Compassion (quotes)


What is compassion?


Compassion is a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for the suffering of others

  • Compassion:  Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.  Oxford Dictionary
  • Compassion:  A strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for the suffering or bad luck of others and a wish to help them.  Cambridge Dictionary
  • Compassion:  A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken bymisfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
  • Compassion:  Sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.  Merriam Webster
  • Love  Kindness  Empathy  Understanding  Mercy

Compassion is a keen awareness of the suffering of another and a desire to see it relieved

  • Compassion is defined as a keen awareness of the suffering of another coupled with a desire to see it relieved.  Will Bowen
  • Compassion is a form of empathy and care that wishes for the alleviation of someone’s suffering.  Gil Fronsdal
  • The nature of compassion isn’t coming to terms with your own suffering and applying it to others: It’s knowing that other folks around you suffer and, no matter what happens to you, no matter how lucky or unlucky you are, they keep suffering. And if you can do something about that, then you do it, and you do it without whining or waving your own fuckin’ cross for the world to see. You do it because it’s the right thing to do.  John Connolly
  • Compassion, I have come to learn, combines “com,” or with, and “passion,” or suffer. “Compassion” is to suffer with another.   Kevin Hall
  • To train in compassion, then, is to know all beings are the same and suffer in similar ways, to honor all those who suffer, and to know you are neither separate from nor superior to anyone.  Stephen Levine
  • Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.  Henri J.M. Nouwen
  • Compassion is that which makes the heart of the good move at the pain of others. It crushes and destroys the pain of others; thus, it is called compassion. It is called compassion because it shelters and embraces the distressed.  Gautama Buddha
  • Suffering

Compassion is putting yourself in someone else’s skin

  • Compassion 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.  Richard Carlson
  • Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It’s the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.  Frederick Buechner
  • The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves “inside the skin” of the other.  We “go inside” their body, feelings, and mental formations, and witness for ourselves their suffering.  Shallow observation as an outsider is not enough to see their suffering.  We must become one with the subject of our observation.  When we are in contact with another’s suffering, a feeling of compassion is born in us.  Compassion means, literally, “to suffer with.”  Thich Nhat Hanh
  • One of the ways to learn to “feel with” is to get to know others beyond a superficial level.  When we experience another’s life the way he or she experiences it, our world expands and we begin to develop the ability to “feel with.”  We develop compassion.  Anne Wilson Schaef

Compassion is realising that pain is hidden in everyone

  • My mother says that pain is hidden in everyone you see. She says try to imagine it like big bunches of flowers that everyone is carrying around with them. Think of your pain like a big bunch of red roses, a beautiful thorn necklace. Everyone has one.  Francesca Lia Block
  • How much can we ever know about the love and pain in another heart? How much can we hope to understand those who have suffered deeper anguish, greater deprivation, and more crushing disappointments than we ourselves have known?  Orhan Pamuk
  • It’s easy to look at people and make quick judgments about them, their present and their past, but you’d be amazed at the pain and tears a single smile hides. What a person shows to the world is only one tiny facet of the iceberg hidden from sight. And more often then not, it’s lined with cracks and scars that go all the way to the foundation of their soul.  Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Pain

Compassion is based on the awareness of the interconnectedness of all living beings

  • 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
  • In separateness lies the world’s great misery, in compassion lies the world’s true strength.  Gautama Buddha
  • Compassion is the awareness of a deep bond between yourself and all creatures.  Eckhart Tolle
  • A human being is a part of the whole that we call the universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness.  This illusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for only the few people nearest us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living beings and all of nature.  Albert Einstein
  • Compassion springs from a mind and heart deeply rooted in simplicity, integrity, and a profound understanding of the interconnected nature of all life.  Christina Feldman
  • Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals) is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission – to be of service to them whenever they require it… If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.  St Francis of Assisi
  • Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.  Albert Einstein
  • Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.  Brené Brown
  • When we know ourselves to be connected to all others, acting compassionately is simply the natural thing to do.  Rachel Naomi Remen
  • Awareness  Connectedness

Compassion is closely related to empathy

  • I think people believe empathy to be compassion, that compassion is an inner sense (a sense of the soul). But empathy is a sense, while compassion isn’t a sense. Empathy is an affinity, a communion, a comprehension. They say that empathy is compassion, but I think that the two are independent of each other. You see, through empathy you will feel what another is feeling, including all those plans for manipulation and persuasion. You will feel everything, not just the parts that make you take compassion for the person, but also all the red flags! You see, empathy is a sense that works with the other senses such as foresight and intuition. So, we can feel compassion but we have to move with empathy.  C. JoyBell C.
  • Empathy

The opposite of compassion is not hate but indifference and apathy

  • 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
  • Hate is not the opposite of love; apathy is.  Rollo May
  • Apathy and indifference  Hate

Compassion is a crowning virtue


Compassion is one of the greatest of all human virtues …

  • You may call God love, you may call God goodness. But the best name for God is compassion.  Meister Eckhart
  • Nothing renews my faith in humanity more than the exchange of compassion so profound that mere words cannot embrace it.  Tiffany Madison
  • Compassion is the religion of the heart.  Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
  • The dew of compassion is a tear.  Lord Byron
  • All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness … the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.  The Dalai Lama
  • Compassion crowns the soul with its truest victory.  Aberjhani
  • Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.  Barry Lopez
  • Here are the values that I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.  Ellen DeGeneres
  • Real success requires respect for and faithfulness to the highest human values– honesty, integrity, self- discipline, dignity, compassion, humility, courage, personal responsibility, courtesy, and human service.  Michael DeBakey, M.D.
  • Simplicity, patience, compassion.  These three are your greatest treasures.  Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are.  Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.  Lao Tzu
  • The value of compassion cannot be over-emphasized. Anyone can criticize. It takes a true believer to be compassionate. No greater burden can be borne by an individual than to know no one cares or understands.  Arthur H. Stainback
  • The world is filled with love-play, from animal lust to sublime compassion.  Alan Wilson Watts
  • Virtue

