Compassion is a great virtue


compassion means to put yourself in the shoes of other people and also to feel benevolent in active charity and support. Compassion is expressed in listening, in forgiving small unkindnesses and hurts. Compassion is expressed through comforting words, hugs, and a desire to help others. In German, a distinction is made between sympathy and compassion. Other languages ​​make no difference here.

Compassion is the ability to feel for another person without being fully drawn into the other person's suffering. Compassion plays an important role in all spiritual traditions and religions as an expression of spiritual experience. Conversely, the cultivation of compassion helps to open the heart, to expand consciousness, to spiritual realization.

Compassion as a helpful virtue

Excerpt from a lecture by Sukadev Bretz

Compassion is a wonderful human ability; a person can empathize. And compassion is also something that brings joy to people's lives. Compassion is part of the great aspect of love. And the great world religions recommend developing compassion.

First of all, the nice thing is that compassion is something that people are born with. Man is just not an egoistic being who is only concerned with his own benefit. Even babies can develop a certain compassion. You can identify parents' moods and sometimes babies do something to put parents in a better mood, which is quite interesting.

Not only can babies do this, toddlers can, and adults can do it even more. It is said that if people had some security as children when they were given love, then it is easier for them to have compassion. Those who experienced little love as a child find it harder to have compassion.

Still, - one can continue to learn compassion. Compassion literally means that you feel with another person, you feel what the other is feeling. And compassion then of course also means acting by taking into account the feelings of the other.

Compassion is often also pity. You can feel a person who is suffering and you want to help him. You help him by giving him his love, you help him by maybe doing a nice act, by smiling at him, by nodding at him, or whatever is helpful.

What does compassion mean in your own personal life now? How Can You Cultivate More Compassion? Compassion is also related to helpfulness. Compassion also means consciously helping others. Compassion also means less victimizing and saying, "Oh, I'm not being treated right, and I've had a bad childhood, etc."

You may have good reasons for it and there are people who have had the worst things, they were abused as children, they were abused, their trust was badly abused, also as adolescents. I'm also a person to whom people sometimes tell their life story and it's bad what people experience.

And of course, that one talk on compassion is not going to be of sufficient help. Fortunately, most people have not had the worst of experiences and yet many are simply victims and blame others for their misery.

Compassion also means stepping out of the victim role or simply ignoring it. And instead of stewing in your own juice, think: "What can I do for others?" Compassion is also the opposite of egoism and a drive to perform, where you want to show that you are so much better than others.

So compassion is the opposite of a lot of other things people have. Specifically, compassion can mean when you wake up in the morning to think for a moment about what your partner needs. Instead of telling your child, "finally get up and what's the point and finally learn", instead have compassion and feel what your child wants and think: "What could I possibly do?"

Compassion can mean when you walk out of the house and when you see an old woman there, nod to her for a moment, maybe a kind word. Compassion can mean when you run into a subway conductor instead of just showing him the map, you look for a moment, look him in the eye, and wish him a good day.

Compassion can mean when a beggar is sitting on the street and you see that he is not a professional beggar, but he actually needs something to give him something and nod. Compassion can mean to colleagues, and I think you have now understood the essence, I don't have to go on and on.

You can develop compassion. So compassion is something practical. Of course, there is also the so-called Maitri Bhavana meditation in yoga, in Buddhism the Pali word "Metta Bhavana" arose from this. Bhavana here means generating the feeling of Maitri, of compassion. And these meditations, Maitri Bhavana, are also called meditations of loving-kindness.

And the concept behind it is, you can create a feeling of love and compassion in meditation. And if you create this feeling in meditation, then you can also feel it more in everyday life. Then all that remains is to act more out of compassion.

Now think about it for yourself, do you live compassion in everyday life or should you pay attention to compassion? Get out of the victim role, get out of the performance and claim society, get out of a certain egoism by developing compassion.

Compassion as a basis for serenity

Transcript of a podcast (2014) by Sukadev

I think little of dividing the world into good and bad. Good and bad, this dualistic worldview, has done much bad. It is much more helpful to recognize that there is only what is good and there is only what is helpful. This ancient way of seeing the world is fed by several sources. There is Bhakti Yoga, everything is God. Adwaita Vedanta, everything is a manifestation of Brahman. And the modern view of biology, evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, paleoanthropology, which ultimately says that all human behavior made sense in some context. So there is no evil. People do evil not to cause evil, but for good's sake. People are happiest when they make others happy.

