Karen Armstrong believes that while compassion is intrinsic in all human beings, each of us needs to work diligently to cultivate and expand our capacity for compassion. Here, in this straightforward, thoughtful, and thought-provoking book, she sets out a program that can lead us toward a more compassionate life.

The twelve steps Armstrong suggests begin with “Learn About Compassion” and close with “Love Your Enemies.” In between, she takes up “compassion for yourself,” mindfulness, suffering, sympathetic joy, the limits of our knowledge of others, and “concern for everybody.” She suggests concrete ways of enhancing our compassion and putting it into action in our everyday lives, and provides, as well, a reading list to encourage us to “hear one another’s narratives.” Throughout, Armstrong makes clear that a compassionate life is not a matter of only heart or mind but a deliberate and often life-altering commingling of the two.

If you don’t already know about Charter for Compassion you might like to look at the website, where you can join over 85,000 people who have affirmed the Charter. There are opportunities to learn more about compassion,  both towards ourselves and others, personally and internationally.  Charter for Compassion was Karen Armstrong’s TED Prize wish, commenced in 2009, and supported by many world leaders.


14 thoughts on “Compassion

  1. Thank you for this wonderful post and directing me to the chapter for compassion. If only we would all commit to this our world would be a better place.


  2. I’ve just had a quick read too, its the best of being human. I loved the story of Fergus. I’ll go back to read more when I’m home from work. Awesome post my dear!

  3. Oh, I love it when these things happen! I’m a Karen Armstrong fan but didn’t know about this book or website. Thanks for the post – I’m going to search out the book and buy a copy. Karen Armstrong’s autobiography (The Spiral Staircase) spoke to me deeply on a number of levels so I’m keen to see where she goes with this. Many thanks!

  4. Hi Christine,
    I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. I know you’ve been awarded before but you’re really truly versatile and who says you can’t win again? I love to stop by and see what you’re up to and your posts are always inspiring. Congratulations and thanks!!

    • Dear Louise! thank you so much, i am touched by your kindness 🙂 i have a backlog of awards not attended to yet, but will do my best to get organised soon, abundant blessings!!

  5. I wish compassion was contagious to even those who choose not to show any. I read so many stories about cruelty to animals and children, and wonder how some people can live with the horrible things they do to other living creatures. This world is in definite need of compassion by many. This looks like it would be a great book to give to quite a few people out there, especially those with no heart to begin with. Maybe they’d learn something. In the meantime, maybe the rest of us can try to make up for some of the cruelty by treasuring the creatures that cross our paths. Let’s hope so.

      • Blessings back at you and thank you for a fine post. Maybe one day, ALL people will realize that life is short, and learn to at least live by the Golden Rule. That would be a good beginning.

  6. Thank you for writing this, and for me, it was just on time. I’ve been evaluating my values and compassion/love are at the top. I have been wanting to do more learning about this, and looks like this will be a great book to start with. Also, will check out the Charter for Compassion as well.

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