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Practical Compassion

"Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive—that you can touch the miracle of being alive—then that is a kind of enlightenment."

Practical. It is to do something. We usually mean it to be something that is effective, useful and sensible. That is what practical means.

To say practical compassion would mean a sensible compassion, but that almost seems contradictory to our notion of what compassion is all about. From what I have seen many people have a notional idea that compassion is a part of the ‘extras’ of life. It is something altruistic, impractical and belongs more with saints than with the average person.

Greater Good Science Center says “Compassion is a fundamental human trait, with deep psychological and evolutionary roots. By creating environments that promote care and cooperation—and by elevating people’s beliefs about what they’re capable of—we help nurture the positive side of human nature.”

Compassion is WHO we are. If what we are as human beings is embryonic, and compassion is the environment or the womb that brings the gifts inside to blossom and to grow, then those elements of humanity such as dignity, liberation, the glory of divine things, and joy are our birthright.


“For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

(The Son Becomes the Father – Image by Burst, Shopify)

So What Then is Practical Compassion?

It is not a great thing to be measured. In fact it is small and as plentiful as the air we breathe. It is humble because it is the ground we all walk on. Love. None of us can survive without it. Whether we only know it from the sun on our face because our lives have been hard, or if know it from having had a wonderful teacher, a kind mother or father, it is love that supports us.

Practical compassion is innocent and simple. It is a practice, a way of life. It is knowing who you are and sharing your heart with whoever needs to know you.

There is a powerful relationship between compassion and the greatest magnificence we are truly capable of. Liberty, dignity and joy are the offspring of compassion. These qualities are also the best of us all. Our deepest humanity is not that we are lofty, but that we share the same hardships, hurts and difficulties.  In this we all then transcend the things that separate us.

People have an inner, innate ability to relate. We can bring feelings, thoughts, situations and ideas inside us. We can also step outside of where we habitually view the world and walk along side someone else.

To be human is truly something special.


“What we all have in common is an appreciation of kindness and compassion; all the religions have this. Love. We all lean towards love.”

Attributed to Richard Gere.


“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” – Helen Keller



Compassion from Around the World

Inner and Outer life

Rabbi Shai Held

Can I Help One Child?

Maggie Doyne

Compassion of the Human Soul

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

The Table in Your Life

James Forbes

Nurturing the Conditions for Happiness

Matthieu Ricard

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