June 2014 For those who are interested in reading the teaching of the Buddha directly, I would suggest beginning with the Majjhima Nikaya (Middle Length Discourses) which can also be found online here or here . There are several other resources on the web that can be used as study guides, including Pressing Out Pure Honey by Sharda Rogell or these talks by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Try reading one periodically, or read one each day.
Oct 2012 I just went to a lecture at Stanford about neuroscience research going on about compassion practice. While I am already a believer in the efficacy of meditative practices without charts and graphs to convince me, it seems helpful for many people to see the religion of science confirm that you can change your brain and patterns through practice!
One study was done with preschoolers in teaching them compassion meditation, and then observing how they distributed stickers more equitably after this amongst their friend, enemy, and strangers. This stuff works, whether with PhDs or preschoolers!