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Organizations are made up of people joined together in a common purpose. To effectively lead we must become "people experts." To become people experts, we must understand suffering. The voices of compassion showcased on this page can help us find our way to that understanding.

 
 
 
 

Quotes

Compassion is the heart’s response to suffering.
Compassion — from the roots passio (suffering)
and com (with) — means to suffer with another.
Compassion is an innate part of human response to suffering,
which is comprised of a three-part experience of
noticing another’s pain, feeling with another, and responding in some way.
— from the CompassionLab
 
Because of the media, the way the world is perceived is as a place where resources and time are running out. We’re taught that you have to grab what you can before it’s gone. It’s almost as if there isn’t time for compassion.
George Michael
 
Compassion does not focus on the suffering that beings are undergoing, but on the beings undergoing that suffering.
Ogyen Trinley Dorje
 
Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation.
Henry Ward Beecher
 
There is no known defense against relentless compassion.
Ari Cowan
 
Even if we are personally at peace with ourselves, we're increasingly aware of the immense suffering in the world and feel inner calls to create a more fair, just and nurturing enviornment for us all. Our pursuit of meaning, justice and hapiness is as much a part of us today as it was centuries ago when humans could first give thought to these things.
— Paul Gilbert, PhD, OBE
 
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them, humanity cannot survive.
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
 
Make no judgments where you have no compassion.
— Anonymous
 
The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.
Thomas Merton
 
One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people.
John O'Donohue
 
Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
 
I will soothe you and heal you,
I will bring you roses.
I too have been covered with thorns.
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī
 
The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
George Bernard Shaw
 
Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of human beings.
Confucius
 
Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.
Henri J.M. Nouwen
 
Compassion is the basis of all morality.
Arthur Schopenhauer
 
If it is not tempered by compassion, and empathy, reason can lead men and women into a moral void.
Karen Armstrong
 
What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion: for yourself and for those around you.
— Lupita Nyong'o
 
Our greatest fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others.
Henri J.M. Nouwen
 
For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
 
In separateness lies the world's great misery, in compassion lays the world's true strength.
Hindu Prince Gautama Siddhartha
 
Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul: where there is compassion even the most poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless.
Eric Hoffer
 
Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it's beauty.
Albert Einstein
 
Compassion is not enabling; have compassion for the person, not the offense.
Ari Cowan
 
If we could read the secret history of our “enemies,” we should find in each man and woman’s life sorrow enough to disarm all hostility.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
 
Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.
Henri J.M. Nouwen
 
The value of compassion cannot be over-emphasized. Anyone can criticize. It takes a true believer to be compassionate. No greater burden can be borne by an individual than to know no one cares or understands.
Arthur H. Stainback
 
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
Plato
 
...for there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.
Milan Kundera
 
We only have what we give.
Isabel Allende
 
— we are a species that has evolved to thrive on kindness and compassion.
— Paul Gilbert, PhD, OBE
 
A good exercise for the heart is to bend down and help another up.
John Andrew Holmes
 
All the world's major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
 
I have no idea what's awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing.
Albert Camus
 
No one has ever become poor by giving.
Anne Frank
 

Our human compassion binds us the one to the other — not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.

Nelson Mandela
 
The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud --- the obstacles of life and its suffering. ... The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. ... Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one.
Goldie Hawn
 
A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.
Steve Maraboli
 
“We all of us need to be toppled off the throne of self, my dear," he said. "Perched up there the tears of others are never upon our own cheek.”
Elizabeth Goudge
 
Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.
Booker T. Washington
 
Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.
Wolfgang von Goethe
 
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
Mohandas Gandhi
 
We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization — black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.... What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
Robert F. Kennedy
 
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
Aesop
 
I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
 
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
 
So from the very first hours of our lives right through to our last moments, kindness, gentleness, warmth and compassion are the things that can sustain us and help us bear the setbacks, tragedies and suffering that life will rain on us.
— Paul Gilbert, PhD, OBE
 
In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.
Albert Einstein
 
Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
Wolfgang von Goethe
 
Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.
Henri J.M. Nouwen
 
Compassionate action involves working with ourselves as much as working with others.
Pema Chodron
 
Genuine compassionate helpfulness is never submissive nor does it mean simply giving in to what other people want, only to leave us feeling resentful or very needy for their approval.
— Paul Gilbert, PhD, OBE
 
It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.
Albert Camus
 
We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or don't do, and more in light of what they suffer.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
 
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
 
All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke
 
True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
 

I can do no other than be reverent before everything that is called life. I can do no other than to have compassion for all that is called life. That is the beginning and the foundation of all ethics.

    Albert Schweitzer, OM
 
Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge.
— William Shakespeare
 
Those doves below, the ones utterly cared for, never endangered ones, cannot know tenderness.
Rainer Maria Rilke
 
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
Wolfgang von Goethe
 
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
George Bernard Shaw
 
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
Mohandas Gandhi
 
It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.
John Andrew Holmes
 
If there is a fundamental challenge within these stories, it is simply to change our lurking suspicion that some lives matter less than other lives.
Gregory Boyle
 
It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
Jiddu Krishnamurti
 
If you avoid all of life's abrasions, you will never be polished enough to shine.
Richelle E. Goodrich
 
Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.
Dinah Craik
 
The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable: through the embracing of one of its beings.
Martin Buber
I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.
Abraham Lincoln
 
Go to you bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know.
— William Shakespeare
 
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.
— Rabindranath Tagore
Each of the world religions has its own particular genius, its own special insight into the nature and requirements of compassion, and has something unique to teach us.
Karen Armstrong
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