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Training in Tenderness: Buddhist Teachings on Tsewa, the Radical Openness of Heart That Can Change the World

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30 review for Training in Tenderness: Buddhist Teachings on Tsewa, the Radical Openness of Heart That Can Change the World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jim Kinkaid

    Training in Tenderness is an insightful, practical guidebook on how to soften the heart and be more in touch with the world around us. It is not one of those “We should sit around the campfire signing kumbaya” book; all fluff and no substance. It provides thoughtful, reasoned logic on the benefits to ourselves and others to take a softer, less self-centered, less confrontational approach to those we interact with; and haven’t we all seen how life has become more spiteful, more disgruntled taking Training in Tenderness is an insightful, practical guidebook on how to soften the heart and be more in touch with the world around us. It is not one of those “We should sit around the campfire signing kumbaya” book; all fluff and no substance. It provides thoughtful, reasoned logic on the benefits to ourselves and others to take a softer, less self-centered, less confrontational approach to those we interact with; and haven’t we all seen how life has become more spiteful, more disgruntled taking the other approach of being just worried about what’s in it for me? As the author, Dzigar Kongtrul writes: “If you make the tender heart your highest priority, your mind will feel more and more at ease, more and more in harmony with the world. You will find as you express more warmth towards others, they will express more warmth towards you.” and can’t we all do with a little more warmth and compassion? So, I highly recommend this book to all and I hope all who read it put its advice to practice in their lives.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle Jarrett

    Training in Tenderness is one of the more inspiring books I have read in a long time. The word tenderness is the closest translation to the Tibetan word TSEWA. Tsewa addresses self and others. "It expresses itself as kindness, compassion, vicarious joy, generosity, tolerance, mental clarity, courage, resilience, unshakable cheerfulness and in many other internal ways." Wow. Who could ask for more? Tsewa is about expressing and experiencing our own tender hearts. It seems counter-intuitive to liv Training in Tenderness is one of the more inspiring books I have read in a long time. The word tenderness is the closest translation to the Tibetan word TSEWA. Tsewa addresses self and others. "It expresses itself as kindness, compassion, vicarious joy, generosity, tolerance, mental clarity, courage, resilience, unshakable cheerfulness and in many other internal ways." Wow. Who could ask for more? Tsewa is about expressing and experiencing our own tender hearts. It seems counter-intuitive to live with an open heart, exposing ourselves to hurt and betrayal and others' harmful emotions. Some may say 'especially in these times'. In reality, the risk is clearly worth taking because of the joy and meaning it will bring to our lives and the lives of others. Yes, set boundaries. Yes, be aware of unsafe people. But, do so with less head, where all our conjectured fears, prejudices, and complexes live and multiply. Instead, we can go to our heart, which is our real self, and be more at peace.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    I have read (but not finished) Dzigar Kongtrul's two other books: The Intelligent Heart and It's Up To You. I came to read his works mainly through Pema Chodron, one of my favourite Buddhist writers and teachers. She identifies him as someone who can still teach and inspire her, since her root teacher Chogyam Trungpa passed away. About a third in through the book, I'm a little disturbed by what I've read. My thoughts/discussion below are made with the caveat that my cultivation is not high at all I have read (but not finished) Dzigar Kongtrul's two other books: The Intelligent Heart and It's Up To You. I came to read his works mainly through Pema Chodron, one of my favourite Buddhist writers and teachers. She identifies him as someone who can still teach and inspire her, since her root teacher Chogyam Trungpa passed away. About a third in through the book, I'm a little disturbed by what I've read. My thoughts/discussion below are made with the caveat that my cultivation is not high at all and I may not have understood the deeper meaning behind the points made in the book. 1) Kongtrul writes that a lot of our problems are self-inflicted and would disappear if we consider how fortunate we are compared to others in the world. This is a variation of "eat your peas, the children in Africa are starving!" or gratitude therapy exercise. Sure, we can all play the suffering olympics game and most of us reading/writing reviews on this site are no doubt comparatively materially well-off. However, this is also being dismissive of the very real trauma, hurts, illnesses etc. that people in so-called first world countries can experience. It very much reeks of "Suck it up, buttercup" and does not reflect the compassion to oneself we need to cultivate before we can show the same to others (which is the ultimate purpose and what the book revolves around - 'tsewa'). There is also an element of victim-blaming here in that Kongtrul straight-up states that even though the initial injury may be done by others, we are the ones who are twisting the proverbial arrow deeper and deeper in our wound causing our suffering. He also states that we create and indulge in our own drama. 2) Connected to 1), Kongtrul writes that for others who have harmed us, we have to see the good in them and consider that the perpetrators may have done it in retaliation for harm we have done them in this lifetime or for unknown happenings in previous lives (bringing about cyclic karma). I happen to be reading "When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife" by Meena Kandasamy and she writes that as a young abused wife, (direct quote) "Here's a friend asking me if there was nothing redeemable about my ex-husband. I do not know how to justify myself. What do I tell people like him, who want a balanced picture, who want to know that this was a real person with a rainbow side, just so that they are reminded of their own humanity? I realize that this is the curse of victimhood, to feel compelled to lend an appropriate colour of goodness to their abuser.” 3) Kongtrul mentions every other page the unceasing love and care that a mother has for her child and appears to have a fantasy-like unicorn view of the maternal bond, showcasing it repeatedly as an example of the compassion-kindness-tenderness we need to cultivate for all human beings (bodhichitta). There are women and mothers who are not maternal and nurturing. That is ok. One of the traps of being female is falling into the never-ending role of nourishing maternal care-giver neatly circumscribed by society. That is but one of the roles women can take, among many others. This book also conveniently forgets about the mothers who abuse, neglect, kill or abandon their children. 4) There have been a spate of high-profile celebrity suicides lately due to depression and other mental illnesses. I've noticed reading both Chogyam Trungpa and this author that they have a tendency to blithely dismiss these very real illnesses by saying "You would not be depressed or anxious anymore if you ....." (remember how lucky you are, meditated, treated others better, take refuge etc.) Mental illness already faces the obstacle of stigmatization and does not need its twin obstacle of being diminished to a trifle feeling. I'm not sure if I am going to finish this book. It does make some good points, mainly in the need for cultivation of a tender loving heart towards others. Part of the process involves elimination of the ego. But I don't think that precludes also being kind and compassionate to ourselves as well. Practising self-care does not equate selfish or self-absorbed. Honoring our pain, making ourselves stronger, standing up to abusers and protecting ourselves - makes sense, ya no?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Markus Stobbs

