Abstract
As interpersonal, racial, social, and international conflicts intensify in the world, it is important to safeguard the mental health of individuals affected by them. According to a Buddhist notion “if you want others to be happy, practice compassion; if you want to be happy, practice compassion,” compassion practice is an intervention to cultivate conflict-proof well-being. Here, compassion practice refers to a form of concentrated meditation wherein a practitioner attunes to friend, enemy, and someone in between, thinking, “I’m going to help them.” The compassion meditation is based on Buddhist philosophy that mental suffering is rooted in conceptual thoughts that give rise to generic mental images of self and others and subsequent biases to preserve one’s egoism, blocking the ultimate nature of mind. To contextualize compassion meditation scientifically, we adopted a Bayesian active inference framework to incorporate relevant Buddhist concepts, including mind, compassion, aggregates, suffering, reification, conceptual thoughts, and superimposition. In this framework, a person is considered a Bayesian Engine that actively constructs phenomena based on the aggregates of forms, sensations, discriminations, actions, and consciousness. When the person embodies rigid beliefs about self and others’ identities and the resulting ego-preserving bias, the person’s Bayesian Engine malfunctions, failing to use prediction errors to update prior beliefs. To counter this problem, after recognizing the causes of sufferings, a practitioner of the compassion meditation aims to attune to all others equally, friends and enemies alike, suspend identity-based conceptual thoughts, and eventually let go of any identity-grasping belief and ego-preserving bias that obscure reality. We present a brain model for the Bayesian Engine of three components: Relation-Modeling, Reality-Checking, and Conflict-Alarming, which are subserved by the Default-Mode Network, Frontoparietal Network and Ventral Attention Network, and Salience Network, respectively. Upon perceiving conflicts, the strengthening or weakening of ego-preserving bias will critically depend on whether the SN up-regulates the DMN or FPN/VAN, respectively. We propose that compassion meditation can strengthen brain regions that are conducive for suspending prior beliefs and enhancing the attunements to the counterparts in conflicts.
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DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.603385
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Empathy and Its Discontents.Paul Bloom - 2017 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 21 (1):24-31.
Egocentrism, Allocentrism, and Asperger Syndrome.Uta Frith & Frederique de Vignemont - 2005 - Consciousness and Cognition 14 (4):719-738.

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