Stanford University—under the leadership of James Doty, MD, clinical professor of neurosurgery at the university, and with the support of the Dalai Lama—has created The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. The center’s mission is to undertake a rigorous scientific study of the neural, mental and social bases of compassion and altruistic behavior, drawing from a wide spectrum of disciplines, especially neuroscience, psychology, economics and contemplative traditions; and to explore ways in which compassion and altruism can be cultivated within an individual, as well as within society, on the basis of testable cognitive and affective training exercises.
“Compassion,” according to Philipe Goldin, PhD, research scientist at Stanford University, “refers to a deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it . . . a quality of mind that embraces the responsibility to care for and act for the benefit of others. An important basis for the cultivation of compassion is the simple and profound insight that we, as individuals, do not exist independently from one another, but rather rely on this interconnectedness and interdependence for our very survival.”