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A few years ago, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was giving a public talk in New York’s Central Park and, like thousands of others, I woke before dawn and rushed to be there at 5 a.m. to get a good seat for the 10 a.m. event. What I found was a madhouse of competitive hostility. Everyone wanted to sit near the front and was doing whatever it took to get there and hold a place. But after an hour of listening to the Dalai Lama, this crowd changed. We were now the epitome of considerateness, picking up trash and going out of our way to be courteous.There are countless such stories of elevation and transformation in the presence of spiritual gurus. I once heard an interview with a gentleman who was asked about his heavy involvement in serving the homeless community in Washington, D.C. He said that it all began when he was in charge of leading Mother Teresa to a stage for a talk she was delivering while on a visit to our capital. As he accompanied her up the stairs, the short and elderly lady smacked him in the chest with the back of her hand and demanded, “What are you doing?” That was enough to wake him out of …

About the Author

Emma Seppala

Emma Seppälä, PhD, is author of The Happiness Track, founder of, and Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

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