Compassion is our ability to feel

the pain that we share with others.

Without realizing it we continually shield ourselves

from this pain because it scares us.

We put up protective walls

made of opinions, prejudices, and strategies,

barriers that are built on a deep fear of being hurt.

These walls are further fortified

by emotions of all kinds:

anger, craving, indifference, jealousy

and envy, arrogance and pride.

But fortunately for us, the soft spot—

our innate ability to love and to care about things—

is like a crack in these walls we erect.

It’s a natural opening in the barriers we create

when we’re afraid.

With practice we can learn to find this opening.

We can learn to seize that vulnerable moment—

love, gratitude, loneliness, embarrassment, inadequacy—

to awaken compassion.

~Pema Chodron

(1936 to pres., Buddhist Teacher)


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