Compassion can’t be taught. It can be experienced, enjoyed, offered, noticed, studied, shared, remembered, cultivated and practiced. Compassion can’t be taught because it is what we are. It arises naturally when we’re fully present with another. Compassion is the awareness of another’s suffering coupled with a willingness to do something to relieve the suffering.
Compassion can’t be planned in advance. Attempting to plan out what I would do in x, y, z situation to enact compassion is a form of suffering. It’s a form of suffering because it takes me out of the moment, which is the only place where compassion can happen.
Compassion is a principle we can commit ourselves to, allowing it to have its way with us. It can look like saying no, staying still, not doing. It can look like saying yes, moving toward and helping. Compassion isn’t defined by ‘doing’ at all. It’s better understood as a stance, a motivator and an attitude.
We can reflect on compassion, choose it, make ourselves available to it, get out of the way and allow it to happen. Ideas about what compassion should look like, or how compassionate people do things, are not helpful. Comparing ourselves to others we see as more compassionate than we are doesn’t help.
Compassion education can be thought of as a process of remembering, practicing, living and being in alignment with our true nature, which is compassionate.