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16503Re: [Meditation Society of America] New Center At Stanford To Study Brain's Role In Compassion, Altruism

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  • krishnan sundaram
    Jan 23, 2009
      Compassion can never be found in a non-vegetarian.

      --- On Sat, 24/1/09, medit8ionsociety <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
      From: medit8ionsociety <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: [Meditation Society of America] New Center At Stanford To Study Brain's Role In Compassion, Altruism
      To: meditationsocietyofamerica@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Saturday, 24 January, 2009, 12:29 AM

      New Center At Stanford To Study Brain's
      Role In Compassion, Altruism
      23 Jan 2009

      A new Center for Compassion and Altruism
      Research and Education has been launched
      at the Stanford University School of Medicine,
      with the aim of doing scientific research on
      the neural underpinnings of these thoughts and feelings.

      His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso,
      provided $150,000 in seed money for the center-the
      largest sum he has ever given for a scientific
      venture-and has agreed to return to Stanford for
      a future visit, according to Geshe Thupten Jinpa,
      a translator for the Dalai Lama.

      The center is the brainchild of Jim Doty, MD,
      a clinical professor of neurosurgery who recently
      returned to Stanford after a period of
      entrepreneurship, and neurologist William Mobley,
      MD, PhD, the John E. Cahill Family Professor in
      the School of Medicine. Doty is the director of
      the center, which is housed within the Stanford
      Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences,

      The impetus for the center began in November 2005,
      when the Dalai Lama visited Stanford for a dialogue
      with scientists and Buddhist scholars that was moderated by Mobley
      and focused on spiritual and scientific
      explorations of human experience in the areas
      of craving, suffering and choice.

      Following the visit by the Dalai Lama and based
      on his own experiences and interest in these
      areas, Doty initiated informal meetings with a
      number of Stanford scientists including Mobley,
      who is co-director of the center; Brian Knutson,
      PhD, associate professor of psychology; and Gary
      Steinberg, MD, PhD, professor and chair of
      neurosurgery, in an effort to spur rigorous
      scientific research in mind/brain interactions
      focused on compassion and altruism. He also
      connected with University of Oregon neuroeconomist
      Bill Harbaugh, PhD, who examines altruistic
      giving using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

      In March 2008, a delegation from Stanford flew
      to Seattle, where the Dalai Lama was attending a
      conference related to compassion. On hearing from
      the Stanford group about the goals of the planned
      center and the pilot studies under way, the Dalai
      Lama agreed to a return visit to Stanford and s
      pontaneously volunteered the $150,000 donation
      to spur continuing exploration in this area.

      This event marked the transition from what was
      initially an informal gathering of like-minded
      scientists to the formal creation of the center
      by medical school Dean Philip Pizzo.

      "As a neurosurgeon, I can only affect a few
      patients each day," Doty said. "Through the
      activities of the center, we have the potential
      to impact thousands to millions of people to
      live fuller and more positive lives."

      The center has now raised more than $2 million
      in donations and has initiated a number of
      pilot studies, some involving Buddhist and
      Catholic contemplative practitioners. For example,
      brain-imaging studies have demonstrated a burst
      of activity in an area of the brain known as
      the nucleus accumbens when these practitioners
      think compassionate thoughts. The center is also
      examining individuals' response to the suffering
      of others, which can be either disgust or recognition
      of another's suffering, followed by empathy and
      a desire to take action (this is signaled by
      activation of the prefrontal cortex, the seat of
      initiation of motor movement).

      Questions the center wishes to address, Doty
      said, include:

      - Is it possible to create a set of mental
      exercises that individuals can be taught to
      make them more compassionate without them
      having to spend thousands of hours in meditation
      (common for Buddhist monks)?

      - Is there an explanation for why a child becomes a bully?

      - Are there ways in which children or their
      parents can be taught to be more compassionate?

      - Can we create a set of exercises that will address
      the issue of "compassion fatigue" in clergy and
      hospital personnel?

      - Would such training benefit prison inmates to
      decrease violence and recidivism?

      - Is there a place for such training in the corporate
      environment to decrease the incidence of depression
      and anxiety in workers?

      The center is also sponsoring a symposium, slated
      for March, that will bring together a multidisciplinary
      group of scientists from around the world. Attendees
      will include philosophers, contemplative scholars,
      psychologists, developmentalists, primatologists,
      neuroeconomists and neuroscientists working in the
      area of compassion and altruism research.

      Doty brings a unique perspective on altruism to
      the center. At one point, he accumulated a $75
      million fortune, part of which he committed as a
      multimillion- dollar pledge to Stanford University.
      But following the dot-com meltdown, Doty was $3
      million in debt even after liquidating essentially
      all of his assets.

      To honor his charitable commitments, he sold his
      only remaining asset: stock in Accuray Inc., a
      publicly traded company he had previously headed
      as CEO. This allowed Doty to fulfill pledges of
      $5.4 million to the university and another $20
      million to other charities. Part of his Stanford
      donation is being used to fund the center.

      The center is located at 1215 Welch Road (Module B/room 55). More
      information is available at the center's Web site at
      http://compassion. stanford. edu.

      Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical
      education and patient care at its three institutions - Stanford
      University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile
      Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please
      visit the Web site of the medical center's Office of Communication &
      Public Affairs at http://mednews. stanford. edu.

      Stanford University Medical Center
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      Article URL: http://www.medicaln ewstoday. com/articles/ 136540.php

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