… and the essence of many spiritual teachings and practices

  • I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.  Lao Tzu
  • I feel that the essence of spiritual practice is your attitude toward others. When you have a pure, sincere motivation, then you have right attitude toward others based on kindness, compassion, love and respect.  The Dalai Lama
  • Enlightened leadership is spiritual if we understand spirituality not as some kind of religious dogma or ideology but as the domain of awareness where we experience values like truth, goodness, beauty, love and compassion, and also intuition, creativity, insight and focused attention.  Deepak Chopra
  • If you look at all enduring philosophies, religions and thoughts, you will find principles such as integrity, compassion, trust, honesty, accountability and others at their core.  Stephen Covey
  • Spiritual growth means increasing your awareness of beauty, opening your heart, and experiencing more love and compassion.  Sanaya Roman
  • Spiritual literature can be a great aid to an aspirant, or it can be a terrible hindrance. If it is used to inspire practice, motivate compassion, ad nourish devotion, it serves a very valuable purpose. If scriptural study is used for mere intellectual understanding, for pride of accomplishment, or as a substitute for actual practice, then one is taking in too much mental food, which is sure to result in intellectual indigestion.  Prem Prakash
  • The core of all the great spiritual teachings and teachers can be surmised in a few simple paragraphs. Choose to be easygoing, benign, forgiving, compassionate, and unconditionally loving towards all life in all its expressions.  Avoid negativity and the desire for worldliness and its greed for pleasure and possessions.   Seek to understand rather than to condemn. Venerate the teachers of these basic principles and ignore all others. Apply these principles to one’s view of oneself as well as of others.  David R. Hawkins
  • The foundation of theaBuddha’s teachings lies in compassion, and the reason for practicing the teachings is to wipe out the persistence of ego, the number-one enemy of compassion.  The Dalai Lama
  • The ultimate purpose of Zen,’ I remembered the roshi telling me, ‘is not in the going away from the world but in the coming back. Zen is not just a matter of gaining enlightenment; it’s a matter of acting in a world of love and compassion.  Pico Lyer
  • Spirituality

To foster compassion is the very purpose of true religion

  • The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, and forgiveness.  The Dalai Lama
  • The purpose of all the major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.   The Dalai Lama
  • This is my simple religion… There is no need for temples. There is no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is the temple.  The philosophy is loving kindness and compassion.  The Dalai Lama
  • False religions will find fault with other religions; they will say that theirs is the only valid religion and their prophet is the only saviour. But a true religion will feel that all the prophets are saviours of mankind. Forgiveness, compassion, tolerance, brotherhood and the feeling of oneness are the signs of a true religion.  Sri Chinmoy
  • Religion

Compassion is a form of strength and courage

  • Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.  Hubert H. Humphrey
  • Compassion and happiness are not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.  The Dalai Lama
  • Sometimes compassion is the greater part of honor.  Rachel Vincent
  • To me, empathy and compassion are among the bravest of emotions … and faith, the bravest of convictions.  Gerard de Marigny
  • With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.  Keshavan Nair
  • In compassion lies the world’s true strength.  Buddha
  • Strength  Courage

The rewards of compassion


True compassion can be hard and painful

  • Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.  Henri J.M. Nouwen
  • Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.  Andrew Boyd
  • There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels for someone, for someone, pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.  Milan Kundera
  • It takes great courage to open one’s heart and mind to the tremendous injustice and suffering in our world.  Vincent A. Gallagher

However, compassion can also bring you great happiness and self fulfilment …

  • The more we think of others, the happier we are. The more we think of ourselves, the more suffering we feel. The Dalai Lama
  • Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.  The Dalai Lama
  • If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  The Dalai Lama
  • Until he extends his circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.  Albert Schweitzer
  • 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
  • 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
  • Joy is an attitude; it is the presence of love – for self and others. It comes from a feeling of inner peace, the ability to give and receive, and appreciation of the self and others. It is a state of gratitude and compassion, a feeling of connection to your higher self.  Sanaya Roman
  • Love and compassion and a sense of universal responsibility are the sources of peace and happiness. The Dalai Lama
  • The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.  The Dalai Lama
  • The key to Joy is unconditional kindness to all life, including one’s own, which we refer to as compassion. David R. Hawkins
  • Happiness  Fulfilment

… and inner peace …

  • Compassion is not religious business, it is human business. It is not luxury. It is essential for our own peace and mental stability. It is essential for human survival. The Dalai Lama
  • Understanding how compassion is a form of love helps us recognize what a jewel it truly is. When it arises from inner freedom it is then connected to other beautiful capacities of our hearts. It can appear together with well-being, calm, clarity, and peace.  Gil Fronsdal
  • What would we have to hold in compassion to be at peace right now? What would we have to let go of to be at peace right now?  Jack Kornfield
  • Inner peace

… as well as a sense of meaning to life …

  • I don’t know the meaning of life, but I know compassion is the key.  Jonathan Lockwood Huie
  • Compassion is the most precious of all gifts. In times of sorrow and bewilderment, it is what restores us and offers refuge. It is the force of empathy in your own heart that allows you to reach out and touch the broken heart of another. It is rooted in the heartfelt acknowledgement that others, like ourselves, yearn to be free from suffering and harm, and be safe and happy. It is compassion that rescues us from despair and helplessness, that provides a refuge of peace and understanding inwardly and outwardly. Compassion does not claim to be a quick-fix for the age- old causes of suffering, nor is it a magic wand that will sweep away sorrow. But it is our commitment to compassion and our willingness to nurture it in every moment that gives meaning to life.  Christina Feldman
  • I would like my life to be a statement of love and compassion–and where it isn’t, that’s where my work lies.  Ram Dass
  • One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.  Simone de Beauvoir
  • Meaning

… for compassion, itself, is one of the great purposes of life

  • The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.  Albert Schweitzer
  • When I remember that the primary purpose of life is to feel and appreciate the presence of God, to live from a state of love and compassion, and to be of service to others, then instantly, like magic, I begin to feel at peace.  Richard Carlson
  • The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.  Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Purpose

