"Our normal state of mind is heavily biased. We have an attitude of distance from people that we consider as unfriendly or enemies and a disproportionate sense of closeness or attachment toward those whom we consider to be our friends. We can see how our emotional response toward others is fluctuating and biased. Until we overcome these prejudices, we have no possibility of generating genuine compassion. Even though we might be able to feel a certain amount of compassion toward some people, that compassion, as long as it is not based on profound equanimity, will remain biased, for it is mixed with attachment.

"If you look at compassion mixed with attachment, no matter how intense and strong that mixed emotion may be, you will realize that it is based on your projection of certain positive qualities onto the object of your compassion — whether the object is a close friend, a family member, or whomever. Depending on your changing attitudes toward that object, your emotional feelings will also change. For example, in a relationship with a friend, suddenly one day you may no longer be able to see in that person the good qualities that you had previously perceived, and this new attitude would immediately affect your feelings toward that person. Genuine compassion, on the other hand, springs from a clear recognition of the experience of suffering on the part of the object of compassion, and from the realization that this creature is worthy of compassion and affection. Any compassionate feeling that arises from these two realizations cannot be swayed — no matter how that object of compassion reacts against you. Even if the object reacts in a very negative way, this won't have the power to influence your compassion. Your compassion will remain the same or become even more powerful.

"If you carefully examine the nature of compassion, you will also find that genuine compassion can be extended even to one's enemies, those whom you consider hostile toward you. In contrast, compassion mixed with attachment cannot be extended to someone whom you consider to be your enemy. Conventionally speaking, we define an enemy as someone who either directly harms us or hurts us, or someone who is motivated to or has the intention to harm or hurt us. The realization that such a person is fully intent on hurting and harming you cannot give rise to the feeling of closeness and empathy as long as such feelings require an attachment to the person. However, this realization that another person wishes to harm and hurt you cannot undermine genuine compassion — a compassion based on the clear recognition of that person as someone who is suffering, someone who has the natural and instinctual desire to seek happiness and overcome suffering, just as oneself. In the Christian spiritual context, this could be extended by thinking along the following lines: just as myself, this enemy shares the same divine nature and is a creation of the divine force. So on these grounds, that person is worthy of my compassion and a feeling of closeness toward him or her. This kind of compassion or feeling of empathy is genuine compassion free of attachment."

The Good Heart, 68-69