Last Sunday the 14th of April 2019, I made mention of my favourite Buddhist, the magnificent Matthieu Ricard, in relation to collaborative work that he has done with neuroscientists in helping establish the field of contemplative neuroscience. I made particular reference to a key finding on the neurological and physiological differences between the experience of ‘empathy’ and ‘compassion,’ and how empathy is subject to the perils of empathic distress, empathic burnout, and exhaustion, but how compassion – which can be taught through meditative practice – has no such limitation, but is instead energising, and has the capacity to build human resilience over time. I thought it would be worthwhile to provide a few references.
First, Ricard gives an excellent TED Talk entitled How to let altruism be your guide. (https://www.ted.com/talks/matthieu_ricard_how_to_let_altruism_be_your_guide?language=en).
Second, the title of the book by Ricard that I mentioned is Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World. (You can even get it in Kindle format from Amazon.com.au.)
Third, if you’d like a slightly less daunting read than the 800+ pages of Ricard’s Altruism, then I can highly recommend his book, Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill. (BTW, it is not, absolutely not, a navel-gazing, self-focused seeking after happiness; entirely the opposite – it is superb).
Differential pattern of functional brain plasticity after compassion and empathy training (PDF):