The following are notes from a recent class on cultivating compassion toward people who occupy a neutral place in our lives.

Genuine compassion extends beyond self-compassion or the protection of our social group; it is the wish that all beings be free from suffering.

Does your heart ever “tremble” or feel moved when you see other beings suffer? Becoming aware of the quivering of the heart that occurs naturally when we are spontaneously “touched,” can draw out our compassion. When compassion pervades our response to suffering, the mind is freed from the tendency to react with cruelty, jealousy, anger, or oppressive behaviors.

Compassion liberates the mind from meanness, creulty, jealousy, and unwholesome states that cause harm, and consequently from the negative kamma that is rooted in unwholesome actions.

Acts of service and charity give us opportunities to show compassion toward people or beings that are relatively neutral to us—beings that we may neither personally love nor hate.

What moves you? How might you take wise action to alleviate the suffering that you are moved by? Discover the power and beauty of service as a part of dharma practice. Let service support your spiritual growth.


Observe and reflect on your response to suffering in the world—social injustice, poverty, conflict, hunger, cruelty, fear, illness, pain.

Cultivate an empathetic response to the suffering that you witness by wishing well for each suffering being that you see: may you be free from pain and suffering; may you be at peace.

What actions do you take each day to relieve the suffering you witness in yourself, family, friends, strangers, and the world? How can you serve?