Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul: where there is compassion even the most poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless." - Eric Hoffer

"Unless the mind be trained to selflessness and infinite compassion, one is apt to fall into the error of seeking liberation for self alone." - Gampopa, known as Sonam Rinchen from Gampo or Dagpo Lha-je from Gampo NULL

"Compassion...abolishes the distance, the in between which always exists in human inter course; and if virtue will always be ready to assert that it is better to suffer wrong than do wrong, compassion will transcend this by stating in complete and even naïve sincerity that it is easier to suffer than to see others suffer." - Hannah Arendt

"Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation." - Henry Ward Beecher

"That kind of discipline whose pungent severity is in the manifestations of paternal love, compassion, and tenderness is the most sure of its object." - Hosea Ballou

"I’m supposing – or perhaps only hoping – that our future may be found in the past’s fugitive moments of compassion, rather than the solid centuries of warfare." - Howard Zinn

"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history of not only cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, and kindness…The future is an infinite succession of "presents," and to live now as we think that human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." - Howard Zinn

"We should take our example not from our political and military leaders shouting “Retaliate!” and “War!” but from the doctors and nurses and medical students and firefighters and police officers who have been saving lives in the midst of mayhem – whose first thoughts are not violence, but healing; not vengeance, but compassion." - Howard Zinn

"Realizing that no simple formulas apply to everyone, we develop the courage to live a unique spiritual life, in our own idiosyncratic way. While archetypal patterns exist to guide seekers, in the West individuals can find their won way within these deeper patterns by honoring their unique backgrounds, temperaments, values and creative capacities... We commit ourselves to passionate action in the world, without becoming overly attached to the success or failure of our endeavors... In spiritual maturity, recognizing that such an attitude of indifference stems from a fear of life, we commit to our spouses, professions, and social action, developing compassion and equanimity through a balanced engagement with life." - Jack Kornfield

"The best passion is compassion." - Jamaican Proverbs

"The core prescription for happiness and meaning handed down through all the world’s spiritual teaching is unchanging: Remember the source with gratitude, and love one another. In this way the meaning of life as an interconnected web of love and compassion becomes manifest in even the most seemingly mundane moments." - Joan Borysenko

"People become infected with good will and compassion. It’s a state of being as real as any physiological condition - and it spreads to others just like a virus." - Jonas Salk

"Half the misery of human life might be extinguished if men would alleviate the general curse they live under by mutual offices of compassion, benevolence and humanity." - Joseph Addison

"Life is pain, but compassion is what gives it the possibility of continuing." - Joseph Campbell

"Unlike Hinduism and most Western ethics, Buddhism is nonhierarchical, emphasizing oneness and the interrelatedness and moral value of all living beings. Right living, therefore, includes compassion and an attitude of nonviolence toward all of nature." - Judith A. Boss

"A word of compassion to the weak criminal or prostitute is nobler than the long prayer which we repeat emptily every day in the temple." - Kahlil Gibran

"Charity has no label, compassion no religion, wisdom no dogma, empathy no rules. Integrity needs no laws, enlightenment no temples. Living in total harmony with Tao is beyond culture, oneness with Tao beyond philosophy. Emptiness and silence cannot be defined. The Way has no name, for it is Tao." -

"Compassion leaves an indelible blueprint of the recognition that life so sorely needs between one individual and another; one nation and another; one culture and another. It is also valid for the road which our spirit should be building now for crossing the historical abyss that still separates us from a truly contemporary vision of life, and the increase of life and meaning that awaits us in the future." - Laurens van der Post

"To live is not just to survive, but to thrive with passion, compassion, some humor and style." - Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Annie Johnson

"No person is without sense of compassion, or a sense of shame, or a sense of courtesy, or a sense of right and wrong. The sense of compassion is the beginning of humanity; the sense of shame is the beginning of righteousness; the sense of courtesy is the beginning of decorum [li]; the sense of right and wrong is the beginning of wisdom. Every person has within him these four beginnings; just as he has four limbs." - Mencius, born Meng Ke or Ko NULL

