« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#219 — The Power of Compassion

2020-10-08 | 🔗

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with James R. Doty about his memoir “Into the Magic Shop.” They discuss the significance of childhood stress, the possibility of changing one’s core beliefs about oneself, the relationship between surgeons and their patients, the nature of compassion, the Dalai Lama, the relationship between wealth and empathy, the worsening problem of social inequality, the physiology of compassion, the broken healthcare system in the U.S., and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Look into the maidens has bought Cast SAM Harris, just a no to say that if your hearing this, you are not currently honour subscriber feed and will only be hearing partial episode with pocket. If you'd like access to full episodes, you'll need to subscribe. Sam Herriston work, there you'll find our private rss feed dad your favorite pod catcher, along with other subscriber only content and as always, never want money to be. The reason why someone catalyst pocket, if you can't afford us, there's an option in Samara, STAT Ordereth, West, a free account and we grant a hundred percent of those required. No question tat: Ok, no housekeeping today, I will jump right into it today. Speaking with James Dodi James professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford University and then
rector of the centre for compassion and altruism research and education. He is also a fella opposed to his funded health clinics throughout the world. and his endowed scholarships and chairs at multiple universities and the others on the board of a number of non profit and You're. Here he has a very unusual background. He, and real poverty and A number of challenges by no means guaranteed to succeed in life, but as you can hear, he has accomplished quite a lot. So we talk about how he did that and how we might better understand and facilitate the human capacity to overcome obstacles and bring more compassion into our lives? And generally make the world a better place and now bring you James doubted
I'm here with James Dodi, Jim thanks for joining us play, should be with you. Thanks for having me. Spend a lot of time. Talking about how you came to be the gym Dodi, whose whose now speaking with me like tat, Tell me how you summarised, Sir, what Europe do now. I may up Festive neurosurgery at Stanford, probably more germane for our conversation yes, I'm the founder and director of the centre for compassion and altruism It is part of the school of medicine and of which the dialogue is actually the founding benefactor I am also an inventor an entrepreneur and philanthropists at times, and I have really an interest actually an what drives people to be good. If you will ok. Well, let's begin at the beginning, you ve written very poignant memoir into the magic shop which
where's, your childhood, which really is not the usual childhood or I can only imagine, if not the usual childhood. For someone who who has the breadth of your your life experience at point five and eight your memoirs out. It's almost like a fairy tale of challenges and interest. It entails an incredible amount of straw ass in the earliest years, your father was an alcoholic. Your mother was clinically depressed and often suicidally depressed, and then you had this trend affirmation based on an encounter, you had in a magic shop literally a magic shop. So let's talk about how you began this journey of yours in life. How would you describe your I've had an and what happened in the MAGIC shop sure well
of course, when a child grows up in poverty with a father who is now a mother whose had a stroke, peril partially paralyzed clinically depressed the big factor is that in some ways, you're in a war zone all the time, because you never know what's going to happen- and I wouldn't whether my father was going to not come home, or come home, drunk. or whether I would commend from school and my mother be passed out from an overdose. I would have to call an ambulance. So, of course, when you grow up in that type of an environment, it's clean chaotic and, as you know, there's something called adverse childhood experiences, and this is essentially a technique where you sort of collect these Instead, a child lives were growing up. Poverty. Drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, etc, and
The higher the number, the less likely that child is going to. If you will succeed by sidle norms and more likely that the child themselves will have drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness, and a variety of other obvious negative events happened in their life and two at the age of twelve, I was filled with hopelessness, despair, anger and obvious those affected me and in fact I was becoming a juvenile delinquency, and I had had an interest in magic in what would happen is when an event would happen at home. That was not strictly plus and I would get on my stingray biking right as far away as past- full and on one of those adventures I have,
by a Strip mall and at the strip. Mall was a magic store and which I went into, and the thing was that when I walked in, of course, my It was a magic in the store and there was a woman sitting there who had long flowing gray, hair and her glass, it's on the Tipp of her nose and a chain around two classes. Reading a paper back and she looked up at me and she had this. really extraordinarily radiant smile, and I asked about the magic that I wasn't stood in and she said. Well, I don't know anything about this. This is my son, Tor, I'm just here for the summer, but this let us really to a conversation that ended up being quite deep and one frankly, which I wasn't used to and the reason the conversation happened was because this is a person who made
