Science & Buddhist Wisdom: Teachings on Compassion w/Charles Raison, Lobsang Rapgay and Chris Impey

A psychiatrist, an astronomer and a former Tibetan Buddhist monk turned western psychologist walk into a....podcast studio? In this fascinating conversation from our archives, world renowned experts Dr. Charles Raison, Dr. Lobsang Rapgay, and Prof. Chris Impey explore the connections between modern science and ancient Tibetan Buddhist wisdom in the cultivation of compassion, bringing humor, storytelling and critical inquiry to the conversation.


Charles Raison, MD, is the Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Distinguished Chair for Healthy Minds, Children & Families and Professor, School of Human Ecology, and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Raison also serves as Director of Clinical and Translational Research for Usona Institute and as Director of Research on Spiritual Health for Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, GA. In addition, Dr. Raison is the co-founder of the University of Arizona Center for Compassion Studies and has served as mental health expert for CNN dot com for many years. Dr. Raison is internationally recognized for his studies examining novel mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of major depression and other stress-related emotional and physical conditions, as well as for his work examining the physical and behavioral effects of compassion training. More recently, Dr. Raison has taken a leadership role in the development of psychedelic medicines as potential treatments for major depression. 

Lobsang Rapgay, Ph.D, is research psychologist and director of the Clinical Training program for Mental Health Professionals at the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at UCLA. Born in Lhasa, Tibet, in 1958, at the age of 4, he and his family fled the approach of Chinese soldiers with a caravan of refugees on a 7-day trek into the Himalayas. They settled in Dharamsala, India, which would become the home-in-exile of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government. After completing studies at a Catholic boarding school and Delhi University, where he trained as a Buddhist monk, in 1978 he became a deputy secretary and English-language interpreter for His Holiness. At the Dalai Lama's Tibetan Medicine and Astrology Institute, Dr. Rapgay began learning ancient Buddhist meditative practices. He earned a doctorate in clinical psychology and wrote four books, including "Tibetan Medicine: A Holistic Approach to Better Health," before coming to California to study psychoanalysis.

Chris Impey is a University Distinguished Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. He has over 210 refereed publications on observational cosmology, galaxies, and quasars, and his research has been supported by $20 million in NASA and NSF grants. He has won eleven teaching awards and has taught two online classes with over 300,000 enrolled and 4 million minutes of video lectures watched. Prof. Impey is a past Vice President of the American Astronomical Society, and he has won its Education Prize. He’s also been an NSF Distinguished Teaching Scholar, Carnegie Council’s Arizona Professor of the Year, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. He has written 70 popular articles on cosmology, astrobiology and education, two textbooks, a novel called 'Shadow World', and eight popular science books: 'The Living Cosmos', 'How It Ends', 'Talking About Life', 'How It Began', 'Dreams of Other Worlds', 'Humble Before the Void', 'Beyond: The Future of Space Travel,' and 'Einstein’s Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes'.