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

5,346 ratings
1,823 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.

Oct 25, 2020

I thought this was a great introduction to both modern Buddhist thought and evolutionary psychology. Professor Wright is an excellent lecturer, and his office hours are informative as well as amusing.

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251 - 275 of 1,792 Reviews for Buddhism and Modern Psychology

By Thomas J S

Nov 12, 2017

Great course. I'm very thankful to Prof. Wright and all those who made this course possible. I learned a lot and clarified many things I have been thinking about for years. I enjoyed the books required for the course and have welcomed them into my library. I'm impressed with Prof. Wright as a teacher and an author.

By Emma S

May 24, 2020

This was my first ever Coursera course and it was a wonderful introduction to realm of online learning and the broad range of subject matter that is available on this platform. I loved the low-stress feel of this course and genuinely felt excited to learn more each week. There is so much to take away from this course!

By rana s j

May 20, 2020

A very well structured course with content that is easily accessible to a non-Buddhist, non-psychologist amateur venturing to learn about both. Prof. Wright brings forth the material with all seriousness and a lot of humor, providing various resources to expand in-depth learning. Just the right dose needed! Thank you!

By Jessica B

Feb 5, 2016

Excellent class! Thorough and humorous. The lectures and discussions included are very well explained, making difficult concepts easier to grasp. It also provides several jumping off points if you want to dive further into this combined subject of Buddhism and Modern Psychology! I look forward to exploring it further.

By Grozda s

Dec 17, 2015

Very interesting course! Easy to follow without any background. I really loved it!!! I would recommend it to everyone who is interested in psychology, neuroscience, personal development, human evolution or religion studies. I also want to thank all people who participated in making this course, you did a great job! :)

By Karim L

Jan 9, 2018

I found this course very interesting and useful for any person interested to understand human mind and behavior. And specially for those that believe that Buddhism is a wise philosophy that can not only help us to reduce our own suffering, but that can help us being better people and do the less harm to other beings.

By Maryam S

Oct 30, 2016

Auditing this course helped me develop a scientific view point based on principals of evolutionary psychology and enriched my understanding of Buddhist philosophy. And, I should add that taking this course helped me find my next academic challenge, which is pushing a masters in psychology. Thank you professor Wright.

By Julian S

Feb 9, 2016

An amazing course for those looking to understand themselves, the world, and social interactions. This course is scientifically grounded, using the results of numerous studies to examine the human intellect and it's biases, and includes talks with various world-renowned Buddhist meditators and psychology researchers.

By Michael W

Jun 27, 2020

Thoroughly enjoyed the course. I have gained insight into evolutionary psychology, something of which I knew nothing about before. I also gained more knowledge about Buddhism and it can help with thoughts and emotions that are negative. I sound the professor, Robert Wright to be very informative and easy to watch.

By Rajeev K S

May 14, 2020

It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.” “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” “There is nothing so disobedient as an undisciplined mind, and there is nothing so obedient as a disciplined mind.”


Jun 24, 2016

Quite interesting way of analizyng buddhism and psychology. They are definitely closer to each other than I thought. The professor is clear and in love with the subject, which is a good thing, as it's infectious: you'll start to love the lessons and devour the lectures. I'm planning on taking this course again soon.

By Ross N

Jun 16, 2020

Robert Wright is just as curious as us learners, and uses humour and easy examples to convey heavy topics. I find the idea of Buddhism for wellbeing fascinating. I work for the NHS providing Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and this course helped me understand the logic behind, and the power of [mindfulness] meditation.

By Tim S

Mar 4, 2017

Excellent course, recommended for less spiritual people. Specifically the link with evolutionary psychology gives this course a more scientific approach. The non-prescriptive rationale help people to see the why, before the what. One may eventually join, or in my case partially join, the buddhist view of the world.

By Rodrigo

Dec 20, 2015

Great course, so far. The way the connection between Buddhism, evolution and psychology is taught is VERY clear, concise and logic. I am a mathematician, who studies buddhism and loves psychology also, and have never seen an explanation so clear and connected to our culture like in this course. Awesome initiative!

By Meredith D

Feb 24, 2020

Loved this course, Richard Wright has a really simple and engaging way of explaining both the religion and the science and ties it together in a fascinating way. I also fell a little bit in love with his dogs, Frasier and Milo who were stars of the course in their own right. Good luck with the Buddhist path boys!

By Daan v R

May 12, 2019

This may be my favorite course on Coursera so far. I think especially in combination with Paul Bloom's Intro to Psych it was extremely helpful and insightful. The material taught and especially all the additional readings, videos and references was quite exhaustive and made for an incredibly enriching few weeks.

By Kuriakose J

Sep 6, 2020

A very good introductory course. Well planned and delivered lectures.

Thematic interviews were to the point.

Very good reading materials.

Perhaps, one lecture could have been dedicated to criticism of Evolutionary Psychology .

Big thanks to Coursera team, Princeton University and of course to Porf. Robert Wright...

By Kaden G

May 21, 2020

It was very in depth and good to understand for all despite whatever religion you want to be classified as a part of. Also it was a short course for me which i liked as its not very time consuming and got the point across to understand how science can really relate to some of buddhist practices and teachings.

By roze a c

Jun 11, 2019

I truly enjoyed this course with Professor Wright and all of the other wonderful teachers who took part in the teachings. It has been a long time dream to be able to study at Princeton University. Now, a part of my dream has come to pass. Thank you for the opportunity to spread my wings a little bit further.

By larry g

Sep 1, 2017

I studied Buddhism decades ago from a historical prospective but could never really get a grasp on the underlying nature of the concepts involved. (Too much the engineer I guess.) This course finally provided the levers that I think may get me beyond dabbling in meditation techniques for stress relief only.

By Marcelo d J

Oct 7, 2015

Hice este curso hace un par de años y me pareció realmente excepcional, tanto que ahora lo estoy haciendo de nuevo y me parece cada vez mejor. El interés de los temas expuestos, la sencillez y accesibilidad a la hora de transmitirlos... Robert Wright es un verdadero maestro! Enhorabuena a él a todo su equipo!

By Luca C R

Jan 2, 2021

Really good course done by Robert Wright! I may even buy his book sometime, what a guy! Also Robert, if you are reading this, please please research psychedelics! It is thanks to them that I have become so interested in Buddhist philosophy and meditation. Everyone should try this course! It taught me so much

By Bántó B

Dec 21, 2020

This was my first course in Coursera and also my first course related to Buddhism, I enjoyed watching and learning. This course aroused curiosity in me made me think outside the box, and open to new fields. Excellent and interesting content. Easy to understand and follow. I happily recommend it to everyone.

By Helen R

Jun 9, 2016

Firstly I enjoyed it - it was interesting. Secondly I found it did what it said it would do - it was informative. The teaching was good. The assessments were relevant and did assess learning without being too time consuming or difficult. There was a forum which was interesting. I'd definitely do another one.

By Brendon M

Nov 15, 2016

Have been looking for something like this for twenty years - exploring Buddhism with a technical bent and relation to modern understandings of the mind. thank you. impressed with Robert Wright.

Would have liked to see a certificate and would have been a=happy to pay for this aspect if that was the barrier.