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Friday, February 6, 2009

Dr. Randy Pausch

I would have liked to write this on the day that Dr. Randy Pausch passed away, July 25, 2008. However, I didn't have an active blog at the time. I would like to cover that period of time by posting this now...

A professor of computer science, human-computer interaction, and design at Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Pausch's mother would introduce him as "a doctor, but not the kind who helps people".

Dr. Pausch was asked to give a lecture at Carnegie. This particular lecture series had been called "the last lecture" and the idea was that, hypothetically, if you had one last lecture to give before you died, that's on what the lecturer should speak. Except, in Dr. Pausch's case it wasn't hypothetical. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and at the time of the lecture, was told he had about 2-5 months left before he died.

The lecture Dr. Pausch gave was called "Achieving Your Childhood Dreams". However, the title was deceptive, because there was a larger lesson. Dr. Pausch's lecture became an internet phenomenon and he appeared on several television talk show and news programs afterwards. Before continuing this reading, it would be best to take about an hour and 15 minutes to watch his original lecture below. It will be time well spent...

I assume you've watched the above at this point. The reason I chose to jump on the internet bandwagon and discuss Dr. Pausch's lecture here on The Humanist Contemplative Blog, is because his message so closely aligns with the material on which I have written. In one lecture, Dr. Pausch single handedly broached the wisdom of Socrates, Epictetus, Buddha, and Marcus Aurelius.

Of course, it goes without saying that compassion is woven throughout the entirety of the touching lecture. At every opportunity in life, Dr. Pausch stops to consider how he might use his abilities to help others and offer them opportunities. More than that, he recognizes and conveys the benefits to the giver. Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) couldn't have agreed more, and this is what is meant when I write in The Humanist Contemplative that compassion should be our foundation. In addition, Dr. Pausch points out the transitory nature of material things, as discussed in my 2nd Synthophic Precept, or in the second section on About Stoicism.

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