Compassion is more than sympathy and more than empathy. With sympathy and empathy, most of the time there is a sense of placing the object of your sympathy over there and having some understanding of their situation or where they come from. Compassion is deeper and more strongly felt than that. With compassion you do not experience the person as an object over there, separate from you, but rather you have the wish or the feeling that you have become the other. That is the sort of feeling we are aiming for. Compassion has a sense of coming out from where you are, and going over to the position of the other – even jumping across to their position.
In short, compassion makes us a part of others. It brings us out from our own space and moves us into the place of the other. Compassion is not a matter of staying in our own space, looking down at their suffering and calling ourselves compassionate.
Nurturing Compassion: Teachings from the First Visit to Europe
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