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Book: The Kindness Handbook a Practical Companion

Book: The Kindness Handbook a Practical Companion

By Sharon Salzberg
Reviewed by Brian Schell
Publisher: Sounds True, 175 Pages, ISBN 9781591796558
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“For kindness to be more fully realized, it needs to be distinguished from being ineffectual or meek. It also needs to be infused with wisdom, supported by courage, and threaded with balance” — Sharon Salzberg

This is another relatively small book, with many small sections. Although the books has chapters on “The Foundation,” “The Entry” (Kindness towards ourselves), “The Expression” (kindness toward others), and “Closing,” There are dozens of small stories, verses, anecdotes, and short scriptural passages. One section is a self-quiz to measure yourself on the “self-compassion scale.” Like other books we have looked at this, one focuses on loving-kindness, but this one barely touches on meditation. It concerns the application of loving-kindness in everyday life.

The stories are wonderful; my favorite was one about an illegal immigrant, crossing into this country, who happened across a boy who, along with his mother, had just been in an auto accident. The mother had died in the crash, and the 9-year-old boy was alone out in the wild. The illegal immigrant stayed with the boy, comforting him, until help arrived the next morning. The man knew that by staying, he would be caught and deported, but stayed anyway, because the little stranger needed him. How many hopes and dreams would we be willing to give up to comfort a child?

This is not one of those books that you can read cover-to-cover. A small bit goes a long way, and rushing through it would be counterproductive. I would suggest sitting it on the nightstand and reading a small section every night; this would take about a month and give you something to dwell on before sleep. Perhaps a quick re-read the next morning would make an excellent way to start the day.

This book has little to no Buddhist theory or history, but that’s OK. Learning the facts and ideas are useful in understanding the philosophy of Buddhism, but this book is really what it’s all about. The sub-title of the book, ‚ÄúA Practical Companion,‚Äù says it all. This simple, down-to-Earth book is all about the practical, proper, and realistic way to treat ourselves and each other.

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