When Karen Armstrong won the 2008 TED prize, she made a special wish for a better world. Calling on the TED community, religious leaders, and people all around the world, Armstrong declared her intention to create the Charter for Compassion, a document that proclaims a principle embraced by every faith and moral code: act towards others the way we would want them to ask toward us. Armstrong’s book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, provides a practical, twelve-step guide towards living by this principal and making the world a better place.
The twelve steps she suggests begin with “Learn About Compassion,” and close with “Love Your Enemies.” In between, she takes up self-love, mindfulness, suffering, sympathetic joy, the limits of our knowledge of others, and “concern for everybody.” She shares concrete methods to help us cultivate and expand our capacity for compassion, and provides a reading list to encourage us to “hear one another’s narratives.” Armstrong teaches us that becoming a compassionate human being is a lifelong project and a journey filled with rewards.
A special reading group guide has been created for those interested in discussing the book. The reading group guide is intended to foster a greater understanding of compassion, identify ways to regularly practice compassion in personal and public ways, and assist groups in affirming and acting on the Charter for Compassion. Click to download the guide. You can also read an excerpt from the book, and watch video of Karen at the TED conference.