David R. Shlim

Title of UFCSH talk: “Medicine and Compassion”
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Compassion is a quality that is valued in medicine, yet there appears to be no direct way to train to increase one’s own capacity for compassion. The compassion that we have is limited by being unstable, selective, and often requiring substantial effort. Is compassion a character trait that can only be modified within narrow limits, or is it a quality that can be vastly improved through appropriate training? The concept of training directly in compassion is novel in the West. However, the tradition of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy is oriented around specific training in compassion. The idea that medical practitioners could grow in their capacity for compassion throughout their careers just as they grow in their medical skills is appealing. The lecture on Medicine and Compassion will explore the origins of compassion and how that quality can be made more stable and effortless through training. The result of training in compassion would allow the practitioner to more easily relieve suffering in their patients, and prevent professional burnout in themselves. The lecture is based on the book, Medicine and Compassion: A Tibetan Lama’s Guidance for Caregivers, co-authored by Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and David R Shlim, M.D. This book represents the first time that Tibetan Buddhist philosophy has been specifically presented for the benefit of Western health care practitioners.