"My compassion readily extends to those on one side of the invisible barrier that segregates me from the rest of the world. My knee, my friends, my family, my community, my colleagues — all belong to the domain of 'me' and 'mine.'....

"But it is not always like this. There are times when the barrier is lifted. I find myself moved by the plight of those I do not know and probably never will: the hungry child, the abandoned dog, the streams of refugees. Or my world is suddenly transfigured by the smile of an old woman on a park bench. And when I finally run into S and he tells me how scared he's been of telling anyone he's HIV positive, all the resentment vanishes and his grief and terror become mine too.

"For as long as these fragile moments last, I inhabit a world where all living things are united by their yearning to survive and be unharmed. I recognize the anguish of others not as theirs but as ours."

To Practice: Seek out ways you can extend the circle of your compassion beyond "me" and "mine." Identify those fragile moments when you feel united with the anguish of others.

Stephen Batchelor in Buddhism Without Beliefs