The word “compassion” has been lingering in my mind for long.
Compassion is superior to sympathy; Co-feeling is superior to compassion. Being on the top of the hierarchy of sentiment, co-feeling is impossible for human but only owned by God. Compassion and sympathy are possible for human but impossible by animals which is the difference between us and the birds and the beasts. Mencius, an ancient Chinese philosopher. singled out symthy-and-empathy as the unique and defining characteristic of our nature. And the difference implies that the uniqueness of being human is not a static quality but a dynamic process. We can enrich our humanity by increasing our supply of sympathetic and empathic feeling. To appreciate the dynamic process, we can employ the metaphor of the stream. The sympathetic and empathic feeling is the source of our humanity. Unless the supply from the source is sufficient, our humanity will not flow very far.
All languages that derive from Latin form the word "compassion" by combining the prefix meaning "with" (com-) and the root meaning "suffering" (passio)...... we cannot look on coolly as others suffer ...... inspires suspicion; it designates what is considered an inferior, second-rate sentiment that has little to do with love...... In languages that from the word "compassion" not from the root "suffering" but from the root "feeling" the word is used in approximately the same way, but to contend that it designates a bad or inferior sentiment is difficult. The secret strength of its etymology floods the word with another light and gives it a broader meaning: to have compassion (co-feeling) means not only to be able to live emotion- joy, anxity, happiness, pain. This kind of compassion therefore signifies the maximal capacity of affective imagination, the art of emotional telepathy. In the hierarchy of sentiment, then, it is supreme. From "Unbearable Lightness of Being" ----- by Milan Kundera