Compassion has the power to transform the world

  • The truth is, this quality of compassion–and the word means “to suffer with”–has been transforming the world.  And especially in the last century or two.  It was the force that abolished slavery and put an end to child labor.  It was the power that sent Florence Nightingale to Crimea and Albert Schweitzer to Africa.  Mobilized in the March of Dimes, it helped to conquer polio.  Without it there would be no Social Security, no Medicare, no ASPCA, no Red Cross.  But the most remarkable thing about it is what it can do to–and for– the person who feels it deeply.  Arthur Gordon
  • True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.  Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • If you wish the world to become loving and compassionate, become loving and compassionate yourself. If you wish to diminish fear in the world, diminish your own. These are the gifts that you can give.  Gary Zukav
  • Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.  Gautama Buddha
  • There is no such thing as a simple act of compassion or an inconsequential act of service. Everything we do for another person has infinite consequences.  Caroline Myss
  • The more compassionate you are, the more generous you can be. The more generous you are, the move loving friendliness you cultivate to help the world.  Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Compassion is a foundation for sharing our aliveness and building a more human world.  Martin Lowenthal

Compassion frees us of self absorption, connecting us to others

  • Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection –  or compassionate action.  Daniel Goleman
  • Compassion is the desire that moves the individual self to widen the scope of its self-concern to embrace the whole of the universal self.  Arnold Toynbee
  • Compassion for others can be a relief when we have spent too long pre-occupied with ourselves.  Gil Fronsdal
  • Connectedness

Compassion opens us to kindness and love

  • If each man or woman could understand that every other human life is as full of sorrows, or joys, or base temptations, of heartaches and of remorse as his own . . . how much kinder, how much gentler he would be.  William Allen White
  • When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.  Henri Nouwen
  • There is no small act of kindness.  Every compassionate act makes large the world.  Mary Anne Radmacher
  • Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.  The Dalai Lama
  • Kind speech is not the usual sense of kindness. It can appear in various ways, but we should remember that it must constantly be based on compassion.  Compassion is always giving somebody support or help or a chance to grow.  Katagiri Roshi
  • The gap between compassion and surrender is love’s darkest, deepest region.  Orhan Pamuk
  • Kindness  Love

Compassion fosters generosity

  • Generosity is the most natural outward expression of an inner attitude of compassion and loving-kindness.  The Dalai Lama
  • Generosity

Compassion brings peace to the world

  • It is important we cultivate love and compassion to all the sentient beings which is the way to bring peace to all. The Dalai Lama
  • Compassion, forgiveness, these are the real, ultimate sources of power for peace and success in life. Tenzin Gyatso, The Dalai Lama
  • If we make our goal to live a life of compassion and unconditional love, then the world will indeed become a garden where all kinds of flowers can bloom and grow.  Elisabeth Kuebler- Ross
  • Peace is not just the absence of war, it is the active presence of a capacity for love and compassion, and reciprocity.  Dennis Kucinich
  • Inner peace

Compassion heals ourselves and others

  • When we feel compassion for the suffering of another, the pain we feel is our own repressed pain; pain that has been festering in us from a past wound.  By feeling it and getting in touch with it, we relinquish it.  This is why our compassion for another is so healing.  Anthony Lambert
  • It is only with true love and compassion that we can begin to mend what is broken in the world. It is these two blessed things that can begin to heal all broken hearts.  Steve Maraboli
  • 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 will cure more sins than condemnation.  Henry Ward Beecher
  • 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
  • Compassion is the skilful way to respond to pain and difficulty.  It is what makes it possible to open to what is occurring instead of shutting it out or walling off against it.  Dawna Markova
  • Healing

Compassion adds greater depth and intimacy to our relationships with others

  • When you’re helping, from your limited vantage point, appreciate that 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 your divinity and what helps you gain your true life.  Michael Goddart
  • 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
  • When I’m bewildered and overwhelmed, I seek the gentle guidance of a person I know will respond with compassion. Life is complicated enough without having to listen to the caustic remarks of someone’s misdirected strength.  Patsy Clairmont
  • Compassion automatically invites you to relate with people because you no longer regard people as a drain on your energy.  Chogyam Trungpa
  • By cultivating a genuine interest in others, and keeping a caring and compassionate mindset in our interactions, we can begin to relate to others in a real and rewarding way. The paradox is that the less our concentration is on ourselves when we are interacting with others, the better we end up feeling.  Amanda Harvey
  • Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it Compassionate Listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart. Even if he says things that are full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continuing to listen with compassion. Because you know that listening like that, you give that person a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him to correct his perception, you wait for another time. For now, you don’t interrupt. You don’t argue. If you do, he loses his chance. You just listen with compassion and help him to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing.  Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Empathy, compassion and love bring a whole new dimension to your relationships when you hold these intentions in the background of your communication. They help you ‘tune- in’ to the other, feel the person behind the eyes and relate with openness.  Clinton Power
  • One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people.  John O’Donohue
  • You can relate to somebody’s pain and you have compassion, which can lead to intimacy.  Jeff Bridges
  • Intimacy  Principles for healthy relationships

Compassion helps us gain an understanding of others

  • 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
  • When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help.  Thich Naht Hanh
  • Nothing that we despise in other men is inherently absent from ourselves. We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or don’t do, and more in light of what they suffer.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Place your attention on others. When we stop focusing on ourselves, we stop being able to be worried how we come off. The easiest way to do this is to concentrate on compassion. When we’re feeling compassionate, sympathetic, or even empathetic, we stop being concerned about ourselves and start devoting all our mental resources to understanding others. Remembering that everyone is fighting some sort of battle — big or small (big to them!) — helps us remember everyone deserves our care.    Ben Rubenstein
  • Understanding

Compassion is at the heart of true morality and goodness

  • I can do no other than be reverent before everything that is called life. I can do no other than to have compassion for all that is called life. That is the beginning and the foundation of all ethics.  Albert Schweitzer
  • Compassion is the basis of all morality.  Arthur Schopenhauer
  • Compassion alone stands apart from the continuous traffic between good and evil proceeding within us.  Eric Hoffer
  • Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul: where there is compassion even the most poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless.  Eric Hoffer
  • Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation.   Henry Ward Beecher
  • Imagining what it is like to be someone other than yourself is at the core of our humanity. It is the essence of compassion, and it is the beginning of morality.  Ian McEwan
  • Morality and ethicsGoodness

