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The Seed of Compassion

The Seed of Compassion: Lessons from the Life and Teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama By His Holiness the Dalai Lama, illustrated by Bao Luu (2020) – hardcover

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Recommended ages: 4 to 9

In the Seed of Compassion the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, addresses children directly to send a powerful and sincere message about how to create a more compassionate world. His introductory note is so endearing, describing why he chose to pen this children’s book: 

…As I won’t have the opportunity to personally meet all the children of the world, it brings me great joy to share this story with you, my young brothers and sisters. In this book,…I share lessons I learned from my mother and others who have helped me cultivate the seed of compassion that we all possess. I hope this story will help that seed flourish within each of you and contribute to a more compassionate world with a sense of oneness of humanity.

There are two primary parts to the story structure. The first is written like a biography. The second is a direct address to children, full of life lessons and the urging to build compassion day by day. He starts with his birth and describing his humble beginnings in a small Tibetan mountain village. Born to a family of farmers, his father tended the horses and young Tenzin would help his mother plant the crop seeds and collect the eggs from the hens. Although his mother could not teach him to read or write, she did plant in him “the seed of compassion by the example she set.” 

He goes on to describe how, at age two, he was chosen to become the next Dalai Lama, and details the training involved to become a monk. I was surprised to learn that his studies had to be robust, with subjects like logic and reasoning, poetry, and medicine, in addition to Buddhist philosophy and history. Akin to a college education, I think this type of study helps create more well-rounded human beings. 

Although the Dalai Lama is by name a religious leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the lessons he imparts in this story are entirely secular and universal. Children of all faiths or none should read this book. He quite simply shows children that “there are many simple ways to bring more happiness to the world.” And I love that it’s against a backdrop of multiethnic children. 

Illustrator Bao Luu uses a warm color palette throughout his digital illustrations. I found that his imagery added to the endearing nature of the story. This book was such a delight and is well deserving of a space in every classroom and children’s library. 

Take-away message: Although his mom taught him to be kind, it took a whole lifetime of study and experience to really learn the power of compassion and gain the wisdom to become a global inspiration.

TAGS: Notable POC, Tibetan, Asian, Buddhism, religious, male lead, hardcover

Book Trailer for The Seed of Compassion

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