The roots of The Medicine and Compassion Project began when Dr. Shlim was working in Kathmandu, running a small clinic that specialized in the care of foreigners. During that time, he heard that a Tibetan Buddhist monastery was having some trouble getting health care for the monks, so he offered to run a free clinic there once a week to see whoever was sick.
In the fall of 1984, Dr. Shlim was taken to meet the head of the monastery, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, who at age 33, was a year younger than himself. That was the beginning of a thirty-five-year relationship that has led to what is now called “The Medicine and Compassion Project.”
Dr. Shlim slowly realized that Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche was able to help guide him in life, through romantic struggles and the pressures of running the clinic. Eventually, what had started as a nice kind of friendship evolved into seeing Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche as his teacher. Dr. Shlim received extensive instruction in mediation technique and philosophy. The side effect, at the time, of learning to have a calmer mind, was that his compassion increased in a way that he could not have foreseen. The change in Dr. Shlim’s ability to be calm and kind and open with patients was striking enough that he began to envision putting on a conference in the West, with Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche as the only speaker. It would be called, “Medicine and Compassion.”