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Join the International Conference on: How Might We Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion?

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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Thupten Jinpa


Thupten Jinpa


"Thupten Jinpa has been a principal English translator to His Holiness the Dalai Lama since 1985. He is a Visiting Research Scholar at Stanford's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education where he has played an instrumental role in the development of our compassion training program."






  • 00:00 Introduction

  • (transcription pending)

  • (Video Transcriptions: If you would like to take empathic action and create a transcription of this video, check the volunteers page.  The transcriptions will make it easier for other viewers to quickly see the content of this video.)

10/14/2011 - Compassion Curriculum Ė An interview with Geshe Thupten Jinpa

"Inquiring Mind: Compassion training speaks to such a profound need in the world. How did this secular program come about?

THUPTEN JINPA: A group from Stanford went to see His Holiness [Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama] to bring him a proposal for establishing a center for research and education in compassion and altruism. After a long discussion, His Holiness made a generous offer of quite a substantial donation to seed the program and said, "I have two requests: Whatever science you do, make sure that it is impeccable from a scientific standard. And secondly, whatever program you develop for teaching compassion, make sure it is completely secularized and universalizable. No back-door Buddhism."




Conversations on Compassion: Thupten Jinpa, PhD
"Thupten Jinpa has been a principal English translator to His Holiness the Dalai Lama since 1985. He has translated and edited more than a dozen books by the Dalai Lama including the New York Times bestseller Ethics for the New Millennium (Riverhead, 1999), Transforming the Mind (Thorsons, 2000 ), and Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality (Morgan Road Books, 2005). Jinpa's own works include Self, Reality and Reason in Tibetan Philosophy and Mind Training"



 "Nature, Origins & Developments of Compassion: from a Buddhist Understanding" Thupten Jinpa,



    • Translator fo Dalai Lama

    • Co Founder CCARE

    • etc

Joy to be part of this conversation. Multidisciplinary nature of the gathering is rewarding and fulfilling.

Presentation from the Buddhist perspective. The scientists are the new kid on the block in this field of research. Particularly Buddhism has been interested in human psychology for a long time. Buddha can be seen as one of the earliest psychologists in the human world. Buddhists are trying to understand how we get to enlightenment. They understand that it is knowledge of the reality of our mental world that gets us there. We live in a world that we create, so understanding the nature of the mind is central to that.


Buddhism interested in human psychology.

Interested in the mechanics of getting to enlightenment.

04.00 Mind and Life institute is a platform where scientists can engage deeply with contemplative practices.

Scientist can engage with Buddhists in 2 areas

    • contemplative practices  - training of compassion

    • Buddhists mapping of the mind.

5:50  Will talk about

    • what is compassion?  How does Buddhism understand compassion as a natural phenomenon?

    • Process of meditation

    • Q and A

6:30 What is compassion?

    • (karuna) traditional buddhism: compassion is a mental state - endowed with a sense of concern - that focuses on another being and wishes for that being to be relieved of suffering.

      • Affective or emotional component - a feeling of concern

      • Cognitive component -  perception of other's suffering

      • Motivational component - wishing to  see that suffering relieved

    • Modern researchers on compassion speak of three elements of compassion

      • 1. noticing otherís suffering

      • 2 empathically feeling the personís pain

      • 3. acting to ease the suffering -  (this is less in the Buddhist tradition)

    • multifaceted process and not a basic emotion

    • higher order level

  • 10:24  a sense of caring - we instinctively posses

  • 11:45 What compassion is not?

    • look at multiple models

    • we donít have all the contructs

    • look at all the models of compassion

    • compassion not pity (near enemy)

    • compassion not attachment  (self regard)

    • compassion is not the same as empathic feeling of otherís pain

  • 13:45 There is a lot of muddlement between empathy, compassion, altruism. need greater clarity. at least for theoretical constructs

    • compassion is not conditional

    • compassion is not self-regarding

  • 15:30 Buddhist compassion cultivation practice

    • cultivating deeper sensitivity to nature of suffering, casual dynamics,

    • cultivating equanimity - common humanity

    • cultivating others as dear - need to be able to make a connection

    • cultivating interconnectedness

    • cultivating gratitude

    • ďin the field of equanimity, with loving kindness as moisture, the seed of compassion grows into a tree of true altruism.Ē

  • 22:00  capacity to feel for others is inborn

    • sentient creatures feel pain

    • with training can widen compassion

    • heart of compassion is to relieve others suffering

    • highest form of compassion -

  • 24:30 Donít get too attached to definitions and constructs

    • seems 3 kinds of altruism definition

      • psychologists, buddhist, philosophers

        • motivation is important feature

      • neuroscientists,  biologist, Zoologists

        • defined independently of motivation

  • 26:50 List of questions

    • does empathy always arises through the empathy route ?

    • compassion fatigue/ empathy fatigue?

Thupten Jinpa