Dismantling Discontent

Buddha’s Way Through Darwin’s World

By Dr. Charles Fisher
Released August 2007

Early hominids lived in an animal harmony with nature, free of the existential suffering we Homo sapiens experience. Evolutionary changes to our ancestors’ bodies and brains endowed us with both an increased capacity for creative productivity and the discontent that comes with the disconnection from our environment. It is this duality of our evolution that sets us apart from other species and inspires our most profound intellectual and spiritual yearning. Science and spiritual practice have long been considered mutually exclusive, and yet they are both methods of investigation, of striving toward understanding the universe in which we live.

Dismantling Discontent offers a provocative perspective on our existential suffering from the metaphorical viewpoints of Darwin and Buddha, synthesizing their two approaches, science and meditation, both rooted in the natural world, into a powerful union.

In writing this book, Charlie Fisher, Ph.D., has touched upon a scientific taboo and shattered previous assumptions about the incompatibility of these two very different ways of knowing. His daring, grounded in years of solid research and sincere practice, has cleared the path to an inspired, new “middle way” for us humans to be at greater peace with our selves, each other, and the world in which we live.

“In Dismantling Discontent Charlie Fisher provides a profound and provocative reflection on evolution, science and Buddhist practice. He offers a rigorous and honest analysis, bringing together scientific, cultural and anthropological knowledge in a deep understanding of our biological and spiritual heritage.”
Jack Kornfield
Guiding Teacher of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center and author of Path With Heart.

“To me, an open-minded skeptic and ignoramus in Eastern religious traditions and philosophies, I actually found Charlie’s descriptions of meditation, death, disease, and old age in the context of our biological natures informative and compelling. You too, will no doubt enjoy Charlie’s nature-loving revelation of the very non-Victorian Buddhist view of our lives and their discontents. Charlie has written of meditation in the clear light of evolutionary history.”
Lynn Margulis
Discoverer of Symbiogenesis and co-author of the Gaia Theory

“A very absorbing read with an unusual and provocative thesis juxtaposing Darwin and the Buddha. Charlie Fisher probes behind the surface with data from animal and human societies and from neurological findings to explore the existential dilemma that the Buddha proclaimed in the myth of the four signs: illness, old age, death and the transcendence of these in the yellow robed renouncer.”
Gananth Obeyesekere
Author of Imagining Karma and The Cult of the Goddess Pattini.

“An inspired teacher, with a brilliant mind that moves freely across disciplines, Charlie Fisher is uniquely qualified to address the intellectual issues that linger on the frontier between human consciousness and the wild. He has spent years on the raw edge of nature and years immersed in silent meditation. He brings his experiences together in a profoundly original book.”
Wade Davis
Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society and author of One River and Shadows in the Sun.

“Dharma meets Darwin in this illuminating exploration of the natural world. Charles Fisher unites his deep understanding of biology with insights drawn from his long-standing practice of mindful awareness.”
Stephen Batchelor
Author of Confession of a Buddhist Athiest and many other books.