SCIENCE: A measure of compassion
Can Tibetan Buddhist practitioners demonstrate positive physiological effects from compassion meditation? Does their level compassion during ethical decision-making increase? Do they exhibit more compassionate behavior in daily life? To try and answer these questions, eleven Western Tibetan Buddhist practitioners from Land of Medicine Buddha in northern California were selected to test several hypotheses. [Mandala September 2002].
Researchers Lobsang Rapgay, Ph.D., and Albert Erdynast, D.B.A., believe that the results of the study suggest that deliberately inducing a compassionate state does not necessarily mean that compassionate behavior follows. So meditating on compassion alone may not result in developing the full scope and depth of compassion.
“A person can induce compassion via meditation, and may also manifest compassion toward others under certain circumstances, such as when they are in a place of power, that is, as a teacher with students. However, the individual may have difficulty in manifesting compassion such as in challenging circumstances and may avoid any personal conflict or risk in such situations,” the report said.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche trained the subjects in compassion practice in a weekend retreat. Ven. Sarah Thresher prepared a text, which outlined, step-by-step, eleven combined phases of the altruistic attitude practice. The researchers provided the guidelines, and the subjects practiced daily for twenty minutes for the next three months. The researchers then applied physiological measures and presented the eleven people with ethical behavior questionnaires, comparing results with another subject pool of graduates and professionals…