Compassion as a skill: A comparison of contemplative and evolution-based approaches.
|Authors||Gilbert, P. and Van Gordon, W.|
The editors to this volume posed a series of fascinating questions relating to how seeing compassion as a skill can help us understand its nature, cultivation and effects within secular contexts. This paper addresses these questions by comparing evolutionary with contemplative approaches to compassion. Recent scientific approaches have explored the evolved roots and biopsychosocial manifestations of compassion and their impact on mental states and prosocial behaviour, particularly in regard to both its facilitators and inhibitors. In contrast, we discuss how the contemplative traditions have approached the origins and cultivation of compassion through observing the mind (e.g. meditation), with a focus on gaining insight into self-transcendent experiences, the nature of inter-connectivity and non-separate existence (also referred to as non-duality), through which compassion arises naturally. Both evolutionary and contemplative perspectives have the same focus which is to understand and prevent the causes of suffering, including the suffering we cause ourselves because of our harmful potentials. However, in terms of training the mind in compassion skills, this paper considers how training approaches linked to the evolutionary model often use thinking, empathising, reflecting and guided behaviour change to activate psychophysiological systems linked to caring and compassion. In contrast, the contemplative traditions focus less on thinking and reflecting and more on creating conditions for direct experiencing. A key reason for doing so is to settle the mind so that subtler levels of consciousness can enable the experience of self-transcendent compassion to arise. Thus, both evolutionary and contemplative approaches can focus on developing mind awareness and the importance of practise, but evolutionary approaches such as compassion focused therapy do not pursue transcendent wisdoms or insights.
|Keywords||Mindfulness; Compassion; Buddhism; Evolutionary Origins; Nonduality|
|Journal citation||pp. 1-22|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-023-02173-w|
|Web address (URL)||https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-023-02173-w|
File Access Level
|Online||03 Aug 2023|
|Publication process dates|
|Accepted||10 Jun 2023|
|Deposited||23 Aug 2023|
3views this month
1downloads this month