Then a woman, the city’s most trusted healer, stood and said: Tell us about compassion.

The next child answered, saying:

Compassion is love that seeks to understand what can not be understood.

It moves where it is needed, not as an emissary, but as an emigrant.

In compassion, the self moves so close to the other that the boundary separating the two Souls dissolves for a moment.

Compassion is not altruism; it wants the good of the other with no thought of separation between self and other. Altruism comes from duty and principle, not from an unguarded heart.

The injured tend their wounds because the part that is wounded is of the self, not because goodness or rightness demands it. Without the wounded part, the body is not whole. Just so, without the other, the self is not whole.

Compassion is not pity; it sees merit in the other and seeks only to comfort suffering, not to insult it.

The injured can find no healing in condemning and berating a wound. Such medicine can only cause the wounded part to wither and decay. Just so, pity poisons those who suffer.

Compassion has one face, so it can only be sincere. Its agenda is transparent, so it can not be rehearsed.

Many there are who treat their own wounds with either principle or insult, prolonging the sickness whose root is a deficiency of love. So if you would know compassion for others, then begin with yourself, for the sick have no energy to give to others.