I had a thought and wrote it down the other day to contemplate it further. Here’s what I wrote: What’s the difference between compassion and feeling sorry for someone?
Etymologically speaking, there is little difference. Com-passion is to be with or be together in pain and suffering. The original use of passion was in reference to the suffering of Christ at the time of the crucifixion, hence the name of that massively popular Mel Gibson movie. Much later it was used to describe sexual desire, and later still, in the number one slot on Dictionary.com, it is, “any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate."
Then compassion, in the way I’ve come to understand it, and I have a large amount of company, is to love another unconditionally in their current situation. It’s no longer about having pity for them, as in feeling sorry for them, or sorrow for them, and it is certainly not about feeling their pain or suffering directly as in sympathy. It is more like recognizing the other, seeing that they are perhaps in a situation that is not the best for them while holding them up as in prayer for their healing and well-being.
So then, feeling sorry for someone is to have pity on them and compassion is to pour love on them. Other than thought and feeling, either of these may contain action or activity; however, I would want only to receive that action that is accompanied by compassion.
The Dalai Lama XIV said it well: “A truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively or hurt you."
I think that a feeling sorry attitude wouldn’t care in the least.
“There Is No Exercise Better For The Heart Than Reaching Down And Lifting People Up." — John Holmes
Spread Some Joy Today–by carrying compassion with you in your heart.