A well-structured and systematic programme encouraging people of all faiths to practice conscious compassion in the same way we would learn any new skill. Armstrong’s belief that humanity has an innate capacity for goodness, which can override the baser instincts of the “crocodile brain” is reassuring. Her twelve steps provide a simple enough guide and, based on Socratic dialogue, ask questions that challenge the reader’s known perceptions.
Containing what seems like common sense to people who have already struggled with the concept of forgiveness and compassion this book will be a good place to start if one is just beginning the journey of enlightened (or compassionate) living.
Although she touches briefly on the need to apply the Golden Rule (to love our neighbour as we love ourselves) in families and neighbourhoods, the focus was more on the universal than the personal. Given Armstrong’s background as a strong advocate of interfaith dialogue, this is understandable, but I would have gained more if there’d been deeper discussion on the challenges of living a compassionate life in my ordinary day-to-day existence before I start worrying about healing breaches with people across the oceans. Yes, we live in a global village, but as Armstrong herself points out, compassion has to start at the very centre of our personal lives before it can spread to the outer reaches of the larger world we live in.
Still, any book that emphasises the need for love and compassion in our current world is a worthwhile read. I turned the last page feeling more hopeful for the souls of the human race than I have in a long time