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The Science of Mindfulness & Compassion

April 6-8, 2019

His Holiness the Dalai Lama.JPG


and a special conversation with


April 6 Afternoon - April 8 Evening, 2019

Andaz Hotel

New Delhi, India


Hosted by

Krueger & Lee l John Templeton Foundation l The Sager Family Foundation


Planning Committee

Christian Krueger, Julianne Lee, Christopher Levenick, Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Jim Pitofsky, Bobby Sager


in collaboration with

The Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion Based Ethics, Emory University


Event Description


This is a 2.5-day exploration of mindfulness and compassion and their significance in today’s world. By sharing the latest scientific findings from leading institutions from around the world, we hope to give our participants evidence-based information about the value of mindfulness and compassion so that they can incorporate these perspectives into their lives. Along with the lectures by experts, participants will also experience the practice of mindfulness and compassion meditation led by meditation masters.


There will also be a special conversation session with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness has spent the last four decades collaborating with scientists, educators, psychologists, health professionals, economists and business leaders around the question of how universal human values—such as compassion— contribute to individual and societal flourishing.




The objective of this forum is to reflect on what it means to be human and the intrinsic qualities that define our humanity. The world is increasingly being divided by race, religion, economic status and ideologies, but many existing perspectives and systems are no longer viable to deal with the challenges at hand. Extreme ideological polarization, looming insecurity, and a growing mental health crisis are forcing us to seek new ways to address these issues. Basic human values that are deemed important by all religious traditions and that which are also compatible with secular viewpoints—like compassion—are needed to create a common ground. Increasingly there is a recognition of how these values—and the role they play in our social and emotional intelligence—help us to co-exist with others and our environment in a peaceful, sustainable way.  




It is our belief that participants will be inspired to transformative action. When mindfulness and compassion are incorporated into an individual's life, he/she has a new lens through which to view life, politics and policy. Participants will acquire tools that can be used in their daily life to enhance personal well-being and resiliency, and to foster a more inclusive and accurate understanding of others.  


This is not a religious event and does not seek to promote the specific beliefs of any one particular viewpoint; it is intended to examine how the emerging insights from contemplative science point to the benefits of mindfulness and compassion. It will be accessible and of interest to anyone wishing to explore the role of compassion on the individual, social and global levels.



How to Participate


Participation is by invitation only. Because of the limited number of participants that we can invite, we will be sending you a short questionnaire to understand your interest and how this forum is relevant to you. There is also a participation fee to reserve your place. We will be in touch with you after reviewing your application.






Day 1: April 6, 2019


16:00-16:45 Introductions

Introduction of the purpose of the forum, participants, speakers and the co-organizers.


16:45-17:00 Brief Contemplative Practice

Christian Krueger

17:00-18:30 Session 1:  Why Compassion?  A Research Perspective

Charles Raison MD

Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Chair for Healthy Minds, Children & Families and Professor, School of Human Ecology, and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health University of Wisconsin, Madison

Traditionally, concepts like compassion belonged to disciplines like religious studies, the humanities and perhaps psychology. However, over the last several decades interest in compassion has blossomed across a range of new fields, from medicine to neuroscience. This interest has been fueled by a growing database showing that compassion and related traits/emotions that exist at the interface of the self and society have measurable—and relevant—effects on physical and emotional health. This talk will launch our conference by taking a “10,000 foot” view of current scientific understandings of compassion, as well as relationships between compassion and physical and emotional well-being. In particular, we will review findings from our research group and others suggesting that compassion training has the potential to enhance emotional well-being and to modulate stress and immune system functioning in ways likely to offer protection from many of the primary health problems of the modern world. Finally, we will place compassion within a larger evolutionary framework that highlights the urgency of enhancing our capacity for compassion for society as a whole. 

18:30-20:30 Welcome Dinner


Day 2: April 7, 2019


08:45 Session  2: Conversation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

This will be a special opportunity to hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak on the role of compassion in private and public life and to ask questions in an intimate setting.

11:30-13:00 Lunch

13:00-13:45 Session 3: The Indo-Tibetan Origins and Evolution of Mindfulness

Geshe Lhakdor

Director of Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, former English Translator and Religious Assistant to His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Mindfulness practices have become widely known through the media as a beneficial wellness and stress-reduction tool but many varying definitions and practices co-exist in the health and wellness space. Geshe Lhakdor, who has been His Holiness the Dalai Lama's translator and now directs the Library of Tibetan Works and Archive will explain the history of the evolution of mindfulness in Buddhist literature.

13:45-14:30 Session 4: Mindfulness Practice

Geshe Lhakdor and Lobsang Tenzin Negi

Participants will break up into two groups to practice what we have learned in the previous session on mindfulness. This is not a religious session. Anyone who prefers to practice according to his/her own faith is welcome to do so.

14:30-16:00 Session 5: Promoting the Social and Emotional Competence and Well-Being of Children and Youth Through Social and Emotional Learning (SEL): Evidence-Based Programming and Practical Strategies for System-Wide SEL

Kimberly A. Schonert-Reichl, Ph.D. 