More rewards of compassion

  • How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.  George Washington Carver
  • A kind and compassionate act is often its own reward.  William J. Bennett
  • Be compassionate. This makes dealing with others much more effortless. It also makes you feel better about yourself. People like you more, and you improve the lives of others. Make every dealing with another human being one where you practice compassion.  Leo Babauta
  • By compassion we make others’ misery our own, and so, by relieving them, we relieve ourselves also.  Sir Thomas Browne
  • Compassion needs space because love needs a place of unimpeded encounter between grace and nature. In a world crowded by information, we need to find space for the soul to grow.  Ilia Delio
  • Purity of speech, of the mind, of the senses, and of a compassionate heart are needed by one who desires to rise to the divine platform.  Chanakya
  • The beauty and mystery of this world only emerges through affection, attention, interest and compassion . . . open your eyes wide and actually see this world by attending to its colours, details and irony.  Orhan Pamuk

Without compassion, the heart turns hard

  • And power without compassion is the worst kind of evil there is.  E.J. Patten
  • Honesty without compassion and understanding is not honesty, but subtle hostility.  Rose N. Franzblau
  • How black and base a vice ingratitude is, may be seen in those vices with which it is always in combination, pride and hard- heartedness, or want of compassion. Robert South
  • He who feels no compassion will become insane.  Hasidic Proverb
  • If it is not tempered by compassion, and empathy, reason can lead men and women into a moral void.  Karen Armstrong
  • To live without love, compassion, or any other spiritual value creates a state of such severe imbalance that every cell yearns to correct it. Ultimately, that is what lies behind the onset of disease; the body is sending a message that something lacking in the present—an imbalance existing somewhere—has given rise to highly visible, unarguable, physical symptoms.  Deepak Chopra

The nature of compassion


Compassion is not pity

  • 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 realisation 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.  The Dalai Lama
  • Compassion is a far greater and nobler thing than pity.  Pity has its roots in fear, and a sense of arrogance and condescension, sometimes even a strong feeling of “I’m glad it’s not me.” . . . To train in compassion, then, is to know all beings are the same and suffer in similar ways, to honor all those who suffer, and to know you are neither separate from nor superior to anyone.  Sogyal Rinpoche
  • When your fear touches someone’s pain, it becomes pity; when your love touches someone’s pain, it becomes compassion.  Stephen Levine
  • Self-pity

True compassion is free of judgement

  • Make no judgements where you have no compassion.  Anne McCaffrey
  • We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation.  Paulo Coelho
  • Look beyond the behaviour to see the innocense in where the behaviour is coming from.  Underneath even the most annoying behavior is a frustrated person who is crying out for compassion.  Richard Carlson
  • 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
  • People hurt others as a result of their own inner strife and pain. Avoid the reactive response of believeing they are bad; they already think so and are acting that way. They aren’t bad; they are damaged and they deserve compassion. Note that compassion is an internal process, an understanding of the painful and troubled road trod by another. It is not trying to change or fix that person.  Will Bowen
  • 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
  • Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.  Plato
  • Your development towards wisdom is a process of experimentation, trial and error, so it’s inevitable things will not always go to plan or turn out how you’d want. Compassion is the remedy for harsh judgement – of ourselves and others.  Cherie Carter-Scott
  • Let go of the need to judge

True compassion encompasses everyone, not just our loved ones …

  • 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

… including even those that hurt us

  • A truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively or hurt you.  The Dalai Lama
  • When we come into contact with the other person, our thoughts and actions should express our mind of compassion, even if that person says and does things that are not easy to accept. We practice in this way until we see clearly that our love is not contingent upon the other person being lovable. Thich Nhat Hanh
  • The capacity to remain completely calm in situations of great provocation, and to feel genuine compassion for those who are deliberately trying to harm us, is a sign of high spiritual realizations and the result of a great deal of mental preparation. It is unrealistic to expect that we can be like this immediately, but if we use every opportunity that arises in our daily life to train our mind in the following methods for controlling our anger, our patience will gradually improve.  Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
  • Be compassionate to your criticizer. This can really soften the situation. Giving honest criticism is no fun for most people, and it’s often a case of, “This is going to hurt me as much as it might hurt you.”  Danielle LaPorte
  • Treat every person with kindness and respect, even those who are rude to you. Remember that you show compassion to others not because of who they are but because of who you are.  Andrew T. Somers

True compassion encompasses all living beings, not just people

  • If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.  St. Francis of Assisi
  • It is much easier to show compassions to animals. They are never wicked.  Haile Selassie
  • The human spirit is not dead. It lives on in secret… It has come to believed that compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.  Albert Schweitzer
  • 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.   Ram Dass
  • As custodians of the planet it is our responsibility to deal with all species with kindness, love and compassion.  Richard Gere
  • Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.  Arthur Schopenhauer
  • Keep fighting for animals by making compassionate, cruelty-free choices every day and encouraging those around you to do the same.  Bea Arthur
  • The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality. Arthur Schopenhauer

True compassion takes action

  • Whoever is spared personal pain must feel himself called to help in diminishing the pain of others. We must all carry our share of the misery which lies upon the world.  Albert Schweitzer
  • Compassion is a verb.  Thich Nhat Hanh
  • It is only with true love and compassion that we can begin to mend what is broken in the world. It is these two blessed things that can begin to heal all broken hearts.  Steve Maraboli
  • Compassion is an unstable emotion. It needs to be translated into action, or it withers. The question of what to do with the feelings that have been aroused, the knowledge that has been communicated. If one feels that there is nothing ‘we’ can do — but who is that ‘we’? — and nothing ‘they’ can do either — and who are ‘they’ — then one starts to get bored, cynical, apathetic.  Susan Sonrag
  • It’s a time for idealism — not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action.  Marian Wright Edelman
  • Words and thoughts concerning compassionate action that are not put into practice are like beautiful flowers that are colourful but have no fragrance.  Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Action

True compassion is never an obligation

  • It is important not to feel obligated to be compassionate as this often leads to self-criticism and stress that interferes with the arising of a natural compassion. Buddhism doesn’t require us to feel empathy and care for others. It does say, however, that we have the capacity to be compassionate and that doing so is a wonderful asset to ourselves, to others, and to the practice of freedom. The focus can be on how compassion enriches us, not depletes us.  Gil Fronsdal

