Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Step #1: 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life

Karen, Rosalyn & Susan from the peaceCENTER are facilitating a book study of Karen Armstrong's "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life."  The first session met on Valentine's Day. This is what we covered:

Learn about Compassion.
Step 1 from Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
Can compassion heal the seemingly intractable problems of our time? Is this virtue even feasible in the technological age? And what does “compassion” actually mean? Our English word is often confused with “pity” and associated with an uncritical, sentimental benevolence: the Oxford English Dictionary, for example, defines “compassionate” as “piteous” or “pitiable.” This perception of compassion is not only widespread but ingrained. Compassion does not mean feeling sorry for people. But “compassion” derives from the Latin patiri and the Greek pathein, meaning “to suffer, undergo, or experience.” So “compassion” means “to endure (something) with another person,” to put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes, to feel her pain as though it were our own, and to enter generously into his point of view. That is why compassion is aptly summed up in the Golden Rule, which asks us to look into our own hearts, discover what gives us pain, and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else.
*Karen Armstrong, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, 2011

What is hateful to yourself, do not to your fellow man. That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary. Go study it.
Hillel, Jewish sage, 110 BCE-10CE

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