Afterthoughts: A Force For Good by Daniel Goleman

Afterthoughts: Not Overthinking Podcast

Practice compassion, not empathy

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A Force For Good is a candid exploration of the Dalai Lama’s vision for the world. Daniel Goleman is a seasoned science journalist, and friend of Tenzin Gyatso, who writes this book. It breaks down into four parts. The first, an introduction into the Dalai Lama; the second, an exploration into his beliefs for the individual; the third, an exploration into how the wider world – the economy, government, etc – can improve; the fourth, reflecting back on the past and projecting into the future. 

The core behind the Dalai Lama’s force for good is the ability cultivate compassion. Therefore, every single element of his vision stems from bringing compassion into the equation. It should first start with the individual, we should all strive to be more compassionate as opposed to empathetic. At the society-level, he advocates that compassion should be integrated into institutions in both the public and private sector. Compassion is offered as a panacea for the world’s woes. 

At each juncture, Goleman is quick to underline that the Dalai Lama is not idealistic. He knows that it will take more than rhetoric to achieve his vision. This pragmatic attitude surprised me the most while reading. In the glimpses I have had of him across my twenty-plus years of conscious life, idealistic is the word is the word that came to mind. While the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader, he has the mind of a scientist. 

I did not realise that many of the engagements that took him around the world were with Scientists. The fruit of this dialogue, going back 30+ years, are many and include research and implemented programs. I found it inspiring to read. I came into this book expecting a focus on spirituality, but it is rarely mentioned explicitly. The Dalai Lama’s beliefs all come from spiritual leaders of the past. He finds immense joy, however, in introducing these ancient ideas to scientists for inspiration. To him, spirituality is the science of the mind and he is doing his best so that modern science can catchup. 

My impression of the Dalai Lama has transformed completely. I no longer see him as just an idealist or a spiritual leader. He has the spirit of a scientist, the nature of an optimist, and acts like a pragmatist. 


Recommended. I have a new appreciation for the Dalai Lama and his mission. He is a spiritual leader with the spirit of a scientist. I have never seen him as a role model, but after reading this, I now do. 

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