Kindness without Condition
You are touched and concerned by the suffering of another unfortunate person. You feel compassion and
want to help relieve their pain. You want to see them safe and secure.
- Understating the suffering of another and wanting to help,
- Displeased about an event undesirable for another
- Relieving the suffering of others.
- To suffer with; I feel your pain.
- Kindness without condition.
Root: from com- together + pati to suffer.
Terms that are somewhat related, but not precise synonyms for compassion are:
sympathy, pity, feeling sorry for, tenderness, charity, altruism, caring, and empathy.
Origins and Importance
Compassion encourages us to help the unfortunate. It motivates us to prevent
harm to others. Our compassion continues until the unfortunate person is safe,
or we can do nothing more to help them. Compassion strengthens the
community. When we are compassionate we are
following the golden rule.
We feel compassion when people suffer misfortune through no fault of their
own. We feel contempt when we hold someone
responsible for their own mishap.
We feel guilty when we fail to be compassionate.
Compassion and Power
Asymmetrical compassion says: “I'm
well, you are suffering, I will help you”. The strong help the weak. While seemingly generous it is
actually asymmetrical and paternal; the helper and the helped are no longer
equals. This creates a power relationship
where the suffering person becomes dependent on help from the stronger person.
This establishes a hierarchy that perpetuates the power of the person who
originally provided the help. It is the beginning of paternalism and can evolve
Symmetrical compassion says: “We are all human, we
all suffer, we all offer help when we can, we accept help when we must”. We help
each other. It
treats us all as equals and is generous without establishing a power
relationship. This is truly kindness without condition.
- “To attain your own human potential, be mindful of everyone else's.” ~
- “He who would do good for another must do it in Minute Particulars. General
Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, and flatterer; For Art and
Science cannot exist but in minutely organized Particulars.” ~
- “As long as our eyes are clouded by longing, needing other people to be
this way or that for us, there's no such thing as compassion.”
- “Sympathy sees and says ‘I'm sorry’. Compassion feels and whispers, ‘I'll
- “Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.”
Passion and Reason: Making Sense of Our Emotions,
by Richard S.
Lazarus, Bernice N. Lazarus
Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life, by Paul Ekman
The Cognitive Structure of Emotions, by Andrew Ortony, Gerald L. Clore, Allan Collins
Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama, by Daniel Goleman
The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation,
by Matt Ridley
Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill,
by Matthieu Ricard
Field Notes on the Compassionate Life: A Search for the Soul of Kindness,
by Marc Ian Barasch
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Create Your Life, Your Relationships, and Your World in Harmony with Your Values, by
Marshall B. Rosenberg, Arun Gandhi
Healing Emotions: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Mindfulness, Emotions, and Health,
by Daniel Goleman
The Charter for
Fear, Sadness, Anger, Joy, Surprise, Disgust, Contempt,
Anger, Envy, Jealousy, Fright, Anxiety, Guilt, Shame, Relief, Hope, Sadness, Depression, Happiness,
Pride, Love, Gratitude, Compassion, Aesthetic Experience,
Joy, Distress, Happy-for, Sorry-for, Resentment, Gloating, Pride, Shame, Admiration, Reproach,
Love, Hate, Hope, Fear, Satisfaction, Relief, Fears-confirmed, Disappointment, Gratification,
Gratitude, Anger, Remorse,
power, dominance, stature, relationships