The Lost Art of Compassion: Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology

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Western culture has long sidelined compassion as the province of the saintly or the overly naive. To our great detriment, we have overlooked one of our most powerful inner resources for creating a life of happiness and contentment. In The Lost Art of Compassion, clinical psychologist and longtime Tibetan Buddhist practitioner Lorne Ladner rescues compassion from the margins, and demonstrates its direct and powerful benefits for our day-to-day lives. Until recently Western psychology focused almost exclusively on ...
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2004 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 304 p. Audience: General/trade.

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New York, NY 2004 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Tight binding with clean text. New. First edition, with full number line. Glued binding. Paper over boards. ... With dust jacket. 304 p. Audience: General/trade. Draws on Buddhist traditions and modern psychology to present ways in which readers can develop compassion, joy, and contentment in the face of a busy lifestyle, providing a definition for healthy compassion as well as arguments as to why compassion is an essential part of life. Read more Show Less

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The Lost Art of Compassion

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Overview

Western culture has long sidelined compassion as the province of the saintly or the overly naive. To our great detriment, we have overlooked one of our most powerful inner resources for creating a life of happiness and contentment. In The Lost Art of Compassion, clinical psychologist and longtime Tibetan Buddhist practitioner Lorne Ladner rescues compassion from the margins, and demonstrates its direct and powerful benefits for our day-to-day lives. Until recently Western psychology focused almost exclusively on working with unhealthy emotions and relationships, turning very little of its research or expertise toward understanding positive emotional states. While interest in positive psychology is just dawning in the West, the cultivation of compassion has been a cornerstone of Tibetan Buddhism, stuied and developed for over a thousand years. The Lost Art of Compassion is the first book to incorporate the Tibetan Buddhist teachings most suited to Westerners and provides a crucial perspective that is sorely lacking in Western psychology. Bringing together the best contributions of psychology and Buddhism, Dr. Ladner bridges the gap between East and West, theory and practice, in this user-friendly guide for getting through each day with greater contentment and ease. The Lost Art of Compassion offers ten methods for cultivating joy and contentment, bringing directly applicable wisdom to everyday situations. The result is a highly practical, engaging guide that weaves together these two disciplines and encourages readers to reclaim this neglected path to happiness.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
One of the ways that Buddhism is making its presence known in the West is through a perceived affinity with psychology. Ladner, a psychologist and Buddhist practitioner, presents a way of using time-tested spiritual practices from the Tibetan tradition as aids for psychology professionals and clients to develop a healthier and happier outlook. Dealing specifically with the concept of compassion, Ladner illustrates the Buddhist understanding of this term, which proceeds from the concept of "no-self." This distinguishes it from the altruistic connotation usually applied by Westerners, and, in a therapeutic setting, using the practices described, it allows for a unique uncovering of some essential and health-giving human qualities. The methods of practice are reiterated in a summary, and anecdotal illustrations of their application in Western psychological practice are given throughout. The blending of psychology and Buddhism appears to be inevitable, and there is much debate regarding how this can be achieved without watering down both areas of inquiry. This book provides one nice model for respectful and productive integration; it is an important addition to the growing literature on the meeting of Buddhist practice and Western psychology.-Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
“This book carries the enlightened wisdom to heal relationship problems and mental suffering that trouble our life.”
Mark Epstein
“Dr. Ladner’s book is inspiring for all of us, therapists and patients alike.”
Philip Martin
“Ladner shows us that by nurturing compassion in our lives, we can discover deep strength, intimacy, and joy.”
Annie Dillard
“Exercising compassion will begin building an unshakeable happiness. Dr. Ladner’s written a wonderful book.”
Tara Bennett-Goleman
“Lorne Ladner is like an inner archeologist brilliantly illuminating the neglected component of personal and global transformation.”
Jack Kornfield
“A helpful, kindhearted, articulate teaching of the way of compassion. Buddhism and Western psychology meet here wisely and beautifully.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060536855
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/20/2004
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Lorne Ladner, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in private practice near Washington, D.C., and an adjunct faculty member in the counseling program at Argosy University. Dr. Ladner is also center director at the Guhyasamaja Buddhist Center in Northern Virginia. He regularly teaches classes, conducts workshops, and leads meditation retreats.

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Read an Excerpt

The Lost Art of Compassion

Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology
By Ladner, Lorne

HarperSanFrancisco

ISBN: 0060536853

Chapter One

Living Deliberately

Buddhist masters always have emphasized that each moment of life is precious. In any given moment, we can allow life to pass us by or we can be mindful of what's most essential, living with genuine purpose, energy, and joy. Too often we find ourselves hurrying to grab our coffee, commute to work, and get to a meeting, rarely pausing to take a deep breath and seriously consider how we spend the limited number of precious moments that we have. When we're aware and awake in a given moment, we have the capacity to make that moment extraordinary.