Compassion is the antithesis of self-absorption

  • Selfishness and self-preoccupation obstruct compassion by blocking the attention and sensitivity that is needed for compassion to arise.  One benefit of letting go of selfishness is that compassion arises more easily.  Gil Fronsdal
  • It is a feeble compassion that pulls up short where self-interest begins.  Norm Phelps

Compassion is part of our nature, and is cultivated through letting go

  • What is most important is to go deep into ourselves and discover the loving kindness and compassion of the.buddha within –  the awakened nature we all possess.  Shinjo Ito
  • Compassion is a transforming quality of heart we cultivate, nurture, and refine.  It is rediscovered through the falling away of the layers of fear, resistance, and anxiety that have the power to veil the innately compassionate heart.  Our challenge may not be so much one of becoming more compassionate, but one of learning to let go of the clouds of confusion that obscure the powerful compassion within us.  Christina Feldman
  • Harvard’s Jerome Kagan proposes this mental exercise to make a simple point about human nature: the sum total of goodness vastly outweighs that of meanness. ‘Although humans inherit a biological bias that permits them to feel anger, jealousy, selfishness and envy, and to be rude, aggressive or violent,’ Kagan notes, ‘they inherit an even stronger biological bias for kindness, compassion, cooperation, love and nurture – especially toward those in need.’ This inbuilt ethical sense, he adds, ‘is a biological feature of our species.’   Daniel Goleman
  • You are goodness and mercy and compassion and understanding. You are peace and joy and light. You are forgiveness and patience, strength and courage, a helper in time of need, a comforter in time of sorrow, a healer in time of injury, a teacher in times of confusion. You are the deepest wisdom and the highest truth; the greatest peace and the grandest love. You are these things. And in moments of your life you have known yourself as these things. Choose now to know yourself as these things always.  Neale Donald Walsch
  • Letting go

How do love and compassion compare?

  • Compassion is the wish for another being to be free from suffering; love is wanting them to have happiness.  The Dalai Lama
  • Love

Compassion is the fruit of suffering  


It is our own suffering that allows us to feel compassion for the suffering of others …

  • To develop true compassion, first we must know that suffering is real, and that sufferings hurt.  Thupten Rinpoche
  • It is our own pain, and our own desire to be free of it, that alerts us to the suffering of the world.  It is our personal discovery that pain can be acknowledged, even held lovingly, that enables us to look at the pain around us unflinchingly and feel compassion being born in us.  We need to start with ourselves.  Sylvia Boorstein
  • Suffering and joy teach us, if we allow them, how to make the leap of empathy, which transports us into the soul and heart of another person.  Fritz William
  • 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
  • As Shantideva says, suffering has many good qualities because it purifies our negative karma, increases our renunciation and compassion, reduces our pride, and helps us to overcome our bad mental habits. If we think in this way we will feel that difficult circumstances are our best friends.   Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
  • Grant that I may be given appropriate difficulties and sufferings on this journey so that my heart may be truly awakened and my practice of liberation and universal compassion may be truly fulfilled.  Tibetan prayer
  • When we open our hearts to each other we allow grace to enter. It is as simple as that. And suffering — events that break open the heart — can become the refiner’s fire that leaves us fully open to the truth about love and compassion.  Kathleen A. Brehony
  • Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognise our shared humanity.  Pema Chodron
  • Suffering

… and helps us to heal them and ourselves

  • Everyone alive has suffered.  It is the wisdom gained from our wounds and from our own experiences of suffering that makes us able to heal.  Becoming expert has turned out to be less important than remembering and trusting the wholeness in myself and everyone else.  Expertise cures, but wounded people can best be healed by other wounded people. Only other wounded people can understand what is needed, for the healing of suffering is compassion, not expertise.  Rachel Naomi Remen
  • Wounding and healing are not opposites. They’re part of the same thing. It is our wounds that enable us to be compassionate with the wounds of others. It is our limitations that make us kind to the limitations of other people. It is our loneliness that helps us to to find other people or to even know they’re alone with an illness. I think I have served people perfectly with parts of myself I used to be ashamed of.  Rachel Naomi Remen
  • Healing

Without our own pain, there would be no compassion

  • In avoiding all pain and seeking comfort at all costs, we may be left without intimacy or compassion.  Rachel Remen
  • Without suffering, there’d be no compassion.  Nicholas Spark
  • Is suffering really necessary? Yes and no. If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you, no humility, no compassion.  Eckhart Tolle

The more we have suffered, the more compassion we are able to feel …

  • The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. Elizabeth Kubler- Ross
  • But my experience is that people who have been through painful, difficult times are filled with compassion.  Amy Grant
  • The wisdom that comes from having experienced heartbreak cannot be bequeathed; it can only be gained through experience.  And having truly felt it, we are far more likely to have compassion for others.  Anything that takes us close to true compassion takes us closer to what will one day be an experience of even greater joy.  Marianne Williamson
  • Those who do not feel pain seldom think that it is felt.  Samuel Johnson
  • Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.   Patti Smith
  • Because God is never cruel, there is a reason for all things. We must know the pain of loss; because if we never knew it, we would have no compassion for others, and we would become monsters of self- regard, creatures of unalloyed self- interest. The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to soften uncaring hearts, to make a better person of a good one.  Dean Koontz

… but only if we have embraced our own suffering with mindful awareness

  • To embrace suffering culminates in greater empathy, the capacity to feel what it is like for the other to suffer, which is the ground for unsentimental compassion and love.  Stephen Batchelor
  • Without an awareness of our feelings we cannot experience compassion.  How can we share the sufferings and the joys of others if we cannot experience our own?  Gary Zukav
  • To feel greater compassion for others we need to understand our own suffering. Mindfulness practice is a great help in this.  With mindfulness, we can better see our suffering, its roots within us and the way to freedom from suffering; we can begin to cultivate both equanimity toward our suffering and release from its causes.  Gil Fronsdal
  • Relaxed mindfulness of our own suffering increases our ability to feel empathy for others’ difficulty and pain.  Gil Fronsdal
  • Awareness

