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Chodron, Kolts to present day-long event on compassion

By Erin Robinson

openheartedlife_coverOn May 9, Russell Kolts, professor of Psychology at Eastern Washington Univeristy, and Venerable Thubten Chodron of Sravasti Abbey will present lectures, discussions and contemplations on compassion at the release of the American version of their book, “An Open-Hearted Life.”

The event will be from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at the Spokane Unitarian Universalist Church. It will feature joint sessions with Kolts and Chodron, as well as individual group sessions.

In an email, Kolts said the sessions will, “emphasize talks by the authors, discussion questions and answer sessions, and meditation and experiential exercises aimed at helping people experience and learn to cultivate compassion.”

Chodron said that compassion was chosen as the theme of the event because she wants attendees to understand properly what it is, the value of it, and that it requires inner strength and courage.

Kolts and Chodron will be referencing “An Open-Hearted Life” during the discussions and lectures.

Kolts said the book “Was written with the same purpose as the workshop — to give people straightforward, user-friendly ways to learn about compassion and how to apply it to daily life.”

He also adds, “We think it’s a particularly approachable way for busy people to cultivate compassion in the context of lives that may already feel over-full.”

The book was a joint effort between Kolts and Chodron; they each wrote separate sections, then came together to modify them into a series of one to five page readings. Each one ends with a reflection on how to apply the focus of that reading to daily life.

“An Open-Hearted Life” was an opportunity for “two perspectives to mesh,” said Chodron.

Her in-depth studies and practice of Buddhism combined with Kolts’ study and teaching of psychology creates a unique dynamic.

In reference to the similarities between the two, Kolts says, “Both Buddhism and Psychology seek to understand and address suffering in the world. Both seek to understand the mind and to help people learn to work with pain, suffering, and difficulty.”

Through the release of the book and the discussions, Kolts and Chodron said they hope those attending the event will gain the inspiration and skills to practice compassion.

Later this month there will be another book release and discussion series on May 26 at Auntie’s Bookstore.

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