So many of us come home from tiring days at work or school and automatically turn on a television or radio. We spend our evenings freely on such distractions, as though we had an endless supply. Once, my closest Buddhist teacher, Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, came to stay at our home for a few days. Rinpoche is particularly famous for using each moment of life with great awareness and compassionate purpose. After a busy day we had dinner together, and Rinpoche then retired to his room to meditate. So my wife and I cleaned up a bit and then sat down, as was our habit at the time, to watch a late-night talk show. After some time Rinpoche came out and sat down by us. He said, "Oh, is he the onewho makes fun of people?" It struck me that Rinpoche looked at his own life and our lives as an anthropologist might look at the rituals of a tribe in some remote forest, with a mind always open and fresh, wondering what the purpose of these actions might be. As the talk-show interview about some recent scandal continued, I too began wondering what the purpose was.

We spend so much of our time doing things automatically that it is important to assess whether our habits bring us real joy. Whenever we think that how we spend a given day or even a given hour is unimportant, and whenever we think we need to rush through what we're doing so that later we can get to something more relaxing, meaningful, or important, we are cheating ourselves. In fact, we never know for certain that we'll be around for the future that we imagine. What is certain is that any of us can pause in this moment to consider what's most essential and then live this moment in a deliberate, meaningful, beautiful way.

Wholly in the Moment

Although each of us has only a limited number of evenings, thoughts, and breaths left in our lives, we rarely take the time to consider how they are spent. Such questions usually come up strongly during adolescence and early adulthood, when we challenge the values of our parents and our society and try to decide what in the world to do with our lives. These issues also may come up when we are faced with significant losses or transitions; a divorce, getting laid off, the death of a loved one, or the onset of an illness often cause people to reflect more deeply.

As a psychotherapist and teacher, I often ask people what they believe is most essential to living a happy and meaningful life. Many people say that although there is no question more important than this, they haven't thought about it in years. We become so busy and so engrossed in the small tasks of our lives that we find it difficult to step back and ask ourselves what matters most. If we haven't thought much about such issues and don't have a clear, personal answer, we probably will lack an overall sense of direction in life. It then becomes difficult to tell if we're making progress or going in circles. If we want to have a genuinely happy life, it's important to contemplate this question of what brings us joy and meaning throughout our lives. The more we consider what is most essential, the better our experiences can help us discover deeper answers.

When we ask what makes a happy and meaningful life, one problem that can arise is the tendency to respond with an answer that doesn't really come from the heart. At such times the conscious mind has one answer and the unconscious has another, so we become conflicted. An easy way to tell if you suffer from such an inner conflict is to see how well your daily activities match up with your beliefs. If you say that family is important but somehow don't find much quality time with yours each week; if you say that spirituality is important but spend only a few hours a week actively engaged in spiritual practice; if you say that helping others is important but you can't think easily of recent examples of your doing so, then there's probably a significant gap between the beliefs you hold consciously and the unconscious ones that are running your life.

Tibetans don't talk about unconscious beliefs, but they have a saying that's relevant. They say that a soup won't taste good if some of the vegetables just float around on the surface and don't get cooked. First we need to find our own deepest beliefs about what makes a meaningful and happy life. Then those ideas need to sink down and be cooked, flavoring our whole lives. One simple method taught in the Tibetan tradition to help facilitate this process is to begin each morning by thinking about how lucky you are to have another day of human life. You recall that no one is ever promised another day; you could have died last night, and this very day might be your last ... Continues...


Excerpted from The Lost Art of Compassion by Ladner, Lorne Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction
Pt. 1 Compassionate Vision 1
1 Living Deliberately 3
2 Overcoming Obstacles 12
3 Seeing with the Eyes of Compassion 32
Pt. 2 Cultivating Compassion 47
4 Compassion for Yourself 49
5 Mourning the Living 71
6 Seeing Through Projections 97
7 Loving Communication 121
8 The Radiant Heart 148
9 Gratitude and Inner Wealth 166
10 The Key to Happiness 186
11 The Inner Enemy 203
12 Joyfully Losing an Argument 225
13 Taking and Giving 241
Conclusion: Vision and Embodiment 263
Summary of Compassion Practices 277
Resources 295
Bibliography 299
Acknowledgments 303
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First Chapter

The Lost Art of Compassion
Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology

Chapter One

Living Deliberately

Buddhist masters always have emphasized that each moment of life is precious. In any given moment, we can allow life to pass us by or we can be mindful of what's most essential, living with genuine purpose, energy, and joy. Too often we find ourselves hurrying to grab our coffee, commute to work, and get to a meeting, rarely pausing to take a deep breath and seriously consider how we spend the limited number of precious moments that we have. When we're aware and awake in a given moment, we have the capacity to make that moment extraordinary.

