Reviews of the just-published Wisdom of Compassion

Publishers Weekly


The Wisdom of Compassion: Stories of Remarkable Encounters and Timeless Insights

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan. Riverhead, $26.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-59448-738-5

An attendee at His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s meetings all over the world and coauthor with him (The Wisdom of Forgiveness), Chan provides an insider’s account of the spiritual master’s teachings at venues large and small.

“This is the Dalai Lama in context,” he writes, “live, unscripted, and at his most charismatic.”

Encounters are arranged by theme: “Overcoming Adversity,” “Educating the Heart,” and “Compassion in Action.” His Holiness interacts with survivors of Northern Ireland’s violence, seriously ill children, social activists fighting poverty and oppression, and scientists studying compassion.

Leaving intact the Dalai Lama’s distinctive English, Chan vividly conveys the world leader’s intense curiosity, intelligence, explosive laughter, keen wisdom, and kindness; his account of the Dalai Lama’s conversation with Archbishop Desmond Tutu crackles with energy.

Throughout, His Holiness incisively conveys his core teaching that inner transformation is key to alleviating suffering and bringing peace to a violent world. He also listens intently to innovators who are committed to the same goals.

Details provide immediacy; carefully placed background information gives context. These inspiring dialogues communicate His Holiness’s worldwide appeal and essential commitment to compassion. (Jan.)


Wisdom of Compassion: Globe and Mail top 10

Kirkus Review

Review Issue Date: November 15, 2012 
Online Publish Date: October 23, 2012

Publication Date: January 1, 2013

Tales of kindness and understanding from the Dalai Lama.

The authors—Chan previously co-wrote The Wisdom of Forgiveness (2004) with the Dalai Lama—bring forth numerous stories of empathy and consideration that they have personally witnessed.

Believing that a person's goal in life is to be happy, and that the causes of unhappiness are primarily internal bouts of anger, attachment and ignorance, the Dalai Lama has spent more than 50 years practicing and promoting his wisdom to millions of people around the world.

From watching the Dalai Lama interact with young children with serious illnesses to recording the wise words of his good friend, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chan portrays a rarely seen, intimate side of the Dalai Lama, a life full of wit and lightheartedness balanced by wisdom and compassion.

Regardless of religious beliefs, readers will gain a deeper understanding of human nature and our capacity to show consideration and benevolence to those around us as they follow Chan and the Dalai Lama on a global tour.

“For the Dalai Lama,” writes Chan, “compassion and wisdom are the fundamental building blocks of society. In our homes and in our schools, he believes, we should systematically nurture a culture of warmheartedness, a culture of kindness. They are essential elements, critical to having a happy life.”

The first place this bond of compassion is formed is when a baby nurses on her mother's milk; as such, women are by nature compassionate "life-givers." Throughout, the authors’ message is uplifting, if occasionally repetitive and not always wholly convincing.

Although readers may not be able to spend five hours a day in meditation and prayer like the Dalai Lama, they will come away with a better sense of the importance of communication, forgiveness and empathy, regardless of the circumstances.


Spirituality and Health     Jan-Feb 2013

By Rick Chatenever

It’s well known that the Dalai Lama loves to laugh. His joint public appearances with South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu sometimes turn into gigglefests, as the Nobel laureates warmly acknowledge one another as fellow spiritual mischief-makers.

These playful asides help humanize the adoring portrait of the 14th Dalai Lama that emerges from The Wisdom of Compassion.

Although Tibet’s exiled spiritual and political leader is credited as the book’s author, it’s Victor Chan—his longtime collaborator and founder of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education in Vancouver, British Columbia—who actually writes these “Stories of Remarkable Encounters and Timeless Insights.”

Unlike the best-selling The Art of Happiness, the world-renowned spiritual leader is captured third-person here, in settings from visionary conferences to heartbreaking wards in children’s hospitals. This format retains the distinctive lilt of his voice—“someone who can’t even speak English properly,” jokes Tutu. But the book also turns the Dalai Lama’s teachings into a real-world action plan, from scientifically measuring meditation’s effect on brain waves to training illiterate African grandmothers to become solar engineers lighting up their villages.

The stories show the impact of this “simple monk” on philanthropists, entrepreneurs, physicians, scientists, philosophers, and celebrities. Chan’s writing conveys the palpable effect of being in the presence of this unique man whose life is the best demonstration of his teachings. Observing the effect it has on others provides ample illustrations of His Holiness in action.


Spirituality and Practice

Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

The Wisdom of Compassion 
Stories of Remarkable Encounters and Timeless Insights 
His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Victor Chan
Riverhead Books 01/13 Hardcover $26.95
ISBN: 9781594487385
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is known around the world for his spiritual gifts of deep listening, genuine compassion, and joyful play in his encounters with both ordinary people and well-known individuals. For 40 years, Victor Chan has been a personal confidant of His Holiness as well as being the Founder of the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education in Vancouver. The Wisdom of Compassion is the second collaboration between the two: the first was The Wisdom of Forgiveness: Intimate Conversations and Journeys.

This is a heart-affecting up-close and personal portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he travels the world giving lectures, leading conferences, meeting old friends and fellow Nobel Peace Prize winners, school children, and neurologists. This Tibetan seer says repeatedly that the path to happiness is through practicing compassion — and not just for those we love and who are close to our heart but also for strangers and enemies.

"All the people, even if they are hostile, are living beings like me who fear suffering and want happiness. They have every right not to suffer, and to achieve happiness. That thought makes us feel deep concern for the well-being of all others. It is the basis of genuine compassion."

It is interesting to read about the soul connections he makes with a blind Irishman, whom he refers to as "my hero," and Paul Ekman, a psychologist who is surprised by His Holiness's personal warmth and comes away feeling that they were brothers in a previous life. We also were delighted to read about the Dalai Lama's meetings with Desmond Tutu and Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. The former says of his friend: "People are aware he is someone special. That he cares, that he is warmhearted. And he lives what he preaches."

Reviews and database copyright © 1970 – 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Table of Contents

Preface: What the Dalai Lama knows for sure

Introduction: Kira's Prostrations

I. Overcoming Adversity

The Red Chair

Now Here, Three Fingers

A Matter of Karma

The Wrong End of the Binoculars

Ex-Prisoners, Terrorists, and a Murderer

To Kill a Stranger

A Passing Cloud

A Gift for the Dalai Lama

II. Educating the Heart

Lucy and Ting

God is Not a Christian

A Fireside Chat

Ninety Percent Projection

The Incredible Stillness of a Penalty Shoot-out

The Magic Trick

Educating the Heart

A Gentleman from Bangladesh

A Teacher in Soweto

III. Compassion in Action

Monks in the Machine

A Boy from Doon

A Beautiful Dalai Lama

The Yellow Holy Whip

The Little Beggar Girl

Only One Rock Star