See a gallery of 12 quotes on compassion.

  • Like a mother who protects her child, her only child, with her own life, one should cultivate a heart of unlimited love and compassion towards all living beings.
    — The Buddha quoted in The Mystic Vision, edited by Andrew Harvey and Anne Baring
  • The major block to compassion is the judgment in our minds. Judgment is the mind's primary tool of separation.
    — Diane Berke in The Gentle Smile
  • Some people find the experience and practice of compassion as a spiritual discipline to be a more direct route to the transformation of the heart than prayer. It is not that prayer does not or should not play a role in their lives, but their way to the opening of the heart lies through deeds of compassion. "Just do it" summarizes this path of transformation.
    — Marcus J. Borg in The God We Never Knew
  • Compassion is the litmus test and culminating touchstone of a spirituality of Earth.
    — James Conlon in Earth Story, Sacred Story
  • Compassion begins with the acknowledgment of the single inescapable truth that is the foundation for the possibility of love between human beings — an awareness of the tragic sense of life.
    — Sam Keen in To Loved and Be Loved
  • Give birth to compassion for the nearest
    yet unfamiliar aspect of your self,
    as you do for the one outside
    who feels like a stranger.
    — Neil Douglas-Klotz in The Hidden Gospel
  • The Jain religion in India teaches that because all life is essentially interrelated and interconnected, all living beings should be considered sacred and be respected. This belief forms the basis of the doctrine of ahimsa, which has been translated into English variously as "reverence for life," "nonviolence," and "dynamic compassion."
    — Nathaniel Altman in Sacred Trees
  • Then I try to see the world through God's eyes — the eyes of a being that is loving, compassionate, and caring. Through these eyes I look at my family and feel compassion for them. Then I feel my heart expand. And if I can keep looking through those eyes of love and compassion, perhaps I can see the world and all its people as God sees them. And, finally, I try to see myself through the eyes of that loving, compassionate God.
    — Daniel Gottlieb in Learning From the Heart
  • Compassion allows us to use our own pain and the pain of others as a vehicle for connection. This is a delicate and profound path. We may be adverse to seeing our own suffering because it tends to ignite a blaze of self-blame and regret. And we may be adverse to seeing suffering in others because we find it unbearable or distasteful, or we find it threatening to our own happiness. All of these possible reactions to the suffering in the word make us want to turn away from life.
    In contrast, compassion manifests in us as the offering of kindness rather than withdrawal. Because compassion is a state of mind that is itself open, abundant and inclusive, it allows us to meet pain more directly. With direct seeing, we know that we are not alone in our suffering and that no one need feel alone when in pain. Seeing our oneness is the beginning of compassion, and it allows us to reach beyond aversion and separation.
    — Sharon Salzberg in The Kindness Handbook
  • Compassion is like springwater under the ground. Your life is like a pipe that can tap into that underground spring. When you tap into it, water immediately comes up. So drive your pipe into the ground. Tap into the water of compassion.
    — Dainin Katagiri in You Have to Say Something
  • A mind committed to compassion is like an overflowing reservoir — a constant source of energy, determination, and kindness. Or this mind can be likened to a seed; when cultivated, it gives rise to many other qualities, such as tolerance, inner strength, and the confidence to overcome fear and insecurity.
    — His Holiness the Dalai Lama quoted in Voices from the Heart by Eddie Shapiro
  • Compassion also brings us an inner strength. Once it is developed, it naturally opens an inner door, through which we can communicate with fellow human beings, and even other sentient beings, with ease, and heart to heart.
    — His Holiness The Dalai Lama in The Dalai Lama: Essential Writings
  • Mounting an expedition to actualize a Compassionate Commonwealth of all peoples . . . is the great spiritual challenge of our time.
    — Sam Keen in Beyond Violence by Gerard Vanderhaar
  • The purpose of life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others. Only then have we become true human beings.
    — Albert Schweitzer in Faces of Compassion by Taigen Daniel Leighten
  • We could say that compassion is the ultimate attitude of wealth: an anti-poverty attitude, a war on want. It contains all sorts of heroic, juicy, positive, visionary, expansive qualities. And it implies larger scale thinking, a freer and more expansive way of relating to yourself and the world.