So many of us come home from tiring days at work or school and automatically turn on a television or radio. We spend our evenings freely on such distractions, as though we had an endless supply. Once, my closest Buddhist teacher, Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, came to stay at our home for a few days. Rinpoche is particularly famous for using each moment of life with great awareness and compassionate purpose. After a busy day we had dinner together, and Rinpoche then retired to his room to meditate. So my wife and I cleaned up a bit and then sat down, as was our habit at the time, to watch a late-night talk show. After some time Rinpoche came out and sat down by us. He said, "Oh, is he the one who makes fun of people?" It struck me that Rinpoche looked at his own life and our lives as an anthropologist might look at the rituals of a tribe in some remote forest, with a mind always open and fresh, wondering what the purpose of these actions might be. As the talk-show interview about some recent scandal continued, I too began wondering what the purpose was.

We spend so much of our time doing things automatically that it is important to assess whether our habits bring us real joy. Whenever we think that how we spend a given day or even a given hour is unimportant, and whenever we think we need to rush through what we're doing so that later we can get to something more relaxing, meaningful, or important, we are cheating ourselves. In fact, we never know for certain that we'll be around for the future that we imagine. What is certain is that any of us can pause in this moment to consider what's most essential and then live this moment in a deliberate, meaningful, beautiful way.

Wholly in the Moment

Although each of us has only a limited number of evenings, thoughts, and breaths left in our lives, we rarely take the time to consider how they are spent. Such questions usually come up strongly during adolescence and early adulthood, when we challenge the values of our parents and our society and try to decide what in the world to do with our lives. These issues also may come up when we are faced with significant losses or transitions; a divorce, getting laid off, the death of a loved one, or the onset of an illness often cause people to reflect more deeply.

As a psychotherapist and teacher, I often ask people what they believe is most essential to living a happy and meaningful life. Many people say that although there is no question more important than this, they haven't thought about it in years. We become so busy and so engrossed in the small tasks of our lives that we find it difficult to step back and ask ourselves what matters most. If we haven't thought much about such issues and don't have a clear, personal answer, we probably will lack an overall sense of direction in life. It then becomes difficult to tell if we're making progress or going in circles. If we want to have a genuinely happy life, it's important to contemplate this question of what brings us joy and meaning throughout our lives. The more we consider what is most essential, the better our experiences can help us discover deeper answers.

When we ask what makes a happy and meaningful life, one problem that can arise is the tendency to respond with an answer that doesn't really come from the heart. At such times the conscious mind has one answer and the unconscious has another, so we become conflicted. An easy way to tell if you suffer from such an inner conflict is to see how well your daily activities match up with your beliefs. If you say that family is important but somehow don't find much quality time with yours each week; if you say that spirituality is important but spend only a few hours a week actively engaged in spiritual practice; if you say that helping others is important but you can't think easily of recent examples of your doing so, then there's probably a significant gap between the beliefs you hold consciously and the unconscious ones that are running your life.

Tibetans don't talk about unconscious beliefs, but they have a saying that's relevant. They say that a soup won't taste good if some of the vegetables just float around on the surface and don't get cooked. First we need to find our own deepest beliefs about what makes a meaningful and happy life. Then those ideas need to sink down and be cooked, flavoring our whole lives. One simple method taught in the Tibetan tradition to help facilitate this process is to begin each morning by thinking about how lucky you are to have another day of human life. You recall that no one is ever promised another day; you could have died last night, and this very day might be your last ...

The Lost Art of Compassion
Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology
. Copyright © by Lorne Ladner. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2004

    The Butterfly Theory for Peace

    Dr. Ladner has written a brilliant intellectually fertile masterpiece. He's gotten it right! If I had the funds I would forward this magnificent book to all religious and political world leaders as well as those versed in the fields of psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, and any other field requiring human interaction and introspection. What am I saying? That would mean all of us should read this book. Those who read this wonderful book will come away with hope, a hope that compassion for one's self and for all beings would lead to less suffering for ourselves and as a consequence: others. This book defines how this can come about along a path to inner peace as well as outward peacefulness. Imagine the 'butterfly theory' for peace throughout the world if we all read and adhere to Dr. Ladner's masterpiece and the practice of universal responsibility for the rights of others based on such wonderful guidelines.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2004

    Loved It!

    I very much enjoyed reading this book and found it very helpful in teaching me new things about a subject I thought I already understood well. It taught me about a great way of developing happiness in my relationships and in daily life!

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