lost me a bit sometimes but I appreciated the clarification on certain topics and the opportunity for student questions to be discussed. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and insights.

By Tonni B

Dec 22, 2020

Good course - and would recommend it to everybody that is interested in the two subjects. The introduction to the modular mind and the link to the different areas in psychology are also areas that broaden up an understanding about life in general

By Siddhesh V R

Mar 28, 2020

The course was highly informative about the introductory practices of Buddhism, modern psychology, and how the two have parallels. I enjoyed Professor Wright's proper use of the course format to maximise the learnings gained from these insights.

By Seenu

May 26, 2020

Worth your time, especially in our current pandemic where we are bombarded with overwhelming amount of information about the coronavirus. Times like these is when we must calm our mind and stay focused on respecting and supporting one another.

By Petar T

Nov 9, 2016

Fantastic sauce of information and nice subtle humor.

Really interesting material but kind of a depressingly sounding lecturer. Looking forward for more courses from this lecturer and more of blooming of joy in his voice in future lectures.

By mario c f

Apr 19, 2018

was more interested to know how the various schools of thought of psychology come from Buddhism. The course set in evolutionary psychology but would like to know more broadly how other perspectives address the main issues of Buddhism.

By DanThy N

May 21, 2018

Great course for those interested in the eastern ideals of Buddhism and parallels with modern psychology. Thought provoking and interesting studies, readings and guests providing various thoughts and knowledge on the topi

By Ambika M

Jul 26, 2020

Prof. Robert Wright did an excellent job in presenting us with a comprehensive view of all aspects of Buddhism and modern psychology. His sense of humour definitely added a lot to the overall experience of the course!


May 12, 2020

It was an great experience to learn inner working of my mind. I enjoyed learning Buddhist philosophy and modern psychology. Robert Wright taught me well about importance of mindfulness and awareness for good life.