Dr John Noseworthy, president and CEO of the Mayo Clinic, welcomed His Holiness, after which Dr Amit Sood, chair of the Mayo Mind Body Medicine Initiative, spoke about its resilience education and training program and its positive impact on patients.
The Mayo Mind Body Medicine team has developed innovative practice models, including meditation, stress management and resiliency training programs.
In his initial remarks, His Holiness spoke of the importance of generating compassion in order to realize the goals of the training. He said enthusiasm must be accompanied by intelligence and not blind faith, adding that in order to have a realistic goal, one needs to understand reality, for which the mind must be calm.
During the following discussion, His Holiness was asked whether, during his experiences with the Chinese, he was in any danger of losing his compassion. He replied that, following the Tibetan demonstrations in Lhasa on March 10, 2008, he was filled with anxiety and, in the subsequent days and weeks, he performed the Buddhist practice of ‘giving and taking' (tong len) - visualizing the Chinese as people with the desire to be happy and avoid suffering, and having a sense of concern for their negative actions.
He added that such an approach may not be effective in resolving the problem, but it does help to maintain a calm mind.
When asked how compassion can be developed in others, His Holiness responded that modern life and the education system have become very materialistic and that people are more concerned about external development.
Therefore, he said, there is a need to promote inner values through education.
His Holiness expounded that compassion can work on two levels. At one level, one might become aware of another's suffering and be concerned. At another level, one might feel concern about another's suffering but also wants to do something to overcome it. The first level alone might lead to a sense of helplessness, but practicing the second level gives new energy.
Summing up the discussion, His Holiness said there was general agreement that inner values are important. He urged that it is our common responsibility to promote these values, beginning within the family and then expanding outwards. He concluded that this was the way to change the society.
After the session, six young recipients of the Mind And Life Institute's Francisco J Varela research awards presented findings from their projects to His Holiness, in a session titled Latest Findings in Contemplative Neuroscience.
Earlier in the day, His Holiness was interviewed by Piers Morgan of CNN, who began by asking His Holiness about his medical check-up at the Mayo Clinic. His Holiness responded that for the last seven years he has had annual check-ups there and that his basic physical condition is good.
His Holiness also answered questions about the future of world peace, his views on the United States and President Obama, the self-immolations in Tibet, China's future, vegetarianism, movies and music.
In the evening, His Holiness left Rochester for Chicago, Illinois, for the next leg of his US tour, to participate in events connected to the Nobel Peace Laureates' Summit on April 25.