In order to be able to work with it well, I then refer to the Raja Yoga system. "Raja" means "King". This Raja Yoga system is meant in the sense of being king with ministers who all have legitimate concerns. It is also fed by modern approaches from psychology. Particularly important here are approaches from systems theory, systemic psychology, systemic hypnotherapy by Gunther Schmidt and from nonviolent communication by Marshall Rosenberg. These and other authors are assuming something similar to what I am describing in this book. You can say that in relation to interpersonal relationships, this non-dualistic worldview means: Everyone wants the good. Everyone has legitimate concerns. Even if everyone wants what is good, they are very often clumsy at it. Violence and arguments are an expression of failed communication.

love thy neighbor as thyself

It is possible to feel love for every human being, at least as a basic feeling. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is not an illusion, but an actual possibility for everyday life. And it is possible to communicate more skillfully with people. And even if it is not possible to resolve differences of opinion through communication, and you have to assert yourself for the good of the good cause, the other is and remains lovable. He deserves our respect, our love, just because he's there. In relation to the state, this worldview means that all groups have legitimate interests. These have to be weighed up. One can say that the rule of law is also an expression of this. It's about weighing interests, it's about attempts to weigh and balance different interests, even if the rule of law with its reward and punishment system is probably not often clever. But the basis is absolutely correct for now.

Of course, this also applies to interpersonal relationships: You can learn to communicate well and skillfully. All nonviolent communication according to Marshall Rosenberg is based on this. In relation to the interstate, this also means that every state has its justification. Wars are an expression of unsuccessful conflict resolution. It is important to find mechanisms to resolve conflicts of interest. Superordinate bodies such as the UN are helpful in this, but even in the two-state area, the diplomats and statesmen can assume that every state has its rights and that there are many people there who mean them all. And even if a tyrannical regime temporarily rules there, even the worst tyrants - have their human side. They may be tyrannical, maybe out of inner suffering, maybe out of hurt, maybe because they are subject to the dualistic worldview and they think they have to suppress evil, but they too are ultimately human beings and they can be appealed to.

It has happened often enough that bad dictators have changed. Good, and in some cases it may be necessary to overthrow dictators, preferably non-violently. In any case, now referring to the interstate, every state has its place, the citizens of every state are lovable. And it is important to find mechanisms to resolve conflicts of interest. In relation to the inner human, this means that there is nothing bad in people, everything is an expression of legitimate concerns. Every emotion, even the seemingly destructive, is an expression of a legitimate concern. Everything makes sense from one point of view. Inner conflicts, mental unrest, psychological problems are expressions of unsuccessful handling of inner forces. In relation to the subtle and the subtle, including the religious, there are no negative forces, there is no evil that fights against the good. There is only the love of God. Nobody needs to protect themselves against evil, the negative.

There may be subtle energies that are more beneficial for one's own vibration and those that are less. But even on a subtle level there is only the good that one can tune into, and there is that which is perhaps not so beneficial in terms of vibrations at the moment. For me this process of realization was a process over several decades, but it was ultimately liberating, incredibly liberating, because there is nothing to fight against, there is nothing to condemn, there is nothing to be afraid of. This knowledge was then combined with concepts from several yoga directions to form a whole concept: Jnana Yoga says, everything is a manifestation of the one infinitely eternal. Bhakti Yoga says that behind everything there is the work of God and God also works through you. Karma Yoga says that life makes sense. We grow through all experiences, even suffering has its meaning.

Basically, people mean well

The doctrine of reincarnation also makes acceptance even easier. This, combined with systemic concepts and evolutionary biological concepts, then gives the concept of Raja Yoga, the royal road to serenity. Think for yourself: Does what I said make sense to you, from the assumption that everyone means well, every part of you actually means well? All groups of people mean well in principle. States also mean well in principle. And even if people behave awkwardly, maybe misguided out of ignorance, out of pain and self-defense and anticipated attack as a defense, even if they do bad things, deep down all people mean well.

You can also think about whether there are people around you who you do not find so pleasant. Maybe you have an uncomfortable boss. Maybe you have a coworker who appears to be bullying you. Maybe you have a whole group of people who seem to be bulling you. Maybe you have customers who are always annoying you. Maybe you have a boss who seems to have you on the kieker. Maybe you have a landlord who is rude. Maybe you have inconsiderate neighbors. Maybe you've been robbed before. Maybe you have a tax auditor who is rude. A lot can actually have happened. So, I don't doubt that people are being played badly. But it helps if you make yourself aware that all people could mean well. And it could also be - that would be another thing that I want to suggest - one of the many concerns that is expressed in almost everything human is that everyone wants to give love, everyone wants to experience love.