"Let the tears of the poor find more compassion, but not more justice, from thee than the applications of the wealthy." -

"What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be black or they be white." - Robert Kennedy, fully Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy

"No matter how idealistic our hopes... we eventually learn that spirituality is not about leaving life's problems behind, but about continually confronting them with honesty and courage. It is about ending our feeling of separation from others by healing our relationships with parents, co-workers, and friends. it is about bringing heightened awareness and compassion to our family life, careers, and community service." - Ronald S. Miller

"Perhaps more than any other single factor, the intimate alchemy between the healer and the patient helps mobilize the body's natural resources. The mere presence of a healer often evokes hope in the patient and an expectation of recovery. When the two people create a partnership based on compassion, trust, and shared decision-making, and when the relationship nurtures the patient's hope for a positive outcome, even seemingly incurable diseases sometimes go into remission.... insistently restoring the human heart to the practice of medicine. Rather than treating patients as disease processes, they risk bringing their full humanness to the therapeutic encounter. They not only call on their technological expertise, but on the inner qualities practiced by healers from time immemorial: patience, humility, compassion, and an ability to inspire and mobilize their patients' healing resources." - Ronald S. Miller

"For no reason whatever should one judge the actions of creatures or their ;motives. Even when we see that it is an actual sin, we ought not to pass judgment on it, but have holy and sincere compassion and offer it up to God with humble and devout prayer." - Saint Catherine of Siena NULL

"By compassion we make other's misery our own, and so, by relieving them, we relieve ourselves also." -

"Compassion is a far greater and nobler thing than pity. Pity has its roots in fear, and a sense of arrogance and condescension, sometimes even a smug feeling of “I’m glad its not me.”" - Sogyal Rinpoche

"With ten characteristics was the earth created: wisdom and understanding; knowledge and strength; rebuke and might; righteousness and justice; mercy and compassion." - Talmud or The Talmud NULL

"The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves “inside the skin” of the other." - Thich Nhất Hanh

"Evil must never be fought with rage or hatred, for that will only make it stronger. You must never fear the evil ones, for your fear will consume and destroy you. Instead, fight the evil spirits with love and compassion, for those are our greatest weapons." - Tom Brown, Jr.

"I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man; it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail." - William Faulkner, fully William Cuthbert Faulkner

"I believe that man will not merely endure, he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance." - William Faulkner, fully William Cuthbert Faulkner

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

"Without compassion, we will never know anyone or anything, not even our own story. Too much judgment, too many ideas and attitudes will stand in the way of the fundamental principle that we are similar to, connected with, and part of everything else." - Deena Metzger

"To go beyond samsara and nirvana, we will need the two wings of emptiness and compassion. From now on, let us use these two wings to fly fearlessly into the sky of the life to come" - Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

"Compassion is the effortless radiance of emptiness, free of concepts and beyond description. That is how a buddha’s activity for beings can be limitless. If you understand this, you will know that even when a cool breeze blows upon a sick person burning with fever, that itself is the blessings and compassion of the buddhas." - Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

"The commitment I seek is not to outworn views but to old values that will never wear out. Programs may sometimes become obsolete, but the ideal of fairness always endures. Circumstances may change, but the work of compassion must continue." - Ted Kennedy, fully Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy

"Acknowledging experience and reflecting feelings are helpful interpersonal skills. However, they are not tricks or gimmicks. Nor can they be used mechanically. They are helpful only within a context of concern and respect. In human relations the agents of help are never solely the techniques, but the person who employs them. Without compassion and authenticity, the techniques fail." - Haim Ginott, fully Haim G. Ginott, orignially Ginzburg

