- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 29 hours and 45 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Hachette Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: June 2, 2015
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00Y1JVJSI
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World Audiobook – Unabridged
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From the first page, Ricard introduces the reader to the various forms of altruism and portrays “true love” as a supreme form of compassion. He recognizes that individualism, greediness, egocentrism, and narcissism are human forces that oppose altruism, and brings up the famous Groucho Marx quip, “why should I care about future generations? What have they ever done for me?” Nevertheless, through the entire book, he conveys an astonishing and varied amount of information, ranging from historical analyses, comparative biology, the role of the hormone oxytocin, the functioning of “mirror neurons,” and the effects of vagal tone on the parasympathetic nervous system, to explain that humans are social animals that have a natural tendency to cooperate; such a view is opposite to the well-known concept that humans are by nature competitive, selfish and behave like wolves. The book gives a particular emphasis to two central themes, the demonstration that altruism exists, and how to cultivate it.
The book arrives at a most propitious moment when the United Nations is holding negotiations to adopt a new strategy for the next 15 years, called “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs). It is also the time when many religious groups are intensifying their teachings about tolerance and cooperation to deal with the modern world, and particularly the affirmation that we have the moral obligation to act, as stated in the recent papal encyclical about climate change. Ricard expands the notion of altruism to deal with its social dimension and devotes many pages to explain the concepts of interdependence and interconnectedness, which are at the core of the yoga tradition. Based on solid scientific research, he brings the well-known concept of “planetary boundaries” to explain the magnitude of the current planetary challenges. The fifth part of the book is devoted to discuss the basis of a future altruistic society.
Altruism is a dense encyclopaedic and documented work that demands deep study and reflection. It has 1,769 references, printed in the last 131 pages as end-notes. It will remain for many years a major reference on the subject. We hope that in a new edition the publishers will include an alphabetical index of authors and subjects as this scholarly work will be an indispensable source of information. His major concluding remarks are a clear message: “We must dare to embrace altruism. Dare to say that real altruism exists, that it can be cultivated … and that the evolution of cultures can favour its expansion. Dare to teach it in schools. .. Dare to proclaim that altruism is not a luxury, but a necessity.”