by Karen Armstrong
One of the most original thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world—author of such acclaimed books as A History of God, Islam
, and Buddha
—now gives us an impassioned and practical book that can help us make the world a more compassionate place.
Karen Armstrong believes that while compassion is intrinsic in all human beings, each of us needs to work diligently to cultivate and expand our capacity for compassion. Here, in this straightforward, thoughtful, and thought-provoking book, she sets out a program that can lead us toward a more compassionate life.
The twelve steps Armstrong suggests begin with “Learn About Compassion”
and close with “Love Your Enemies.”
In between, she takes up “compassion for yourself,”
mindfulness, suffering, sympathetic joy, the limits of our knowledge of others, and “concern for everybody.”
She suggests concrete ways of enhancing our compassion and putting it into action in our everyday lives, and provides, as well, a reading list to encourage us to “hear one another’s narratives.”
Throughout, Armstrong makes clear that a compassionate life is not a matter of only heart or mind but a deliberate and often life-altering commingling of the two.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Do we want to succumb to our reptilian brain, when we have seen for ourselves what can happen when hatred, disgust, greed or the desire for vengeance consume entire groups? We have a duty to protect ourselves and others from our more destructive instincts, hence the negative version of the Golden Rule ‘Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you.’ ”
If you feel like having compassion open one of the doors of your Book of Days, take a walk on these paths:
Let us make the silent majority a challenge to extremism and hatred.
Affirm the Charter today.
Each name added makes the compassionate voice a more potent force in the world.