Two important secular compassion training programs have been developed
at Stanford and Emory Universities. Each of these programs derives largely from the mind-training tradition of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. It is widely assumed that compassion is a good thing and that, by extension, such programs are therefore good. However, much more systematic attention needs to be directed towards the specific challenges of teaching compassion from a secular perspective. Some of these challenges include: (1) providing teachers with the institutional support they need to carry out this work; (2) providing students with supports necessary in the development of compassion (analogous to the sangha concept in Buddhism); (3) assessing the effectiveness of compassion training; (4) assessing possible risks of compassion training; (5) incorporating the “wisdom” aspects of compassion into secular programs; and (6) facilitating the development of equanimity and gratitude in the absence of Buddhist concepts. Each of these challenges will be explored.

Dent Gitchel

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

MORE

MENU