Nurture compassion and act on it


Practice compassion

  • Think of qualities like kindness, compassion and generosity, not as innate qualities that you have or don’t have, but as skills you can cultivate through mental practice and training.  Willoughby Britton
  • I now see how gifts like courage, compassion, and connection only work when they are exercised. Every day.   Brené Brown
  • We must each lead a way of life with self-awareness and compassion, to do as much as we can. Then, whatever happens we will have no regrets.  The Dalai Lama
  • Be understanding and compassionate, but not responsible for others.  Stephen C. Paul
  • Have you ever been with a child who feels different or challenged for one reason or another?  A loving and inspirational word or two can work wonders with a sensitive child.  A gentle touch, a smile, a compliment, a warm look that implies, “Hey, you’re okay and you’re loved” can make a huge difference.  And it works great with adults, too.  Lucinda Bassett
  • Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Ephesians 4:32
  • Be kind to strangers. Let strangers be kind to you. Think of it as a positive exchange of … compassion in the circle of life.  Ban Breathnach
  • Hurt people, hurt people. That’s how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation after generation. Break the chain today. Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness. Greet grimaces with smiles. Forgive and forget about finding fault. Love is the weapon of the future.  Yehuda Berg
  • Every single being, even those who are hostile to us, is just as afraid of suffering as we are, and seeks happiness in the same way we do. Every person has the same right as we do to be happy and not to suffer. So, let’s take care of others wholeheartedly, of both our friends and our enemies. This is the basis for true compassion.  The Dalai Lama
  • Live with passion and compassion, proceed with optimism, value disciplined thinking, be open to intimacy and love the mystery.  Peter Swift
  • Make a gift of your life and lift all mankind by being kind, considerate, forgiving, and compassionate at all times, in all places, and under all conditions, with everyone as well as yourself. This is the greatest gift anyone can give.  David R. Hawkins
  • May I never get too busy in my own affairs that I fail to respond to the needs of others with kindness and compassion.  Thomas Jefferson
  • Our words have power. Power to hurt and power to heal. Angry words spill from an angry heart. A loving person speaks gracious words of love, compassion and goodness. May your words build up not tear down, bless rather than curse, encourage not discourage.   Gena Livings
  • Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life, you will have been all of these.  Siddhārtha Gautama

In our modern society, we need to balance our focus on knowledge and intellect with softer values like compassion

  • Each of us in our own way can try to spread compassion into people’s hearts. Western civilisations these days place great importance on filling the human ‘brain’ with knowledge, but no one seems to care about filling the human ‘heart’ with compassion. This is what the real role of religion is.  The Dalai Lama
  • Some people think only intellect counts: knowing how to solve problems, knowing how to get by, knowing how to identify an advantage and seize it. But the functions of intellect are insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion, and empathy.  Dean Koontz
  • Why is compassion not part of our established curriculum, an inherent part of our education? Compassion, awe, wonder, curiosity, exaltation, humility – these are the very foundation of any real civilisation, no longer the prerogatives, the preserves of any one church, but belonging to everyone, every child in every school.  Yehudi Menuhin
  • Knowledge

We can grow in compassion by consciously nourishing it

  • The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?   Jack Kornfield
  • One evening a Cherokee elder told his grandson about the battle that goes on inside of people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between the two ‘wolves’ that live inside us all. One is Unhappiness. It is fear, worry, anger, jealousy, sorrow, self-pity, resentment, and inferiority. The other is Happiness. It is joy, love, hope, serenity, kindness, generosity, truth, and compassion.’ The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, ‘Which wolf wins?’ The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.’ Marci Shimoff
  • The individual is capable of both great compassion and great indifference. He has it within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the latter.  Norman Cousins

Nurture compassion by practicing calmness and equanimity …

  • Equanimity does not build a spiritual ivory tower, insulated from all the cares and woes of living. Equanimity does not mean indifference. On the contrary, equanimity increases our compassion and enables our care to penetrate below the surface of life.  Joseph Naft
  • Equanimity is the capacity to be in touch with suffering and at the same time not be swept away by it.  It is the strong back that supports the soft front of compassion.  Joan Halifax Roshi
  • Equanimity allows you to open your heart and offer love, kindness, compassion, and rejoicing, while letting go of your expectations and attachment to results.   Frank Jude Boccio
  • Equanimity endows compassion with courage, so that we have the strength to face the pain in life and to face inevitable cruelty in the world.  Moses Ma
  • Equanimity is essentially an umbrella for our most coveted human virtues: integrity, honesty, empathy, authenticity, patience, compassion.  Danielle Robinson
  • Equanimity is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being. The.Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as “abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will.  Gil Fronsdal
  • It is said that the boundless qualities of loving-kindness, compassion, and sympathetic joy stem from equanimity.   Joan Halifax Roshi
  • Meditation is a practical and portable way to tame your wandering attention and to enhance those qualities of character — clarity, compassion, and courage — that support high performance and high fulfilment.  Eric Klein
  • The humanity, the ease, the grace and compassion that we each are equipped of carrying with us in our daily lives become buried. Perpetuated by a movement of goal seeking, we operate on an autopilot of checking, listing, scheduling, planning, doing.  We’re so busy with our measuring sticks, we forget to open our hearts, to truly connect with others and with ourselves.  Cat Li Stevenson
  • Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked.  Yoga Sutras
  • CalmnessEquanimity

… by transcending worry, stress and anxiety

  • Worry is an addiction that interferes with compassion. Deng Ming Dao
  • Being anxious, or in a painful rush of any kind, kills the possibility of meeting anyone with compassion.  Guy Finley
  • A way of strengthening compassion is to understand and then release what prevents it from arising. For example, tension and stress limit compassion. When we’re stressed, we’re usually too preoccupied for empathy to operate. However, when we’re relaxed, our capacity for empathy increases. People who cultivate deep states of calm often find it naturally opens their hearts to great capacities of compassion and love.  Gil Fronsdal
  • WorryStressAnxiety

Nurture compassion through reflection

  • Another supportive condition is to deliberately reflect on compassion, perhaps stimulated by regularly reading and talking to others about it.  Whatever we think about regularly can become an inclination. If we repeatedly think about love, kindness and caring for others, thoughts related to compassion are likely to appear more often.  Gil Fronsdal
  • Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.  Albert Schweitzer
  • Reflection

