What value has compassion that does not
take its object in its arms?

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

compassion 2

I am compassionate.  I allow my heart and imagination to embrace the difficulties and concerns of others.  While maintaining my own balance, I find it within myself to extend sympathy, attention, and support.  When they are grieved, I listen with openness and gentle strength.  I offer loyalty, friendship, and human understanding.  Without undermining or enabling, I aid and assist others to find their strength.  I allow the healing power of the Universe to flow through me, soothing the hearts and feelings of those I encounter.

Julia Cameron


Compassionate people are geniuses in the art of living, more necessary to the dignity, security, and joy of humanity than the discoverers of knowledge.

Albert Einstein

Compassion is the basis of all truthful relationship:  it means being present with love--for ourselves and for all life, including animals, fish, birds, and trees.  Compassion is bringing our deepest truth into our actions, no matter how much the world seems to resist, because that is ultimately what we have to give this world and one another.

Ram Dass

No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.

Don Swartz


When you're helping, from your limited vantage point, appreciate the other person's
struggles and suffering, yet also respect their privacy and boundaries.  Ascertain
with delicacy and care the extent to which your friend may wish to open up and
talk.  Don't take responsibility for solving that friend's life; just be there.  Let
any feelings of compassion and selflessness come naturally.  Watch your feelings
so that, if you feel superior or prideful, you can shush your mind and tell it that it
should feel grateful for the opportunity to serve.  For, in serving by doing what you
can to alleviate suffering, you are transcending boundaries and glorifying the One
Power in us all.   As you give your life to others, compassion grows; and as
compassion grows, you become worthier to receive grace.  Grace is what enables
you to grow in you divinity and what helps you gain your true life.

Michael Goddart


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Compassion and nonviolence help us to see the enemy's point of view,
to hear their questions, to know their assessment of ourselves.
For from their point of view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses
of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit
from the wisdom of the brothers and sisters who are called the opposition.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Often the most loving thing we can do when a friend is in pain is
to share the pain--to be there even when we have nothing to
offer except our presence and even when being there is
painful to ourselves.

M. Scott Peck


Spiritual energy brings compassion into the real world.  With compassion,
we see benevolently our own human condition and the condition
of our fellow beings.  We drop prejudice.  We withhold judgment.

Christina Baldwin


The individual is capable of both great compassion
and great indifference.  We have it within our means
to nourish the former and outgrow the latter.

Norman Cousins


Compassion for yourself translates into compassion for others.

Suki Jay Munsell


True compassion means not only feeling another's pain
but also being moved to help relieve it.

Daniel Goleman

Let me explain what we mean by compassion.  Usually, our concept of compassion or love refers to the feeling of closeness we have with our friends and loved ones.  Sometimes compassion also carries a sense of pity.  This is wrong--any love or compassion which entails looking down on the other is not genuine compassion.  To be genuine, compassion must be based on respect for the other, and on the realization that others have the right to be happy and overcome suffering just as much as you.  On this basis, since you can see that others are suffering, you develop a genuine sense of concern for them.

As for the closeness we feel toward our friends, this is usually more like attachment than compassion. Genuine compassion should be unbiased.  If
we only feel close to our friends, and not to our enemies, or to the countless people who are unknown to us personally and toward whom we are indifferent, then our compassion is only partial or biased.

Genuine compassion is based on the recognition that others have the right to happiness just like yourself, and therefore even your enemy is a human being with the same wish for happiness as you, and the same right to happiness as you.  A sense of concern developed on this basis is what we call compassion; it extends to everyone, irrespective of whether the person's attitude toward you is hostile or friendly.

the Dalai Lama


Compassion is the ultimate and most meaningful embodiment of
emotional maturity.  It is through compassion that a person achieves
the highest peak and the deepest reach in his or her
search for self-fulfillment.

Arthur Jersild


Until we extend the circle of our compassion to
all living things, we will not ourselves find peace.

