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An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life Hardcover – September 25, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the summer of 1999, the Dalai Lama addressed an audience of over 40,000 in Central Park on how to live a better life. Open Heart is derived from this and other popular lectures given in New York. Here, the Dalai Lama progresses beyond his bestsellers The Art of Happiness and Ethics for the New Millennium by introducing specific practices that can engender happiness. Spiritual practice, according to the Dalai Lama, is a matter of taming unwanted emotions, which means becoming aware of how the mind works. Through the methods of analytical and settled meditation, the Dalai Lama shows how we can cultivate helpful states of mind and eliminate harmful states, leading us to develop compassion for others and happiness for ourselves. But there is no preaching of a single, right method. This revered but humble monk merely invites the reader to understand the causes of one's suffering and consider how best to alleviate it. Open Heart should draw crowds to the bookstores and lead us all to more satisfactory living. --Brian Bruya

From Publishers Weekly

"Just as musicians train their hands, athletes their reflexes and techniques, linguists their ears, scholars their perceptions, so we direct our minds and hearts." And so with his characteristic deftness, His Holiness the Dalai Lama here builds bridges from the realities of everyday life to sublimely spiritual pursuits. This compilation, based on teachings delivered by His Holiness in New York in 2001, is founded upon a weaving of two ancient Buddhist texts. These are made accessible here in part by Vreeland's skillful editing and in part by the unflagging style of the Dalai Lama, who continues to spread his message of loving compassion beyond the borders of Buddhism. Readers who savored his The Art of Happiness and Ethics for the New Millennium will likely be ready to take these next steps into practical approaches for everyday living that are supremely grounded in Buddhist philosophy, but extend an open heart to all types of believers and nonbelievers as well. While not a manual in the traditional Western sense of highly sequenced steps, this book is a treasury of teachings that point clearly to a better way to live. Exquisite, perfectly matched photographs round out such chapters as "The Desire for Happiness," "Karma," "Compassion," "Calm Abiding" and "Wisdom." Many books today receive the Dalai Lama's blessing, but this one issues a special invitation to receive ancient wisdom through the mind and heart of a modern spiritual master. (Sept. 25)Forecast: Although it's unlikely to achieve the million-plus copy status of The Art of Happiness, this book (based on lectures that were directed to an American audience) is poised for bestsellerdom. National advertising and extensive media appearances by Vreeland will help with promotion, as will a fall excerpt in Spirituality & Health magazine. This is a main selection of the One Spirit Book Club.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (September 25, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316989797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316989794
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born in 1935 to a peasant family in northeastern Tibet and was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. The world's foremost Buddhist leader, he travels extensively, speaking eloquently in favor of ecumenical understanding, kindness and compassion, respect for the environment, and, above all, world peace.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

