The Compassionate Universe

The Power of the Individual to Heal the Environment

A practical and inspiring approach to tackling our environmental crisis. We can heal our earth by choosing a simpler, more fulfilling lifestyle, as trustees of a compassionate universe.

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Easwaran presents a penetrating analysis of the spiritual roots of our current predicament and offers a realistic and hopeful way forward. Each of us has a role to play in making wise choices, and each of us can genuinely make a difference. Drawing inspiration and insight from Mahatma Gandhi, Saint Francis, and his own experience of living in the East and the West, Easwaran shows the connections between individual thoughts and actions that move beyond consumerism to the unity of life.

Mahatma Gandhi formulated a series of diagnoses of our seemingly perpetual state of crisis, which he called “the seven social sins”: knowledge without character, science without humanity, wealth without work, commerce without morality, politics without principles, pleasure without conscience, and worship without self-sacrifice. Easwaran explores each of these diagnoses in turn and presents an alternative hypothesis of who we are and how we fit into the universe.

This is ecology as a great adventure, filled with the challenges and rewards of inner growth. Easwaran tells us that “once we open our eyes to cooperation, artistry, thrift, and compassion, we begin to see thousands of little things we can do to help restore the environment – and restore dignity and deeper fulfillment to our own lives.”

Easwaran's early experiences of living in harmony with nature, his firsthand acquaintance with Gandhi’s India, and his long familiarity with an American audience have resulted in this book: a deeply thoughtful examination of our present situation, and a blueprint for living as trustees of a compassionate universe, in a world that we would want our children and grandchildren to inherit.

This second edition (Jan. 2022) has a new cover and revised interior layout.


The audiobook (unabridged) is read by Paul Bazely, a professional actor and longtime student of Easwaran.

This is one of those books that hit the nail right on the head for me. It integrates meditation, personal responsibility, and ecology into a message that I think our world desperately needs. It's an easy read with no esoteric Buddhist philosophy that in the past has made me bleed at the ears. Rather, it's practical, heart-felt, warm, and inviting. It's helped me to move from simple acceptance to real compassion.