feel psychologically safe? I wasn't fearful of her. I wasn't fearful that I was being judged injection spoke to me as if I was an equal and that my opinion actually meant something which, for a child from my background, was somewhat unusual. Yes, so what will talk about meditation and compassion, and they all of these interests that you you and I have in common and Europe. Obviously your connection to, training the mind was initially aided in in this dialogue with with in the magic shop. But what she is teaching. You was not in some ways. It was kind of his standard. Meditation practices, but in other ways it it wasn't. How would you summarize what she taught you there will? I think there were four
send, and I have to tell you I mean when she offered of appear to the six weeks to meet with me and if you well trained me, which isn't really what she. All that, but I actually you know had some concerns you. about showing up- and I showed up because I had self awareness or inside. I showed up because she was giving me cookies and frankly had actually nothing else to do, but I did show up and the first thing she taught me, which is a technique that now we would call a body survey and an a breathing technic and I did not appreciate that when you're stressed in your anxious and your mind, is all over the place that with intentioned doing this technique of relaxing the body and then slowly, breathing Annan really
Senor Breath really had a profound physiological fact. This was a nineteen sixty, eight and, of course terms like mindful. Sir meditation or narrow plasticity who are certainly not commonly used at all. And after a few weeks of doing this practice, I felt in some way much calmer and it was interesting because While the first few weeks, I didn't really noticed anything as I did it more. I did notice something, and but one of the things I was having challenges with, was as I did this and sat with my own site, once. I would have this negative dialogue going on in my head, and it was one
that said, I wasn't good enough- I wasn't smart enough, etc, etc. And what she explained to me was that that dialogue was not truth and that negative commentary. If you will sticks to us because there, the thanks it potentially put it at risk and that in fact, that negative commentary could be changed, and this is what she called training the mind came in the mind, and basically it's what It would now call self compassion. This technique that has been advocated by Chris Enough and others to become yourself. I realized that I
always beating myself up and blaming myself for my situation and so with that technique, and she described it as listening to a radio station. If you will let you could change it, I changed it from one of negativity to one of self affirmation and self acceptance and that, in fact, I was worthy. I to tell people that when you make these types of negative comments to yourself it's as if you're lane, these breaks down that are creating a self imposed, prison and very much giving your power away or agency away to change thanks in your life, because every time you say I can't it's not possible. Three quality. Is that and I did not- even understand that at the time and so by chain chain
That dialogue was extraordinarily helpful to me for a couple reach Hence one is many of us have a shadow self that we don't want to admit to, and thanks are we don't like about ourselves things that discuss this about ourselves, our failings and for many people they have. tendency to try to push it away from them are hiding somewhere and, doesn't go away and, in fact, when your trouble there have difficulties. That's when it shows itself- and this is where you can related to addiction when you're particularly stressed that addiction comes out, and so she taught me, to accept that as a part of me and don't deny it and just be aware of it. And the other thing is that, because I was so critical of myself, It made me hypercritical of everything and everyone around me, and what
found. Is that because of When I interact with others or try to accomplish something I would take a negative view of it and when I didn't pritchett- is that human beings, have this unique ability to intuit emotional states from facial expressions voice, intonation body habit us even smells? And when you carry yourself in that fashion? people don't want to be around you or they shy away or they're, not open and they're, not generous, and as a result. What I tell people is that when I changed how I looked at I myself am It changed how the world interacted with me. The other side effect of that was
that I cared a lot of anger and hostility towards my personal situation, my parents and, of course that was not fruitful and anyway. and what happened was that I was able to see them in a much different way. I saw them as shoe and beans who had their own pain and suffering and the tools that they, I had to deal with them, were not effective at all. You know hiding your pain behind alcohol, or you know taking pills to get rid of the pain and hoping that it would keep it away
helpful and I in some ways for gave them and accepted the situation, not trying to hope the situation would be different and that change and perspective, which I think is important love. These practices is really very, very important which he taught something else in the magic shop which are e on the surface can sound pretty. ok and AIDS, in line with what you just described. Naturally, in terms changing your concept of yourselves, whom she asked you list what you want in life and to visualize yourself have inanimate truly inhabit the person who already has these things, whether great wealth or a great success, or you had a list of things which was fairly adorable for a twelve year old, including have an abortion, a rolex. But if you want
