Universal human values
Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental or emotional pains of another and themselves. Compassion is often regarded as having sensitivity, an emotional aspect to suffering, though when based on cerebral notions such as fairness, justice, and interdependence, it may be considered rational in nature and its application understood as an activity also based on sound judgment. There is also an aspect of equal dimension, such that individual’s compassion is often given a property of “depth”, “vigour”, or “passion”. in common parlance active compassion is the desire to alleviate another’s suffering. Compassion involves allowing ourselves to be moved by suffering, and experiencing the motivation to help alleviate and prevent it. Acts of compassion is defined by its helpfulness. Qualities of compassion are patience and wisdom; kindness,fare judgements, bed just and perseverance; warmth and resolve. It is often, though not inevitably, the key component in what manifests in the social context as altruism. Expression of compassion is prone to be hierarchical, paternalistic and controlling in responses. Difference between sympathy and compassion is that the former responds to suffering with sorrow and concern while the latter responds with warmth and care.
Spirito-religious views on compassion
In classical literature of Hinduism, compassion is a virtue with many shades, each shade explained by different terms. Three most common terms are daya, karuna ,and anukampa. Other words related to compassion in Hinduism include karunya, ghrina, kripa, and anukrosha. Some of these words are used interchangeably among the schools of Hinduism to explain the concept of compassion, its sources, its consequences, and its nature. The virtue of compassion to all living beings, claim Gandhi and others, is a central concept in Hindu philosophy.
Compassion in Hinduism is discussed as an absolute and relative concept. There are two forms of compassion: one for those who suffer even though they have done nothing wrong and one for those who suffer because they did something wrong. Absolute compassion applies to both, while relative compassion addresses the difference between the former and the latter. An example of the latter include those who plead guilty or are convicted of a crime such as murder; in these cases, the virtue of compassion must be balanced with the virtue of justice.
Ahimsa in Jainism Compassion for all life, human and non-human, is central to the Jain tradition. Though all life is considered sacred, human life is deemed the highest form of earthly existence. To kill any person, no matter their crime, is considered unimaginably abhorrent. It is the only substantial religious tradition that requires both monks and laity to be vegetarian. It is suggested that certain strains of the Hindu tradition became vegetarian due to strong Jain influences. The Jain tradition’s stance on nonviolence, however, goes far beyond vegetarianism. Jains refuse food obtained with unnecessary cruelty. Many practice veganism. Jains run animal shelters all over India. The Lal Mandir, a prominent Jain temple in Delhi, is known for the Jain Birds Hospital in a second building behind the main temple.
In the Jewish tradition, God is the Compassionate and is invoked as the Father of Compassion: hence Raḥmana or Compassionate becomes the usual designation for His revealed word. (Compare, below, the frequent use of raḥman in the Quran). Sorrow and pity for one in distress, creating a desire to relieve it, is a feeling ascribed alike to man and God: in Biblical Hebrew, (“riḥam,” from “reḥem,” the mother, womb), “to pity” or “to show mercy” in view of the sufferer’s helplessness, hence also “to forgive” , “to forbear”. The Rabbis speak of the “thirteen attributes of compassion.” The Biblical conception of compassion is the feeling of the parent for the child. Hence the prophet’s appeal in confirmation of his trust in God invokes the feeling of a mother for her offspring . A classic articulation of the Golden Rule came from the first century Rabbi Hillel the Elder. Renowned in the Jewish tradition as a sage and a scholar, he is associated with the development of the Mishnah and the Talmud and, as such, one of the most important figures in Jewish history. Asked for a summary of the Jewish religion in the “while standing on one leg” meaning in the most concise terms, Hillel stated: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah. The rest is the explanation; go and learn.” Post 9/11, the words of Rabbi Hillel are frequently quoted in public lectures and interviews around the world by the prominent writer on comparative religion Karen Armstrong. Many Jewish sources speak of the importance of compassion for animals. Significant rabbis who have done so include Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Rabbi Simhah Zissel Ziv, and Rabbi Moshe Cordovero.
The first of what in English are called the Four Noble Truths is the truth of suffering or dukkha (unsatisfactoriness or stress). Dukkha is identified as one of the three distinguishing characteristics of all conditioned existence. It arises as a consequence of the failure to adapt to change or anicca (the second characteristic) and the insubstantiality, lack of fixed identity, the horrendous lack of certainty of anatta (the third characteristic) to which all this constant change in turn gives rise. Compassion made possible by observation and accurate perception is the appropriate practical response. The ultimate and earnest wish, manifest in the Buddha, both as archetype and as historical entity, is to relieve the suffering of all living beings everywhere. The Dalai Lama has said, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” The American monk Bhikkhu Bodhi states that compassion “supplies the complement to loving-kindness: whereas loving-kindness has the characteristic of wishing for the happiness and welfare of others, compassion has the characteristic of wishing that others be free from suffering, a wish to be extended without limits to all living beings. Like metta, compassion arises by entering into the subjectivity of others, by sharing their interiority in a deep and total way. It springs up by considering that all beings, like ourselves, wish to be free from suffering, yet despite their wishes continue to be harassed by pain, fear, sorrow, and other forms of dukkha.”
The Christian Bible’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians is but one place where God is spoken of as the “Father of compassion” and the “God of all comfort.” It reads as follows: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” Jesus embodies for Christians, the very essence of compassion and relational care. Christ challenges Christians to forsake their own desires and to act compassionately towards others, particularly those in need or distress. Most significantly, he demonstrated compassion to those his society had condemned – tax collectors, prostitutes and criminals. Conversely, a 2012 study of the historical Jesus has claimed that the founder of Christianity sought to elevate Judaic compassion as the supreme human virtue, capable of reducing suffering and fulfilling our God-ordained purpose of transforming the world into something more worthy of its creator.