    — Chogyam Trungpa in Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
  • For arousing compassion, the nineteenth-century yogi Patrul Rinpoche suggested imagining beings in torment — an animal about to be slaughtered, a person awaiting execution. To make it more immediate, he recommended imagining ourselves in their place. Particularly painful is his image of a mother with no arms watching as a raging river sweeps her child away. To contact the suffering of another being fully and directly is as painful as being in the woman's shoes.
    — Pema Chodron in The Places That Scare You
  • At times I think the truest image of God today is a black inner-city grandmother in the United States or a mother of the disappeared in Argentina or the women who wake up early to make tortillas in refugee camps. They all weep for their children, and in their compassionate tears arises the political action that changes the world. The mothers show us that it is the experience of touching the pain of others that is the key to change.
    — Jim Wallis in The Soul of Politics
  • When we have developed a heart of generosity, a heart that wishes well to all beings, not just a few, when we've come close to suffering in the world, the heart moves to alleviate suffering. . . . That impulse is compassion, the feeling that motivates us to act. (Ryokan, that hermit monk who wrote such wonderful poetry — "Oh that my monk's robes were wide enough to gather up all the people in this floating world.") — What a wonderful image of compassion.
    — Joseph Goldstein in Transforming the Mind, Healing the World
  • Imaginative compassion for that which is other than myself is a constant artistic and ethical discipline.
    — Shaun McNiff in Art as Compassion
  • According to Buddhist scriptures, compassion is the "quivering of the pure heart" when we have allowed ourselves to be touched by the pain of life.
    — Jack Kornfield in A Path with Heart
  • In spiritual maturity, the opposite of injustice is not justice but compassion.
    — Charlotte Joko Beck in Nothing Special: Living Zen
  • Compassion is the litmus test and culminating touchstone of a spirituality of Earth.
    — James Conlon in Earth Story, Sacred Story
  • Compassion is the intention to see each human being as no better or worse than yourself, neither more nor less important, and as fundamentally similar to yourself.
    — Timothy Miller in How to Want What You Have
  • When you look deeply into your anger, you will see that the person you call your enemy is also suffering. As soon as you see that, the capacity of accepting and having compassion for him is there. Jesus called this "loving your enemy." When you are able to love your enemy, he or she is no longer your enemy. The idea of "enemy" vanishes and is replaced by the notion of someone who is suffering and needs your compassion.
    — Thich Nhat Hanh in Living Buddha, Living Christ
  • We are all sons and daughters of God; therefore we have divine blood in our veins, the divine breath in our lungs; and the basic work of God is compassion.
    — Matthew Fox in Confessions
  • One of God's central qualities is compassion, a word that in Hebrew is related to the word for "womb." Not only is compassion a female image suggesting source of life and nourishment but it also has a feeling dimension: God as compassionate Spirit feels for us as a mother feels for the children of her womb. Spirit feels the suffering of the world and participates in it. . . .
    Jesus disclosed that God is compassionate. Jesus spoke of God that way: "Be compassionate, as God is compassionate." Compassion is the primary quality of the central figures in two of his most famous parables: the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. And Jesus himself, as a manifestation of the sacred, is often spoken of as embodying compassion.
    — Marcus J. Borg in The God We Never Knew
  • True compassion does not come from wanting to help those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings.
    — Pema Chodron in Start Where You Are
  • Compassion allows us to bear witness to suffering, whether it is in ourselves or others, without fear; it allows us to name injustice without hesitation, to act strongly, with all the skill at our disposal.
    — Sharon Salzberg quoted in The Community of Kindness by the editors of Random Acts of Kindness
  • Compassion is the ability to see how it all is.
    — Ram Dass quoted in The Busy Soul by Terry Bookman
  • I will offer thanks for someone who paid a price for offering compassion to me. I will place myself beneath the cross of another who needs my compassion.
    — Joyce Rupp in The Cup of Our Life
  • Compassion and pity are very different. Whereas compassion reflects the yearning of the heart to merge and take on some of the suffering, pity is a controlled set of thoughts designed to assure separateness. Compassion is the spontaneous response of love; pity, the involuntary reflex of fear.
    — Ram Dass in How Can I Help?
  • Our compassion is the fruit of our spiritual lives; it actually arises spontaneously when formed by intention in our spiritual practice. Love and compassion are always the goods of the spiritual journey, and they are guided by divine wisdom, which then shapes compassion in the concrete situations of our existence.
