Book Review: A Fearless Heart
A Fearless Heart
How the Courage to Be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives
By Thupten Jinpa, PhD
HUDSON STREET PRESS
Charles Darwin’s ideas have often been used to portray humans as fundamentally selfish, with competition serving as our evolutionary drive. When we subscribe to this view of human nature, it only makes sense to see those around us as rivals and to treat them aggressively, fearfully, and distrustfully. In his new book, A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to Be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives, Thupten Jinpa tells us a different story about ourselves. He writes, “Today, there is a growing recognition even within science that the selfish view of human nature is simplistic.”
In the same way that science was employed to help mindfulness catch on in the West, Jinpa uses findings from the field of contemplative science—which studies the effects of contemplative practices like meditation on health, emotional regulation, and more—to make the case that we are “social creatures endowed with instincts for compassion and kindness.” He tells us that these instincts can be cultivated to help us attain mental and emotional well-being, achieve our goals, and create a more compassionate world.
In addition to using insights from science and Western psychology, Jinpa, who has been the English translator of the Dalai Lama for more than 30 years, makes his case by drawing on his religious training as a Buddhist monk. However, as a skilled translator working at the interface of two very different cultures, Jinpa speaks to us primarily in the rational, scientific, results-driven language we can understand.