Written by Sarah Caplan.
Last April, my meditation group attended an event at Stanford University entitled “Conversations on Compassion with Sharon Salzberg.” Sponsored by Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) and hosted by the center’s founder and director, Dr. James Doty, it was one of a number of free public talks that have included the Dalai Lama, Amma, and Thich Nhat Hanh. What stayed with me afterwards was a feeling of gratitude; how fortunate for those of us who live near Stanford to have access to these talks—and for free! I wondered how Dr. Doty, a neurosurgeon, had seemingly unfettered access to some of the spiritual luminaries of our time.
A few weeks later, I was surprised to learn that Dr. Doty and I were parents of children who go to the same school. I shared with him my interest in Thay’s teachings and he told me that he had recently attended the Pope’s summit to end slavery with Sister Chan Khong and other spiritual leaders. I became even more intrigued. How did a brain surgeon become interested in compassion? How do you go from seeing the brain as a bodily organ to delving into the esoteric world of what goes on inside it?
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