you to not see it from the outside, but really see it from the inside and to practice this visualization. Is it really? This is a fait accompli, you're guaranteed to arrive at the desired station in life, and what you need to do now is inhabit the new psychology of that and make it real for yourself and eat as you walk a line in your description of this. That is to my eye on on the right side of a rational here, because it there's a rat no way to understand how this can benefit a person, but it could also just Tipp into sounding like the secret. I don't know if you remember that that book and that movie the movie by the name that is the appropriate target of opprobrium at the center of new age irrationality. But the idea that, if you just visualize things were think it's true or assert that it's true it will become true weather. So you know and in wealth or losing weight or anything else, but did strive to me how you think about the power of visual
eyes in certain outcomes and were how that eight enforces change in ones. basic neurology or ones associated Behaviour and the kinds of new opportunities that present themselves in life sure I think you're right. I will be frank with you. I am not a fan of the secret or the celestin prophecies, etc. You know, I don't believe that there's a magic external power and we just need to tap into it, and everything will be wonder, What I do believe and in some way, as I said earlier, is that each of us has extraordinary power. We just don't realize it and you know, negative self dialogue limits that power. What sheet me and when I realise is that when you.
Utilise your senses, and I think we see this now sport, psychology, no people, think about the athletic event they're going to do over and over and over again and the reality is as an example been shown in a variety of studies that, when you think about ass an example lifting waits, you actually increase too. Small degree, your muscle mass just by thinking about it and when you repeat something in your head over and over and over again It starts setting down neural pathways, when you utilise all your senses. To do that, you write a town, he read it, you verbal eyes, it you think about it, etc, etc. then I would say that if there is a possibility of it happening, that is the best techniques to help that manifest and I'll give you an interesting example.
As a neurosurgeon. Of course, I see a lot of patients who have read of conditions, but most the pay Can you see me? I will say something like while doktor ever heard of that and then I see them a few months later. Let go you know it's the most amazing thing since we talked about. I found that I have that I've run into five people who in fact do have that and the reason is because you have put a subconscious primer out there and there are now a tune to that and in many ways this is like the technique. That route taught me I put in to my subconscious this idea. This possibility this potential opportunity and then I am at tuned two events that will allow that to occur. I don't know if you ve seen the book A guy named Bob niece. It's called the power fifty bets now. Well
The premises as follows is that we have about the ten million sensory inputs happening every Second, but were really only able to process about fifty or a hundred, and so when you put these things into your subconscious, in some ways you are creating a folder with that sang in it that sets out there and that's one of the things that you are going to pay attention to. But it's not necessarily on a conscious level, and I think that is how you are able to have these things manner asked. But it's not, you know, praying to I power and hoping it happens there, Finally, a process here- and you know if you
Look at the placebo, a fact. If you look at how different individuals are able to make things happen. As an example, of course, we know monks who can control their heart rate or their body temperature. All of these things are available to us. It's, how do you get access to it and what the best way to get access to it to have it manifest here. Was it there's a fact here which explains alot of this. and he said, the brain on some level doesn't know the difference between what it's real and what is merely a simulation and of the brain is a kind of simulation machine and the dreaming, brain and waken brain share a fair amount of real estate, apart from their frontal reality testing mode, can it goes off line when you're dreaming, visualize, something vividly is not nothing
the brain right. It is you training, something and many levels of this phenomenon, we can witness you some deliver. in sum not a minute change. You noticed in your patient ate it. Everyone has noticed it in their lives when they decide their they're. Looking for a new car or they're, looking for a new anything that class of objects in the world suddenly become super salient to them and are noticing that brand of car that type of dog or or anything else, They have suddenly become interested in their noticing that thing everywhere and it looks like there's been a change in the frequency in the world, but no is just you're just filtering based on that clasp information. It should very easy to see how negative self concepts become a kind of self fulfilling price if you think, you're the kind of person who isn't good at party his can't socialize effectively with people a person who no one likes. While, if that's yourself
you can imagine just what you're ramifying in relationship with people out in the world and the way that become self perpetuating end. The opposite obviously can become the case and watch you describe. then as a practice of seizing the reins deliberately and joy, starting a virtuous cycle of self fulfilment interest. Changing this yourself concept No, I think that's exactly right in and you know what so unfortunate is that this is free and available to everyone, and what's unfortunate is, as you point out, people get into these cycles. Of these negative emotional states and ruminate on them and again, unfortunately, it just reinforces that again, I was fortunate in that with Ruth Intervene. Can a few well that changed everything and at me, it may see tee.
