The Compassionate Life by Marc Ian Barasch

"An argument for compassion that is balanced yet persuasive -- and long overdue. This book ought to be a compulsory read for all." --ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

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With a keen balance of hope and skepticism, Marc Barasch sets out on a journey to the heart of compassion, discovering its power to change who we are and the society we have become. He describes encounters with empathetic apes, and with Buddhist monks whose brain scans prove the power of compassion practice; with a man who donated a kidney to a stranger and another who forgave his daughter's murderer; with teenage Palestinian and Israeli girls trying to wage peace; even with astronomers trying to send a missive to E.T. that we're not only clever, but kind.

With unfailing curiosity, Barasch poses vital questions: What can we learn from exceptionally empathetic people? Can we increase our compassion quotient with practice? How do we open our hearts to those who do us harm? What if the great driving force of our evolution were actually "survival of the kindest?" He comes up with challenging, ultimately inspiring answers. Drawing on science and spirituality, history and popular culture, button-down business and a high sense of fun, he creates a smart, provocative argument that a simple shift in consciousness changes pretty much everything.

    "The more who read Barasch, the better the world will be." 
    "Marc Barasch stands out as a bard of the human heart, spinning a gripping, thought-provoking, and entertaining tale as he explores the meandering paths of compassion. His book is an essential guide for anyone who cares deeply about the human condition, and about how we can help each other find our way through with love and guts." 
    --DANIEL GOLEMAN, author of Emotional Intelligence
    "If I had to pick one skill that was most important for a negotiator --meaning everyone everyday -- it would be the ability to put yourself in the other side's shoes. In this extraordinary book -- part keenly observed reportage, part magical story-telling-- Marc Barasch helps us understand why and how this might be so." 
    --WILLIAM URY, co-author of Getting to Yes
    "Forget "compassionate conservatism"--here is something refreshingly real, beyond right or left, just straight to the center of the heart. If you want to help save the world today, then give someone - anyone - this startling, truthful, and passionate book." 
    --ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, columnist, author of Fanatics and Fools
    "In our post-nine-eleven world, compassion is no longer optional. Our future largely depends on it -- and not just compassion toward one another, but also toward the earth and all its creatures. Describing how compassion unfolds in ordinary lives and transforms them is Barasch's great gift. Elegant, erudite, and profoundly gentle: this book is a shimmering jewel." 
    --LARRY DOSSEY, MD, author of Healing Words
    "The Compassionate Life is a stupendous achievement, at once brilliant and touching, a superb work that delicately unravels the secret narrative of the heart. Everyone who reads this book will glimpse an internal map of kindness that Marc Barasch unfolds and displays with style, wit, and humor." 
    --PAUL HAWKEN, author of Natural Capitalism
    "Searching for heart in a world celebrating the brain, Marc Ian Barasch offers a refreshing look at what allows people to share feelings and what drives them to help those in need. The book is wide-ranging, erudite, and full of surprising insights into the behavior of the most empathic primate." 
    --FRANS DE WAAL, Ph.D., director, Living Links Center, Yerkes Primate Center. Author of The Ape and the Sushi Master
    "Marc Barasch is one of America's finest writers--a revolutionary thinker who conveys an uncommon wisdom about the human qualities we all hunger to tap into. This impeccable work reflects the depth of his own life, and breaks new ground on an eternal subject with urgent relevance for our troubled times." 
    --LYNNE TWIST, author of The Soul of Money
    "This book is a marvelous act of generosity: a wise, beautiful, triumphant reminder of our human goodness." 
    --JACK KORNFIELD, author of A Path with Heart
    "A powerful argument for a world of generosity and love. Amidst his engaging personal accounts of interactions with a wide variety of helpers and healers, Barasch develops sophisticated social theory that challenges the paralyzing cynicism that is the "common sense" of our age. This book would be a great gift to a friend or family member who has given up hope about healing our world--but it should also be required reading at every college and in every workplace, reminding us that kindness and compassion are not luxuries but the essential ingredients for our survival on this planet." 
    --RABBI MICHAEL LERNER, editor of Tikkun magazine, author of Spirit Matters
    "Cultivating the virtue of compassion is a requirement for optimum health as well as for improving the state of the world. This book will help you do both. It is good medicine for our time."
    --ANDREW WEIL, author of Spontaneous Healing
    "I have read this book twice. The first time, coming from an intellectual perspective, I found things to think about. The second time, I stopped thinking and read it from my heart, and was doubly rewarded by the stories and the wisdom Marc shares. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand why the compassionate life is the answer--and who wants to learn how to live it." 
    --BERNIE SIEGEL, MD, author of Love, Medicine, and Miracles
    "The Compassionate Life is an honest, uplifting and humorous exploration of the terrain of kindness made manifest through care and connection. It serves as an important reminder of the vast potential that each of us shares." 
    --SHARON SALZBERG, author of Lovingkindness
    "A perfect reminder on how to conduct one's life amidst the ever increasing chaos and lack of kindness in our society. His storytelling is captivating and, most importantly, I became more engaged in noticing opportunities to increase compassion and kindness around me-creating those ripples that positively affect others and myself. A worthwhile read for anyone wishing to live a more wholesome life." 
    --STEPHAN RECHTSCHAFFEN, founder of the Omega Institute
    "Powerful and engaging, The Compassionate Life is an extraordinary guidebook to the mysterious country we call the human heart. Whenever I travel there, I intend to take this book with me." 
    --MARK GERZON, Mediators Foundation, author of Leading Beyond Borders
    "Marc Barasch has shown the mind the way to embrace the compassion of the heart and the spirit. I was warmed by his words, past the intellect, into the large Compassion that holds us in the embrace of life." 
    -- RABBI ZALMAN M. SCHACHTER-SHALOMI, author of Wrapped in a Holy Flame