Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life ~ by Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong won the 2008 TED Prize and with it her "wish to change the world."  Her goal was to create a Charter for Compassion.  You can view the video of her "TED Prize Wish" on the Charter for Compassion homepage (on the right side of the page).  Thousands of people contributed to the process and the Charter was unveiled around the world in November 2009.  I'm one of the original signers.  The organization has inspired community-based acts of compassion all over the world.

The goal of this study is not to "learn about" compassion, but to PRACTICE compassion.  The Charter for Compassion has provided an organizer's guide which includes discussion questions, but also includes ACTIONS for each of the twelve sections.  In other words, we will practice being compassionate during the month we discuss each step.

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life ~ by Karen Armstrong, 2010

In this important and thought-provoking work, Karen Armstrong — one of the most original thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world — provides an impassioned and practical guide to helping us make the world a more compassionate place.  The twelve steps she suggests are listed below.  We'll look at one step a month.  She shares concrete methods to help us cultivate and expand our capacity for compassion and provides a reading list to encourage us to “hear one another’s narratives.”  She teaches us that becoming a compassionate human being is a lifelong project and a journey filled with rewards.
Preface ~ Wish for a Better World
The First Step ~ Learn About Compassion
The Second Step ~ Look at Your Own World
The Third Step ~ Compassion for Yourself
The Fourth Step ~ Empathy
The Fifth Step ~ Mindfulness
The Sixth Step ~ Action
The Seventh Step ~ How Little We Know
The Eighth Step ~ How Should We Speak to One Another?
The Ninth Step ~ Concern for Everybody
The Tenth Step ~ Knowledge
The Eleventh Step ~ Recognition
The Twelfth Step ~ Love Your Enemies
We may also choose to read other books together during this year, but for this book on compassion, we'll take one step a month. I'll post something about each chapter during that month, and our discussion will be in the comments on that month's post. Leave a comment on this post, if you want to study with us. You are welcome to join us, even if you don't get the book, since this is an action-based study. You will, of course, learn even more from reading the book.

Preface ~ Wish for a Better World
When you get the book, read the preface and tell us here what you think about the meaning of compassion, the charter, the Golden Rule, or anything you read about in the preface.


Bonnie Jacobs said...

Happy New Year, book buddies! We have a new book to study, if you're willing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for choosing this book. I will get started today.

Shirley said...

Since this is to be a year long adventure, I ordered this.
Happy New Year!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I just posted (approximately) the same thing on my book blog, so maybe we'll get others to join us.

Maybe we should email former Book Buddies, to see if they'll come back.

Mary, do you think Cori would be interested?

Shirley, would any of your friends or family consider joining us?

In the meantime, we can take a good look around the Charter for Compassion web site.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Quoting the Dalai Lama:

"Today, as we wish each other a Happy New Year, let us determine to be more sincere, compassionate, warm-hearted human beings, trying to make our world a more equal place. That way we'll actually make it a happy year."

alisonwonderland said...

I'm in.

Shirley said...

I can't think of anyone who would be interested in joining the discussion. The friends I visit with most either don't read much or avoid computers. That's why I enjoy our book group so much.

Linda PM said...

Yes i would like to join!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Welcome,Linda PM. If you would like to receive the comments automatically, send me your email address. Here's mine:
emerging.paradigm AT

(Be sure to include the DOT between "emerging" and "paradigm." You don't have to be on the comments list, in case you'd rather not share your email address. This applies to the first TEN, since that's Blogger's limit.)

Anonymous said...

1. What has been your experience of compassion and — on the other hand — the growing "extremism, intolerance, and hatred" (p.6) that leads to further alienation.

On Bonnie's Facebook page she posted and article about an ecumenical service in which a Roman Catholic Cardinal and a woman Methodist minister exchanged a blessing using a baptismal greeting with a cross of water on the forehead. I see this as a very simple example of love and compassion.

The reaction of some to this simple ritual has been very negative and this growing "extremism, intolerance, and hatred" (p.6) is leading me to further alienation from these narrow-minded troglodites.

Shirley said...

I finished the book missing the expected discussion when I started the book. I wish that I could report that as a result of this read that I am now a more compassionate person acting as an ambassador to create compassion in our world. It didn't happen. However, the book has made me more aware of what compassion is with the goal of trying to become more compassionate.