issue, wasn't me the issue was mine. negative self talk, and once I got over that in truly believed, if you will of infinite possibilities than that allowed a whole series of events, to happen. Also, then you went on to go to college Probable is that seemed given your back, ground at a really did seem improve but even even with all your visualization, you barely got an apple, patient in hand, and then you not only will went to college. You went on to become a nun surgeon? Let's talk for a few minutes about the choice. Become a neurosurgeon. I actually I have a as you know, a phd in neuroscience, but I dont know too many neuro surgeons well, then I know a few, but in terms of actual friends or neurosurgeon So what I know about the culture of noise, Surgery is, from the
outside of our memory. In this book, a while back, when the air hits your brain have you ever read s book by yardstick How faithfully he captures the culture, but he really does paint the culture of neural. Surgeons, as I could have culture of slingers and frat boys. It seems to be a spy multi that so lax for a kind of high tech asked her own arrogance and you you and you are, you know, certainly in your residency as you were ahead, visualization were actually working, there was a fair amount of arrogance. They came on line for you. Tell me what it was like to become a neurosurgeon and how you view that field of expertise. Well, I would say that over the last number of years, the that has changed somewhat, but But you're you're right I mean this is a group of people and who are comforter ball
with somebody's life in their hands, realising that false move can destroy someone's life and work, Fat power in some ways for many people comes a sense of arrogance and a belief of infallibility an term, and so, of course, the system selects for those type a people the other interesting thing about it is, of course not only draft be intelligent. Hopefully you have good judgment and technical abilities. That's not always the case, but the thank for many of these people because most decided they were gonna, be a neurosurgeon. I mean literally in high school, lower early in college, and it was the driving force that made them want to be a nurse Surgeon. My
situation was quite a bit different in that I was actually interested in plastic surgery specifically and caring for children who had cranial. Facial deformities and I thought, being a neurosurgeon would be helpful for that. I realized I some tat interested in general surgery, which is usually the path to them to a fellowship and plastic surgery. So I was, if you will very late to the game, and it was never a burning desire of mine to be a neurosurgeon for the typical reasons, so my view I was somewhat different, but I would also suggest its next ordinarily demanding specialty- and I tell people if there is actually no they now you can imagine yourself doing that's great become a neurosurgeon. Otherwise, if there's anything that end shoe beyond that. You should do that.
As this is a lot hours and hours of training. I'm a neurosurgery is now seven years, certainly if you're going into academics or many people just regardless to a fellowship of one thousand two hundred and twenty two three years, she now tended ten years down the road from college and it's a specialty that requires intense focus, an immense amount of diligence and, frankly, heartache. Nothing is you no more painful than to have to tell someone that their loved one either is devastated. Dennett survive. You were unable to do what you're going to do now interest Lee. I know colleagues who, for them those types of statements are just another day at work and in like in our water on a ducks back for me. I take it much more
personally yeah. I can hear so you I wanted to ask you about that, because you have, as it were now get into the topic of compassion. And I was wondering how much your experience as a surgeon which really. Again from the outside any kind of surgeon. Beggar, Neuro surgeons may be the ultimate example of this and as a pdf. trick neurosurgeon and went one of your age that begin any of her memoirs puts us in the o, where you are operating on. in tumor in a child you can imagine having those conversations with parents who are understandably in extremism, is the height of a fear, of uncertainty before surgery and obviously, in those cases where it goes well, it has to be a Jew a second to none, but one.
