Cultivation of Compassion

Compassion, within our definition, includes a deep aspiration to be of service, an impulse to step from the cushion and towards positive action to help others be free from suffering. It has a strong and active quality to it.

It is helpful to discern the difference between sympathy, empathy and compassion. Sympathy is feeling sorry for another's hurt or pain. There is some emotional distance with sympathy as you are not experiencing the pain for yourself and it runs the risk of slipping into pity, which may dehumanize or belittle. Empathy takes a deeper dive as you experience for yourself some of the pain that another person may be experiencing. It takes courage to do this, but it enables a powerful connection with another. Empathy is a precursor to compassion. Compassion translates that feeling (empathy) into action. Or, simply, put it is (a form of) love in action. True compassion reaches out to all people, no matter whether they are your friends or not. It is the understanding of our shared human experience of wanting to be free from suffering and a deep aspiration to do what we can to help alleviate it.