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The Compassionate Life


"The key to a happier and more successful world is the growth of compassion." --His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Giving and receiving affection is the key to happiness, and compassion is the key that opens our hearts to affection. Illuminating themes touched upon in The Good Heart and The Art of Happiness, this generous and gentle book contains some of the most beloved teachings on compassion that the Dalai Lama has ever offered. Touching and transformative, The Compassionate Life is a personal invitation from one of the world's most gifted teachers to live a life of happiness, joy, and true prosperity.

Collected here for the first time are four of the Dalai Lama's most accessible and inspiring teachings on compassion. The purpose of life is to be happy, His Holiness reminds us. To be happy, we should devote ourselves to developing our own peace of mind; the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own peace of mind. Therefore, we must develop compassion for others in order to be truly happy.

In these four teachings--imbued with the gentle humor and extraordinary kindness of this incomparable teacher--His Holiness explores altruism and the need for compassion on an individual as well as a global scale. He offers specific practices for developing loving-kindness and compassion in even the most difficult situations.

Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Born in northeastern Tibet in 1935, he was as a toddler recognized as the incarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and brought to Tibet's capital, Lhasa. In 1950, Mao Zedong's Communist forces made their first incursions into eastern Tibet, shortly after which the young Dalai Lama assumed the political leadership of his country. In 1959, Chinese forces occupied the city, forcing His Holiness to escape to India. There he set up the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, working to secure the welfare of the more than 100,000 Tibetan exiles and prevent the destruction of Tibetan culture. In his capacity as a spiritual and political leader, he has traveled to more than sixty-two countries on six continents and met with presidents, popes, and leading scientists to foster dialogue and create a better world. In recognition of his tireless work for the nonviolent liberation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. In 2012, he relinquished political authority in his exile government and turned it over to democratically elected representatives. He is the author of numerous books, including The Good Heart, The Meaning of Life, The World of Tibetan Buddhism, and The Compassionate Life.

  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (January 30, 2012)
  • Length: 128 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780861718184

"This generous and gentle book contains some of the most beloved teachings on compassion that the Dalai Lama has ever offered-- a personal invitation to happiness from the Nobel Peace Prize-winner himself."

– Cambridge's Harvard Bookstore (Bookseller of the Year 2002)

"Into this deceptively simple little book, the Dalai Lama has poured the goodness of his own heart and the distilled wisdom of lifetimes of work and teachings aimed at refining heart and mind. It is all here, everything we need to enact in our own lives, even in the most trying of times, if we are to realize our own beauty and that of others, and the possibilities of true happiness and peacefulness in this very life, right here and right now. This sorely needed prescription for sanity and kindness in the world is unbelievably simple and unbelievably important, and therefore a practice worthy of our wholehearted commitment."

– Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are

"Simple but not simplistic; readers will enjoy this gentle, lucid call to the compassionate life."

– Publishers Weekly

"The Dalai Lama argues convincingly that putting others before ourselves is the key to both a happier life and a better society, and offers proven Buddhist techniques for how we can cultivate the mind of compassion and equanimity."

– Melvin McLeod, Editor, the Shambhala Sun

"A cogent and edifying little book about the art of cultivating compassion....In addition to his commentary on several passages from Eight Verses for Training the Mind by Langri Tangpa, the Dalai Lama also presents his spiritual readings on the ideas of global demilitarization and defense systems designed to insure protection against attack by enemies. All of this substantive material results in a deep and practical vision of the compassionate life."

– Spirituality and Health

"The editors at Wisdom Publications have done an excellent job in organizing the Dalai's teachings. Beginners will delight in this excellent primer. And Buddhist old-timers will appreciate the more advanced teachings. And almost everyone knows that the Dalai Lama is worth reading and re-reading on any given day."


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