‘Imagining what it is like to be someone other than yourself is at the core of our humanity. It is the essence of compassion, and it is the beginning of morality.’ Ian McEwan, a British author
At the core of all religions is the belief that our true purpose as human beings on Earth is to demonstrate compassion in thought and action toward all living beings.
Too often we reserve compassion for members of our own groups only. But there is a common core of humanity underlying our wonderful diversity.
My own upbringing in India’s pluralistic society illustrated the truth of this common core of humanity and enabled me to participate in so much of the religious and spiritual lives of others, treating every such interaction as an opportunity to explore and learn—from across a spectrum of religions and sub-sects.
Religion has been a source of tremendous spiritual resources, providing values and meaning to its faithful with an emphasis on neighborliness and compassion. The common message of religious revelations is one that celebrates our common humanity and calls for action and service that promotes love, compassion, and peace in the world.
“A heart of compassion is the seed of Humanity.”
—Mencius, Confucian philosopher
“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness […] the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.
—The Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader
“It is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature.”
—‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i leader
“The Holy One then said: Because you showed such compassion in tending the flock of a mortal, as you live, you shall become shepherd of Israel, the flock that is Mine.”
—Sefer Ha-Aggadah, collection of Jewish writings
“Realize the truth of the scriptures; learn to be detached and to take joy in renunciation. Do not get angry or harm any living creature, but be compassionate and gentle; show good will to all.”
—The Bhagavad Gita (16:1-2), Hindu text
“Compassion wins every battle
and outlasts every attack
what Heaven creates
let compassion protect”
—Lao Tzu, Daoist sage
“Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison [of illusion] by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
― Albert Einstein, physicist