    A great introduction to the teachings of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche who I find to be one of the most heartfelt voices of Tibetan Buddhism today.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jen Bojkov

    I need to buy this one and re-read it on a regular basis!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    I don't disagree with cultivating an open heart and tenderness but I don't think this is the book that will get you there. It had a lot of meanderings on the benefits of open heartedness rooted in Buddhist teachings, but not much information on the "how" to cultivate an open heart in practical terms. If you like books to be organized and don't believe in reincarnation or Englightenment, then there is a lot in this book that will distract you and make you check how many pages are left. If you are I don't disagree with cultivating an open heart and tenderness but I don't think this is the book that will get you there. It had a lot of meanderings on the benefits of open heartedness rooted in Buddhist teachings, but not much information on the "how" to cultivate an open heart in practical terms. If you like books to be organized and don't believe in reincarnation or Englightenment, then there is a lot in this book that will distract you and make you check how many pages are left. If you are a Buddhist or otherwise interested in Buddhist teachings and able to relax and process this book slowly and mindfully then it's probably a great meditative tool. I'm too impatient these days for books like this.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    A slim little volume that will fit easily in your pocket, the book - like the Dharma itself - is bigger on the inside than on the outside. A very necessary theriac for today's ever-deepening slough of despond. A slim little volume that will fit easily in your pocket, the book - like the Dharma itself - is bigger on the inside than on the outside. A very necessary theriac for today's ever-deepening slough of despond.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Manning

    What a lovely little book. It states clearly and precisely how to steer through life with an open heart which is the key to having joy and minimum suffering. Very readable and relevant to the survival in today’s world where everything is devicive and hate driven. Easy to learn, a challenge to practice. So affirming of my personal intentions.. Affirming also that I am not alone.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brian Wilcox

