Courageous Compassion

The Library of Wisdom and Compassion | Volume 6

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Courageous Compassion, the sixth volume of the Library of Wisdom and Compassion series, continues the Dalai Lama’s teachings on the path to awakening. The previous volume, In Praise of Great Compassion, focused on opening our hearts with love and compassion for all living beings, and the present volume explains how to embody compassion and wisdom in our daily lives. Here we enter a fascinating exploration of bodhisattvas’ activities across multiple Buddhist traditions—Tibetan, Theravada, and Chinese Buddhism. 

After explaining the ten perfections according to the Pali and Sanskrit traditions, the Dalai Lama presents the sophisticated schema of the four paths and fruits for sravakas and solitary realizers and the five paths for bodhisattvas. Learning about the practices mastered by these exalted practitioners inspires us with knowledge of our minds’ potential. His Holiness also describes buddha bodies, what buddhas perceive, and buddhas’ awakening activities. Courageous Compassion offers an in-depth look at bodhicitta, arhatship, and buddhahood that you can continuously refer to as you progress on the path to full awakening.

“The Library of Wisdom and Compassion” is a special multi-volume series in which His Holiness the Dalai Lama shares the Buddha’s teachings on the complete path to full awakening that he himself has practiced his entire life. The topics are arranged especially for people not born in a Buddhist culture and are peppered with the Dalai Lama’s own unique outlook. Coauthored by one of his long-standing Western disciples, the American nun Thubten Chodron, each book can be enjoyed on its own or read as the logical next step in the series.

Overview of contents

Courageous Compassion Introduction 04-28-21

Venerable Chodron reads an excerpt

Courageous Compassion Reading 05-09-21



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At this critical time the world is in need of guides who embody both wisdom and genuine compassion, such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron, who serve as living examples of courageous action in upholding the bodhisattva ideal both in word and in deed. Now they have collaborated to give us a volume on the practical application of fearless compassion. May this serve as an inspiration to Buddhist practitioners, now and in the future, to bravely embody compassion for the benefit of all.

We welcome this addition to the series, which deals with the central relevance of courageous compassion as we walk the path. —Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

In the sixth installment of their extraordinary “Library of Wisdom and Compassion” series, H. H. the Dalai Lama and Ven. Thubten Chodron transport us through the higher reaches of the Buddhist path, as envisioned by the Theravada, Sutrayana, and Mahayana traditions. Led by two expert guides, we come to appreciate the perfections we must practice, the stages of spiritual ascent we must traverse, and the sublime awakened states awaiting at journey’s end. At once informative and deeply inspiring, “Courageous Compassion” should have a place on the bookshelf of every Buddhist, along with the other volumes in this masterful collection. —Roger Jackson, author of “Mind Seeing Mind: Mahamudra and the Geluk Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism”

The previous volume in this groundbreaking series explored ways to generate compassion and bodhicitta; in this volume His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron address how to develop and sustain compassion in the ordinary life we have today all the way up to the completion of our spiritual path. This turn to applying compassion requires not only profound knowledge of the Buddhist textual tradition but also great sensitivity to the circumstances of people’s ordinary lives and to twenty-first-century societies. This book brings both to bear as it asks, “What would our lives look like if we lived and acted purely out of compassion?”

Between the two of them, the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron have over a century practicing and teaching on compassion. That depth of experience and knowledge is reflected on every page of this book. —Venerable Damchö Diana Finnegan, PhD

In this sixth volume of their extraordinary series mapping the Buddhist path to awakening, H. H. the Dalai Lama and the Venerable Thubten Chodron, in conversation both with the Pali and the Indo-Tibetan Mahayana traditions, show how to build on the insight, the understanding, and the cultivation achieved through study and practice in order to become a powerful agent for the welfare of oneself and others, and to ascend to the advanced stages of the path to awakening. Their account is rich in scholarship, deeply humane, and powerfully inspirational. —Jay L. Garfield, Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities, Smith College and the Harvard Divinity School

In volume 6 of this full-bodied series, the Dalai Lama focuses on the paramitas, the activities of a bodhisattva, explaining the set of six and ten paramitas according to the sravaka, Mahayana, and tantric paths and schematics expounded over the long course of Buddhist commentarial traditions. There is even a chapter devoted to how, and what, a Buddhist teacher should teach in the West. In short, “Courageous Compassion” presents a comprehensive and robust overview of how to act with compassion. —Jan Willis, author of “Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist,” and “Dharma Matters: Women, Race, and Tantra

“Courageous Compassion” is among the most impressive and beautiful volumes in the remarkable “Library of Wisdom and Compassion” series. Here Venerable Thubten Chodron stewards the presentation of a substantial and comprehensive description of the bodhisattva’s path of compassion with a special focus on the bodhisattva perfections and the paths and fruits of the three vehicles. Certainly a marvelous addition to everyone’s library of Buddhist wisdom! Bhikshu Dharmamitra