Compassion is sometimes confused with empathy, or even sympathy. It is neither, though it includes some aspects of both. Compassion begins when we allow ourselves to really hear and attune to suffering, that of others, as well as ourselves. And hearing and perceiving this anguish, we are moved to do something about it. What takes compassion beyond sympathy or empathy is that it includes action, action that is considered, skillful and beneficial.
When we listen differently to someone’s story, without judging, we create the conditions for compassion to arise. The practice of council, described and explained in this book, asks us to lean in, to learn ways we can skillfully attend to the pain we recognize in ourselves and others, and to do something helpful in response.
Jack Zimmerman, author of The Way of Council, writes: “Where Compassion Begins is exactly what is needed now to bring the essence of compassionate communication more fully into the contemporary world. Jared Seide has woven together the practices of council and meditation in a personal and accessible way that supports tangible life practices along the path of the heart. Where Compassion Begins is an imaginative bridge from the traditional roots of council and meditation to this moment in evolution, with contemporary references to science, medicine and recent understanding of the human condition.”