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An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  6,435 Ratings  ·  211 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 ...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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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 ...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
Dec 01, 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 ...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.
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.
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.
Billy K
Jan 01, 2014 Billy K rated it it was ok
Blah blah blah, we get it...

Jan 01, 2014 Joanne rated it it was ok
Just a long boring version of The Golden Rule
Robin Friedman
Nov 20, 2016 Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing
The Dalai Lama In New York City

In 1999, the Dalai Lama gave two teachings in New York City. The Dalai Lama gave the first teaching (which constitutes the Introduction to this book) in Central Park on August 15, 1999 to a gathering of 200,000 people. He gave the second teaching as a series of lectures to an audience of 3,000 people in Manhattan's Beacon Theater.

The individual lecture and the series of lectures each capture something essential about the Dalai Lama's teaching and his manner of pres
Oct 30, 2016 Christine rated it really liked it
Shelves: spiritual
Compassion. Kindness. Wisdom. Generosity of spirit. Although I am not a Buddhist, I find myself perpetually interested in the universality of the teachings of the Dalai Lama. I find that each person who reads his books takes away something different from them; some personal meaning that gives insight to the struggles of the human condition. For myself, it is to remember that though I may not find compassion where I would most expect it (my family), I must remain open to and mindful of the ...more
Z.R. Southcombe
Sep 20, 2016 Z.R. Southcombe rated it it was amazing
A practical approach to daily compassion, towards others and ourselves.
Timothy Alan
Sep 15, 2016 Timothy Alan rated it it was amazing
I found this book very much helpful at a time in my life years ago, I have not read this book in a few years, but for certain it has been a part of and what I am to this day.
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
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 ...more
Geral Poma Santos
Sep 10, 2016 Geral Poma Santos rated it it was amazing
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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.” 4 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.” 4 likes
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