Developing Global Compassion

Developing Global Compassion

A video series with the Dalai Lama and Paul Ekman

Introduction by John Cleese


Over the last decade, Dr. Paul Ekman has had the opportunity to spend close to 50 hours in one-on-one conversations with the Dalai Lama. The content from their first dialogue was published in the book Emotional Awareness. During their most recent meeting in New Delhi, India, (January 2012) they spent another 6 hours discussing compassion.

This exchange was recorded and turned into a video series called "Developing Global Compassion." You can read part of the transcribed conversation in the Dalai Lama's new book Moving Toward Global Compassion. A special thank you to John Cleese for his involvement with the Dalai Lama and participation in this project.



1. Why Global Compassion?

The 20th century saw humanity make huge advances such as the automobile and the internet. But violence and suffering remain prevalent and wide-spread. Moral principles have become corrupted in the modern world. Moral ethics must be taught through modern education.

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama define global challenges that affect us and how to begin to answer those challenges. They identify what unites every human being and how to introduce change and move closer towards global compassion.

Link to the research paper cited in this webisode.

2. The Five Targets of Compassion

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama examine the relationship between a calm mind and warm-heartedness. They also examine the necessary conditions for compassion. They create a syllabus of warm-heartedness: with love and respect, little room is left for anger, hatred, or fear.

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama propose a map of emotions to cultivate a calm mind, and best employ their natural intelligence. Dr. Ekman describes the distinctions of compassion and how they may provide specific paths to global compassion.

3. Understanding Unbiased Compassion

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama examine the different types of compassion and the importance of unbiased compassion.

For true compassion, practice of detachment is required. True compassion is not only extended to your friends, but your enemies as well.

Watch the Dalai Lama break down the difference between biased and unbiased compassion. Find out the pathway towards unbiased compassion for all living beings.

4. Proximal and Distal Compassion

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama compare and contrast proximal and distal compassion.

Dr. Ekman recalls how each type of compassion was involved in raising his own children. Ekman describes how compassion can ease children's suffering now, or prevent it from happening in the future.

Learn the differences between proximal and distal compassion and how they may apply to your everyday life.

5. Darwin and Unbiased Compassion

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama examine what motivates compassion and introduce Darwin's views to the conversation.

The Dalai Lama describes genuine concern of others’ well-being should not involve one’s own interest. Buddhahood explained: to make yourself completely accessible to others.

6. Compassion Generates Joy

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama speak about Compassionate Joy – compassion that comes from helping others. They explore the foundational building blocks found in humans that push us to act compassionately.

Learn about the by-products of compassion, unlearned reinforcement, and destroying the ego.

7. Achieving Compassion Through Entertainment

Dr. Ekman discusses the need for new shows and games for children, ages 5-15, that emphasize collaboration, compassion, and cooperation.

As discussed in Webisode 5, distal compassion is intrinsically pleasurable to human beings. In other words we enjoy helping others and see others be helped.

The Dalai Lama and Dr. Ekman discuss potential pitfalls and the best way to begin creating entertainment for children.

8. Selfish Seed of Compassion

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama discuss the importance of educating young people about inner peace and compassion towards all people.

The Dalai Lama speaks about the connection of money, power, suspicion, and hatred. Some of humanity’s most amazing accomplishments are discussed.

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama agree compassion is a natural emotion all humans feel. While we may enjoy seeing enemies suffer, most of us feel an instinctual sense of compassion towards others’ suffering.

9. Why Do Some People Have Global Compassion?

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama explore why some people are more motivated than others to be compassion toward strangers.

The Dalai Lama explains that while we will never motivate 100% of the human population, we can still build a compassionate world.

The Dalai Lama demonstrates how global compassion must come from universal education, not religion.

10. Is Global Compassion a Genetically Based Gift?

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama examine those who are exceptionally compassionate. We call them exceptional because of how few truly selfless people are amongst us.

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama discuss how more education can produce more altruistic people and the exceptional can be come the norm.

11. The Benefits of a Calm Mind

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama discuss how strong actions can still take place when your mind is calm.

The Dalai Lama explains how the destroyer of a calm mind is fear, anger, and greed and that it blocks you from having a holistic and realistic view on things.

12. Avoiding Over-Confidence

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama discuss how a compassionate and open mind reduces inner fear as well as the fear of others.

The Dalai Lama explains how compassion training can create self-confidence and a calm mind.

13. The Seeds of Compassion

Dr. Ekman discusses how the seed of compassion, from parent to offspring, is a building block to global compassion. It’s a way for us to see the whole world as our children.

Dr. Ekman illustrates the need for a motivation and a goal for global compassion.

14. Distal vs Proximal Compassion

Dr. Ekman discusses that there doesn’t seem to be an orderly step of stages with the different targets of compassion. He mentions that people often times make the leap to global compassion with no intermediate steps.

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama discuss proximal compassion and how there are two components to the experience: the mental and the physical.

15. The Role of Intelligence of Compassion

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama discuss how human intelligence forecasts suffering and motivates distal compassion.

The Dalai Lama explains that a physician’s attitude reflects how effective their care will be.

16. Constructive Anger

The Dalai Lama explains that humans and other mammals have a sense of concern for their young rooted in biology, not religion or education.

Dr. Ekman explains that anger in itself isn’t bad, but it’s if we let the anger cause harm to others that’s bad.

17. The Intrinsic Joy of Acting Compassionately

Dr. Ekman explains although there are many levels of benefit for a compassionate act, the most important one is the one that nature has built in.

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama discuss how feeling good about doing good should be the building block and the organizing principle of life.

18. When to Educate for Compassion

Dr. Ekman and the Dalai Lama discuss that education for compassion should begin when a child is 4-5 because that’s when they are likely to be receptive.

The Dalai Lama explains how education for global compassion is crucial as compassion is seen as a sign of weakness, not as a sign of success.