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An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  6,345 Ratings  ·  209 Reviews
How does one actually become a compassionate person? What are the mechanisms by which a selfish heart is transformed into a generous heart? The Dalai Lama's teachings on this essential subject, drawn from talks he delivered during his epochal visit to America in 1999, form the basis of this universally appealing book.

Author Biography: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenz

Hardcover, 208 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2001)
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Feb 07, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Sep 25, 2010 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
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
Apr 06, 2012 Malika rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 02, 2008 Randy rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 24, 2015 Daniela rated it it was amazing
I was thinking this book would be an easy way to just read and start practicing Buddhism on the go. It actually took me a couple of weeks just to go through the text and contemplate on it. In order to make Buddhism part of your life takes weeks, and years.. and maybe a lifetime.

Definitely a book I would come back always to seek for an answer or to find the path to my own questions.

"If we are able to diminish our selfish instincts and develop a little more concern for others before our death, we
Apr 19, 2007 Justin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 20, 2015 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
A lot of this was way over my head. However, the bits I understood I enjoyed very much :) Extremely humbling.
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.
Apr 30, 2008 Rachel rated it it was amazing
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 it was amazing
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
Sep 13, 2010 Margie rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
I love reading the writings of His Holiness. His voice comes through so clearly. This book is simple and straightforward, and worth a read.
Desiree Wills Velazco
Oct 01, 2015 Desiree Wills Velazco rated it it was amazing
Purely inspiring!
Linda Abhors the New GR Design
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
Jul 03, 2011 Ann rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 26, 2016 Oscar rated it it was amazing
Claro está un gran libro para todo practicante del budismo, especialmente interesados en desarrollar la bodichita. Es un libro un tanto avanzado que no recomendaría a personas que se están iniciando en la práctica. Las enseñanzas son prácticas pero profundas y si consideró que personas sin previos conocimientos y previa práctica encontrarán el libro un tanto confuso o desafiante. Para aquellos practicantes experimentados o no tan experimentados es un gran libro para recordarnos nuestro trabajo e ...more
Aug 20, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 11, 2008 Cathy rated it it was amazing
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
Tadeas Petak
Jul 14, 2015 Tadeas Petak rated it it was amazing
Not being too familiar with the Buddhist teachings myself, I am not sure how qualified I am to comment on this but Open Heart seems like the perfect introduction to the Buddhist philosophy and way of life.

It clearly presents the underlying ideas of Buddhism and summarises a few meditation techniques and ways of dealing with afflictive emotions in our everyday lives. It also concisely explains why this approach is beneficial for everyone. I love the "hands-on" nature of the book - it is as practi
Andy Pugnetti
Mar 04, 2015 Andy Pugnetti rated it liked it
An Open Heart is a great read about two aspects of Buddhism. One of them being the Dali Lammas personal finds in his own quest( how he became who he is today). The other being the basics anyone can practice to help them with anything from controlling stress levels to fully practicing the ways of the buddha. The main message for this book is for the reader finish with a basic idea and understanding of Buddhism and also to learn about key methods to Buddhism. And after reading the book i can say I ...more
Apr 30, 2009 Patrick rated it liked it
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.
Jan 23, 2016 Will rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-2013, buddhism
Edition 0-316-98979-7

you must not consider tolerance and patience to be signs of weakness

our enemy is our guru

I find it wrong that in our modern society we tend to reject people who have committed crimes

when we indulge our desires, they tend to increase in intensity and multiply in number

the substantial cause of our present state of mind is the previous moment of mind

animals simply do not have the ability to willfully pursue virtue the way humans do

the effect of an unvirtuous actio
Unfortunately the title and summery is a bit misleading. As having read two other books by His Holiness, I was hoping for a text that specifically covered and analyzed the singular topic of compassion. That is not what this book is. Rather, it is another overal summation of Buddhist practice for digestion of the common being.

In this sense, it is not a bad summation, but a rather shallow one. it is good as an introduction, but not for those of us who already have a basic understanding of the conc
Book Concierge
I thought the introductory chapter was thought-provoking ... it made me want to keep reading. But by the third page of the "text" I was bored and disinterested. Maybe I'm too much of an "A" personality to want so much peace and serenity. (The woman who recommended it to book club didn't show up for the discussion.)
Jun 23, 2014 Rachel rated it liked it
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.
Brad McKenna
Feb 11, 2016 Brad McKenna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddhism
I've been reading a lot of the Dalai Lama's books as of late. One of the best attributes of the man is his ability to cross cultural boundaries and still keep his beliefs relevant. However, the one downside of that is his not diving into the details of Buddhism. This book is different.

While he does spin his talk towards a Western audience (for it is, basically, the transcript of a series of talks he gave), he also goes deeper. He talks about methods for meditating, specifically, Calm Abiding. He
Mary Kay
Jul 07, 2009 Mary Kay rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 11, 2012 Joanne rated it it was ok
Just a long boring version of The Golden Rule
Billy K
Jan 03, 2008 Billy K rated it it was ok
Blah blah blah, we get it...

Aug 11, 2014 Antonio rated it it was amazing
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 21, 2012 Gadi rated it liked it
Shelves: own
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
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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 about Dalai Lama XIV...

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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.” 5 likes
“If we analyze or dissect a flower, looking for the flower among its parts, we shall not find it ... And yet, we cannot deny the existence of flowers and of their sweet scent.” 5 likes
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