"Understanding, then, can lead to love. But the revese is also true. Love brings understanding; the two are reciprocal. So we must listen to understand, but we must also listen to put into play the compassion that the wisdom traditions all enjoin, for it is impossible to love another without hearing that other. If we are to be true to these religions, we must attend to others as deeply and as alertly as we hope that they will attend to us; Thomas Merton made this point by saying that God speaks to us in three places: tin scripture, in our deepest selves, and in the voices of the stranger. We must have the graciousness to receive as well as to give, for there is no greater way to depersonalize another than to speak without also listening." - Huston Smith, fully Huston Cummings Smith

"There is a great deal more to religion than mystical experiences. Religions try to provide answers to the mysteries of life, but they are also concerned with enhancing the quality of life. The great religions encourage and promote compassion and loving-kindness." - Huston Smith, fully Huston Cummings Smith

"Compassion is not against anger. When anger disappears, compassion is. Compassion is not to be fought for; it is not against passion. When passion disappears, compassion is. Compassion is your nature." - Osho, born Chandra Mohan Jain, also known as Acharya Rajneesh and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh NULL

"And if we dare to look into those eyes, then we shall feel their suffering in our hearts. More and more people have seen that appeal and felt it in their hearts. All around the world there is an awakening of understanding and compassion, and understanding that reaches out to help the suffering animals in their vanishing homelands. That embraces hungry, sick, and desperate human beings, people who are starving while the fortunate among us have so much more than we need. And if, one by one, we help them, the hurting animals, the desperate humans, then together we shall alleviate so much of the hunger, fear, and pain in the world. Together we can bring change to the world, gradually replacing fear and hatred with compassion and love. Love for all living beings." - Jane Goodall, fully Dame Jane Morris Goodall, born Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall

"The writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit - for gallantry in defeat - for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally-flags of hope and of emulation." - John Steinbeck, fully John Ernst Steinbeck

"We should invest in kids like these," we're told, "because it will be more expensive not to." Why do our natural compassion and religious inclinations need to find a surrogate in dollar savings to be voiced or acted on? Why not give these kids the best we have because we are a wealthy nation and they are children and deserve to have some fun while they are still less than four feet high?" - Jonathan Kozol

"By contrition we are made clean, by compassion we are made ready, and by true longing toward God we are made worthy. These are three means, as I understand, whereby that all souls come to heaven: that is to say, that have been sinners in earth and shall be saved: for by these three medicines it behoveth that every soul be healed." - Julian of Norwich NULL

"There is more spirituality in reason's denial of God than there is in myth's affirmation of God, precisely because there is more depth... even an "atheist" acting from rational-universal compassion is more spiritual than a fundamentalist acting to convert the universe in the name of a mythic-membership god." - Ken Wilber, fully Kenneth Earl Wilber II

"Refraining from all evil, not clinging to birth and death, working in deep compassion for all sentient beings, respecting those over you and pitying those below you, without any detesting or desiring, worrying or lamentation - this is what is called Buddha. Do not search beyond it." - Dōgen, aka Dōgen Kigen, Eihei Dōgen, titled as Dōgen Zenji NULL

"Six Declines of Modern Youth: Decline of Fitness due to modern methods of locomotion [moving about];Decline of Initiative and Enterprise due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis; Decline of Memory and Imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life; Decline of Skill and Care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship; Decline of Self-discipline due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquilizers; And worst of all: Decline of Compassion due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted or as William Temple called "spiritual death"." - Kurt Hahn, fully Kurt Martin "the rod" Hahn

"The experience of helping a fellow man in danger, or even of training in a realistic manner to be ready to give this help, tends to change the balance of power in a youth's inner life with the result that compassion can become the master motive." - Kurt Hahn, fully Kurt Martin "the rod" Hahn

"Charity has no label, compassion no religion, wisdom no dogma, empathy no rules. Integrity needs no laws, enlightenment no temples. Living in total harmony with Tao is beyond culture, oneness with Tao beyond philosophy. Emptiness and silence cannot be defined. The Way has no name, for it is Tao." - Lao Tzu, ne Li Urh, also Laotse, Lao Tse, Lao Tse, Lao Zi, Laozi, Lao Zi, La-tsze