doesn't go well. That has to be truly heroin. We'll just raised topic that I was wondering about. If compare, in that way will we need to talk about compassion, define it and differentiated from other states mine, but before we get there, I'm just wondering compassion is the only toy you need to navigate moments like add or if, if there's somethin less ideal- and I can imagine, there's there's almost day kind of Evelyn Door, fortuitous psychotic say that comes online for many surgeons, whereas you see like this is just the job right. You can't take this to heart every time or even generally, because this will destroy you, your moved around too much by the outcomes here and it sounds like some surgeons. Do this to a fall they're gonna check out emotionally
around the reality of the situation, for the parents are further patience. Had he view the range of emotions that are ideal in this circumstance. And how do you have you navigate that? Well at it interesting because it is, a broad range. There's a subset of people who frankly may beyond the Asperger Spectrum, who there are great technicians there. They know the literature, etc, etc. Have no emotional connection and it is a job and they do the job and then they're gone. And, of course, if your talk about a doctor patient relationship, there isn't one. And I have even heard people say well, I know he and I was not very nice and his abrupt and press can Erika basically surgeon. Okay, and then you have the other extreme, where some
once highly engaging very sensitive and connected and suffers with you, but the key is to be able to understand the limits of your abilities, and as long as you can tell yourself I prepared into the best. I can then there's no more of a discussion. That's all you can do in your. ok, and I think in my mind, of course, that would be the ideal situation. As in my book, I talked about a woman who was up. Singer, who had an aneurysm, which is a delegation of blood vessel in the brain near her speech area and asked me to operate on her, and by this time she had seen a few other people. We had become friends and when I had the aneurysm exposed and real
literally a truly was about to rupture. You could see the blood swirling in in the end, because it was so it was paper thin and dirt. That moment I started thinking about her versus the technical aspects of doing a job and my hand started shaken to the point where I had to stop and actually go into a meditation too, essentially become a technician, and just place, my emotional connection there, her out of the picture, and once I was able to do that, I was a then able to effectively treat her and she did fine and that's really one of the few instances where Connecting with their humanity does not allow you to do your job, and that is a job of being a technician.
Well, let's talk about it and I think I do want to touch on your than the others. of your career where you ve been entrepreneur and someone who is in a row. the company and had got it interesting, adventures in in wealth what jumped to that. After that, we talk about compassion, and how you came to focus on it and just what it is man. How did compassion first become a primary focus of yours and what is it? How do you think about it as a mental state. capacity. Well, on some level, I it was always there. I just in quite understand what it meant, but what had happened was at one point I had left Stanford and I had been intimately involved withstand pretence. I think ninety seven, but I had left to run an entrepreneur company than the dot com crisis came and are you
to consult for setting up, if you will narrow science centres of excellence and went to a hospital in Mississippi and ultimately agreed to actually go there to build this programme for them. But during that time I had an experience with say a child who was not cared for adequately and s resolve had an infection in his brain and an abscess and his parents waited too long to bring him in and he even with my best efforts. He died. But it put me into a period of reflection about all of these things and when I went back to Stanford I decided to explore this a little more and try to understand it and term interests daintily, when I initially talk to my colleagues at Stanford in psychology she and neuroscience science. Actually, I was told that the academic
exploration of compassion, was a dead end and that if anyone made that the centre of their academic endeavours, they were not gonna, go very far. Fortunate thing was that I had some financial resources which allowed me to fun what we initially called project compassion, which brought a group of psychologists and neuroscience this together and we started the journal club looking at the literature and then did some studies and real
It was evident that actually, these practices- or, if you will the nature of compassion, was quite profound in regard to how it affects your emotional state, how it can affect your physiology and a whole variety of both brain and peripheral physiology measures, and this led to the creation of ultimately of compassion, cultivation training programme, which we did some studies on and also, I think, led to some interesting studies enter and then, of course, over time, and I think if you look over the last twelve to fifteen years, this idea of the importance of compassion, combined with are already significant interest in mindfulness practices. Really is one of the things that are at the forefront
