On the last day of the conference, Monique de Knop shared her experience in being a top manager in the Belgian government. She dissected what wisdom in the workplace really means. Being wise it not necessarily always being gentle. Actually, it is most importantly being solid and stable. She explained how she developed her wisdom by first listening to spiritual teachings, using her meditation as a laboratory to get to know her mind, finding mental calm, contemplating actions, and the finally acting from that ethic. This personal ethic is really important in bringing wisdom in an organization, but in addition you can manifest it in your actions. When you see your workers as a potential to be developed, rather than a resource to be used, then work can be a place where you develop yourself.
Patrick Gaffney is one of the leading authorities on the contemplation and practice of compassion in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and I was lucky enough to hear him speak at the Empathy and Compassion in Society conference in London in 2012. Patrick has kindly allowed us to reproduce the text of his talk here and you can also find the video of his talk below.
Patrick regularly teaches in Europe and the USA and will be leading a five-day retreat on Cultivating Compassion in Lerab Ling, near Montpellier, France, on 5-9 March 2013.
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For the last month or so I have been reading Maureen Cooper’s fabulous new book, The Compassionate Mind Approach to Reducing Stress Reducing Stress. Combining an authentically Buddhist approach with modern scientific discoveries, this book skillfully addresses one of the most beguiling symptoms of modern life: Stress.
Doctors, Nurses and care givers of all kinds often report that they go through periods of apathy, hopelessness, anxiety and depression in response to constant exposure to human suffering. This is sometimes referred to as “Compassion Fatigue”. Even being exposed to lost of negative stories in the news can trigger symptoms in people. So what is going on?
The fourth installment of the Buddhism and Medicine series of conferences, a grand experiment bringing together Buddhist Masters, Doctors and Scientists, took place from May 31st through June 2nd at the Lerab Ling Buddhist Retreat Center in France. This year’s forum topic was “Compassion, Empathy and Health” and was attended by over 800 people.
All through my life, I’ve wished that I could reduce or eliminate the suffering that others go through. I guess this is built into the basic pre-programming that comes with being human. Most of the time this desire is in relative abeyance and I’m distracted from it, as I'm busy coping with my life. There are people in my life with a lot of pain, but I don’t think about it often as there’s nothing practical that can be done about it --- and I hate problems I want to help with but can’t do anything about! And, like all of us, I have (too) many defenses which blunt my perception of others’ suffering – that’s something I’ve needed to work with all my life.