Dr. James Doty wants to change the world with compassion. He’s encouraging all of us to look inward, harness our minds, and feel radically empowered to take on life’s great challenges.
“We think that success is manifest by getting paid a lot and having the ability to conspicuously consume,” said Doty at a recent IVY Ideas Night. “But if you’re not doing something to be of service to the greater good, to be a benefit, to give to others who need you, then you’re not living up to your own responsibility as a human being.”
Dr. Doty is a clinical professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University and the director and founder of The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is also the New York Times bestselling author of the newly published book Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart, which has already been translated into 19 languages.
When Dr. Doty took the stage, the crowd was rapt.
“I was like you. I believed if I did everything to be successful I’d be happy,” he said, as he shared his history of being both a successful dot-com entrepreneur and philanthropist, donating over $29 million to charity.
He came from nothing. When he was only 13 years old—impoverished and living with a suicidal mother—he met someone who would change his life forever. One of the greatest influences on Doty was the mother of the owner of a magic shop near his home. This extraordinary woman not only taught him the power of meditation, but also how to project these feelings of peace that come with meditating on reality.
It’s remarkable to hear how a boy living in poverty becomes a doctor and comes to work directly with the Dalai Lama. He said of the Dalai Lama, “When you are with him you know you are loved. There is a lightness of spirit and joy in his presence that makes you want to be a better person. There is nothing except authenticity. You are completely accepted.”
Dr. Doty is by nature a curious scholar, great storyteller, and enthusiast for inspiring people to see the connection we have with one another. And more than anything else, he is teaching “practical compassion.”
He understands better than most what it means to have nothing, to earn millions, to lose millions, to simplify, to start over, and to innovate. Dr. Doty offers the marriage of brain science and sacred heart medicine to those on both sides of the aisle—believers in the mystical and those that require proof. He makes compassion practical for the everyday person, for all people everywhere.
Close to the end of his presentation what stood out more than anything was his advice: “The most important thing you can do is care for somebody.” He asked:
Are you authentic?
Do you have an open heart?
Do you love?
Just as he felt the alchemy of connection in the magic shop, his presence encourages us to think about compassionate service in a time when the world needs it the most.
Today, ask yourself:
How may I serve with compassion?
How can I show I care?
Make the time to reach out, connect and change the world. That’s the “secret” of the heart.
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