'21-day Compassion Challenge' launches March 6

Emory Report | March 3, 2021

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The Compassion Center at Emory invites people to recognize their capacity for compassion and learn how to practice it each day by participating in a “21-day Compassion Challenge” beginning March 6.

The Emory University Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics (the Compassion Center), with the support of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, will kick off a 21-day Compassion Challenge on Saturday, March 6.

Registration for the free course is open at CompassionShift.Emory.edu.

The challenge is designed to help people recognize their capacity for compassion and learn how to practice it each day. Over the course of three weeks, participants will progress through a series of topics that explore the transformative power of compassion. Each topic includes daily guided meditations, simple everyday actions, and reflective journaling that are completed virtually at a time convenient to the participant.

“Cultivating compassion toward self and others is the urgent need of our time,” said Lobsang Tenzin Negi, executive director of Emory University’s Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics. “Compassion is a basic capacity of the human heart that helps us live in harmony with ourselves, with others and with our planet. It is our hope that people around the world will accept the challenge to devote some time during the 21 days exploring the ways that compassion can create the conditions for a more peaceful and just world, so that our planet and its residents flourish.”

The Challenge begins on March 6 at 10:30 a.m. with a Facebook Live celebration on the Compassion Shift Facebook page. The day’s events include live, guided meditations in multiple languages with facilitators from around the world; panel discussions featuring well-known experts; entertainment; and inspirational messages from His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, actor Richard Gere and others.

The 21-day Compassion Challenge is part of a new initiative of Emory’s Compassion Center called The Compassion Shift. Designed to promote an understanding of the nature and benefits of compassion, the Compassion Shift works to advance a global culture of compassion through educational programs tailored to all sectors of society including education, health care, business and human services. The program is supported by the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation.

The Compassion Shift launched on December 8, 2020, with a webinar featuring His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama in conversation with Melani Walton and Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent and associate professor of neurosurgery at the Emory University School of Medicine. More than 580,000 people from 72 countries participated.

The Dalai Lama and Emory

Emory’s work with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on programs and research that illustrate the positive effects of compassion began more than 20 years ago.

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, who holds the position of Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory, first visited Emory in 1987, two years before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. His second visit was in 1995, with Emory the first stop on a four-city, 12-day visit to the United States in celebration of his 60th year. He received the first Emory President's Medal during that visit and spoke to a crowd of more than 4,000 in the Woodruff Physical Education Center.

His Holiness made his third visit to Emory when he delivered the 1998 Commencement address and received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. In 2007, he was named Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University, the first and only western university appointment he has accepted.

“I firmly believe that education is an indispensable tool for the flourishing of human well-being and the creation of a just and peaceful society, and I am delighted to make a small contribution in this regard through this appointment," the Dalai Lama said at the time. "I have long believed in and advocated a dialogue and cross-fertilization between science and spirituality, as both are essential for enriching human life and alleviating suffering on both individual and global levels."

The Dalai Lama also visited Emory in 2010 and 2013. He continues to provide private teaching sessions with students and faculty during Emory's study-abroad program in Dharamsala, India, as well as provide opportunities for university community members to interact with him through other Emory programs such as CBCT and the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative.


The Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics supports a research-based approach to educating both heart and mind.  An academic collaboration that began in 1998 between Emory University and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Center investigates the science of compassion and supports its practical implementation. Current programming under The Compassion Shift includes SEE Learning® an international K-12 education program, CBCT® Compassion Training and the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative, a science program developed for Tibetan monastic institutions.