Look into your own heart and discover what gives you pain and then refuse under any circumstances whatsoever to inflict that pain onto anybody else.

–Karen Armstrong

Title: Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

Author: Karen Armstrong

Synopsis: Karen Armstrong, a religious historian and former nun, explores the notion of empathy and compassion that underlies and unifies the Abrahamic faiths as well as most other religious traditions.

Why I read this: A certain yogini inspired me to deepen my understanding of compassion.

What I loved about it: Armstrong’s conviction and intellect shine through every page. The depth and breadth of her scholarship was a nice change from my recent lighter reading.  The language was scholarly, yet accessible, intelligible and beautiful.

What was unexpected: I was surprised by the depth beneath the self-help title and macrostructure. There really are twelve steps, but the history, spirit, and detail Armstrong provides were far more intriguing.


You might like this if you liked: The Lost Art of Compassion: Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology

Fun coincidence:  As I was reading this book, El Diablo was reading God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
by Christopher Hitchens. The themes and events covered often coincided. It was fun to compare notes and the authors’ vastly different perspectives: enduring optimism vs. chronically quarrelsome.

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