Empathy versus compassion

August 29, 2014

Avalokitesvara_BodhisattvaOn 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:

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 child of a close

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Mind and Life: Discussions with the Dalai Lama on the Nature of Reality

January 15, 2013
Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk
Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk
The Mind and Life Conference (ML), a production of the Mind and Life Institute, is an almost yearly gathering of Western scientists and Tibetan Buddhists, led by the His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso). Mind and Life: Discussions with the Dalai Lama on the Nature of Reality is a product of the 2002 conference, the tenth (X) in the series.

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 all of us who seek … Read more »

The world’s happiest man talks about happiness

October 5, 2012

Sometimes called the “happiest man in the world,” Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, author and photographer.

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 came, two days ago, from … Read more »

The happiest man in the world

July 17, 2009

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.

I recently spent an evening

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