In the Muslim tradition, foremost among God’s attributes are mercy and compassion or, in the canonical language of Arabic, Rahman and Rahim. Each of the 114 chapters of the Quran, with one exception, begins with the verse, “In the name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful.”
The Arabic word for compassion is rahmah. As a cultural influence, its roots abound in the Quran. A good Muslim is to commence each day, each prayer and each significant action by invoking Allah the Merciful and Compassionate, i.e., by reciting Bism-i-llah a-Rahman-i-Rahim. The womb and family ties are characterized by compassion and named after the exalted attribute of Allah “Al-Rahim” (The Compassionate).
Toleration is the acceptance of an action, object, or person which one dislikes or disagrees with, where one is in a position to disallow it but chooses not to. It has also been defined as “to bear or endure” or “to nourish, sustain or preserve” or as “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry” too. Toleration may signify “no more than forbearance and the permission given by the adherents of a dominant religion for other religions to exist, even though the latter are looked on with disapproval as inferior, mistaken, or harmful.” There is only one verb to tolerate and one adjective tolerant, but the two nouns tolerance and toleration have evolved slightly different meanings. Tolerance is a state of mind that implies non-judgmental acceptance of different lifestyles or beliefs, whereas toleration indicates the act of putting up with something that one disapproves of.
Spirito-religious views on toleration
Pluralism and tolerance of diversity are built into Hindu theology India’s long history is a testimony to its tolerance of religious diversity. Christianity came to India with St. Thomas in the first century CE, long before it became popular in the West. Judaism came to India after the Jewish temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE and the Jews were expelled from their homeland. In a recent book titled “Who are the Jews of India?” author Nathan Katz observes that India is the only country where the Jews were not persecuted. The Indian chapter is one of the happiest of the Jewish Diaspora. Both Christians and Jews have existed in a predominant Hindu India for centuries without being persecuted. Zoroastrians from Persia (present day Iran) entered India in the 7th century to flee Islamic conquest. They are known as Parsis in India. The Parsis are an affluent community in the city of Mumbai without a sense of having been persecuted through the centuries. Among the richest business families in India are the Parsis; for example, the Tata family controls a huge industrial empire in various parts of the country. Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the powerful Prime Minister of India (1966–77; 1980–84), was married to Feroz Gandhi, a Parsi (no relation to Mahatma Gandhi).
Under Islamic law, Jews and Christians were considered dhimmis, a legal status inferior to that of a Muslim but superior to that of other non-Muslims. Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire held a protected status and continued to practice their own religion, as did Christians, though both were subject to additional restrictions, such as restrictions on the areas where they could live or work or in clothing, and both had to pay additional taxes.Yitzhak Sarfati, born in Germany, became the Chief Rabbi of Edirne and wrote a letter inviting European Jews to settle in the Ottoman Empire, in which he asked: “Is it not better for you to live under Muslims than under Christians?'”. Sultan Beyazid II (1481–1512), issued a formal invitation to the Jews expelled from Catholic Spain and Portugal, leading to a wave of Jewish immigration.
Although Bhikkhu Bodhi states that the Buddha taught “the path to the supreme goal of the holy life is made known only in his own teaching”, Buddhists have nevertheless shown significant tolerance for other religions: “Buddhist tolerance springs from the recognition that the dispositions and spiritual needs of human beings are too vastly diverse to be encompassed by any single teaching, and thus that these needs will naturally find expression in a wide variety of religious forms.” James Freeman Clarke said in Ten Great Religions (1871): “The Buddhists have founded no Inquisition; they have combined the zeal which converted kingdoms with a toleration almost inexplicable to our Western experience.” The Edicts of Ashoka issued by King Ashoka the Great (269–231 BCE), a Buddhist, declared ethnic and religious tolerance. His Edict XII, engraved in stone, stated: “The faiths of others all deserve to be honored for one reason or another. By honoring them, one exalts one’s own faith and at the same time performs a service to the faith of others.” However, Buddhism has also had controversies regarding toleration. See Dorje Shugden Controversy. In addition, the question of possible intolerance among Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, primarily against Muslims, has been raised by Paul Fuller.
Tolerance and digital technologies
The development of new digital technologies has resulted in an exponential growth in the volume of information and knowledge available, and made them more readily accessible to greater numbers of people throughout the world. As such, information and communication technologies can play an essential role in the sharing of knowledge and expertise in the service of sustainable development and in a spirit of solidarity. And yet, for many observers, the world is witnessing rising levels of ethnic, cultural and religious intolerance, often using the same communication technologies for ideological and political mobilization to promote exclusivist worldviews. This mobilization often leads to further criminal and political violence and to armed conflict. This also leads to new modes of intolerance such as cyberbullying.
Some modern issues of toleration
As a result of his public debate with Baron Devlin on the role of the criminal law in enforcing moral norms, British legal philosopher H. L. A. Hart wrote Law, Liberty and Morality (1963) and The Morality of the Criminal Law (1965). His work on the relationship between law and morality had a significant effect on the laws of Great Britain, helping bring about the decriminalization of homosexuality. But it was Jeremy Bentham that defended the rights for homosexuality with his essay “Offence against One’s Self” but could not be published until in 1978.
Tolerating the intolerant: Walzer, Karl Popper and John Rawls have discussed the paradox of tolerating intolerance. Walzer asks “Should we tolerate the intolerant?” He notes that most minority religious groups who are the beneficiaries of tolerance are themselves intolerant, at least in some respects. Rawls argues that an intolerant sect should be tolerated in a tolerant society unless the sect directly threatens the security of other members of the society. He links this principle to the stability of a tolerant society, in which members of an intolerant sect in a tolerant society will, over time, acquire the tolerance of the wider society.