My World View – Compassion

Compassion:  sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

The Buddha taught that to realize enlightenment, a person must develop two qualities: wisdom and compassion. Wisdom and compassion are sometimes compared to two wings that work together to enable flying, or two eyes that work together to see deeply.

I won’t claim to have all knowledge on what compassion is, but I have some ideas. I remember that on one of my many business trips I found myself with some time and so I wandered over to the city zoo.  This one trip was interesting in that they allowed some feeding of the ducks in one area. You could buy some pellet food from a candy dispenser kind of thing. I was watching the ducks and people choreograph this dance of symbiosis and noticed a small girl looking at the dispenser, then at the ducks and people feeding them, then back at the dispenser. A few moments later I saw her do the same things. She did not speak but you could clearly see the thought bubble over her head. I thought for a moment… she seemed to be by her self. For no particular reason more than wanting to see her throw the pellets, I walked over and placed 50 cents in the slot and beckoned her to hold her hands under then spot of the dispenser. As she was throwing the pellets one at a time down to the ducks, you could hear the joy on her face. I could hear it even as I walked on to  some other part of the zoo. I don’t know what compassion is, but I think I have some ideas.

…… So let’s see what bible.com says. Only 41 references, and some are how to not earn compassion from YHWH. Go figure. Number 5 in the list is kind of interesting… hmmmm I think I see a Sunday Sermon there.

  1. Exodus 2:6 (Whole Chapter)
    And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.
  2. Deuteronomy 13:17 (Whole Chapter)
    And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers;
  3. Deuteronomy 30:3 (Whole Chapter)
    That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
  4. 1 Samuel 23:21 (Whole Chapter)
    And Saul said, Blessed be ye of the LORD; for ye have compassion on me.
  5. 1 Kings 8:50 (Whole Chapter)
    And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them:
  6. 2 Kings 13:23 (Whole Chapter)
    And the LORD was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet.
  7. 2 Chronicles 30:9 (Whole Chapter)
    For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.
  8. 2 Chronicles 36:15 (Whole Chapter)
    And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place:
  9. 2 Chronicles 36:17 (Whole Chapter)
    Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand.
  10. Psalm 78:38 (Whole Chapter)
    But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.
  11. Psalm 86:15 (Whole Chapter)
    But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
  12. Psalm 111:4 (Whole Chapter)
    He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.
  13. Psalm 112:4 (Whole Chapter)
    Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
  14. Psalm 145:8 (Whole Chapter)
    The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
  15. Isaiah 49:15 (Whole Chapter)
    Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
  16. Jeremiah 12:15 (Whole Chapter)
    And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.
  17. Lamentations 3:22 (Whole Chapter)
    It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
  18. Lamentations 3:32 (Whole Chapter)
    But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
  19. Ezekiel 16:5 (Whole Chapter)
    None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.
  20. Micah 7:19 (Whole Chapter)
    He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
  21. Zechariah 7:9 (Whole Chapter)
    Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:
  22. Matthew 9:36 (Whole Chapter)
    But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
  23. Matthew 14:14 (Whole Chapter)
    And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
  24. Matthew 15:32 (Whole Chapter)
    Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
  25. Matthew 18:27 (Whole Chapter)
    Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
  1. Matthew 18:33 (Whole Chapter)
    Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
  2. Matthew 20:34 (Whole Chapter)
    So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.
  3. Mark 1:41 (Whole Chapter)
    And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
  4. Mark 5:19 (Whole Chapter)
    Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
  5. Mark 6:34 (Whole Chapter)
    And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
  6. Mark 8:2 (Whole Chapter)
    I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:
  7. Mark 9:22 (Whole Chapter)
    And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
  8. Luke 7:13 (Whole Chapter)
    And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
  9. Luke 10:33 (Whole Chapter)
    But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
  10. Luke 15:20 (Whole Chapter)
    And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
  11. Romans 9:15 (Whole Chapter)
    For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
  12. Hebrews 5:2 (Whole Chapter)
    Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
  13. Hebrews 10:34 (Whole Chapter)
    For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
  14. 1 Peter 3:8 (Whole Chapter)
    Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
  15. 1 John 3:17 (Whole Chapter)
    But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
  16. Jude 1:22 (Whole Chapter)
    And of some have compassion, making a difference:

Apparently, Christians are called to be compassionate toward others. I’m not sure you could know this just by hanging out with them, at least not here in North America. That last one would make a pretty good bumper sticker? No?