Professor, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia 

Director, Human Early Learning Partnership, Faculty of Medicine 

This presentation will begin with a brief review of ground breaking research that has emerged that demonstrates the importance of promoting students’ social and emotional competence in schools and describe how recent innovations in SEL can inform these efforts. Dr. Schonert-Reichl will describe some of the SEL initiatives in Canada, the US, and internationally that are taking place, and highlight her recent research evaluating universal school-based social and emotional competence promotion programs developed from research and theory in the fields of mindful attention awareness, SEL, and positive psychology.  A discussion of both processes and mechanisms that underlie students’ social and emotional development in schools and practical suggestions and implications for future research for the promotion of students’ self-regulation, empathy, compassion, and kindness will be discussed. Dr. Schonert-Reichl will emphasize that the explicit and intentional promotion of students’ social and emotional competence in school is necessary for the future of education. 

16:30-17:15 Breakout Sessions

Our speakers will each be holding a small breakout session on a different topic. Participants are invited to join the discussion group with the topic that interests them. The topics will be announced on the day of the forum.

17:15-17:45 Group Reflections

Everyone will come back as a group to report back on the discussions in their respective breakout sessions and share their findings, reflections and feelings from the day's experience.

17:45 End of Day 2

Day 3: April 8, 2019

09:00-10:30 Session 6: Wellbeing through Mindfulness and Compassion

Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD

Executive Director, Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics; Professor of Pedagogy, Department of Religion, Emory University


Dr. Negi will present the role of mindfulness and compassion in the support of human flourishing via a review of the theoretical underpinnings – as well as research findings to date – of Cognitively-Based Compassion Training. CBCT®, a structured series of contemplative practices that Dr. Negi developed in 2004, is based on ancient practices from the Indo-Tibetan Buddhist tradition called lojong. Though drawn from Buddhism, CBCT is designed to be accessible to people of any or no faith tradition.


CBCT’s premise is that compassion is the outcome of a universal set of human capacities, each of which can be developed and expanded with practice. These capacities – and the natural compassion that emerges when they are cultivated – are seen as essential to the wellbeing of the individual as well as society. In CBCT, contemplative techniques are harnessed to strengthen this cultivation process and to allow unbiased compassion to become a motivating and enduring way of relating to others.


CBCT is taught to physicians, teachers, chaplains, cancer survivors, PTSD sufferers, and many other individuals across the world today.

10:30-12:00 Session 7: Compassion and Mindfulness in the Brain

Gaelle Desbordes, PhD

Neuroscientist, Massachusetts General Hospital; Instructor/Research Faculty, Harvard Medical School

A presentation about the neuroscience research on the neural underpinnings of mindfulness and compassion, and how these skills can be trained with practice by harnessing neuroplasticity.

12:00-13:30 Lunch

13:30-14:30 Session 8: Contemplative Practice

Geshe Lhakdor and Lobsang Tenzin Negi

Participants will break into two groups to further deepen their practice of mindfulness.

14:30-16:00 Session 9: Bringing Compassion into the Education System and other Ethics Work

Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, Geshe Lhakdor, and Lobsang Tenzing Negi

Our speakers will explain the SEE-Learning Projects which aims to bring compassion into the school system and what changes they hope this will bring to the state of the world.

16:30-17:30 Session 10: A Compassion Exercise, Final Panel and Q&A

All speakers, organizers and participants

We will do an exercise in gauging and understanding how our compassion works in different scenarios. Participants are invited to ask any questions to the speakers and co-organizers of the forum including the topics that they would be interested in exploring in future fora and exploring projects together.

17:30-18:00 Closing Statements & Contemplative Practice

18:00-20:00 Farewell Dinner



Charles Raison

Charles Raison, MD, is the Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Chair for Healthy Minds, Children & Families and Professor, School of Human Ecology, and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison, WI. Dr. Raison also serves as Director of Clinical and Translational Research for Usona Institute and as Director of Research on Spiritual Health for Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, GA. In addition, Dr. Raison has served as mental health expert for for many years.


Dr. Raison is internationally recognized for his studies examining novel mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of major depression and other stress-related emotional and physical conditions, as well as for his work examining the physical and behavioral effects of compassion training. More recently, Dr. Raison has taken a leadership role in the development of psychedelic medicines as potential treatments for major depression. The recipient of several teaching awards, Dr. Raison has received research funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Raison received the Raymond Pearl Memorial Award from the Human Biology Association “in recognition of his contributions to our understanding of evolutionary biocultural origins of mental health and illness.” With Vladimir Maletic he is author of The New Mind-Body Science of Depression published by W.W. Norton in 2017. Dr. Raison serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.


Geshe Lhakdor

Geshe Lhakdor is the Director of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India, perhaps the most important Tibetan institution in exile dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of Tibetan culture. He holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in English from Panjab University, Chandigarh. From 1976 - 1986 he studied Buddhist philosophy at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, a private institute for advanced studies established by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. He received his Master of Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom) in 1986 and in 1989 his Master of Madhyamika (Middle Way Philosophy) with distinction in both. In 1989 he also received his Master of Philosophy (MPhil) from the University of Delhi. In 1995 he received his Geshe Degree (Doctor of Divinity), the highest degree of learning in Tibetan Buddhism, from the Drepung Loseling Monastic University in South India.


