Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Compassion

"With our finite minds we cannot presume to know if there is a Purpose. We sense, however, the presence of something greater than we can comprehend, a force as yet unknown to us - perhaps even to be unknown. So we accept our situation, learn from it, and do the best we can, resting on faith, despair, or cynicism, depending on the individual. Overriding all this must be an obligation - self-imposed or externally impressed - to do the best one can for others, to relieve suffering and to exercise compassion. We are all in this together, for life is a common, not an individual, endeavor." - Harry Blackmun, fully Harold "Harry" Andrew Blackmun

"Compassion is an emotion of which we should never be ashamed." - Hugh Blair

"As faintness is a disease of the body, so is vice a sickness of the mind. Wherefore, since we judge those that have corporal infirmities to be rather worthy of compassion than hatred, much more are they to be pitied, and not abhorred, whose minds are oppressed with wickedness, the greatest malady that may be." - Boethius, fully Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius NULL

"The highest level of compassion is without any purpose or intent. It seeks neither the good of others nor its own good. It lies in being good not ‘doing good.’ There is simply living without design or conscious reflection. It embodies the fostering of love." - David A. Brandon

"It is better that a judge should lean on the side of compassion than severity." - Miguel de Cervantes, fully Miguel de Cervantes Saaversa

"True compassion is utterly neutral and is moved by suffering of every sort, not tied to right and wrong, attachment and aversion." - Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche

"Let us pity the wicked man; for it is very sad to seek happiness where it does not exist. Let our compassion express itself in efforts to bring him gently back to sacred principle, and if he persist, let us pity him the more for a blindness so fatal to himself." - François Ignace Dunod De Charnage

"If you try to subdue your selfish motives - anger and so forth - and develop more kindness and compassion for others, ultimately you yourself will benefit more than you would otherwise. So sometimes I say that the wise selfish person should practice this way. Foolish selfish people are always thinking of themselves, and the result is negative. Wise selfish people think of others, help others as much as they can, and the result is that they too receive benefit." -

"The mind is no match with the heart in persuasion; constitutionality is no match with compassion." - Everett Dirksen, fully Everett McKinley Dirksen

"Contempt of others is the truest symptom of a base and bad heart, while it suggests itself to the mean and the vile, and tickles their little fancy on every occasion, it never enters the great and good mind but on the strongest motives; nor is it then a welcome guest - affording only an uneasy sensation, and bringing always with it a mixture of concern and compassion." - Henry Fielding

"The first virtue of all really great men is that they are sincere. They eradicate hypocrisy from their hearts. They bravely unveil their weaknesses, their doubts, their defects. They are courageous. They boldly ride a-tilt against prejudices. They love their fellow-men profoundly. They are generous. They allow their hearts to expand. They have compassion for all forms of suffering. Pity is the very foundation-stone of Genius." - Anatole France, pen name of Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault

"When your fear touches someone’s pain it becomes pity; when your love touches someone’s pain, it becomes compassion." - Stephen Levine

"It is then certain that compassion is a natural feeling, which, by moderating the violence of love of self in each individual, contributes to the preservation of the whole species." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"The value of compassion cannot be over-emphasized. Anyone can criticize. It takes a true believer to be compassionate. No greater burden can be borne by an individual than to know no one cares or understands." - Arthur Stainback, fully Arthur House Stainback

"The dew of compassion is a tear." -

"The universal of an atom containing emptiness and existence. This means that the atom has no intrinsic nature, so it is empty; yet its illusory characteristics are evident, so it is existent. Indeed, because illusory form has no essence, it must be no different from emptiness, and real emptiness contains qualities permeating to the surface of existence. Seeing that form is empty produces great wisdom and not dwelling in birth-and-death; seeing that emptiness is form produces great compassion and not dwelling in nirvana. When form and emptiness are nondual, compassion and wisdom are not different; only this is true seeing." - Fazang, also Fa-Tsang or Fāzàng NULL

"I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and, above all, compassion." - Kurt Hahn, fully Kurt Martin "the rod" Hahn

