The group was formed after Easter with expressions of interest from several people who were interested in co-reading and discussing books relevant to the values of Inner Transition.
The first book we are reading is Karen Armstrong’s “ Twelve Steps to a More Compassionate Life”. I had been inspired by Karen’s talk at Dartington’s ‘Ways with Words Festival’ last July when she spoke about her world wide project ‘The Charter For Compassion’ (www.charterforcompassion.org) which she is funding through the grant given to her by the TED Talks foundation.
She suggests that being able to open our hearts to people we like is not that difficult and that the book is intended as a resource to help us do so in relation to people who are very different from us and who have different values, cultures and faiths.
Compassion as represented by the ‘golden rule’ “to do unto others as we would be done by”, figures in all of the world’s faith traditions. However the book is written in a very open way that is accessible to secular readers as well as those of any denomination.
The book is not simply about understanding the history of compassion within different cultural and faith traditions but is about finding self compassion and developing mindfulness and empathy through action as well as reflection. It is based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and asks us to recognize our addictions to our prejudices, judgements and fantasies about others and to move beyond the reptilian brain within us that comes from fear, self-interest and misplaced righteousness. It offers various exercises for helping us to do so. To date we have reached chapter 6 which is about compassion through action.
Currently 5 or 6 of us meet regularly on Friday mornings 10.15 am -12 noon at the home of one of the group members in Totnes. Though we started reading each chapter together, at the moment we have elected to read a chapter before meeting and to discuss it in the group. We all feel we have benefited from the reading and from discussing what compassion means and how we can be more congruent in our lives. It has certainly brought us closer together.
Various towns and cities worldwide have now declared themselves committed to the Charter for Compassion. Compassion is surely a part of building community and for me the movement from inner values to outer action is an important part of what TTT is about.
In that regard the group had an enjoyable outing to a day Conference at Exeter University on Inner and Outer values of Transition organized by the department of Theology.
We are an open group and it is possible for anyone to join on a drop in basis without having to commit to coming regularly. When we finish this book we shall jointly decide what to read next – if you enjoy discussion, are interested in the inner values of Transition and would like to join in with us you would be most welcome.