    — Wayne Teasdale in A Monk in the World
  • Nonviolence means an ocean of compassion. It means shedding from us every trace of ill will for others. It does not mean abjectness or timidity, or fleeing in fear. It means, on the contrary, firmness of mind and courage, a resolute spirit.
    — Mahatma Gandhi quoted in Mohandas Gandhiby John Dear
  • We are beginning to learn that each animal has a life and a place and a role in this world. If we place compassion and care in the middle of all our dealings with the animal world and honor and respect their lives, our attitudes will change.
    — Jane Goodall in The Ten Trusts
  • Our lack of compassion stems from our inability to see deeply into the nature of things.
    — Kenneth S. Leong in The Zen Teachings of Jesus
  • Compassion is a foundation for sharing our aliveness and building a more humane world.
    — Martin Lowenthal in Opening the Heart of Compassion
  • Compassion literally means to feel with, to suffer with. Everyone is capable of compassion, and yet everyone tends to avoid it because it's uncomfortable. And the avoidance produces psychic numbing — resistance to experiencing our pain for the world and other beings.
    — Joanna Macy quoted in Open Mind by Diane Mariechild
  • Twenty years ago I met a man from Montana who watched the news on television and read the newspapers because he said that doing so awakened his heart of compassion. Although not particularly interested in the news itself, he found these two forms of media rich sources for cultivating his growing sense of care for and connection to people, animals, landmasses, oceans, forests, and countries all over the planet. He went on to say that he would sit down in his living room, watch or read about some atrocity occurring in some part of the world, and feel his pain, his impulse to turn away, and, in turn, his sense of connection with all of these beings.
    — Saki Santorelli in Heal Thy Self
  • We become compassionate not from altruism which denies the self for the sake of the other, but from the insight that sees and feels one is the other.
    — Huston Smith quoted in Healing Zen by Ellen Birx
  • Compassion and justice are companions, not choices.
    — William Sloane Coffin in Credo
  • Compassion has been advocated by all the great faiths because it has been found to be the safest and surest means of attaining enlightenment. It dethrones the ego from the center of our lives and puts others there, breaking down the carapace of the selfishness that holds us back from an experience of the sacred. And it gives us ecstasy, broadening our perspectives and giving us a larger, enhanced vision.
    — Karen Armstrong in The Spiral Staircase
  • Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it's like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is 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 in Beyond Words
  • My teacher Chogyam Trungpa called this idiot compassion. In such a case, we rely on a shallow and ultimately selfish notion of helping that is primarily concerned with eliminating our own unease rather than truly lending a hand. . . .
    Avoiding idiot compassion suggests that we pause to consider what is truly needed when helping others — that rather than jumping to solutions or rushing to the rescue, we can be discerning and deliberate in our efforts.
    — Michael Carroll in Awake at Work
  • If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
    If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
    — His Holiness the Dalai Lama quoted in Meal by Meal by Donald Altman
  • Children, don't waste a single second.
    Serve others, above all the poor,
    expecting nothing in return.
    Just as the person who offers God flowers
    is the first to enjoy their fragrance,
    the person who offers compassion
    is the first to receive its blessing.
    Wherever a heart beats
    with compassion:
    God is there.
    — Amma quoted in Messages from Amma by Janine Canan
  • Sometimes people feel disappointed when they hear about practicing compassion: "You mean I have to be nice?" It's kind of a letdown. We often overlook compassion, seeing it as merely a pit stop on the way to more advanced practices. We want something more; we don't even know what. But that's just a trick of our mind. One of the greatest teachings is to practice compassion.
    — Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche quoted in The Presence of Masters by Reginald A. Ray
  • We have a pretty good ear for the music of compassion when the notes are life and death, but it's another thing to play it on the three-stringed instrument of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
    — Garret Keizer in Help: The Original Human Dilemma
  • Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.
    — Thomas Merton quoted in The Mystic Hours by Wayne Teasdale
  • Compassion is not a sentiment but is making justice and doing works of mercy. Compassion is not a moral commandment but a flow and overflow of the fullest human and divine energies.
    — Matthew Fox quoted in The Mystic Hours by Wayne Teasdale
  • Polls show that most people in the world favor humbler, more compassionate solutions to our common problems. Not only favor them but, resolving to love in a more complete and final way, try to put them into action. A society based on universal compassion is not just our only hope; it is an evolutionary imperative.