Albert Schweitzer


When we see ourselves as we truly are--divinely perfect human beings
struggling to live out the gifts of spirituality--we have an opportunity
to crack open the door of compassion a bit.  When we can compassionately
see that we fumble, we make mistakes, or that we are (if only faintly and occasionally!)
aware of a goodness within us that we do not always know how to express, we start
to be aware of feelings of compassion for ourselves.  Once we are aware of compassion
for ourselves, it is only a very short step to begin to feel compassion for others.

Anne Wilson Schaef
Meditations for Living in Balance

compassion 2

The joy that compassion brings is one of the best-kept secrets
of humanity.  It is a secret known only to a very few people,
a secret that has to be rediscovered over and over again.

Henri J.M Nouwen

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness
of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are
all part of one another, and all involved in one another.

Thomas Merton

Compassion means
that if I see my friend and my enemy
in equal need,
I shall help them both equally.
Justice demands
that we seek
and find the stranger,
the broken, the prisoner
and comfort them
and offer them our help.

Mechtild of Magdeburg



Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.

John Watson


Compassion is the basis of all morality.

Arthur Schopenhauer


Make no judgments where you have no compassion.

Anne McCaffrey


As Gandhi wisely points out, even as we serve others we are working
on ourselves; every act, every word, every gesture of genuine compassion
naturally nourishes our own hearts as well.  It is not a question of who is
healed first.  When we attend to ourselves with compassion and mercy,
more healing is made available for others.  And when we serve others with
an open and generous heart, great healing comes to us.

Wayne Muller


Compassion makes no distinction between friends and
enemies, neighbors and outsiders, compatriots and foreigners.
Compassion is the gate to human community.

Joan Chittister
Seeing with Our Souls


Compassion is a foundation for sharing our
aliveness and building a more human world.

Martin Lowenthal

An old Rabbi once asked his pupils how they could tell when the night had ended and the day had begun.
   "Could it be," asked one of the students, "when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it's a sheep or a dog?"
   "No," answered the Rabbi.
   Another asked, "Is it when you can look at a tree in the distance and tell whether it's a fig tree or a peach tree?"
   "No," answered the Rabbi.
   "Then what is it?" the pupils demanded.
   "It is when you can look on the face of any man or woman and see that it is your sister or brother.  Because if you cannot see this, it is still night."

Hasidic Tale

The path of compassion leads to the development of insight.  But it
doesn't work to say, "Ready, set, go!  Be compassionate!"  Beginning
any practice depends on intention.  Intention depends on intuiting--at
least a little bit--the suffering inherent in the human condition and the
pain we feel, and cause, when we act out of confusion.  It also depends
on trusting--at least a little bit--in the possibility of a contented, satisfied mind.

Sylvia Boorstein

When we endure our own tragedies or trials, most of us
develop some empathy and compassion for others who are suffering.
The trick is to keep that sense of compassion going throughout
our daily lives, when we are likely to go on automatic pilot and
move back into being judgmental, especially when times are tough.

Bill O’Hanlon

Perhaps we can only truly serve those we are willing to touch, not only
with our hands but with our hearts and even our souls.  Professionalism
has embedded in service a sense of difference, a certain distance.
But on the deepest level, service is an experience of belonging, an experience
of connection to others and to the word around us.  It is this connection that
gives us the power to bless the life in others.
Without it, the life in them would not respond to us.

Rachel Naomi Remen

compassion 2

If children show signs of being afraid, such as crying and hiding,
we do our best to comfort them.  We hug them, and we try
to calm them down.  We give them our sympathy and our love.
When an adult shows signs of fear, though, in the form of rudeness
or obnoxiousness, we respond by trying to put that person in
his or her place.  We have little sympathy, and we often feel
hurt or diminished by that person's actions or words.
Have you ever seen someone act in a way that was hurtful,
and then found out later that something drastic, such as
the death of a loved one, had just happened to that person?
Once we have an explanation for the behavior,
it's not just acceptable, but understandable.

tom walsh


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Compassion for others comes naturally as you recognize your own limitations.