"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

"We are not only made in God’s image, but that we are made to image God - to reflect His freedom, joy, compassion and peace in our lives... When religion becomes reduced to an outward observation of rules and ceremonies and an intolerance toward the beliefs of others, we are mistaking the oyster for the pearl. The oyster is certainly valuable, but it is of infinitely greater value when it promotes the growth of the pearl... We cannot reason our way back to the roots of religion. We cannot trap God in stale dogmas or narrow creeds. Our purpose is to make religion a continuous living experience, to lead us toward a resurrection not of the dead but of the living who are dead to their own truth. Then religion becomes a thread that can both link us to the past and guide us to our future." - Arianna Huffington, born Arianna Stassinopoulos

"We are the standard-bearers in the only really authentic revolution, the democratic revolution against tyrannies. Our strength is not to be measured by our military capacity alone, by our industry, or by our technology. We will be remembered, not for the power of our weapons, but for the power of our compassion, our dedication to human welfare." - Hubert Humphrey, fully Hubert Horatio Humphrey

"Intelligence is derived from two words - inter and legere - inter meaning "between" and legere meaning "to choose." An intelligent person, therefore, is one who has learned "to choose between." He knows that good is better than evil, that confidence should supersede fear, that love is superior to hate, that gentleness is better than cruelty, forbearance than intolerance, compassion than arrogance and that truth has more virtue than ignorance." - J. Martin Klotsche

"Nature has given women two painful but heavenly gifts, which distinguish them, and often raise them above human nature - compassion and enthusiasm. By compassion, they devote themselves; by enthusiasm they exalt themselves." - Alphonse de Lamartine, fully Alphonse Marie Louis de Lamartine

"I found that a hospital is probably the most difficult environment in which to afford a really good death. Hospitals are meant to preserve life; death is an enemy there. Death is not treated with much respect, with much compassion. There’s a lot of fear surrounding death. Death is a failure in a hospital." -

"Knowledge is all-knowing, understanding, forgiving; it takes up no position, sets no store by form. It has compassion with the abyss - it is the abyss. So we reject it, firmly, and henceforward our concern shall be with beauty only. And by beauty we mean simplicity, largeness, and renewed severity of discipline; we mean a return to detachment and to form." - Thomas Mann, fully Paul Thomas Mann

"On one level, life is the process of seeking out and enjoying experiences - from the transcendent to the tragic. Life has as cyclical pattern of movement and appreciation; even when you’re not doing anything, you’re probably in a situation you sought. On another level, life is the experience of the self’s interaction with the world. The self can be broken down into three main elements and their corresponding activities: first, the heart (knowing compassion, receiving and giving love); second, the intellect (acquiring and digesting information); third, the senses (acting and being acted upon). It is the soul, however, that focuses and inspires all three the soul gives us resilience -an essential quality since we constantly have to rebound from hardship... The meaning of life can’t be understood without first looking at the self and its interaction with the world. In effect, this amounts to examining the inner workings of the soul of the universe." - Wynton Marsalis

"Best trust the happy moments. What they gave makes man less fearful of that certain grave and gives his work compassion and new eyes, the days that make us happy make us wise." - John Masefield

"Real education belongs to the future; most of our education is a form of tribal conditioning, a pilgrimage in routine and premature adjustment. When education stirs our innermost feelings and loyalties, when it awakens us from the slumber of lethargy, when it brings individuals together through understanding and compassion, it becomes our foremost hope for lasting greatness." - Frederick Mayer

"To commiserate is sometimes more than to give, for money is external to a man's self, but he who bestows compassion communicates his own soul." - William Mountford

"Compassion, the fairest associate of the heart." - Thomas Paine

"Different religions are only signposts. In all religions the basic tenets are joy and compassion." - Shantananda Saraswathi, fully Swami Shantananda Saraswathi, born Chandrashekar

"In solitude the mind gains strength, and learns to lean upon herself; in the world it seeks or accepts of a few treacherous supports - the feigned compassion of one, the flattery of a second, the civilities of a third, the friendship of a fourth - they all deceive and bring the mind back to retirement, reflection, and books." - Lawrence Sterne, alternatively Laurence Sterne

