An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life
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An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  4,929 ratings  ·  171 reviews
Compassion-sympathy for the suffering of others and the desire to free them from it-is wrestled with in all spiritual traditions. Yet how does one actually become a compassionate person? What are the mechanisms by which a selfish heart is transformed into a generous heart? In this acclaimed bestseller, His Holiness the Dalai Lama writes simply and powerfully about the ever...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 4th 2002 by Back Bay Books (first published 2001)
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This book was for a GR group selection.

I have to say that if I saw this book sitting on the library shelf I would have picked it up even if it wasn't a group read. The Dalai Lama has always help some fascination for me. I didn't really have any expectations when I picked it up, I was just looking to learn more about Buddhism though not necessarily methods for practicing through meditation.

I jotted down 4 pages of notes reading the foreword, introduction and first chapter. I was captivated by pos...more
I have read and re-read this book many times and I never grow tired of it. The teachings are ones that should always be remembered and put into practice. Compassion is the path to a full and enriched life. I highly recommend this book!
Believe it or not, most of the ideas expressed here could be qualified as "non-denominational". Just read it.

I grew up in a family that had an odd mix of religions but was, for the most part, non-practicing. I was given my choice on whether or not to continue attending church (practicing an organized religion) when I was 10 and, well, the lake and my friends called every day....I used to have a complex about it until a very wise friend, whom I respect and admire very much, pointed out that she d...more
This is a good overview of Buddhism for the common man. Its interesting to read this and consider all of the teachings that I violate almost every day. I think everyone of all faiths should read this - much can be learned from the Dalai Llama, just reading the book itself seems to help put you on the right path - although being a true buddhist is near impossible in american and/or western society. Sometimes I look at the pictures of the beautiful Tibetan mountains and wonder if perhaps I lived i...more
This book was my introduction to Buddhist thought, and I picked it up at Target on a whim when I was at a very low point emotionally, sprirually, and physically. The Dalai Lama explains the "four noble truths" in a way I found particularly appealing. Here, I thought, is a book that is telling the truth about my life at this very moment. Although my own affinity is with Soto Zen, this book was a fabulous introduction to Buddhism generally. Moreover, as the subtitle indicates, the main theme of th...more
Jan 11, 2008 Cathy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a diferent view or ways of training the mind
This book along with many others touches base with the most common mental blocks we set ourselves up with. I find it very helpful in guiding the growth of a more healthy, possitive mind set. The ideas are pretty common sense but he has such a way with making it easier to associate with your daily life therfore making it easier to impliment.

now that i finished it there are points that i am very dissapointed with. still a great book and maybe it has to with who edited it but it was shocking to rea...more
Amanda N.
I only gave this book three out of five stars because the title doesn't really convey what the book is about. As the front page suggests, I wanted to learn about compassion and how to live a better life. What I took away after finishing this book was a beginner's course in Buddhism, which wasn't exactly what I was after. I did learn a little and found some helpful solutions to everyday situations in which compassion is greatly needed, as well as long-term solutions to help ourselves and everyone...more
This book was the start of a spiritual journey. I really enjoyed reading it, and found myself having small epiphanies on the train while reading. I started referring to His Holiness in my head as His Holiness (as opposed to just "The Dalai Lama" like I used to) like he's an old friend. The very conversational writing style is approachable and His Holiness' compassion breathes through the pages to the reader.

In conclusion: this is one of those books that would make the world a truly better place...more
Apr 19, 2007 Justin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: perspective
This book is one of my favorite what I like to call "perspective" books; meaning it gives you another facet for viewing life through. This book honestly made an impact on the way that I interact with people and how I view the things that happen in my life. I would say that if you're another person like me who is curious about how other people see the world in their heads then give this book a read.
Bailey Duemmel
I enjoyed this book and it had a lot of really great things to think about. It seemed like more of a Buddhism 101 book that it did a guide to finding compassion. I realize they both go hand in hand, but I also believe that they can occur separately. I'm glad I read it because I learned a lot about Buddhism and It forced me to think about my actions, but I could have done without the last half.
I found a lot to agree with in this book early on. The bits on compassion and suffering, and the whole psychological aspect of it. But I lost interest about half way through as it got more mystical and I sensed more organization than I thought there would be in the religion.

None-the-less, the book was a quick read and seemed to be a good introduction to buddhism. Worth the read.
Mary Kay
While I do not think that I could embrace Buddhism, I learn from reading the Dalai Lama's writings, and know myself better after reading this particular selection. I have tamed anger, learned to know myself better and be more genuinely compassionate through several readings of this book.
Meghan Krogh


I'm definitely going to read this again in the future. In the meantime, the insight on meditation, compassion, and universality is really incalculably valuable. And the words are so kind, and so generous, and so accessible. I'm very grateful for this book.
Inspiring. I found myself going back through an highlighting full passages. What an incredible man! You can read this book repeatedly and get something new from it each time.
Dec 06, 2007 Cherie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Buddhists
Shelves: non-fiction
A/A+ This book explains a lot of the basics of compassion, and offers some wonderful wisdom--really great for those on my level of Buddhism
I love reading the writings of His Holiness. His voice comes through so clearly. This book is simple and straightforward, and worth a read.
Just a long boring version of The Golden Rule
Benjamin Barnes
Kind of alright little bit reviewish
Billy K
Blah blah blah, we get it...

