Praise & Reviews

ADVANCE PRAISE
Mandala Magazine
“Penor Rinpoche, was the head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism and with the able assistance of Harvard graduate Tana Pesso, his precious techniques can now reach a wide audience. Anyone with aspirations to be more kind, to cause less harm, and to create less suffering will find the right tools in this wise book. Forty building blocks to be erected one at a time in a logical sequence, like an athlete training for the Olympics. Each step asks that you first and foremost “invite love in.” Only then can you later “send love out” and, finally, “seal with a vow and rejoice.” This very practical book is an excellent how-to guide to connecting to a renewable resource of compassionate energy.”

Sharon Salzberg, co-founder of Insight Meditation and author of Faith and Lovingkindness

“First Invite Love In is a clear, practical handbook that will genuinely help anyone who reads it and follows its exercises. It is an especially important guide at a time when so many lack confidence about how to go beyond fear and uncertainty.”

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, holder of the Shambhala Buddhist Lineage and author of Turning the Mind into an Ally

“The short exercises presented here will benefit anyone who is able to practice them.”

Deborah Schoeberlein, author of Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness

“A marvelous, practical book, unlike anything else out there—the ultimate how-to manual for nurturing kindness and compassion. The authors’ enthusiasm for compassion is contagious!”

Maureen Doallas, Writing Without Paper

“What this guide offers in return for your effort is a way to live harmoniously, at peace with yourself and also those around you.”

REVIEWS

From “Writing Without Paper” by Maureen Doallas

Those of you who believe in and signed the Charter for Compassion, as I did, may wonder and perhaps even struggle with how to live out the words of that document. Tana Pesso’s First Invite Love In: 40 Time-Tested Tools for Creating a More Compassionate Life (Wisdom Publications, 2010) may be the answer, perhaps the first book to demonstrate step by step how it is possible “to be more kind, to cause less harm, and to create less suffering,” to set “ripples of goodness in motion that can transform your mind into a sea of tranquility and happiness.”

Pesso, a Rockport, Massachusetts, resident with a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, has written a practical how-to manual under the guidance of Penor Rinpoche, a renowned practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism who, unfortunately, died before the book was published. I think he would be proud of Pesso’s accomplishment. Pesso has given us a highly individualized approach to changing our “habits of mind”. She’s very clear about intent, practical about the difficulties of becoming proficient at technique; she offers informed examples and insights, and, keeping in mind the manual’s purpose, gives just enough explanation of concepts. Hers is not in any way an academic approach. Pesso is mindful of what’s needed to build confidence, to keep at something, and boosts the user all along the way.

From “Spirituality & Practice” by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

Tana Pesso, who holds a master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, has taken the meditations by Penor Rinpoche (1932 – 2009), an exemplary master of the Tibetan tradition, and brought them to the world in this extraordinarily helpful paperback of 40 compassion practices. She sees herself as “the vehicle to provide a cultural translation of the precious and powerful” teachings he taught and lived. In the introduction, Pesso gives some advice for using this book: Do the exercises in order and don’t skip steps. Practice regularly, and trust yourself.

The Tibetan Buddhist tradition emphasizes that compassion can be taught and learned: opening the heart towards all living beings brings a peace of mind that is astonishing. Further, they believe that every human being is born with a yearning to be kind and compassionate. It takes time and the three p’s of patience, practice, and perseverance to draw out our innate goodness. There are three segments to each of the guided meditations here and they are meant to be done in succession, since each builds on the other. The back of this paperback contains a short version of each exercise for brief reminders of the practice path.

From New Lotus by Raymond Lam

Tana Pesso’s meditation manual, First Invite Love In, is a collection of forty exercises for cultivating a more loving attitude. In this sense it does offer an entirely new concept. It follows in the footsteps of other published guides focusing on themes in meditative practice (in this case, love and compassion). Most manuals have systematic methods of developing wholesome qualities of mind, but it can be difficult to progress through them if one has difficulty with their general approach. Thanks to Penor Rinpoche’s guidance, however, I think Pesso’s guide is quite user-friendly not only to Buddhists but also to non-Buddhists who happen to pick it up. As she clarifies about her methodology (for the non-Buddhists): “We are just playing with the ability of your mind to imagine things” (p. 28).
The book’s method utilizes one central, basic exercise – the very first, which is appropriately named “First Invite Love In” – and builds her entire book around this concept of “dwelling in a space of love” that is generated by a “spiritual support figure”. The way this is achieved is by visualizing and mentally coming into contact with a spiritual figure (such as the Buddha but also more recent ones such as Martin Luther King Jr.) whom one understands as unconditionally all-loving. This foundational meditation is followed by “Seal with a Vow and Rejoice”, in which one promises the spiritual support figure to do one’s best to cultivate this love. In return, the support figure is visualized as radiating pleasure at knowing of one’s commitment.
From Mandala Magazine by Nancy Patton
Penor Rinpoche, who died in 2009, was the head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism and with the able assistance of Harvard graduate Tana Pesso, his precious techniques can now reach a wide audience. Anyone with aspirations to be more kind, to cause less harm, and to create less suffering will find the right tools in this wise book. Forty building blocks to be erected one at a time in a logical sequence, like an athlete training for the Olympics. Each step asks that you first and foremost “invite love in.” Only then can you later “send love out” and, finally, “seal with a vow and rejoice.” This very practical book is an excellent how-to guide to connecting to a renewable resource of compassionate energy.
Those who read and, more importantly, try out the compassion exercises as outlined by Pesso and her teacher, the late Nyingma Buddhist leader Rinpoche, may find a marked increase in empathy and good will. Most of the practices are inner visualizations which involve bestowing possessions to others, acknowledging the pain of people and animals, or picturing strangers as nurturing mothers in a past life. The authors emphasize that a belief in reincarnation isn’t a prerequisite; these are simply thought exercises aimed at expanding the heart. Building on the compassionate inner meditations are chapters that apply the practices to strangers encountered in daily life. These are very simple gestures limited to a friendly smile or, at the most, some kind words. Prior to undertaking each of the 40 exercises readers are instructed to “”first invite love in,”” an elegant opening sequence which involves identifying and accessing a spiritual support figure. Many of the meditations are quite similar, the authors’ intention being to grow compassion gradually and systematically. This careful repetition may instead cause skipping around to find a particular exercise.

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