A Few Definitions of Compassion

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I ask people in Davis, California to share their written concept of compassion in a notebook. The responses span different ideas based mostly on people's spiritual/religious beliefs or personal experience. Also being a college town, often people share from an academic perspective. I began asking June 3rd, 2009 and thus far have received over ten thousand responses. Here are a few examples of what people think compassion is from anonymous entries shared in the notebooks:

A genuine sense of understanding and the act upon it. 

You love yourself enough to love others. 

A real good hug!

Compassion is children. 

Sympathy and empathy where you would not normally feel them. 

A great way to orient your daily life. 

Compassion is to understand other people's difficulties. 

Seeing with more than reason. 

Compassion is our willingness to embrace the suffering of others: to truly learn another's pain so that they can be helped. Compassion without action is pity and helps nobody. Compassion gives us the strength to heal one another. By helping others conquer their pain, we reinforce our own spirits to deal with our own sickness and suffering. Compassion is essential to humanity.

Now that I have a full time job and am grateful to be working, I feel compassion for others who are still looking for work. 

Compassion is the art of feeling what is morally right. 

Compassion is stopping... and listening. 

Compassion is to feel the beat of someone's heart. To understand and to take the time to help if within your means to. To share an emotion, give support, and spread love. 

No fear. No sorrow. No suffering. No confusion. Unflinching care and response. Ultimately human. 

Compassion, to me, is seeing myself in whoever is in front of me. 

Compassion is a town forgiving a snarling pit bull. :)

Compassion is a tattoo that everyone can see. 

Love in every form. 


Compassion is to be passionate about another. Passion meaning purpose, love, and a meaning to life. 

A heart-felt wish to alleviate suffering. 

Compassion is putting your heart into the lives of others. 

When you have passion for your companions.

Compassion is not allowing your own past circumstances to cloud your heart. 

Compassion is a form of expression; express yourself to everyone. Live. Laugh. Love. 

Compassion is when you give up all that you have to make another person happy because nothing is happier than seeing the person you love smile. 

Compassion is knowing how and when to transcend ego and lovingly breathe into orbits of unity consciousness and when to return to the ego microcosm in balance, sympathy, and synchronicity. 

Compassion is being able to rise above fear and greed and find & act out of love. 

Compassion is the manifestation of our capacity to love, the fundamental purpose of our human existence. 

Compassion is finding peace in a world that has lost what that means.


In the comments below, feel free to share your definition of compassion.