Quote of the day, Dec. 26

Gavin Francis, on compassion (in the New York Times)

“Our idea of compassion has largely come down to us from the medieval Christian tradition, where the ‘virtue’ of compassion was often opposed to the ‘vice’ of envy. The ancient Greeks focused on justice, courage and temperance, and the Ten Commandments of the Hebrew scriptures elevated instead piety, fidelity and keeping the peace. By contrast, Buddhists have always valued compassion highly: Three out of four ‘divine states’ of mind refer to aspects of fellow-feeling. Hinduism proposes two types of compassion: that which you feel toward someone who has brought suffering on themselves, and a more intense sympathy felt for the blameless.”

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