Written by Kamil Dada.

It turns out that even after 60 years of meditating and practicing compassion, the Dalai Lama still has much spiritual learning to do.

“Even now, I cannot say my spiritual experience is something very high,” he said, laughing. “It is a little above zero. So it takes a lot of years.”

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, admitted as much to approximately 1,500 eager listeners in Memorial Auditorium on Friday. He said he started meditating when he was about 15 years old. He gradually began more “serious practice and study” when he was in his late 20s and 30s, and began reaching “deeper levels” in his 50s and 60s.

The head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet, now 75, engaged Stanford professors at a Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) conference, which aimed to tease out the neurobiological underpinnings of compassion and altruism. Professors had 10 minutes each to present their emerging findings from experimental research in psychology, neurosciences and the emerging field of neuro-economics.

Brian Knutson, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, kicked off the day with a review of his work using fMRI to identify brain pathways involved in the exercise of compassion.

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