Emory to host live webcast with the Dalai Lama

Emory Report | Dec. 1, 2020

Slated for Dec. 8, “The Necessity of Compassion for the Survival of Humanity” webcast builds on Emory’s long relationship with the Dalai Lama, who serves as Presidential Distinguished Professor. Learn about Emory’s history with the Dalai Lama.

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The Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics at Emory University will host a live webinar with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Tuesday, Dec. 8.

Titled “The Necessity of Compassion for the Survival of Humanity,” the discussion will feature the Dalai Lama, who holds the position of Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory, in conversation with Melani A. Walton, co-founder of the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN and associate professor of neurosurgery at the Emory University School of Medicine.

The webcast begins at 10:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 8 (Dec. 9 at 9 a.m. India Standard Time) and will be simulcast in 14 languages. It is free of charge and open to anyone who’d like to participate. Advance registration is encouraged.

“With so many urgent concerns impacting our world, the time is right to start a global conversation about the importance of compassion,” says Lobsang Tenzin Negi, executive director of Emory University’s Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics. “For more than 20 years, we’ve been working with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on programs and research that illustrate the positive effects of compassion. Our goal is to promote an understanding of the benefits of compassion and to provide programs to cultivate it across all sectors of society.”

Negi and Emory President Gregory L. Fenves will also introduce the webinar, which will focus on the role compassion can play in developing a more sustainable future for humanity. It is the first event of The Compassion Shift, an initiative to advance a global culture of compassion based at Emory University. 

Compassion, the Dalai Lama and Emory

The Compassion Shift will expand in February to include the 21-day Compassion Challenge, focused on meditation, awareness and action to transform both individuals and the world. It is the latest initiative from the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics, which supports a research-based approach to educating both heart and mind. 

An academic collaboration that began in 1998 between Emory and the Dalai Lama, the Center investigates the science of compassion and supports its practical implementation. Current programming 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.

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama 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.