Compassion is somewhat passive or at any rate preliminary to action; related active virtues include care, consolation, and kindness.

Complementary virtues

Contrasting vices

Virtues possibly in tension


How to acquire or strengthen it


Notes and links

Mentioned elsewhere


Inspirational quotes

So if we think, “Well, what goes into compassion?”, it includes the quality of empathy, the quality that when we see someone suffering, our heart somehow trembles with that, almost like we take it in through the air. And our heart moves with that suffering. That’s what we call ‘empathy,’ ‘suffering with.’ Compassion includes empathy. It includes this giving. There’s a giving aspect of compassion.
It includes equanimity, a kind of steadiness in the face of suffering. That has to be something that’s an essential aspect of compassion. It can’t be blown over by suffering. So equanimity is a factor of compassion.
Wisdom and understanding – we have to actually understand suffering in order to help alleviate it. Kindness, the quality of acceptance, of listening, of holding – all these are part of compassion. Opening. Joy, too, is a part of compassion. Humour.
And with all that, it’s also important to realize that compassion is actually not just a feeling. Lovely as that feeling may be, when it’s there, that we feel with another, we feel with another being, and how beautiful that is – but actually, compassion cannot just be a feeling. It has to be more than that. And if we just reflect on times when we’ve been involved in helping people or doing some kind of service work, whatever, it’s never this complete, endless, and uninterrupted flow of lovely feeling. There are going to be times when you’re just doing the work because that’s what needs to be done. You don’t particularly feel anything in the heart, may be even irritated at something. But compassion has to be bigger than the feeling. ―Rob Burbea