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When you meet the pain of another with fear, it is often called pity.
When you're motivated by pity, you're motivated by a dense self-interest.
When you're motivated by pity, you're acting on the aversion you have to experiencing someone else's predicament.
You want to alleviate their discomfort as a means of alleviating your own.
Pity creates more fear and separation.
When love touches upon the pain of another, it is called compassion.
Compassion is just space.
Whatever that other person is experiencing, you have room for it in your heart.
It becomes work on yourself -to let go, to stay open, to feel that being within you.
When somebody is in incredible pain, though you can't do anything to alleviate it, you don't withdraw.
When people say, "Help me," you stay soft, your hand in theirs, sharing their pain without closing around it.
To have room in your heart for whatever pain arises, not differentiating between "I" and "other" is compassion.
Taken from: Who Dies - An Investigation of Conscious Living and Dying by Stephen Levine
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