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An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  6,766 Ratings  ·  229 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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Sep 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: development
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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.)
Dec 18, 2015 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.
Aug 31, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Apr 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Purely inspiring!
Hector Hernandez
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Que todos los seres sintientes se libren del sufrimiento. Que podamos meditar sobre la naturaleza del tiempo, y la mente. Buscar claridad de pensamiento, evitar pensamientos, palabras y acciones no virtuosas. La compasión se cultiva todos los días. Buscar un sentido de ecuanimidad y bondad-amor con cualquier persona que te rodea. Todos estamos interconectados, todos dependemos de todos. Alcanzar el estado del buda, eliminar todo sufrimiento y conseguir felicidad suprema hoy y todos los días esta ...more
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Le livre qu'il me fallait !
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
I think this is an example of a book where regardless how good it is, if the reader isn't in a position ready for the book (whether it's the style/content etc) the book will just fall flat. It feels kind of wrong giving only 3 stars written by His Holiness but that is only a reflection of what I got out of the book, not the quality of the book itself. The book itself covers interesting and important topics, in particular the definition of compassion and how that is closely tied to Buddhism and t ...more
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 compas ...more
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Bailey Duemmel
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
It was disappointing. It was so simple and there was no explanation or depth into the history of Buddhism. As short as this book was it still felt too long. I do of course agree with his messages though.
K Huntmorr
Mar 06, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one- better books by Dalai Lama on the same topic
A simple foundation on Buddhism but not as moving as other books by or about the Dalai Lama. It was not detailed enough to give any real instruction nor general enough to appeal broadly.
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Short and sweet. More an overview of Buddhist teachings than practical applications of compassion in everyday life.
Billy K
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Blah blah blah, we get it...

Sep 05, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Just a long boring version of The Golden Rule
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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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