154 of 160 people found the following review helpful By Renee Owens on November 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This latest book by the Dalai Lama is a compilation of speeches he gave in NYC in the past. It lists the main traits one should practice to fulfill a healthy lifestyle: compassion, empathy, wisdom, and so on. If you have already read 'Ethics For The New Millenium' or 'The Art of Happiness' you will find that this book repeats much of the material in those books. The main difference I see in this edition is that some basic meditation techniques are covered. Overall, it is a book that reminds us of the most important qualities one should practice to create a centered life. I also recommend "Open Your Mind, Open Your Life: A Little Book of Eastern Wisdom" by Taro Gold which is filled with hundreds of thought-provoking and inspirational quotations.
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In 1999, the Dalai Lama gave two teachings in New York City. The Dalai Lama gave the first teaching (which constitutes the Introduction to this book) in Central Park on August 15, 1999 to a gathering of 200,000 people. He gave the second teaching as a series of lectures to an audience of 3,000 people in Manhattan's Beacon Theater.
The individual lecture and the series of lectures each capture something essential about the Dalai Lama's teaching and his manner of presenting it. The Central Park lecture appears designed for a large, lay audience of diverse backgrounds and religious interests. It presupposes no particular knowledge of or interest in Buddhism. In the lecture, the Dalai Lama speaks simply and eloquently about the desire of all people to secure happiness. He talks about how this goal can be achieved, with time and effort, by understanding and curbing our desires for material things, by recognizing the essential equality of human nature and human drives everywhere, and by generating compassion. There is topical material included in this lecture on matters such as protecting the environment, the noise and bustle of New York City, and the sometimes drastic consequences of fanaticism and nationalism.
The series of lectures, in contrast to the Central Park lecture, is specifically Buddhist in character. The Dalai Lama tells us that the lectures are based in large part on two Buddhist tests: the "Middle-Length States of Meditation", by an eight-century Indian writer, Kamalashila, and "The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas" by a fourteenth century Tibetan, Togmay Sangpo.
In very short succinct chapters, the Dalai Lama's lectures explain the heart of Buddhist practice for a Western audience.
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65 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Oliver Hill on October 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
An Open Heart is an interesting book and informative book. The Dalai Lama has a strong message for both Eastern and Western Civilizations. For the West he says, I think that anger and hatred actually cause more harm to us than to the person responsible for the problem. He tells us, in essence, to give being victims to our anger and hate. This message is also being presented more and more frequently by American authors who have been trained in western psychology but have modified their training to incorporate more advanced spiritual concepts � See An Encounter With a Prophet by C. A. Lewis and There is a Spiritual Solution to every problem by Wayne W. Dyer.

The Dalai Lama also has a strong message for the East. He provides a new interpretation of The Third Nobel Truth of Buddhism - Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases. In the past this �Truth�, also contained in modified form within the Hindu religion, has caused many sincere followers of both religions to content themselves with poverty. He tells his Buddhist followers living in poverty, �You yourselves must make effort; you must take initiative, with self-confidence, to bring about change.
An Open Hear is definitely a worthwhile read.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Neal J. Pollock VINE VOICE on February 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Of the 8 books I've read by Ngawang Losang Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, I like this one best (though I haven't read the Practice book others have mentioned). This one includes comments on several Buddhist texts (as have some of his others). However, this one is a bit more practical than the others--it includes some guidance on the 4 Immeasurables practices (loving kindness, compassion, equanimity, and joy--especially in others' happiness), Bodhichitta (Buddha Mind or universal compassion), and Shamatha or Shine (Calm or Tranquil Abiding). The last is the basic form of Tibetan Buddhist (Vajrayana) meditation. It is an essential starting point towards enlightenment--included in virtually all schools of Buddhism from Theravada (SE Asia) to Dzogchen and Mahamudra. All these teachings are presented in His Holiness' gentle, compassionate style, reflecting his own nature. I had the great fortune to meet him for a brief moment in Washington, DC and, IMHO, he is the most present and sincere and real person I've met. The value of his work (s) IMHO is more a reflection of what he is than who he is or what he says or writes.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Algernon D'Ammassa on January 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
His Holiness the Dalai Lama may not succeed in getting justice for Tibet in his lifetime. He is, however, a recognized world leader with a tremendous following. When he gave a public talk in the east meadow of New York's Central Park in 1999, a crowd of 200,000 turned out.
This book begins with that talk, in which he endorses a spiritual ethics based on one spiritual truth we all share: that human beings are often unhappy, and that we all aspire to be happy.
The chapters that follow are good introductory lectures to a Buddhist technique (which does not require, in fact discourages, any departure from another faith). He sticks closely to the subject matter, and uses stories and humor only to help illustrate the more abstract teachings.
A strong 'dharma candy' he uses to inspire us is this happiness. That surely draws many people to the dharma: a hope for improvement, in ourselves or our situation; a sense of incompleteness. Now you, too, can frustrate your oppressors by keeping your equilibrium and your smile. There are dangers in taking such an idealistic approach, but by the end, even those goals that brought us to the cushion are kindly brought into the light and examined for what they are.
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