Through this book, one is able to start a paradigm shift from the way he thinks to the way he interacts. It assists a person to open new pathways in seeing the world and all creation as something magnificent yet essentially the same. It allows one how to find strength in patience and tolerance, how to be compassionate, how to be guided by loving kindness and how to open one's heart. Perhaps through these lessons, we might be able to implement change, where war is obsolete and people cares for on...more
Jul 03, 2011 Ann rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in learning about the Buddhist way of life.
Recommended to Ann by: Becky Rowley
I was fortunate enough to see the Dalai Lama speak in The Mall in DC during this same time period (1999). Thanks to Becky for turning me on to this book. I had no idea he did of book based on that talk.

I loved this book. Of all the books I have read by his holiness, this is by far my favorite. It could be because it was the easiest to comprehend? Could be because I have been studying/practicing Buddhism for years now and have matured? His earlier books were more easterly written. It's possible t...more
I would be a buddhist if learning buddhism wouldn't have been so boring. The Dalai Lama is not a gifted writer, though from what I understand he didn't even write this--he spoke it, and someone edited his words into a book. I like the philosophy, and what arises from it--compassion is important, positive thoughts enable positive life, etc. I don't like the whole idea of some people becoming buddhas while others are just normal people. If you have enough time to become a buddha, that probably mea...more
A book simply explaining Buddhist beliefs, concepts and methods to achieve understanding and practice in daily life. One does not need to be intent on converting to Buddhism to benefit from the book. The concepts alone are beneficial and prompt one to grow. Even considering the purpose of the exercises and practices is insightful into our own lives, such as the descriptions on mediation and realizing that we all engage in some form of mediation daily even if it is unstructured and seemingly with...more
Not being Buddhist I enjoyed it most for his teachings consequences of anti-virtue (attachment, covetousness, malice) - not necessary in the karmic eternal sense, but even in the day-to-day affect on yourself, your interactions with others, and their reactions to you. It was a good reminder.
I throughly enjoyed this book. Yes people may say its too idealistic, blah blah blah. Well, we should all aim to be as non-judgemental as possible and compassionate every day. I always tell people that it is the little things... The opening the door for the person in a wheelchair and not staring. Picking up a pacifer for a Mom with her arms full. Making conversation with the janitor and thanking him on a regular basis. Helping an elderly person find something at Publix when they are looking conf...more
Jo Ann
What a wonderful book I received this past Mother's Day, just before going to hear the Dalai Lama speak at the University of Arkansas! Based on teachings from 1999 in NYC, the Dalai Lama challenges both Western and Eastern minds and hearts in the practice of compassion, forgiveness, meditation, many of the tenants of Buddhist thought and practice. He challenges (gently, always gently, I do believe is his style)the reader on specific practices that can lead to peace and happiness, harmony and jus...more
Molly Ringle
This one's occasionally a bit more challenging than 'The Art of Happiness,' as it goes into some deeper aspects of Buddhism that take probably years of wrapping your mind around before they truly make sense. Still, I love reading the Dalai Lama. He's soothing and uplifting and generally makes good sense (those deep Buddhist moments aside). It can only be a good thing to be reminded that we should avoid negative emotions and cultivate wisdom and compassion. Simple and straightforward advice, but...more
This book was right up my alley. It is a great book to turn to for advice about compassion in your daily life. After reading Yoga Body, Buddha Mind I was interested in learning more about Buddhism. This is my first read by Dalai Lama. He's good at explaining overall Buddhist principles. The Dalai Lama's explanation about compassion, meditation, the mind/body connection, as well as what karma is and how it affects this life and the next are all worth learning. Compassion in everyday life is not c...more
The first time i pick up a boom like this... I would need to read more and practice this method.. A great book and a fast read.. It covers a lot on meditating
This overview of Buddhism and its terminology is very easy to read but not to comprehend. The book did help me understand some of the concepts behind Buddhism and the idea that we can change ourselves and our outlook through altering our thought processes.
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Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (born Lhamo Döndrub), the 14th Dalai Lama, is a practicing member of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and is influential as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the world's most famous Buddhist monk, and the leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India.

Tenzin Gyatso was the fifth of sixteen children born to a farming family. He was proclaimed the...more
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“Initially, the positive emotions derived from cultivating our higher natures may be weak, but we can enhance them through constant familiarity, making our experiences of happiness and inner contentment far more powerful than a life abandoned to purely impulsive emotions.” 2 likes
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