Across time and tradition, the concept of compassion remains steadily at the heart of many significant spiritual paths and pursuits.

Below, three contemporary spiritual teachers offer insight on just what the practice of compassionate action means in everyday situations.

“We don’t set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people’s hearts.”

Pema Chodron, Buddhist nun and spiritual writer

Thought: Real compassion in never a grand gesture; instead it is humbly rooted in the small and subtle changes we make in our everyday interactions.

 

“Love doesn’t need reason. It speaks from the irrational wisdom of the heart.”

 Deepak Chopra, meditation guru and natural wellness proponent

Thought: To effectively help one another, we need to use logic and reason. But the initial desire to help – that comes from a place of feeling, not thinking.

 

“Internal and external are ultimately one. When you no longer perceive the world as hostile, there is no more fear, and when there is no more fear, you think, speak and act differently. Love and compassion arise, and they affect the world.”

Eckhart Tolle, spiritual essayist and author

Thought: Compassion is not just a nice way of living –­ it is a courageous victory, a triumph of becoming part of something greater than ourselves.