Stephen C. Paul


It's as bad to have too little emotion as it is to have too much.
The person without emotion is the person without compassion.
Compassion comes from the heart, not the head.

Joan Chittister

Seeing with Our Souls

Nothing helps us build our perspective more than developing
compassion for others.  Compassion is a sympathetic feeling.
It involves the willingness to put yourself in someone else's shoes,
to take the focus off yourself and to imagine what it's like to be
in someone else's predicament, and simultaneously, to feel love
for that person.  It's the recognition that other people's problems,
their pain and frustrations, are every bit as real as our own--often
far worse.  In recognizing this fact and trying to offer some assistance,
we open our own hearts and greatly enhance our sense of gratitude.

Richard Carlson

When we think about the people who have given us hope and
have increased the strength of our soul, we might discover that
they were not the advice givers, warners, or moralists, but the
few who were able to articulate in words and actions the human
condition in which we participate. . . . Not because of any solution
they offered but because of the courage to enter so deeply into
human suffering and speak from there.  Neither Kierkegaard nor
Sartre nor Camus nor Hammarskjold nor Solzhenitsyn has offered
solutions, but many who read their words find new strength to
pursue their own personal search.  Those who do not run away
from our pains but touch them with compassion bring healing and
new strength. . . . In our solution oriented world, it is more important
than ever to realize that wanting to alleviate pain without sharing it
is like wanting to save a child from a burning house
without the risk of being hurt.

Henri J.M. Nouwen 

Rest assured that, generally speaking, others are acting in exactly the same
manner that you would under exactly the same circumstances.  Hence, be kind,
understanding, empathetic, compassionate, and loving.

Gary W. Fenchuk


Many people around you have a lot of anger, hate, and despair, which
prevents them from getting in touch with the fresh air, the blue sky, or
the fragrant rose.  They are in a kind of prison.  But if you practice
compassion, if you can see the suffering in the people around you,
and if every day you try to do something to help them suffer less,
then you are free.  One day with compassion is worth more
than one hundred days without it.

Thich Nhat Hanh
At Home in the World


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When one has compassion for others, God has compassion for him or her.

the Talmud

At times I think the truest image of God today is a black inner-city
grandmother in the U.S. or a mother of the disappeared in Argentina
or the women who wake up early to make tortillas in refugee camps.
They all weep for their children and in their compassionate tears arises
the political action that changes the world.  The mothers show us that
it is the experience of touching the pain of others that is the key to change.

Jim Wallis


The great enemy of morality has always been indifference.  As children,
as far as our awareness of things went, we had an elementary capacity
for compassion.  But our capacity did not develop over the years in
proportion to the growth of our understanding.  This was uncomfortable
and bewildering.  We noticed so many people who no longer had
compassion or empathy.  Then we, too, suppressed our sensitivity so
as to be like everyone else.  We did not want to be different from them,
and we did not know what to do.  Thus many people became like houses
in which one story after another has been vacated, a lifeless structure in
which all windows look empty and strange, deserted.

Albert Schweitzer



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Yes, life can be mysterious and confusing--but there's much of life that's actually rather dependable and reliable.  Some principles apply to life in so many different contexts that they can truly be called universal--and learning what they are and how to approach them and use them can teach us some of the most important lessons that we've ever learned.
My doctorate is in Teaching and Learning.  I use it a lot when I teach at school, but I also do my best to apply what I've learned to the life I'm living, and to observe how others live their lives.  What makes them happy or unhappy, stressed or peaceful, selfish or generous, compassionate or arrogant?  In this book, I've done my best to pass on to you what I've learned from people in my life, writers whose works I've read, and stories that I've heard.  Perhaps these principles can be a positive part of your life, too!
Universal Principles of Living Life Fully.  Awareness of these principles can explain a lot and take much of the frustration out of the lives we lead.



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