From 1989-2005 he served as His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s religious assistant and English translator, accompanying His Holiness to more than thirty countries before becoming director of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives at His Holiness’ request. Geshe Lhakdor has translated, co-translated and co-produced several books by His Holiness, including The Way to Freedom, The Joy of Living and Dying in Peace, Awakening the Mind and Lightening the Heart, and Stages of Meditation, among others. Geshe Lhakdor is a trustee of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility, established by His Holiness, Director of the Central Archive of His Holiness, a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute of Tibetan Classics in Montreal, Canada, and Honorary Professor at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi

Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics at Emory University, formerly the Emory-Tibet Partnership. In this capacity, he has facilitated the academic endeavors undertaken by Emory in collaboration with His Holiness the Dalai Lama since 1998. Prof. Negi is also a Professor of Pedagogy in Emory University’s Department of Religion and the founder and spiritual director of Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc., in Atlanta, USA.

In 2004, Prof. Negi developed CBCT® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training), a secularized contemplative program based on Tibetan Buddhist mind training practices that deliberately and systematically work to cultivate compassion. He has been at the forefront of compassion science, collaborating with numerous researchers from multiple disciplines examining the mechanisms behind compassion and its effects on the mind and body.  


At the invitation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dr. Negi led the creation of the SEE Learning™ (Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning) framework and now oversees the development and implementation of SEE Learning curricula for kindergarten through university level education.  Additionally, he directs the Robert A. Paul Emory-Tibet Science Initiative (ETSI), a program that has developed and is now implementing a comprehensive modern science curriculum specifically for Tibetan monastics.

Prof. Negi was born in Kinnaur, a remote Himalayan region adjoining Tibet. A former monk, he began his monastic training at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala, India and continued his education at Drepung Loseling Monastery in south India, where in 1994 he received the Geshe Lharampa degree.  Prof. Negi completed his Ph.D. at Emory University in 1999. His research has concentrated on the mind-body connection, with a particular focus on how emotions influence wellbeing.


Kimberly Schonert-Reichl

Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl is an Applied Developmental Psychologist and a Professor in Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Director of the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP), an interdisciplinary research unit focused on child development at UBC. Before beginning her graduate work, she was a middle school teacher and a high school teacher for “at risk” youth.


Known as a world renowned expert in the area of social and emotional learning (SEL), Dr. Schonert-Reichl’s research focuses on identification of the processes that foster positive human qualities such as empathy, compassion, altruism, and resiliency in children and adolescents. Her projects include studies examining the effectiveness of classroom-based universal SEL programs including such programs as the Roots of Empathy, MindUp, and Kindness in the Classroom. Dr. Schonert-Reichl has received several awards for her work. She is the recipient of the 2015 Joseph E. Zins Distinguished Scholar Award for outstanding research on social and emotional learning (SEL), and the 2009 Confederation of University Faculty Associations BC's Paz Buttedahl Career Achievement Award in recognition of her sustained outstanding contributions to the community beyond the academy through research over the major portion of her career.


Dr. Schonert-Reichl has been involved with many scholarly committees and consultancies. She serves as an advisor to the British Columbia (BC) Ministry Education on the development and implementation of the redesign of the Curriculum that focuses on the promotion of personal and social competencies; an Expert Advisor to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s (OECD) Education 2030 initiative, a Board Member of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), an advisor to UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) on SEL, a member of the Educational Testing Service’s panel on research, and an advisor to the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education.


Gaelle Desbordes

Gaelle Desbordes, PhD is a neuroscientist trained in engineering and computer science, currently serving on the research faculty at Harvard Medical School and the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at the Massachusetts General Hospital.


Her research investigates how meditation practices (such as mindfulness and compassion) affect the brain and mind. Her multidisciplinary approach combines brain imaging (with functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI), neuropsychology, and computational and engineering methodologies. She is the recipient of a career development award from the National Institutes of Health, a Faculty Award from the Harvard Mind, Brain, Behavior Interfaculty Initiative and a Pilot Research Grant from the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is a member of the Mindfulness Research Collaborative, a multi-disciplinary group of investigators across the US that received a Science of Behavior Change grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the impact of mindfulness training on self-regulation. She previously contributed to the Compassion and Attention Longitudinal Meditation (CALM) study—a multi-site randomized controlled trial of compassion meditation led by Drs. Lobsang Tenzin Negi and Charles Raison at Emory University. Her research has been featured in many media outlets, including the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Boston’s public radio station WBUR, the French magazine Science & Vie, and two international documentary movies on meditation science. She is also a long-term contributor (as faculty and researcher) to the Emory Tibet Science Initiative, an ongoing endeavor aimed at implementing a comprehensive and sustainable science curriculum for Tibetan monks and nuns in India.


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