Many practitioners of Buddhist Vipassana meditation refer to it as “a science of the mind.” Buddhist meditators have been practicing a systematic and rigorous examination of the mind for 2500 years, and over this time have arrived at many useful observations about how the mind functions. Buddhist observations of the mind are now being supported by scientific experiments (see contemplative neuroscience). However, we believe such a long history of consistent experimental evidence has great potential value, particularly as there are many commonalities with the conclusions of science and psychology, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). It is very common for practitioners of Vipassana to also work with CBT.
Buddhism has a great deal to say specifically about “why do people do things that make them unhappy” and “how to overcome suffering”. The term “suffering” is often used interchangeably with “unhappiness” in Buddhist terminology. A famous Buddhist scholar once wrote, “People are in love with the causes of suffering.” The Buddha chose to teach after his enlightenment when he saw that the very things people were doing to make themselves happy were the very things that were making them unhappy. The Buddha said, “So long as people cling to the pleasant, reject the unpleasant, and are ignorant of the neutral, there will be no freedom.” It is the clinging to the things that are pleasant, which we will inevitably lose, and the rejection of the things that are unpleasant, which will inevitably occur, that cause us to be unhappy. Only by a simple acceptance of the pleasant and unpleasant alike can we be happy.