and years and years ago, when we started this, you would talk about compassion and for many people it was completely poo pooed, especially by the corporate community. Cousins, looked as a form of weakness and people run over you if you're too nice, if you're compassionate- and I think now people recognize that it is in fact Extranar powerful? Yes, let us talk about what the mental state is cause. It often conflated with empathy And sympathy and pity- and it needs to be differentiated even from something to integral to it, with something like a loving kindness. They also get operational eyes differently in different studies. Show that the neuroscience, as far as I can tell us too little fuzzy, because some study the Danone Irreconcilable ways miss some ass people just to generate the state of loving kindness, essentially
without any stimuli and in some present subjects with images of human suffering to which they they re bond and and sell it, and I think that the list my view, the generic definition of compassion is loving kindness in the presence of suffering where it worse or South humans of rain or animal suffering is taken as its object and it includes this desire, this motivation to alleviate the suffering of others. It has it. Things, bundled, and here it is directly cognizant of suffering. So it has a kind of cognitive empathy, but it doesn't have the same kind of emotional contagion. It's not like your sad when the odd of your compassion. The sad or your depressed, when the object of your compassion is depressed, is at the highly pro social and and even pie
it of emotion and is not more bet. It's not a state of collapse, you're not feeling diminished, psychologically by proximity to the suffering of others in faggots and expand. the state that has the feeling tone of loving kindness. But it has this extra top spin of wanting to respond to the suffering of others, I alleviating it in that says yeah. I think you're exactly right eye I think it. You know if you were to make a a graph and you put agency an effort on one and you put your stand and engage mommy. Other sort of leave downward left corner would be pity This is I'm sorry for you, or, and its
terribly related to I'm superior to you. I appreciate your situation. It has nothing to do with empathy or anything else. It simply has to do with your recognise in it and it you know you feel bad for them, but doesn't reply imply you're going to do anything for them, while sympathy is less than empathy its eye on a cognitive level, if you will understand, the ear and pain, and I feel for you, but it requires no agency per se, while empathy is actually you know taking on the emotional state of another air
but it has no valence sick. Can you can have impassive joy and that can feel very good or, as Machu Ricard will describe, whose a buddhist monk who I'm sure you probably know he says when you know I take on pain and feel for the others pain. It is so painful myself that I can barely stand at. The compassion is different in the sense that it is associated with suffering. It requires should take on that emotional state, but you have very strong motivational desire to alleviate that suffering. And I think that's really. The key there is that you are motivated to alleviate the suffering,
I trust, daintily Gmail Zackie, who wrote a book on kindness recently says empathy is the same as compassion or he uses them interchangeably. He- and I have had some discussions about that, but I think some people do have a tendency to use that but I would not use it that way. He added the terminology here is uncertain that even my friend Paul bloom could write a book against empathy. Differentiating two different types of empathy, and one of which I agree with him is not a good guide for moral deliberation wishes they again just more this pure emotional contagion, side of it, which has just been taken in by suffering, and feeling it as your own, but in a way that is causing you to actually not be able to respond effectively or even think rationally about what would help you know. Their problem has become your problem, and you know you,
you're you're, yet another drowning person who does know how to swim and needs to be rescued yet so then how did you get connected with? the Dalai Lama and other Buddhists, and this then yeah so, and this may sound like magical thing came I hate to do that to you. I was involved in this work, with the scientists and we had begun some initial research studies and we're thinking about having a conference, and I was walking through the Stanford Campus one day and again literally an image the Dalai Lama came into my head and frankly, I had zeroing Kristen the Dalai Lama per SE and or interesting way my wife was a huge fan and in fact she had bought tickets for us to go to an event, and I actually refused to go because in it
interest me, but for some reason, this image state in my head and I decided that it would be good to invite the Dalai Lama to this conference that we were thinking about doing and he had been at Stanford once previously discussing addiction craving, and I tracked the person Buddhist studies who had invited him and then connected him to one of his holiness translators, who had a Phd from Cambridge and term former monk and took an jumper exactly yes, enter and Jim POD then arranged for this meeting and and so at this meeting, and it's always interesting how things go, because it was just me