"Purpose is about developing relationships. Purpose is about bringing attention and intention into the present moment, moving ahead with new ideas, giving and receiving support, volunteering, mentoring, listening to the imagination and intuition, communicating, taking action based on inner direction and hints from the external, being adaptable, taking responsibility and ending the victim stance forever surrendering to the divine will and working with the lessons developing fluidity, tolerance, compassion, and the ability to love." - Carol Adrienne

"When people feel separated, they try to make things work by concentrating only on their own willpower and trying to control everything. When you remember to align yourself with your own nature and your life purpose, you naturally are in touch with your natural power. When you align yourself with even a single value, like compassion, trust, self-respect, or following through on synchronicities – life becomes more meaningful, often more fun, more hopeful, and you feel resourceful." - Carol Adrienne

"Wherein does religion consist? It consists in doing as little harm as possible, in doing good in abundance, in the practice of love, of compassion, of truthfulness and purity, in all the walks of life." -

"In separateness lies the world’s great misery; in compassion lies the world’s true strength." -

"The doorways to the realm of Brahma are right here on earth and they are four in number: through loving kindness (metta), compassion (karuna), sharing joy (muditha), and equanimity (upekha). It is through service in this world, not by abandoning this world that we attain to heavenly realms or spiritual fulfillment." -

"If there are two moral stances that our times call for, they are precisely these, self-restraint and compassion." -

"Compassion is the root of religion; pride the root of sin." - Tulsidas NULL

"Compassion is the chief law of human existence." -

"A human being is part of the whole called by us 'universe', a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of 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 the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self [ego]. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive." - Albert Einstein

"Could it be that liberation, not knowledge, is the true end purpose of human life and even its meaning? And might this liberation be achieved through non-rational means: power, sexuality, revolution, resignation, creativity, compassion, or solidarity? If this predicament is not so much ignorance (of something) as bondage (to something), what must we be liberated from, and what are we therefore liberated for?" - Stephen A. Erickson

"The process of forgiveness allows you to turn your heart toward healing, release, and compassion instead of using your energy for revenge or punishment. Forgiveness allows you to build something positive in the present while still making sure not to repeat what happened in the past." - Leonard Felder

"I believe that our choice between two models of psychiatry is really a choice between two competing sets of moral values that will ultimately determine the kind of society we live in. One is the Psychotherapeutic Model’s ideal of healing the soul with its values of self-awareness, autonomy, personal growth, an I-Thou spirit of love, respect, and compassion for others, and an acceptance of moral responsibility for our own egoistic impulses and emotions. The other is the Medical Model’s ideal of quick fix, with its swimming-pool values of stability and conformity, and an I-It orientation toward material success and other superficial addictive pleasures" - Elio Frattaroli

"A waste far more worthy of our tears is the enormous energy within us that never gets channeled, the love that is never expressed, the kindness that never surfaces, the compassion and tenderness that are never awakened." - Sidney Greenberg

"Love is the highest form of energy… Love is much more than just a feeling of affection or of passion. Love is making choices in ways that can help others (and ourself) to have a more joyful and creative journey. Love is a way of life. It is the path of compassion, respect and kindness for all people and living things. Love is honoring the connection to each other." - Tom Gregory

"There is only the nobility of the compassion of the enlightened on their road to the “liberation” of extinction." - Os Guiness

"We humans have the capacity to change the world with acts of love and kindness. Let’s start by teaching our children the importance of compassion." - Goldie Hawn, fully Goldie Jeanne Hawn

"Understanding will bring you compassion." - Louise L. Hay

"Religion declined not because it was refuted but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion – its message becomes meaningless." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"Life is like a tapestry that we view from the wrong side. We see all the strands and knots, and it makes no sense from the back. But there is a different view of the whole things to which we are assured some day we will be privy. In the meanwhile, there are all these knots we have to deal with existentially; the path has been charted – compassion and justice – imbued by vision. And it’s up to the individual." - Huston Smith, fully Huston Cummings Smith