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Abstract. We explore the role of meditative practice in cultivating experiences of compassion, empathy, and altruism and address an apparent paradox: Meditation often is associated with solitary retreat, if not preoccupation with one's own concerns. How, then, does such a practice promote compassion for others? We propose a two-stage model. The first stage involves disengagement from usual preoccupation with self-reinforcing, self-defeating, or self-indulgent behaviors and reactions; the second involves a focused engagement with a universal human capacity for altruistic experience, love, and compassion. Reference is made to the limited research literature and to clinical applications of loving kindness (metta) meditation in cultivating these processes.

InSeeking the Heart of WisdomGoldstein and Kornfield present the central teachings and practices of insight meditation in a clear and personal language. The path of insight meditation is a journey of understanding our bodies, our minds, and our lives, of seeing clearly the true nature of experience. The authors guide the reader in developing the openness and compassion that are at the heart of this spiritual practice. For those already treading the path, as well as those just starting out, this book will be a welcome companion along the way. Among the topics covered are:    •  The hindrances to meditation—ranging from doubt and fear to painful knees—and skillful means of overcoming them    •  How compassion can arise in response to the suffering we see in our own lives and in the world    •  How to integrate a life of responsible action and service with a meditative life based on nonattachment Useful exercises are presented alongside the teachings to help readers deepen their understanding of the subjects.