closeup picture of an eye reflecting the image of a suffering child

Compassion is sympathetic care and concern for the welfare of others, and especially for the suffering of others. Compassion goes beyond empathy or sympathy, to wanting to relieve the suffering of another. All are united by the root word “pathos” or “passion.” The literal meaning of compassion is “to suffer together” or “to feel together.” We can also feel (or fail to feel) self-compassion.

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Humanity is not without answers or solutions regarding how to liberate itself from scenarios that invariably end with mass exterminations. Tools such as compassion, trust, empathy, love, and ethical discernment are already in our possession. The next sensible step would be to use them.

— Aberjhani

Compassion crowns the soul with its truest victory.

— Aberjhani, The River of Winged Dreams

Simple shifts in points of view can open doors to expansions of consciousness as easily as rigid dispositions can close hearts and minds to such elevated awareness. It generally depends on whether you allow fear and violence to rule your actions or whether you give wisdom, courage, and compassion the authority to do so.

— Aberjhani, Splendid Literarium

A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.

— Abraham Joshua Heschel

I have no idea what’s awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing.

— Albert Camus, The Plague

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

— Albert Einstein

Teach me to feel another’s woe,
to hide the fault I see,
that mercy I to others show,
that mercy show to me.

— Alexander Pope

In faith and hope the world will disagree,
but all mankind’s concern is charity.

— Alexander Pope

When the Sun of compassion arises darkness evaporates and the singing birds come from nowhere.

— Amit Ray, Nonviolence: The Transforming Power

In every crisis, doubt or confusion, take the higher path — the path of compassion, courage, understanding and love.

— Amit Ray, Nonviolence: The Transforming Power

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, Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe

Compassion is the basis of morality.

— Arthur Schopenhauer

Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice.

— Baruch Spinoza

Three passions have governed my life:
The longings for love, the search for knowledge,
And unbearable pity for the suffering of [humankind].

Love brings ecstasy and relieves loneliness.
In the union of love I have seen
In a mystic miniature the prefiguring vision
Of the heavens that saints and poets have imagined.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge.
I have wished to understand the hearts of [people].
I have wished to know why the stars shine.

Love and knowledge led upwards to the heavens,
But always pity brought me back to earth;
Cries of pain reverberated in my heart
Of children in famine, of victims tortured
And of old people left helpless.
I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot,
And I too suffer.

This has been my life; I found it worth living.

— Bertrand Russell, adapted

Compassion is more important than intellect in calling forth the love that the work of peace needs, and intuition can often be a far more powerful searchlight than cold reason.

— Betty Williams

One love, one heart, one destiny.

— Bob Marley

We must throw out the old, fear-based thought-forms and evolve, and begin to live as higher beings of compassion.

— Bryant McGill

Leave oneself an open door, a free unconscious channel, for the deep rushing flood of life to pour through. To tell and tell forever humanity’s greatest secret — that each one is all the rest, and each one can do the world’s work. A calmness born of the immeasurable power that moves us. A rich Peace, seeing that life is good. A joy, deepening daily as we understand. And love — the love that all things live in — To feel it and give it. To give it. Give it. Give it everywhere.

— Charlotte Perkins Gilman

A great deal of chaos in the world occurs because people don’t appreciate themselves. Having never developed sympathy or gentleness toward themselves, they cannot experience harmony or peace within themselves, and therefore, what they project to others is also inharmonious and confused.

— Chogyam Trungpa

The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.

— Coretta Scott King

A commonplace of political rhetoric has it that the quality of a civilization may be measured by how it cares for its elderly. Just as surely, the future of a society may be forecast by how it cares for its young.

— Daniel Patrick Moynihan

A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.

— Douglas MacArthur

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

— Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Compassion will no longer be seen as a spiritual luxury for a contemplative few; rather it will be viewed as a social necessity for the entire human family.

— Duane Elgin

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

— E. B. White

Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

— Eugene V. Debs

To care for anyone else enough to make their problems one’s own, is ever the beginning of one’s real ethical development.

— Felix Adler

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. ln those transparent moments we know other people’s joys and sorrows, and we care about their concerns as if they were our own.

— Fritz Williams

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 some day in life you will have been all of these.

— George Washington Carver

Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness.

— Harold Kushner
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