On the Boston Review, Paul Bloom has a provocative article titled “Against Empathy.” It’s not advocating an uncompassionate approach to life, and in fact central to his thesis is that there is a distinction between empathy, which he says can limit and exhaust us, and compassion, which he points out is more sustainable.
There’s one particular section where there are several references to Buddhism and to Buddhist practitioners:
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It is worth expanding on the difference between empathy and compassion, because some of empathy’s biggest fans are confused on this point and think that the only force that can motivate kindness is empathetic arousal. But this is mistaken. Imagine that
The Mind and Life Institute emerged as “a bold experiment” in 1987 from the efforts of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Adam Engle, and Francisco Varela. Between ML IX and X, co-founder and visionary scholar Francisco Varela passed away, a tremendous loss for … Read more »
After training in biochemistry at the Institute Pasteur, Matthieu Ricard left science behind to move to the Himalayas and become a Buddhist monk — and to pursue happiness, both at a basic human level and as a subject of inquiry. Achieving happiness, he has come to believe, requires the same kind of effort and mind training that any other serious pursuit involves.
Transcript: So, I guess it is a result of globalization that you can find Coca-Cola tins on top of Everest and a Buddhist monk in Monterey. (Laughter) And so I just … Read more »
Many people see meditation as an exotic form of daydreaming, or a quick fix for a stressed-out mind. My advice to them is, try it.
Meditation is difficult, at least to begin with. On my first attempt, instead of concentrating on my breathing and letting go of anything that came to mind, as instructed by my cheery Tibetan teacher, I got distracted by a string of troubled thoughts, then fell asleep. Apparently, this is normal for first-timers. Experienced meditators will assure you that it is worth persisting, however.
“Training allows us to transform the mind, to overcome destructive emotions and to dispel suffering,” says Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard. “The numerous … Read more »
How did you become involved in the science of meditation?
The Dalai Lama often describes Buddhism as being, above all, a science of the mind. That is not surprising, because the Buddhist texts put particular emphasis on the fact that all spiritual practices – whether mental, physical or oral – are directly or indirectly intended to transform the mind.
So it wasn’t surprising that when a meeting was held in 2000 with some of the leading specialists in human emotions – psychologists, neuroscientists and philosophers – they spent an entire week in discussion with the Dalai Lama at his home in Dharamsala, India. Later we agreed to launch a research … Read more »
The New York Times today has an article by Daniel Goleman, most famous for his work, Emotional Intelligence, but who has also been involved with His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Mind and Life conferences and with Dr. Richard Davidson’s research into the effects of meditation on the brain. He writes about Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, who has apparently been described as the happiest man in the world. Usually I’ve seen that title reserved for another meditator, Matthieu Ricard, but maybe there’s been some kind of world championship laugh-off that I missed. Anyway, it’s an interesting article, even if most of the information is about studies published some years ago.… Read more »