Compassion unfolds in response to suffering, beginning with our recognition of it, then conjuring change to elicit empathy and concern. This, in turn, motivates us to take action, and help relieve that suffering.
Expanding beyond mindfulness, compassion arises both on the personal level of our individual relationships and on the global level of cultures and nations interacting with one another. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said that the problems of the world – social, economic, environmental, and so on – are best understood and viewed through the lens of compassion. With compassion, our empathy for the suffering of others can give rise to altruism – bringing immediate and long-term happiness and tranquillity to our lives.
Humans have a natural capacity for compassion. However, everyday stress, social pressures, and life experiences can suppress it – potentially resulting in physical and psychological problems. The good news is that we can train ourselves to nurture others while developing our compassionate instinct. This process requires patience, steady care, proper tools, and a supportive environment.
In fact, Tania Singer of the Max Planck Institute has spearheaded a fantastic new resource for compassion enthusiasts. Compassion researchers and trainers have comp together and produced a free e-book compiling great information on compassion science and education. Some of our CCARE instructors and affiliated scientists have written chapters. You can find all of the materials here, enjoy!