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Compassion is not the word

Compassion is not the word

The Book of Life, November 27, HarperSanFrancisco, 1995

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Thought cannot, by any means whatsoever, cultivate compassion. I am not using that word compassion to mean the opposite, the antithesis of hate or violence. But unless each one of us has a deep sense of compassion, we shall become more and more brutal, inhuman to each other. We shall have mechanical, computer-like minds which have merely been trained to perform certain functions; we shall go on seeking security, both physical and psychological, and we shall miss the extraordinary depth and beauty, the whole significance of life.

By compassion I do not mean a thing to be acquired. Compassion is not the word, which is merely of the past, but something which is of the active present; it is the verb and not the word, the name, or the noun. There is a difference between the verb and the word. The verb is of the active present, whereas the word is always of the past and therefore static. You may give vitality or movement to the name, to the word, but it is not the same as the verb which is actively present...

Compassion is not sentiment; it is not this woolly sympathy or empathy. Compassion is not something which you can cultivate through thought, through discipline, control, suppression, nor by being kind, polite, gentle, and all the rest of it. Compassion comes into being only when thought has come to an end at its very root.

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