Man wants to give and receive love

For the next week you could walk around with the working hypothesis: "Assuming it were correct that every person wants to show love with every action they take, and suppose that every person wants to receive love with every action they take, how can I explain that?" A husband may go to work and check in with his wife very late in the evening. The wife thinks: "He doesn't love me." And the husband thinks: "I am sacrificing myself for the family." The wife may scold the husband for coming so late, the husband may not see that as justified and thinks: “My wife doesn't value what I do for the family.” But the wife does it out of love. The woman scolds the man and actually only says: “I love you, and I would like to receive your love.” And the man who comes home so late actually wants to say: “I love you and therefore I do everything for you you."

Or someone who accumulates a lot of money, he wants to buy recognition with it, he wants to buy love. Not a very clever strategy. Very often the strategies for giving and giving love are not very skillful. But you can see it that way that a person wants to amass a lot of money in order to buy recognition and love somewhere and maybe also to give, because then he thinks, "then I can give at some point", and then he makes some donations and wants for it be loved. Or someone buys a huge car. You can also see that he wants to be loved somewhere, maybe he also wants to make someone he loves happy. Or even someone who commits crimes ... often you can also see that somewhere there is some love even there.


I don't mean to say that we should approve of everything. I am in a situation myself that I am the head of a yoga ashram and there are rules. For example, smoking is not allowed in the ashram, alcohol is not allowed to be drunk, and meat is not allowed to be eaten. There are always people who violate it, and then we have to tell them: “It doesn't work that way.” We have even said to someone, “You, the rule in yoga teacher training is that you don't drink alcohol can drink ”, and the person was then deadly unhappy that he was finally excluded from the training. Such a thing can happen. Or I once had the case that someone during a yoga teacher training course said they'd rather go for a walk in the morning than meditate. He would feel much closer to God if he walked along the stream instead of practicing meditation.

Of course, I had to say to him: “I can fully understand that, sometimes I take nice walks early in the morning and feel very close to God because of nature.” Then I could say: “Yes, I can understand that well. And if you want to switch, you can switch to a yoga holiday week and then you can enjoy your morning walks at meditation time. And if you want to take part in the yoga teacher training, then unfortunately that is not possible. "

Or we had already had various other unpleasant experiences. With all this, however, it is important to recognize that it is not the people who are bad, but their behavior is clumsy. It is all a matter of giving love or wanting to give and receive love. Think about this for the next week. Look at all of your fellow human beings, everything they do, strange and pleasant and unpleasant, and check: "Could I explain this against the background that people want to give or receive love?"

More thoughts on the subject

I want to speak again about love and compassion as an aid to a serene life or vice versa - serene life as an aid to the development of love and compassion. Love is a very powerful motive. Man strives to give love and to receive love. One can almost say that a person is made by love and consists of love, he passes on love. How could you interpret every action of a person as a desire to give love or to ask for love?

People are often clumsy at expressing love or asking for love.For example, the husband stays longer at work to earn more money, to support the family and to be a role model for his son. The wife interprets this as "my husband's career is more important than family." Out of love for her husband, she asks him to come home earlier, to spend more time with her and her son, and reproaches him. Both act out of love, both feel rejected by the other. If both realized that their behavior can be explained out of love for one another and out of love for their son or children, then they could find a good way.

If they just indulge in reproach, then hurt love results, and hurt love is also a strong motive and not for the best actions or the best states of mind. Two further examples that show that love as the basic motivation of people and an expression of it that is incomprehensible at first could have been laid the foundation decades before.

Another example: Martha learned in childhood that in order to get attention, she had to lament and grumble. Maybe Marta had parents who were very busy, maybe both were employed or the mother was very involved in charitable organizations and now she has learned that. And now Marta is doing the same as an adult. She complains and scolds a lot. The others withdraw. She is actually asking for love because the others are withdrawing, Marta intensifies scolding her.

Petra had a mother who worked in drug counseling. The mother was very committed and, in addition to her job, was also involved in charitable initiatives. Petra has learned that the mother takes special care of those who are drug addicts. So Petra took drugs to finally get her mother's attention.

Another example: Peter learns that illness is a way to get love from his parents. As an adult, Peter repeatedly suffers from indefinable diseases. The others help first, then withdraw, and Peter has to develop new diseases again in order to get the love of the others. Often times, expressing and accepting love is the cause of many problems of living together, and expressing and accepting love would also be the solution.