    I almost rated 5, for the topic is, I agree with the author, the only hope we have for healing ourselves and our world - a tender heart, tenderness. I appreciate that he affirms no "god" or anything outside ourselves will do the work of the tender-heart for us. Likewise, his inclusiveness in this matter: 1) acknowledging the innate tenderness is not limited within any particular wisdom path or religion, but is available to all, and 2) we each, in different ways, can employ tenderness in healing I almost rated 5, for the topic is, I agree with the author, the only hope we have for healing ourselves and our world - a tender heart, tenderness. I appreciate that he affirms no "god" or anything outside ourselves will do the work of the tender-heart for us. Likewise, his inclusiveness in this matter: 1) acknowledging the innate tenderness is not limited within any particular wisdom path or religion, but is available to all, and 2) we each, in different ways, can employ tenderness in healing the world, even persons who are more reclusive (like I), as such can engage in spiritual practice in their particular lives calling to apartness and devotion; therefore, there is a place for all of us, even the unseen, unacknowledged ones who quietly engage bodhichitta - the author speaks of as aspiration for enlightenment. The author ends positively... "Thanks to tsewa—the wish-fulfilling jewel that you and I and all sentient beings possess—the future is in good hands." He cautions against negativity and nihilism. He affirms, yes many are enacting pain on persons and nature, yet many more are going about daily spreading warmth-of-kindness; the former group is in the vast minority. I find this treatment, as much Mahayana Buddhism, refreshing, in that the collective (all sentient beings, all nature) is the main focus, not the personal. While the author speaks of our need to express tenderness to ourselves, we do this with intent to heal and become more embracing to the world, and to devote any merit of goodness in body, mind, and speech to the blessing of all sentient beings. The author assumes some matters from his Buddhist background. That is understandable. One such matter is reincarnation. I find the book helpful and inspirational for persons who may not agree with some of the thoughts that relate more to Buddhist doctrine. As the author clarifies, teswa is not of any religion, and it is an innate endowment of each of us, whether we agree on matters of religion, politics, or whatever.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    This little book felt very repetitive to me. Basically, try to be nice to everyone and you'll feel better. It's a nice sentiment but the world loves nothing more than to stomp on the nice people until they break and become hardened. This book didn't really address that ubiquitous nature of the modern world. Try to open your heart and be kind, the world will try to kill you for it, but keep trying because, ultimately, it's all you can really do. Not the heartening message the book tries to impart This little book felt very repetitive to me. Basically, try to be nice to everyone and you'll feel better. It's a nice sentiment but the world loves nothing more than to stomp on the nice people until they break and become hardened. This book didn't really address that ubiquitous nature of the modern world. Try to open your heart and be kind, the world will try to kill you for it, but keep trying because, ultimately, it's all you can really do. Not the heartening message the book tries to impart but, unfortunately, the reality of our world as it exists.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ruby

    Pithy, straightforward & accessible I enjoyed this book quite a lot and have shared it with quite a few people. While these wisdom teachings come from Buddhist traditions, Kongtrul Rinpoche keeps his message very open for those will zero prior knowledge. I appreciate this skillful blending of both very profound teachings and a very accessible presentation. For this reason, I recommend this book to anyone for whom the title resonates. Particularly an excellent book for Buddhists whose friends ask Pithy, straightforward & accessible I enjoyed this book quite a lot and have shared it with quite a few people. While these wisdom teachings come from Buddhist traditions, Kongtrul Rinpoche keeps his message very open for those will zero prior knowledge. I appreciate this skillful blending of both very profound teachings and a very accessible presentation. For this reason, I recommend this book to anyone for whom the title resonates. Particularly an excellent book for Buddhists whose friends ask for a good recommendation.

  12. 4 out of 5

    LouAnn

    For anyone who is seeking inner peace, this is a good read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rooze McKelvey

    If ever I had a bible, this book would be it. A guidebook on how, and why, to commit to the tender, open heart we each have within us, the heart-based approach to life that is "a way we can enhance our relations with the world and with each other. It has social, economic, and environmental benefits. It is a way of navigating the world. It is a survival skill." Yes. Yes. Yes. That is all I kept repeating when reading this book. Although a slim book, it took me a few days to finish because I kept cl If ever I had a bible, this book would be it. A guidebook on how, and why, to commit to the tender, open heart we each have within us, the heart-based approach to life that is "a way we can enhance our relations with the world and with each other. It has social, economic, and environmental benefits. It is a way of navigating the world. It is a survival skill." Yes. Yes. Yes. That is all I kept repeating when reading this book. Although a slim book, it took me a few days to finish because I kept closing my eyes and holding it to my chest after reading a passage that resonated deeply with me. This is one of the rare books that is now on my yearly rotation of must reads. It has shifted how I see my role in this world, my relationship with others, and my relationship to not just this lifetime but other incarnations as well. The practice of not just a lifetime but across lifetimes.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    I love the word tsewa--it encompasses all in one go the essence of love, compassion, openness, and bodhicitta. Because this essence of ours is so vast in its application and scope, I really enjoy how the author uses the word to help us relate to how much this essence touches every part of our lives and being. He makes such a compelling argument for realizing and cultivating this essence, I can't find any reason to argue that the case he puts forward is the most logical one for humanity and all b I love the word tsewa--it encompasses all in one go the essence of love, compassion, openness, and bodhicitta. Because this essence of ours is so vast in its application and scope, I really enjoy how the author uses the word to help us relate to how much this essence touches every part of our lives and being. He makes such a compelling argument for realizing and cultivating this essence, I can't find any reason to argue that the case he puts forward is the most logical one for humanity and all beings as a whole. May all beings discover this wish-fulfilling jewel that resides so close that we can't see it: in our very own heart just the way it is.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    Less training than philosophy. Overall a good, succinct approach to Buddhist teachings. Tenderness (tsewa) is well explained. My only concern is how much is devoted to what to stop doing, which comes off as a bit discouraging. If you go in knowing that, it might help you focus on the joy it also conveys at living with tenderness to all.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mary Andres

