Undefeated Mind

Although physician-Buddhist Alex Lickerman often writes thoughtfully and engagingly on his blog (cf. Not Marvelous Enough, Smile at Everyone, When Someone You Love Is Unhappy) his 2012 extended collection The Undefeated Mind is rather a disappointment. Maybe it's his unrelenting plugs for Nichiren Buddhism? After logging a score of occurrences — "According to Nichiren Buddhism ...", "Nichiren Buddhism holds ...", "As it's known in Nichiren Buddhism ...", "Nichiren Buddhism teaches ...", "From the Nichiren Buddhist perspective ..." — I stopped counting halfway through the book.

Or maybe it's the anecdotal nature of Lickerman's parables, chapter-by-chapter case studies based on medical patients he has seen over the years, mistakes he has made, and people he has met? Or maybe it's his mystical beliefs and practices? In Chapter 3, for instance, Lickerman recounts from 2002:

In Nichiren Buddhism, practitioners chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to acquire the wisdom that enables them to achieve their goals. So I decided I would chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo one million times ("a one-million-daimoku campaign") to acquire whatever wisdom I needed to find my wife. I'd waged such campaigns several times in the past, so I knew it would take 300 hours, which, given my schedule at the time, meant approximately nine months.

Or maybe it's his subtitle, "On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self"? Sorry, but citations at the back of the book to published psychological studies — often poorly designed and based on statistically-invalid samples, one must suspect — don't turn Story into Science. As with Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness by Susan Smalley and Diana Winston, there's really no need to cloak good ideas in the garb of laboratory-tested neurophysiology. Let them stand on their own.

Or maybe it's the whole "unconquerable" and "indestructible" metaphor? Sometimes the Good Guys don't win. That's ok! (cf. Disease as Journey re why the "war" image of cancer is perhaps unproductive)

And yes, setting aside all those off-putting factors, Lickerman offers many good ideas. His chapter titles alone are valuable to ponder:

No problem with those suggestions!

(cf. Core Buddhism, 01, ...) - ^z - 2014-02-08