Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.
—Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama’s An Appeal to the World is a moving primer of his message for the 21st century. In an interview with television journalist Franz Alt, His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed both the inward and outward paths of peace, war, climate change, materialism, meditation, universal ethics, and even neuroscience. His Holiness discussed six principles: 1) nonviolence—of which he has become a symbol to free Tibet; 2) tolerance—he envisions no peace unless there is peace among religions; 3) every religion’s uniqueness; 4) the meaning of religion today—the Dalai Lama sees a religious believer as one who collaborates in preserving the earth; 5) patience—His Holiness is working on this virtue; and 6) death and rebirth—of which he has no clue what will happen.
Still the Dalai Lama presents the world with a “childlike faith” in political miracles saying, “One day we will cooperate well with China.” He put his greatest hope on China’s young people, and the 400 million who are Buddhists. His Holiness viewed the 65 years of Chinese Communism as an enormous spiritual void, as compared with 1,300 years of Tibetan Buddhism.
Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong was also most pertinent for the 21st century too. Armstrong uses the Golden Rule as the foundation of her discourse on what it means to live compassionately. She envisioned twelve steps, but thought that such an approach could take a life time. In the introduction to the text readers are introduced to the major faith traditions, and concepts based on compassion. Later Armstrong weaved these steps carefully by explaining what people ought to do to benefit from them. At each step they are presented with a discussion about how to use each teaching. These compassionate goals were carefully calibrated, and based on the major religions. Although every goal could stand alone, Armstrong was able to integrate the goals of each affirmation with an explanation.
This book was able to relate each topic to contemporary issues. Armstrong recognized all of us have problems with which we are struggling. She explained how important it was for us to transcend the thinking about ourselves. Armstrong wrote that people should reach out to the good and bad aspects of life alike. People should treat others the way they would like to be treated. This dictum should also include our enemies that are suffering just like us.
Armstrong’s work was formulated like the Twelve Steps Program for Alcohol Anonymous. Her vision of compassion grew out of her 2008 TED talk on compassion for which she won a $100,000 prize. This achievement led her to focus her thinking as a religious historian and interfaith advocate on the promulgation of the Golden Rule, and compassionate living in the world.
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