Nurture compassion by contemplating impermanence

  • That which is impermanent attracts compassion. That which is not provides wisdom.   Stephen Levine
  • When we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings.  Sogyal Rinpoche
  • Impermanence

Nurture compassion by being of service to others

  • 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 your divinity and what helps you gain your true life.  Michael Goddart
  • Don’t be reluctant to give of yourself generously, it’s the mark of caring and compassion and personal greatness.  Brian Tracy
  • 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
  • In service, there is clarity and compassion.  Mary Anne Radmacher
  • Service

Nurture compassion by awakening to your inner most self

  • It is only this immediate awakening to the deepest levels of ourselves, to the conscious source that connects us all, that will enable us to experience and manifest real harmony, intelligence, kindness, love, and compassion in our lives and bring about the transformation in the world that we all wish for.  Dennis Lewis
  • Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.  Pema Chodron
  • When your sense of self is no longer tied to thought, is no longer conceptual, there is a depth of feeling, of sensing, of compassion, of loving, that was not there when you were trapped in mental concepts. You are that depth. Eckhart Tolle

Nurture compassion through greater awareness

  • Through awareness, you get a certain attitude. That’s the way, you see, to achieve more peaceful, more compassion, more friendship through that way.  The Dalai Lama
  • Compassion is defined as a keen awareness of the suffering of another coupled with a desire to see it relieved. Will Bowen
  • 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 is the awareness of a deep bond between yourself and all creatures.  Eckhart Tolle
  • Without an awareness of our feelings we cannot experience compassion.  How can we share the sufferings and the joys of others if we cannot experience our own?  Gary Zukav
  • We must each lead a way of life with self-awareness and compassion, to do as much as we can. Then, whatever happens we will have no regrets.  The Dalai Lama
  • Mindfulness also means deliberately learning to use your mind in a new way.  It’s learning to watch your mind at work, looking at yourself with compassionate curiosity.  Compassion, like a close friend, suffers with us a little but also sees the patterns that we’re normally too close to see.  Curiosity shows us that there’s really nothing to be afraid of in our own heads, but a lot we could learn.   Richard O’Connor
  • Mindfulness of oneself cultivates wisdom. Mindfulness of others cultivates compassion.  Stonepeace
  • Awareness

Nurture compassion through visualisation

  • The Tibetan wise men say that this should be the last part of your silent time in the morning: picturing yourself as the most successful, and wise, and compassionate person you can imagine. Take a few minutes in the about-to- get-   noisy silence just before you get up off the couch, and really work hard to see yourself as you could be. It plants a very strong imprint in your mind to get that way some time. You’ll see.  Geshe Michael Roach
  • Visualisation

Nurture compassion by dedicating yourself to spiritual growth

  • When you spend time growing spiritually, loving yourself becomes automatic. You become more peaceful, connected, kind, loving and compassionate. You nurture a mind that grows more beautiful by the day. You naturally love yourself in the process.  Evelyn Lim
  • Spirituality

Nurture compassion by listening to heartfelt music

  • For me music is a vehicle to bring our pain to the surface, getting it back to that humble and tender spot where, with luck, it can lose its anger and become compassion again.  Paula Cole
  • Music

Compassion starts with self compassion


Compassion for others starts with having compassion for ourselves

  • If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.  Jack Kornfield
  • Compassion for yourself translates into compassion for others.  Suki Jay Munsell
  • When the Dalai.Lama was then asked to clarify whether indeed the object of compassion may be the self, he responded: ‘Yourself first, and then in a more advanced way the aspiration will embrace others. In a way, high levels of compassion are nothing but an advanced state of that self-interest. That’s why it is hard for people who have a strong sense of self-hatred to have genuine compassion toward others. There is no anchor, no basis to start from.  Tal Ben- Shahar
  • 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
  • Compassion for others comes naturally as you recognize your own limitations.  Stephen C. Paul
  • So how do we learn to be compassionate?  The people who are best at being compassionate toward others have learned to be compassionate with themselves, first.  Someone who talks lovingly to himself or herself excels in speaking loving words to others, and the opposite is true.  If you verbally beat yourself up as a habit, you will tend to be negative toward other people, too.  Lucinda Bassett
  • Compassion is a healing force and comes from a place of kindness towards yourself.   Bronnie Ware
  • If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not able of developing compassion for others.  The Dalai Lama
  • Is it selfish to have compassion for yourself? On an airplane, you are asked to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, so that you can help other people. Self-compassion is like that too. If you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be fully equipped to help others.  Randy Taran
  • Love melts all blockages. Whether directed inward in the form of self-compassion, or outward in the form of forgiveness or understanding, love conquers all. Dawn Gluskin
  • The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.  Pema Chodron
  • When you are compassionate with yourself, you trust in your soul, which you let guide your life.  Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.  John O’Donohue
  • Self-compassion

Self compassion entails being understanding and kind toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate

  • Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion.  Gautama Buddha
  • Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.  Self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals. People cannot always be or get exactly what they want. When this reality is denied or fought against suffering increases in the form of stress, frustration and self-criticism.  When this reality is accepted with sympathy and kindness, greater emotional equanimity is experienced.  Kristin Neff
  • Self-compassion:  Being kind and understanding toward oneself in instances of pain or failure rather than being harshly self- critical; perceiving one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience rather than seeing them as isolating; and holding painful thoughts and feelings in mindful awareness rather than over-identifying with them.  Kristin Neff
  • 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
  • Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?  Dr. Kristin Neff
  • When I tried this morning, after an hour or so of unhappy thinking, to dip back into my meditation, I took a new idea with me: compassion. I asked my heart if it could please infuse my soul with a more generous perspective on my mind’s workings. Instead of thinking that I was a failure, could I perhaps accept that I am only a human being– and a normal one, at that?  Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Self-compassion. This quality of awareness cultivates love for yourself as you are, without self- blame or criticism.  Bob Stahl
  • Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect? You may try to change in ways that allow you to be more healthy and happy, but this is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are.  Dr. Kristin Neff
  • Those who do not run away from our pains but touch them with compassion bring healing and new strength.  Henri J.M. Nouwen
  • UnderstandingSelf-acceptanceSelf-love

