Kindness and compassion have a spiritual quality to them. They are extensions of ourselves to others in a way that benefits both self and others. They can be nurtured through meditation and contemplation. Our meditative and contemplative silence should bring us to action, otherwise they remain as concepts or mental images. All spiritual leaders view kindness and compassion as foundational in our quest to be fully alive. Yet there is a difference between kindness and compassion. Compassion may lead to kindness but kindness may not lead to compassion.
Compassion means "suffering with" the other. It is the ability to "feel" for the other person in a deep personal way – to put oneself in the other's shoes. Kindness is an "act" of helping another person who has an expressed need for that help..
Compassion often leads to acts of kindness but acts of kindness can be devoid of compassion. Let's take an example: We have a colleague who is seriously ill. A compassionate person would relate to that individual at a deeper feeling level than one who just acts in a kind way. The compassionate person would take the time to listen to the person, allow him to unburden his anxieties and fears, and try to understand in a genuine way the suffering the person is experiencing. A kind person would act differently. She would send him a card, flowers, candy, and even visit him, but stay clear of the feeling level. The compassionate person could be moved to act with kindness by following up with a card, flowers and so on; but the kind person, who acts only out of kindness, would remain at the exterior level of acting and not enter the interior level of feeling.
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