Mind Optimization Part 17: Darwin vs Buddha

Our Darwinian drive helps us survive and succeed and our Buddhist drive lets us enjoy. Like the fable of the ant and the grasshopper, there is always a balance between getting things done and enjoying the fruits of our labor.

This video is part seventeen of twenty-six excerpts from a presentation hosted by SOUL Food Salon in March 2019.

You may check out the full playlist of this video series on The Art and Science on Mind Optimization here. Alternatively, you can also click here to watch the previous video and here for the next one.

Video Transcript

Balance, so I told you guys I think of things in balances. And to me, one of the most fundamental balances I look at throughout life is this balance between Darwin and Buddha. Of course, there’s going to be some, this is not a literal interpretation of Darwinism and Buddhism, but what I want to point out is that we have two very extreme realities here. On one end, you have Darwinism, right? Darwinism is like kill or be killed. Conquer, rule, be number one, get more stuff, have a fancier car than your neighbors, make more money and do. It’s egocentric if you think about it. It’s about me. It’s us versus them. In a Darwinian model, you could almost envision nature is not … Nature is a force to be tamed. It’s an enemy. On the Buddhist side of things, you have ego dissolution. We are one. Why compete with your neighbors because we’re all related? We’re all on the same planet Earth problem together. We’re all on the ship together, right? So we’re looking at egocentrism versus ego dissolution.

I tell all my patients also that you needed Darwinism to get where you are today. You needed it to get through school. You needed it to kick ass and be successful in your job and get to where you are. But you need to be a Buddhist to enjoy it. Because if you’re always thinking about that presentation and what you got to do the next day, you are not going to enjoy your kids. You are not going to enjoy your family. You are not going to enjoy food, wine, or sex for that matter. To me, those are all very important things that really call on us to be present. And the reality is that a Darwinian way of looking at life does not … It’s not presence. It’s planning for the future and it’s thinking what you should’ve done in the past.

This comes back to the ant and grasshopper a little bit in an interesting way, but the reality is there is something to be said about the grasshopper having some fun. I tell all my patients to enjoy food, sex, wine, and family, you need to be present. And to me, that’s a very important thing. I think everything that we do in life, we should think, “Are we too Buddhist? Are we too Darwinian?” The answer is that there is no fixed set point and neither extreme is likely good. But being able to navigate that with different life circumstances is where people actually excel.

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