It takes courage for a religious historian and writer of Armstrong’s stature to step out from behind the scrim of scholarship and analysis to offer guidelines for a spiritual practice designed to make humanity a kinder and saner species. With the boon of the prestigious TED Prize, Armstrong (The Case for God, 2009) worked with “leading thinkers from a variety of major faiths” to compose a Charter for Compassion, which calls for the restoration of “compassion to the heart of religious and moral life” in a “dangerously polarized” world.
Not content with merely stating lofty goals, however, Armstrong, a revered genius of elucidation and synthesis, now tells the full and profound story of altruism throughout human history. She turns to neuroscience and tracks the evolution of our brains and our natural capacity for empathy and performs her signature mode of beautifully clarifying interpretation in a mind-expanding discussion of the history of the Golden Rule (“Always treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself”), the essence of compassion and the kernel of every religious tradition.
Exquisite and affecting explications of Buddhist, Confucian, Judaic, Christian and Islamic commentary prepare the ground for meditation exercises meant to engender “open-mindedness” and the cultivation of compassion, making for the most sagacious and far-reaching 12-step program ever.
Use this Study Guide to the Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life as a book club discussion guide or as a road map for becoming a compassionate human being in a lifelong project and a journey filled with rewards.
- The First Step: Learn About Compassion
- The Second Step: Look at Your Own World
- The Third Step: Compassion for Yourself
- The Fourth Step: Empathy
- The Fifth Step: Mindfulness
- The Sixth Step: Action
- The Seventh Step: How Little We Know
- The Eighth Step: How Should We Speak to One Another?
- The Ninth Step: Concern for Everybody
- The Tenth Step: Knowledge
- The Eleventh Step: Recognition
- The Twelfth Step: Love Your Enemies