Where Compassion Begins is exactly what is needed now to bring the essence of compassionate communication more fully into the contemporary world. Jared Seide has woven together the practices of council and meditation in a personal and accessible way that support tangible life practices along the path of the heart, Where Compassion Begins is an imaginative bridge from the traditional roots of council and meditation to this moment in evolution, with contemporary references to science, medicine and recent understanding of the human condition.
This unique book comes at a critical time in our lives when the world needs each one of us to set aside our judgments, our language of "othering," and come together in the most meaningful way to achieve peace, respect, and compassion for self, for those we know, those we encounter, those we serve, and those we have yet to meet. Jared’s remarkable expertise in bringing the practice of council to organizations, particularly those in the law enforcement arena, is, in my experience as a police chief, a key component in healing the rift between police and the communities they serve. What we have been doing has not worked. We need a new approach. Jared's book explains how to achieve this awareness, the ability to pay attention, and most importantly, without judgment of others.
This book is truly a gift to the world that will enable the reader to build the capacity to live a life of compassion in a skillful way that is beneficial to all. I firmly believe compassion is the gateway to achieving the desired outcomes and change that is desperately needed. I have personally experienced the power of the practice of council in settings that brought activists, police, clergy, and formerly incarcerated persons together resulting in deep authentic connections to each other, facilitating the capacity to perceive and experience each other through the lens of our shared humanity. How awesome would it be if we included this book in our police academies as a foundation for all other training. That is my hope.
Starting with compassion and traversing the spaces of meaningful conversations -- precisely because they are uncomfortable and challenging -- Jared leads us through the structure of the council process and more significantly into the heart of listening to understand, learn, and attend to our humanity. This is mindfulness in practice offering hope across our differences and deep divides, a pathway which could not be more needed or opportune at this point in our communities and nation. This book is truly a gift for our times.
I was introduced to the practice of Council as Inspector General for the California prison system. As Chairperson of the California Rehabilitation Oversight Board, I sought out innovative programs that might help improve our prison system and the men and women within it. I had the opportunity to view Council conducted within maximum security prisons with men serving life terms, and personally observed the emotional impact on them, some of whom had completely lost touch with their ability to feel. I also had other opportunities to develop my own mindfulness practice through my association with Jared and Council. So I have been privileged to reap the benefits personally and professionally. I now find myself in a new role as a Parole Commissioner who makes decisions regarding others’ lives each day.
My own practice helps guide me and allows me to see and hear all those involved in the process; victims, the incarcerated, and those working within our criminal justice system. Not a week goes by when I am not reminded of Council’s work in the prisons being life altering, either because of the change I can see and hear from inmates who have participated, and are now equipped to re-enter society, or by the unfortunate fact that many prisons still don’t have the program available, and its absence is evident in the lack of emotional intelligence displayed by some inmates from those prisons. It is my hope that this book will help fill that gap. Improve a man’s mind and he will hear better, improve a man’s heart and he will listen better, improve both, and his soul will be better. Council has the capacity to do this, and Jared is one of the Soul-Changers.
Jared Seide provides fail-safe practices which can transform you into a master of compassion. He speaks directly to the deep yearning of the human heart to connect with others and to join with their joys and suffering in ways that are helpful and life-giving. Cherish this book always — it will help to make you the person you have always wanted to be.