I guess that many of them don’t seem to get it.

In The Gospel According To Romans we see that perhaps that bible is not so good at consistently showing defining compassion.

I’ve just equated voting to allow equal rights with regard to marriage with showing compassion to other humans. Yes I did.

So what do statistics have to say, Well at least some of them.

Why should we show compassion on those who only ask for equal rights? Because doing so does not harm us and eases the pain of others around us. Both Jesus and Buddha taught that this is right. I’m anti-theist and I do it because it is right, not because it is moral or to earn credit for the next life, but exactly because it alleviates pain for those around me and selfishly I find this is one of the best ways to help ensure that the world around me is a place that is not painful to live in. I think you should do it too.

Wait, is that it? Is that all there is to it?

Yes, that’s pretty much it. Compassion. It’s so easy a dog can do it.

But there is more…

Visit this page for some ideas on how to show your compassion more than simply voting against bigotry.

 

  1. came across this recently, and it’s kinda related to your post, so thought you might be interested.

    http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/04/30/religionandgenerosity/

    i’m not quite sure what to take away from it though.

    • Ok, try this reply again.
      This article says that believers give to charity despite the fact that they don’t give a damn about who they are helping where non-believers tend to give more when they feel some connection.

      The article basically says that believers are sheep and do what they are told or justify their giving with “I’m a good believer, so I must give to the needy” where non-believers give to causes they feel worthy.

      As it relates to my post, the believers in North America are being told to not be charitable to GLBTQ citizens. That is, there bigotry was given to them and they will hold it proudly because they were told to…. not because they actually have a reason for it. That just My take on that article.

      Thanks for the comment

  2. Again, it’s all semantics, but this comes very close to how I’ve been explaining how I personally feel about “good” and “evil”. Although I think you must deliberately deny compassion and harm others to be evil.

    • Don, I think many people feel as you do. For me, if showing compassion can be described as selfish, then denying compassion is selfish also.

      We may, every one of us, see denying compassion or causing harm as a wrong act of free will, but I do not believe that evil exists, where evil is some objective form of bad/wrong that exists outside of space/time never mind outside of my judgement.

      I also think that because we can choose to cause ourselves the ultimate harm in order to show another compassion or to spare them pain proves that free will exists.

      I think that your definition of evil does not appropriately address the case where causing harm to one area in order to save another. The edge cases of morality are always difficult to deal with. The concept of evil cannot be described by an action if it can exist outside of space and time.

      Example: when is it morally good to shove a pitchfork through the chest of another person?
      Perhaps when they are attacking your child.
      When is it wrong to love someone? Perhaps when that person is Hitler?

      Moral rightness and moral wrongness are in our choices. To judge them requires a scale. I see no spot on anyone’s scale where it is marked in red and declared ‘evil’. Every decision is some value of morally good or morally bad and each time the decision is judged it happens with a different objective scale, so what is ‘evil’ on your scale to day might not be another time.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • crucifacts
    • May 15th, 2012

    In my own best friends who are active in their church, VERY active, I see their compassion flow in great amounts to everyone in their church. Where other people, including their own brother who has “not given his life to God”, gets zero compassion. Him needing to borrow money is just absurd. But a person in their church needing money is understandable, and they will help.

    I really, really liked this blog, I’m going to be asking people to read it.

    • I too have seen the theist bigotry as you described. I’ve seen them turn their nose at those who do not dress up for church services. It’s plain old bigotry.

      Thanks for the kind comments about my writing. Credit also goes to those who comment and help inspire my thinking.

  3. Mal,

    First I have to say…FOAMY THE SQUIRREL!!!

    Second, why did you ruin a great post with 41 fucking bible references?

    Third, “It’s so easy a dog can do it.” That’s pretty insensitive (acronym for compassion)

    Fourth, “I find this is one of the best ways to help ensure that the world around me is a place that is not painful to live in.” Oh Sir, what have you done with my Mal?

    😉

    ~bri

    • Calmly smiling. Thank you.

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