Self compassion is treating oneself as one would a friend

  • Take the perspective of a compassionate friend, so you can imagine that you are this other person. What would a compassionate and kind friend say to me right now? What would their words be? Later, come back and read the letter and receive it from yourself.  Emma M. Seppala, Ph.D.
  • It is lack of love for ourselves that inhibits our compassion toward others. If we make friends with ourselves, then there is no obstacle to opening our hearts and minds to others.
  • Compassionate action involves working with ourselves as much as working with others.  Pema Chodron
  • Self-compassion means treating ourselves as we would a friend. Rather than berating, judging, or adding to a friend’s despair, we listen with empathy and understanding, encourage them to remember that mistakes are normal, and validate their emotions without adding fuel to the fire.  Emma M. Seppala, Ph.D.
  • Compassion starts with making friends with ourselves — particularly with our poisons.  Pema Chodron

Self-compassion is greatly empowering and rewarding

  • Where self-criticism leaves us powerless and distraught, self-compassion is at the root of empowerment, learning, and inner strength. With self-compassion, we value yourself not because we’ve judged ourselves positively and others negatively but because we are intrinsically deserving of care and concern just like everyone else.  Emma M. Seppala, Ph.D.
  • Studies have shown that self-compassion has many benefits, including reducing self-criticism, lowering stress hormones like cortisol, increasing self-soothing, self-encouragement, and other aspects of resilience and helping to heal any shortages of caring from others in your childhood.  Rick Hanson
  • Self- compassion—being supportive and kind to yourself, especially in the face of stress and failure—is associated with more motivation and better self- control. Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.

Self compassion helps us deal better with failure and learn from it

  • When you are motivated by self-compassion, you understand failure not as a painful indicator of defeat but as a learning opportunity from which growth can follow. Whereas self-criticism leads to painful and self-defeating emotions in the face of failure, Self-Compassion therefore embraces challenge. People with higher self-compassion are therefore more likely to improve their performance after failure! Moreover, by preventing the defeating effects of self-criticism, self-compassion allows us to maintain peace of mind and thereby retain our energy. By remaining calm and understanding in the face of rejection, failure or criticism, we develop level-headedness, strength and emotional stability which allow us to have higher well-being and to be more productive and successful.  Emma M. Seppala, Ph.D.
  • Failure  Learning

Self compassion brings greater self acceptance and acceptance of others

  • Perhaps most importantly, having compassion for yourself means that you honor and accept your humanness. Things will not always go the way you want them to. You will encounter frustrations, losses will occur, you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us. The more you open your heart to this reality instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself and all your fellow humans in the experience of life.  Dr. Kristin Neff
  • Self-acceptance is a way of viewing oneself compassionately, without condemnation or justification. It is a starting point in life which makes other things possible. It celebrates the fullness of joy of being alive and of being who we are: accepting ourselves, however, does not mean embracing our neuroses or bad habits and celebrating them as if they were virtues. On the contrary, self-acceptance involves loving ourselves enough to accept painful truths about ourselves. . . . Self-acceptance is, at its simplest, the experience of one’s self, here and now, as a complete human being, with all the glories and problems that condition entails.  Don Richard Riso
  • Self-acceptance  Acceptance

Self compassion is a powerful force for growth and change

  • People are often very hard on themselves when they notice something they want to change because they think they can shame themselves into action – the self-flagellation approach.  However, this approach often backfires if you can’t face difficult truths about yourself because you are so afraid of hating yourself if you do.  Thus, weaknesses may remain unacknowledged in an unconscious attempt to avoid self-censure. In contrast, the care intrinsic to compassion provides a powerful motivating force for growth and change, while also providing the safety needed to see the self clearly without fear of self- condemnation.  Dr. Kristin Neff
  • Study after study shows that self-criticism is consistently associated with less motivation and worse self- control. In contrast, self- compassion—being supportive and kind to yourself, especially in the face of stress and failure—is associated with more motivation and better self- control.  Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.
  • Growth  Change

Self compassion transforms our perception of God for the better

  • We unwittingly project onto God our own attitudes and feelings toward ourselves… But we cannot assume that He feels about us the way we feel about ourselves — unless we love ourselves compassionately, intensely, and freely.  Brennan Manning
  • Because we are angry and judgmental, we have projected those characteristics onto Him.  But God remains who He is and always will be:  He is the energy, the thought of unconditional love.  He cannot think with anger or judgment.  He is mercy and compassion and total acceptance.   Marianne Williamson
  • When a man has compassion for others, God has compassion for him.  Talmud
  • When you have compassion and surrender to your own heart, you are surrendering to the hidden power in your heart, God. You are surrendering to love, because God is Love, the cohesive force of the universe that connects us all.  Sara Paddison

Do not confuse self-compassion with self-pity

  • When individuals feel self-pity, they become immersed in their own problems and forget that others have similar problems. They ignore their interconnections with others, and instead feel that they are the only ones in the world who are suffering. Self-pity tends to emphasise egocentric feelings of separation from others and exaggerate the extent of personal suffering. Self-compassion, on the other hand, allows one to see the related experiences of self and other without these feelings of isolation and disconnection.  Kristin Neff
  • Also, self-pitying individuals often become carried away with and wrapped up in their own emotional drama. They cannot step back from their situation and adopt a more balanced or objective perspective. In contrast, by taking the perspective of a compassionate other towards oneself, “mental space” is provided to recognize the broader human context of one’s experience and to put things in greater perspective.  Kristin Neff
  • Self-pity comes so naturally to all of us. The most solid happiness can be shaken by the compassion of a fool.  Andre Maurois
  • Self-pity


  • 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
  • I move beyond forgiveness to understanding, and I have compassion for all.  Louise L. Hay
  • This is a moment of suffering, suffering is part of life, may I be kind to myself in this moment may I give myself the compassion that I need.  Emma M. Seppala, Ph.D.

On a lighter note

  • He had the compassion of an icicle and the generosity of a pawnbroker.   S.J. Perelman
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