Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Neuroscience Of Compassion

The prestigious Stanford University is setting up a new Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. The two biggest donors to the project are the neurosurgeon and businessman Jim Doty ($5.5 million) who will also be the center’s director and the Dalai Lama ($150,000). The rest of the money is coming from well-wishers, corporations and foundations. The center’s goals will involve investigating how the brain deals with compassion and altruism and apply those findings to developing ways to improving peoples lives. What a thoroughly worthwhile project! Doty said he hopes the center’s research will help understand and combat childhood bullying and recidivism among prisoners. He also wonders whether the benefits of intense mediation can be more easily achieved by healthcare and corporate workers to prevent burnout, depression and anxiety.
Some scientists have expressed concern with the Dalai Lama’s association with the proposed centre. Several years ago, he gave a keynote address at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting, amid criticism from some members of the society. More than 1000 people signed an on-line petition questioning his credentials, though some of the opposition was probably tied to his views on Tibetan independence rather than his religious status.


Walter said...

Wonder if scientists can find a gene for compassion, and learn how to tweak it... :)

dmkorman said...

I have just finished a book that raises some of these issues: Emotional Awareness- Overcoming the Obstacles to Psychological Balance and Compassion. It is a series of talks between the Dalai Lama and US research psychologist Paul Ekman.
#Publisher: Times Books (September 16, 2008)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0805087125
# ISBN-13: 978-0805087123

Best regards and wishes-

Kathleen said...

Thank you for sharing that title, David. It sounds very interesting I shall try and locate a copy. I always love a book recommendation!

dmkorman said...


You are most welcome. I hope you find it enjoyable and enlightening.

Be well and take care.

Elizabeth J. Neal said...

Keep up the brave trapping, the weather has been awful and speaking to many fellow moth'ers they all agree that this is the worst start to a moth year in 30 years. feng shui