    — Marc Ian Barasch in Field Notes on the Compassionate Life
  • What I want in my life is compassion
    a flow between myself and others
    based on mutual giving from the heart.
    — Marshall Rosenberg quoted in If the Buddha Got Stuck by Charlotte Sophia Kasl
  • Compassion and love are not mere luxuries. As the source of both inner and external peace, they are fundamental to the continual survival of our species.
    — His Holiness the Dalia Lama quoted in A Call to Compassion by Aura Glaser
  • Compassion is characterized by warmth. This warmth is not fabricated or generated; it emerges naturally in the absence of aggression. Compassion is not another way of waging war and harming oureselves or others. It relinquishes the false glory of bloodshed and battle in favor of the true glory of nonaggression. It is a practice of inner disarmament. The warmth of compassion is not a defense against hatred; it is a transformation of hatred. Compassion is none other than the energy of aggression and hatred released from the ego's narrow and fearful grasp.
    — Aura Glaser in A Call to Compassion
  • In India, I learned that a lot of what I considered garbage was valued by others. If I discarded a bent paper clip, someone might use it to repair a shoe. A bottle cap could fill a hole in a wall. A tossed orange peel might be eaten by a cow roaming the city streets. Returning to the United States, it took a while for me to stop throwing my banana peels and apple cores on the street. As I made the transition between these two worlds, I realized that garbage, like everything else, is relative. It depends, just as beauty does, on the eye of the beholder. Breathing in pain and bringing everything to the path means there is no garbage, because everything is good for something . . . all that we encounter can be fuel for awakening the heart of compassion.
    — Aura Glaser in A Call to Compassion
  • My grandmother lived in a universe filled with life. It was impossible for her to conceive of any creature — even the smallest insect, let alone a human being — as insignificant. In every leaf, flower, animal, and star she saw an expression of a compassionate universe, whose laws were not competition and survival of the fittest but cooperation, artistry and thrift. . . .
    The earth was our home, she would have said, but no less was it home to the oxen that pulled our plows or the elephants that roamed in the forest and worked for us. They lived with us as partners whose well-being was inseparable from our own.
    — Eknath Easwaran in The Compassionate Universe
  • To grow old is to pass from passion to compassion.
    — Albert Camus quoted in Letters to a Young Doubter by William Sloane Coffin
  • Just as I defend myself, therefore,
    From all unpleasant happenings however small,
    Likewise, I shall act for others' sake
    To guard and to protect them with compassion.
    — Shantideva quoted in No Time to Lose by Pema Chodron
  • As we feel the pain that all people feel in facing an uncontrollable world, compassion naturally arises — even for our "enemies."
    — Ezra Bayda in Saying Yes to Life
  • Make no judgment in which there is no compassion.
    — Traditional Saying quoted in The Fragrance of Faith by Jamal Rahman
  • We are always beginners in the art of compassion. No matter how advanced or refined we believe our understanding to be, life is sure to present us with some new experience or encounter with pain we feel unprepared for. Your partner betrays you, your teacher disappoints you, some event of unimaginable cruelty happens in the world, and once more you are asked to open your heart and receive it. "This also, this also" is the essence of compassion. Over and over you are asked to meet change, loss, injustice, and over and over you are asked to find the strength to open when you are most inclined to shut down.
    — Christina Feldman in Compassion: Listening to the Cries of the World
  • 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 in Compassion: Listening to the Cries of the World
  • The nectar of compassion is so wonderful. If you are committed to keeping it alive, then you are protected. What the other person says will not touch off the anger and irritation in you, because compassion is the real antidote to anger. Nothing can heal anger except compassion. That is why the practice of compassion is a very wonderful practice.
    — Thich Nhat Hanh in Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
  • What do you want to achieve? The Dalai Lama responded, "To be happy. My practice helps me lead a useful life. If I can give some short moment of happiness to others, then I feel that my life has achieved some purpose. This gives me deep mental satisfaction — this feeling always comes if you serve others. So when I help others, I feel happy. For me, the most important thing is human compassion, a sense of caring for one another."
    — His Holiness the Dalai Lama quoted in The Big Questions by Lama Surya Das
  • All beings wish for happiness, so extend your compassion to all.
    — The Buddha quoted in Buddhist Wisdom by David Crosweller

More Quotes about Compassion