The Good Heart Book Review

The Good Heart Book Review

the good heart book review

Book Title: The Good Heart A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus
Author(s): His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Robert Kiely, Geshe Thupten Jinpa, Laurence Freeman
Publisher: Wisdom Publications
Pages: 232
Paperback Price:
Kindle Price: $11.99


This book is basically a transcript of the 1994 John Main Seminar in which His Holiness the Dalai Lama participated in an exploration of eight passages from the Christian Gospels.

During the Seminar all participants engaged in a period of meditation after which the Dalai Lama would read a passage from the New Testament and was invited to comment on them as he saw fit.  After this, several panel members would discuss them and had the opportunity to ask the Dalai Lama further questions.

Seminar Participants

Robert Kiely – moderator
Geshe Thupten Jinpa – the Dalai Lama’s translator
Father Laurence Freeman – an Oxford graduate in Literature and a monk of the Olivetan Benedictine Priory in London
Isabelle Glover – a Benedictine and a teacher of Sanskrit
Ajahn Amaro – a Theravadin Buddhist monk of the Thai Forest tradition from Amaravati a monastery in the UK
Sister Eileen O’Hea – a sisters of Saint Joseph, who works as a therapist in Minnesota, USA
Lady Maureen Allan – a practitioner of meditation for 30 years
Peter Ng – Director of the Christian Meditation Center in Singapore

Book Summary

Chapter 1: A Wish for Harmony
Chapter 2: Love Your Enemy (Matthew 5:38-48)
Chapter 3: The Sermon on the Mount: The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-10)
Chapter 4: Equanimity (Mark 3:31-35)
Chapter 5: The Kingdom of God (Mark 4:26-34)
Chapter 6: The Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36)
Chapter 7: The Mission (Luke 9:1-6)
Chapter 8: Faith (John 12:44-50)
Chapter 9: The Resurrection (John 20:10-18)

the good heart book review

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting Father Laurence Freeman

The Dalai Lama, when commenting on Jesus’ injunction to “love your enemy” in Chapter 2, says “These Gospel passages also remind me of reflections in another Mahayana text called ‘A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ in which Shantideva states that it is very important to develop the right attitude toward your enemy.  If you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience, and understanding.”

I think this is a teaching that all in this world can certainly learn from.

My Critique

I personally loved this dialogue and was impressed with the Dalai Lama’s depth of knowledge and respect for the Christian traditions.  His insightful reading of the Gospels injected fresh life into them and he elaborated on many points from a Buddhist perspective.

He was also careful to not mix traditions, emphasizing that there are also irreconcilable differences between the traditions which is fine as long as everyone has a respect for one another’s traditions.

I was also impressed with how touched he was by the life of Jesus and considered him to be a Buddha of very high spiritual realization.


I would recommend this book to both Christians and Buddhists and I believe this is one of the most important books of our time.  I would like to see more dialogue with more spiritual traditions but unfortunately not all are open to such dialogues

Thanks for reading The Good Heart book review, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Good Heart Book Review

  1. Alex says:

    I enjoyed reading your post very much. Also, the layout of your review makes it very easy to read and navigate around. It is also very informational. I say this because you put all the people who contributed in the seminar and what they did/are. Your summary is also very thorough.

  2. Shannon says:

    The Dalai Lama is a very well respected man. It sounds like he was very aware of his words and the affects it would have on others. If only everyone would be respectful and accepting of others religions, we would have much more peace in this world. Is the font a normal size? Some books have super small font and it makes it challenging to read. Thanks for the review.

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Shannon,
      Yes, I agree I also wish tolerance was more prevalent in this world, we could sure use more of it. I read my copy on my Kindle so I’m not sure what size font the paperback has. I’m assuming that it isn’t too small.

  3. Nate says:

    I really enjoy it when spiritual leaders from different religions are accepting of others traditions and offer their insights on the teachings. We live in a world that people are either all for or all against something and it’s nice to see when leaders can blur the lines. All traditions and religions are looking for the same thing they just have a different way of getting there so people hating one another because of their differing beliefs just sets our progress back. Is there an audio version of this book where we can hear the Dalai Lama speak?

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Nate,
      I definitely agree with you that it’s nice to see both similarities and differences in the various traditions of the world. I don’t think there is a audio version of the book, I’ve only seen it available on paperback and Kindle.

  4. Lauren Kinghorn says:

    Hi Ian, great review, thanks. I met the Dalai Lama when he visited Cape Town many years ago and he was so gracious. Hadn’t heard of this book before & sounds like a must-read – and one I would like to keep on my bookshelf. Do you know whether Amazon ships to South Africa?

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Lauren,
      I have read this book through several times already and find that every time I read it I learn something new from the words of the Dalai Lama. To be honest, I’m not sure if Amazon ships to S. Africa, but there is nothing in the product info that mentions shipping restrictions. You could click on the link and see if it it works for you.

  5. Marc says:

    I enjoyed reading your review of The Good Heart – I had read it many years ago. I enjoyed the quote you put in there about loving your enemy.
    The good heart is really good in comparing Christianity with Buddhism. I wonder whether you have read The Power of Now by Eckhardt Tolle? It’s a non-secular book about mindfulness, in which he presents many teachings from the Buddha, Jesus, the Sufis, and the Kabbalah. I found it mesmerising how he drew parallels between these religions, and how in a way, they are all pointing to the same truths.

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Marc,
      I’m definitely familiar with Eckhart Tolle and I greatly respect him. His teachings are similar to Buddhism and also similar to the wisdom teachings of the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *