Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

Karen Armstrong

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

An urgent appeal to establish empathy and altruism at the centre of our private and public lives... Drawing on a wide range of material, ranging from the spiritualities of the world religions to the findings of contemporary neuroscience, Karen Armstrong argues that compassion is hardwired into our brains, yet is constantly pushed back by our more primitive instincts for selfishness and survival. Taking as her starting point the teachings of the great world religions, she demonstrates in twelve practical steps how we can bring compassion to the forefront of our lives. 3.9 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Society, Politics & Philosophy, Religion & Spirituality
Format Paperback
Pages 224
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication January 2011
ISBN 978-1847921581
Publisher Bodley Head
 

An urgent appeal to establish empathy and altruism at the centre of our private and public lives... Drawing on a wide range of material, ranging from the spiritualities of the world religions to the findings of contemporary neuroscience, Karen Armstrong argues that compassion is hardwired into our brains, yet is constantly pushed back by our more primitive instincts for selfishness and survival. Taking as her starting point the teachings of the great world religions, she demonstrates in twelve practical steps how we can bring compassion to the forefront of our lives.

Reviews

The Times

Sarah Vine

Armstrong’s critics will inevitably dismiss this book as theology-lite, an abbreviated romp through themes and concepts that are too erudite to be packaged up as a glorified self-help book. But it is because the subjects she tackles are so traditionally complex that her no-nonsense approach is so appealing. Sometimes a little simplification is a small price to pay for a greater degree of popularisation, especially when your message is so vitally important.

01/01/2011

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The Sunday Times

Edward King

Readers may ... flinch at the prescriptive and slightly patronising dimension of the book. But this doesn’t detract from its main strength, which is the thoroughness of Armstrong’s historical research. It is a testament to the rigour of the author’s argument that you don’t hurl Twelve Steps across the room when being told that “meditation can fit easily into your regular routine”.

02/01/2011

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The Washington Post

Lisa Bonos

Leaning on the wisdom of disparate faiths and belief systems, Armstrong lays out a pluralistic and, ultimately, secular way to spread compassion that's easy to believe in. The challenge lies in actually following it.

14/01/2011

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The Financial Times

AN Wilson

The individualism that Armstrong’s do-it-yourself approach releases is surely cause for rejoicing. Gratefully aware of the riches of Buddhism, the Greek tragedians or the Hebrew scriptures, she does not want to make us into Buddhists, Athene-worshippers or Jews ... But we recognise, partly thanks to Armstrong, that we do all wish to lead more compassionate lives, and these old sages can help us.

07/01/2011

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The Independent

Peter Stanford

Recognising what we have in common, rather than hiding behind what divides us, is the key to reaching stage 12 — loving your enemies — and true compassion. If it sounds rather too neat, then the scale of the task is constantly emphasised ... But the ultimate prize, she stresses with an enthusiasm and energy that are impossible to resist, is worth it.

31/12/2010

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The Observer

Richard Holloway

It would make a brilliant guide for leaders of retreats and workshops on the compassionate life, and as a repository of digested wisdom from the world's religions I cannot recommend it too highly. But is she correct in suggesting that, au fond, the essence of the main religions boils down to compassion? It is probably correct where Buddhism is concerned and it is from Buddhism that her best insights and examples come. I think she is on shakier ground when she applies it to Christianity and Islam.

19/12/2010

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The Scotsman

Stuart Kelly

...her version of goodness is terribly cosy... At one point, Armstrong urges "it's important to be specific or the exercise will degenerate into meaningless generalities", which pretty accurately summarises my problem with the whole rewriting of world religions; whereby everyone, from St Paul to Mencius to Socrates to the Sufi mystics, ends up sounding suspiciously like Ned Flanders.

11/01/2011

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