Last Sunday, 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 I mentioned is Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World.
Third, if you’d like a slightly less daunting read than the 800+ pages of ‘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-focussed seeking after happiness; entirely the opposite – it is superb).
Fourth, if anyone is interested, I have created a Guided Compassion Meditation audio, based on Ricard’s guidelines, but embedded in a Christian context, together with various reflections about my own experience of the meditation practice. Should anyone be interested in speaking about this, or obtaining a copy, please let me know. If enough people are interested, we might even be able to organise a group exploration of the meditation.