this idea. But when I was mainly with the Dalai Lama, we had the dean of the Medical school, the associate dean, We became an entourage and we met with him and. His holiness, as you know, was very interested in neuroscience and TAT was very, very interested in this topic. And was immediately engage in our fifteen minute. A conversation ended up on that score, shall I ended up in an hour and a half and at the end of it, he began very animated conversation with Upton Jean Paul, and I thought actually somehow irritated are made the Dalai Lama angry, which of course means a very embarrassing thing to do. Now would be a feat sir I'll, take us a feather in your cap, opposite. I have seen him angry, but at the end of this Animated dialogue jackpot turned to me, and he said
his holiness, is so moved by this effort that he wants to make a contribution, and at tat moment he made the largest donation, to non tibetan cause. He had ever made, which shocked everyone there and I was quite overwhelmed and move myself and then shortly thereafter, to other individuals made significant donations and that actually created the centre nice night and how much time have you spent around him sense of you met him on multiple occasions. Yes, actually many occasion and in different parts of the world. I've spent time with him and have chattered with him autumn. May I also became chair the Dalai Lama Foundation for several years, so I was fairly and fault with him and it's interesting because
they were turned out emotional states. I can understand why people want to be near him and in some ways, it's like what Ruth offered me, which is unconditional acceptance and love without qualification and very few people actually if that out, in an interact with them and when you're in his presence. But what I tell people as that. in modern society, which is different than how we lived a few hundred years ago, a few hundred years ago, we lived in a village. We typically had multigenerational in the village. Everyone knew you from the time you're a child, a growing up. You didn't move away. You had incredible support system, you had a community and that community is extraordinarily important to your mental and physical health.
Think and a modern society, we don't have that at all. You don't have your parents round, you don't have your siblings, you dont have loved ones in proximity, and so ass a result. We have a tendency to create these shield we carry around, which are the ones that say, I'm There are signs that I've accomplish this, etc, etc, etc. But there's no true authenticity that has ever released and when you're with somebody like the Dalai Lama, you know immediately that you were unconditionally accepted and loved, and it's really quite profound, because when that happens, it's almost as if this weight is lifted off of you and this naturally
joy and exuberance about being alive in some ways is released. And so I think you know, when you look at people who strive to be near these types of individuals. Are you can perfectly under stand? Why yet is still somewhat mysterious to explain, but it is it's a genuine Phenomenon and I have spent a lot of time with great merit asian masters and I spent some can terrible time, albeit briefly, focused over the course of a month with the Dalai Lama met him. On a number of occasions, but I strain we got to be one of his bodyguards for a for a trip through France. So he he was. He was I'd a teaching tour of France and for whatever reason I got to be part of the Buddhist Retinue. That was-
the buffer between the real security guards. When he's in France, he gave early said that point, you got their version of secret service protection, Something here he did not get in the United States is sort of like Fourg as with guns who are really protect. Member than there was this buffer of essentially students of meditate, children and young people had sat three year retreats in France with various lamas ends. There may be twelve, and, ironically Weena. We had the most conflict with the general public because we were the buffer between the real bodyguards end and the public. It was a surreal, variants to walk into a room, the more or less continually focus. don. What could go wrong, who was untrustworthy basically radiating bad vibes of of suspicion, everywhere, and to have over your shoulder the Dalai Lama, beaming unconditional exit, dense and love and just general ease
I was myself, it was a bad job and throwing out where one wanted to be in one's thinking along eyed him, but is where one had to be a me because he really does it did have security concerns an it's amazing. The number of weird people show up when his presence is announced the somewhere, but would it gave me a chance? to spend some time with him and see what it was like the again and again and again mingling with strangers of all sorts and gaze. It is a very impressive person in that way, he does have a kind of laser focus on just connecting with people. You know you know I'll, be at your very briefly: Emil walk into the lobby of a hotel and I'll be forty people. If you'd like to continue listening to this podcast you'll need to subscribe, it Samharris, DOT, org you'll, get access to all
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Transcript generated on 2020-10-09.