    The concept of Tsewa is the antidote for the troubled hearts and fears of our times, when it is easy to feel impotent and easily angered by strong, divergent world views. The idea of our own heart-work as the necessary beginning of activism is laid out, and the mission is to extend compassion and have impact is clear. Beautifully written; an easy read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Denise Nader

    Beautiful, simple, imperative and profound advice from one of the most accomplished teachers of Buddhism. Ven. Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche understands the westerners' way of thinking, the good, the bad and the ugly and proposes us a way of living with a noble goal, with happiness and wisdom. Thank you Rinpoche for your wise words. Beautiful, simple, imperative and profound advice from one of the most accomplished teachers of Buddhism. Ven. Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche understands the westerners' way of thinking, the good, the bad and the ugly and proposes us a way of living with a noble goal, with happiness and wisdom. Thank you Rinpoche for your wise words.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Understanding the power that underlies an open heart is difficult. Tenderness and warmth are solutions to some of the thorniest dilemmas humanity faces. It isn't easy to convey what MLK called "the strength to love". This book makes the case for renewing our heart in order to renew our world. Understanding the power that underlies an open heart is difficult. Tenderness and warmth are solutions to some of the thorniest dilemmas humanity faces. It isn't easy to convey what MLK called "the strength to love". This book makes the case for renewing our heart in order to renew our world.

  19. 4 out of 5

    LemontreeLime

    Brilliant.

  20. 4 out of 5

    S.

    This was mindful reading and how we all can open our hearts. Well written.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mindy Kannon

    Great little book about opening your heart! A must read for anyone who wants to bring love into a world with an ever increasing trend for hate, division and negativity!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sophia Ammann

    Beautiful and insightful writing. Reading the book was a heart warming and inspiring experience in itself.

  23. 4 out of 5

    E Hella

    Beautifully written and politically necessary.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Levin

    A good short book about energy and openness of the heart. A good read to help with self awareness.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zyph

    From the introduction: "It may seem naïve or unrealistic, especially in these challenging modern times, to rely on something as ordinary and soft as your own tender heart. Most of the world is under the spell of the capitalist mentality, which encourages us to be cynical and look out for our self-interests first and foremost. It saddens me to see how so many people have given up on love and affection as a source of happiness and a remedy for suffering. Even people who are trying to effect positiv From the introduction: "It may seem naïve or unrealistic, especially in these challenging modern times, to rely on something as ordinary and soft as your own tender heart. Most of the world is under the spell of the capitalist mentality, which encourages us to be cynical and look out for our self-interests first and foremost. It saddens me to see how so many people have given up on love and affection as a source of happiness and a remedy for suffering. Even people who are trying to effect positive changes in society—for example, by fighting injustice—often overlook the importance of the warm heart as the basis of all beneficial actions. This widespread lack of trust and understanding cuts so many people off from something as crucial to our well-being as oxygen." Some reviewers have mentioned that the book lacks practical exercises. It's true that there are no nicely formatted boxes with step by step instructions. But the author definitely asks us questions to reflect on and encourages us to come to a personal understanding by analyzing our experience. These are not spoon-fed, they are in the flow of the text so you have to make some effort. For example in Chapter 4: "There is a simple way to tap into the experience of tender heart and see how tsewa already dwells within you. Take a few quiet moments and recall five times in your life when you felt touched by someone’s love and warmth toward you. Then remember five times when you expressed this kind of tenderness to someone else. This exercise will bring back some feeling of that open heart. Even though you are thinking about the past, you are experiencing tsewa in the present. The flow of tsewa is happening right now." This is of course very succinct and there a much more elaborate guided practices in other books, for example by Sharon Salzberg(look for downloads - audio files). If I had no experience with the practice of Loving Kindness (metta), I don't know if this instruction would have been enough for me to really give it a try. For guided practices it's really best to attend a meditation course or at least listen to an audio recording. It's not so easy to do in a book. At least for me, when I read, I'm in "reading mode" and it's difficult to slow down and process the text in a "contemplative" way. For this I need to sit and really chew on my favorite quotes from the book. Being a buddhist myself, it's difficult to say how the book is for non-buddhists, but it seems quite accessible to me. It's strength lies in emphasizing the importance of a warm or tender heart in a clear and personal way, and this point is made quite convincingly. It could inspire and motivate you but you'll probably still need to study other books and attend meditation courses and retreats to really take this advice to heart.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Liz Blake

  27. 5 out of 5

    C

  28. 4 out of 5

    Violette Drouin

  29. 5 out of 5

    Molly

  30. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Rose

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