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If I am permitted to use the word “compassion” apart from its natural derivation of the meaning. It is an extended passion with a sincere commitment to achieve a level of satisfaction far greater than oneself. It is to be able to see yourself in the other, devoid of self. This the content of the emotion of Passion, so deeply rooted with the fundamental fact of supreme joy.
Compassion is not an emotional soufflé. Most Religions and philosophies classify this as a virtue with an altruistic tendency but it is a strong emotion stemmed out of passion with a spine to other yourself. It is a flow of energy into another being and to be able to enjoy looking at it.
You could water a plant and watch it grow with compassion. You are not worried if it is going to bear fruit or not. It just gives you feeling that you made your cause of joy seeing your humaness grow in that little plant. You raise children and watch them grow with your provision and feel happy that you played the part of a caretaker for them. Feeding a hungry person identifies with your hunger and you feel elated by the fact that he enjoyed his meal well.
This can go on in the practical sense of sex as well. The partner’s orgasm is more important to you than yours.
Etymologically the roots are from Co- Passion or co suffering. Real compassion knows no suffering, you don’t compromise emotional suffering with others. At least you do not want to see that in any person.
The intrinsic meaning is described in the Bhagawadgita as Sattvika, Rajasika and Tamasika gunas. Most Sattvika people are compassionate and do not look back on what they issued to the other, be it a dog, cat or any animal or a Human Being.
Zen Masters teach compassion as being a mirror to oneself, as being able to see yourself in the other. Any woman can immediately vouch for that.
Jesus had Compassion to the level of suffering for a cause, His suffering was pain for the body but devoid of emotional pain. The joy of his purpose for the redemption of others was far greater than the physical pain that he was put through. But then again that was his choice of compassion.
Mother Teresa basically needed love and affection. So she gave and cared for people and saw the glint in their eyes. This was her compassion.
If we examine the point as to why do we feel the need to see ourselves outside us. The answer could be that we cannot bite our own teeth, not can we lift ourselves with our own bootstraps. So perhaps Yes, Compassion is a virtue definitely, with the joy of being able to project your glory into the other being. I guess this is the “real love”. Even the supernatural power what we call God is probably compassionate to see himself in us.