Science

  • Empathy or Compassion? Reflections on the Compassion Meditation Conference Paid Member

    Last week in Atlanta, Buddhist scholars and researchers in psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience congregated alongside His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Emory University’s Conference on Compassion Meditation.  The conference explored several of the many methods for constructively dealing with destructive emotions that Buddhism offers.  HHDL contended that these negativity-reducing methods could be practiced in a secular context by Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. During the conference, participants from different fields presented convincing research demonstrating the benefits of compassion meditation among a variety of non-Buddhist populations. More »
  • Make your next Facebook status: "Just meditated to ensure that I care about all you people." Paid Member

    A recent study, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, has found that college students today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were in 1979, with the steepest decline coming in the last 10 years. From Keith O'Brien at the Boston Globe, “The empathy deficit: Even as they become more connected, young people are caring less about others”: Perhaps more than any other characteristic, one’s capacity for empathic concern dictates how much one cares about others. Those who score high in empathic concern, according to past research, are more likely to return incorrect change to a cashier, let someone else ahead of them in line, carry a stranger’s belongings, give money to a homeless person, volunteer, donate to a charity, look after a friend’s pet or plant, or even live on a vegetarian diet. And what’s alarming, Konrath said, is that empathic concern has fallen more than any other aspect of empathy. Between 1979 and 2009, according to the new research, empathic concern dropped 48 percent. The results have led to the obvious follow-up questions: What cultural changes may have shaped children in the 1980s and ’90s, giving rise to a less empathetic generation? Why do we care less? And is there any way we can reverse the trend? Read the rest of “The empathy deficit” here. Although they don’t mention this in this article, other recent studies suggest that meditation works as a way to reverse this trend. This from a 2008 msnbc.com article “Neuroscience may explain the Dalai Lama: A new study reveals that meditation may increase empathy, benevolence”: More »
  • Dalai Lama donates $50,000 to Wisconsin research center Paid Member

    Today's New York Times announced the Dalai Lama's generous financial gift to the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, a research institute in Madison, Wisconsin: The Tibetan spiritual leader recently announced plans to donate $50,000 to the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at Madison, a new research lab founded by Dr. Davidson, which is studying whether meditation can promote compassion and kindness. More »
  • Meet the doctor who wants to measure your consciousness Paid Member

    Dr. Giulio Tononi has devoted his life's work to developing a theory of consciousness. A distinguished chair in consciousness science at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Tononi's interest in consciousness began when he was a teenager. According to a recent profile published in the New York Times, Dr. Tononi was "initially interested in ethics, but he decided that questions of personal responsibility depended on our consciousness of our own actions. So he would have to figure out consciousness first. 'I’ve been stuck with this thing for most of my life,' he said." More »