You could see for yourself if you can simply give them love or thank them when you are confronted with such people who act strangely. Sometimes you have to stay calm, however, accept irrational behavior of others as unchangeable, understand it lovingly and sometimes you also have to accept your own irrational behavior as unchangeable and lovingly understand it. Immutable is perhaps too strongly expressed, but initially to be accepted as unchangeable.

By understanding that there is good motivation behind it, you can deal with it better. Disappointed love can also be a strong motivator and is often the basis of excited, anxious and depressed behavior, including aggressive behavior. Kevin had a paternal father who benevolently patronized Kevin in everything. Kevin had to distance himself from his father through rebellion. He wanted to show him out of love that he is a whole guy himself, just by being different from his father and maybe his father has even secretly recognized that. At least that's what Kevin imagined. Kevin is now continuing this behavior of the rebellion towards his boss and his landlords. Through disappointed love from his father, he now wants to show his love for his father to the boss and landlords.

Kevin had a father who wanted Kevin to be very strong, but because the father was so dominant, Kevin couldn't really assert himself against his father and his father found that bad somewhere and found Kevin meme-like. And so his father withdrew from Kevin a little because he found his son to be insufficiently good somewhere. At least that's how Kevin experienced it. Presumably his father didn't mean it that way.

Maybe his father said that he had to withdraw a little to give Kevin space. Kevin thought my dad refuses me because I'm a coward. And so Kevin wants to show by rebellion against boss and landlord, perhaps even by aggressive behavior towards his wife or changing women or children: Yes, I'm good at something. I am strong. So disappointed, hurt love can be a powerful motivator.

Another example: Michael is the middle of three siblings. He felt that he had received less love from his parents than the other two. The eldest got the most attention as the eldest, he is the family owner and always remains the first son. The youngest was the only girl and therefore received special attention. The parents thought that the brothers might be suppressing the girl too much, so the sister got special attention. After the death of his parents, Michael involved the other two in legal proceedings, in succession disputes with the two siblings he later fought doggedly for the same love of the parents.

An exercise: Look, do you have such inclinations as to irrationally express your request for love and your need to give love? Which of your irrational acts, hurts and hurts are based on unfulfilled love? How often are you angry and angry with others beyond what is appropriate because there is perhaps an offense, an injury from unfulfilled love somewhere? How could you more skillfully express your love and ask for love?

Do this over the next few days and keep thinking about it. It's always about more awareness in everyday life. So keep asking yourself which of your irrational feelings of hurt, hurt, actions, emotions are based on unfulfilled love? How could you more skillfully express your love and ask for love? And how could you be aware that the people you are dealing with now are not necessarily identical to your mother, your father, your siblings, your grandma, your grandpa or whoever else was and is not important to you Expression of your ex-wife, your wife, your husband, your previous love affairs that you had. Look up, how can you respond correctly to the person who is in front of you and also express your love and compassion to this person and also accept his / her life, compassion or just ask for it?

Compassion and Ahimsa as tasks of the developing world culture

The development of culture has been going in the direction of more since the 17th century compassion. Yoga had and still has a decisive influence on this. In yoga, compassion does not only come as a rational ethic as with Immanuel Kant, as important as a rational ethic is. Yoga leads to access to one's own heart and enables the experience of connection to the other person in meditation. So man grows in compassion. This not only affects people, but also animals (key words animal welfare, vegetarianism, veganism) and the environment, ecology.

Yoga is also lived, experienced ethics. Yoga believes in the good in people. Yoga is the opposite of a dualistic belief, good and bad. Rather, yoga believes that there is good in everyone. There is no such thing as a fight between good and evil. There is a human struggle to find the best way. Recognizing this can be the basis for overcoming violence. Compassion is an intrinsic quality of human beings. With yoga, compassion comes naturally.

Developing Compassion - Maitri Bhavana - Yogasutra

Here is a lecture on the topic Developing Compassion: Maitribhavana. This is a commentary on the Yoga Sutra by Patanjali, third chapter, verses 24-25 :

Compassion - forgiveness

Connect from the heart and cultivate compassion

- Section from the book: Yoga of the Three Energies by James Swartz -

Compassion is empathy, a naturally active expression of love, and shouldn't be suppressed. Because a sattviger mind clearly sees the dharma field and knows the power of the binding vāsanās, it is aware that no one would break dharma if he or she could otherwise, so he or she directs the jīva towards reconciliation.


- Section from the book: Yoga of the Three Energies by James Swartz -

A free person sees beyond people's mistaken ideas and knows that everyone is the self, no matter what they believe, and experiences active empathy with everyone.

Sanskrit expressions for compassion

There are several Sanskrit expressions for compassion:

See also


Web links


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