"Change Your Mind, Change the World" Conference

University of Wisconsin-Madison

(Article exerpts from JSOnline/Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel)


Madison - Ethics education that stresses altruism and compassion, taught from an early age, is one key to addressing the world's greatest problems, from environmental degradation to the nuclear arms race, the 14th Dalai Lama told a sold-out crowd at Madison's Overture Center for the Arts on Wednesday.

And while those problems require a global, holistic approach, he said, each person in the 2,000-plus seat auditorium must play a role in solving them.

"The whole world is facing some kind of moral crisis . . . and we have to think in a more holistic way," said the exiled Tibetan leader, who encouraged those in attendance to share what they learned with 10 others, who would tell 10 more, and on and on.

"From the individual comes a peaceful family and a peaceful society," he said. "Building a peaceful society is all of our responsibility."

The Dalai Lama spoke as part of a daylong conference sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and Global Health Institute.

"Change Your Mind, Change the World" brought together experts in many fields, including health care, neuroscience and economics, to discuss how they can work together to improve health and well-being around the world.

It was the Dalai Lama's ninth visit to Madison. And his message of education, compassion and personal responsibility appeared to resonate with the audience, which greeted him and sent him off with a standing ovation. (Editors note: See Harry Palmers video "Personal Responsibility, Compassion and Service to others" Here.)

"I feel more optimistic just coming out of it," said Josh Gerarden of De Pere, who attended with his mother and sister. "This idea that we need to change the way we act toward others - it's an easy message to get behind."

Chrissie Lindemann of Mequon said she teared up when the spiritual leader entered and exited the stage.

"It's a remarkable day," she said, "a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Wednesday's panel discussions showcased some of the work being done by UW-Madison neuroscientist Richard Davidson, who founded the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, and Jonathan Patz, who heads the Global Health Institute and shared the Nobel Prize with Al Gore in 2007 for his work on climate change.

Among them: studies with children and veterans suggesting that the brain can be trained to emphasize positive traits such as compassion and happiness; and the impacts of consumption by affluent nations on the developing world.

The afternoon discussion touched on a range of topics from the economic impact of stress on American business - $300 billion in losses a year - to the growing gap between the rich and poor, which the Dalai Lama called "morally wrong."

(Editors note: A common theme among the Compassion Card enthusiasts is that the exercise quickly dissolves anger and stress.)