New Triune Mind research from Sugunasiri

Buddhism Buddhist Psychology Psychology Theravada

An Exercise in Buddhian science & Western science

New research from Prof. Suwanda H J Sugunasiri

This brief article seeks to substantiate the hypothesis, The Triune Mind parallels the Triune Brain. [Triune Mind’ in the Pali Canon in Buddhism is as in the model proposed by Suwanda H J Sugunasiri (Canadian Journal of Buddhist Studies, 10), and Triune Brain as in the model proposed by Paul MacLean.] The former is shown to serve as the psychological (nāma) component of the latter physical component. While MacLean’s model is currently in disfavour within neuroscientific circles, the criticisms are met by pointing out the justified but narrower interpretations given by the critics. Expanding the category of ‘mammalian’ to ‘sentient’, based in the Buddha’s term sattā ‘sentient being’, is shown to be the answer to the critics. Thus, MacLean’s Reptilian Brain (R-complex) comes to be re-branded Protosentient-Complex, Paleomammalian Brain as Paleosentient-Complex and Neomammalian Brain as Neosentient-Complex. The term ‘complex’, also used by MacLean, is used here to mean ‘bundle’ (khandha), capturing the complexity of each of the Mind types. The paper is an introduction to a forthcoming book-length treatment, tentatively titled, TRIUNE MIND, TRIUNE BRAIN: Map of the Mind through the eyes of Buddhian science & Western science.

The paper is available for free download at

(Formerly of the Faculty of Divinity, Trinity College, University of Toronto, and Founding Editor/Editor Emeritus, Canadian Journal of Buddhist Studies. Prof. Sugunasiri, may be reached at

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