"Although I have heard the beautiful lines from the Beatitudes often at interfaith services, when I was asked to comment on them at the John Main Seminar in London, for the first time I immersed myself in their wonderful spirituality. All of us would wish to find happiness by being blessed in this way, by being dear through kindness and by directing our conduct for the good of others, even to smashing to dust the wheel of suffering. And it is one of the glories of the major religions that their supreme message is to call us to show the compassion by which such spiritual feats can be achieved. The great religions have the power to lift our hearts and raise our minds to an elevated expanse of joy and understanding through their shared teachings on compassion.

"It is my fundamental conviction that compassion — the natural capacity of the human heart to feel concern for and connection with another being — constitutes a basic aspect of our nature shared by all human beings, as well as being the foundation of our happiness. In this respect, there is not an iota of difference between a believer and a nonbeliever, nor between people of one race or another. All ethical teachings, whether religious or nonreligious, aim to nurture this innate and precious quality, to develop it and to perfect it.

"One can identify three broadly distinct approaches within this process. One is the theistic approach where the concept of God underpins the ethical teachings that foster man's emulation of God's own compassion. A second is the nontheistic religious approach, such as that of Buddhism, that invokes the law of causality and the fundamental equality of all beings in their basic aspirations for happiness as the grounding of ethics. The third belongs to the secular or nonreligious approach, whereby no religious concepts are evoked but, rather, recognition of the primacy of compassion may be underpinned by common sense, shared common experience, and scientific findings that demonstrate our deep dependence on others' kindness."