Compassion must start with seeing our own suffering. If it does not, then seeing the suffering of others will be merely conceptual. It will merely be a matter of having learned about suffering from a book or philosophy. We may intellectually know about the different types of suffering and so forth, but without inward reflection, our understanding will always be a theoretical knowledge that is directed toward the outside. Starting from our own experience of suffering becomes most important for the practice of open and genuine compassion.
from the book Trainings In Compassion: Manuals On The Meditation Of Avalokiteshvara
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