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Thich Nhat Hanh provided this beautiful quote about compassion and embracing who we are in this world. I need to be inside of someone else`s skin to build compassion.

The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves “inside the skin” of the other. We “go inside” their body, feelings, and mental formations, and witness for ourselves their suffering. Shallow observation as an outsider is not enough to see their suffering. We must become one with the subject of our observation. When we are in contact with another’s suffering, a feeling of compassion is born in us. Compassion means, literally, “to suffer with.”


About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school . My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. For me, teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

20 responses »

  1. It is wisdom and insight we all could benefit from, especially in this day and age, when life is so busy that we hardly have time to be compassionate towards ourselves, never mind trying to be compassionate towards others. On the flip side, though, I think we have a tendency to hold back to a degree – not because we aren’t compassionate, but because we’re frightened by the idea of walking in the shoes of someone who is in great pain.

    Having said that, I believe there is a reason for all things, including – but in no way limited to – blog postings. So, I would like to thank you for sharing this particular piece of wisdom today. I hope you have a wonderful day.

  2. are empathy and compassion the same thing?

  3. well said about compassion. Thank you, Ivon!

  4. That’s a great lesson to us all, that compassion can’t be passive. If we are truly compassionate, we have to do something about it.

  5. Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron and the Dalai Lama are three of my mainstays. And let’s not forget Rumi and Hafiz 😉

  6. victoriaaphotography

    I don’t wish to comment on this post, but do wish to convey this feeling of ……co-incidences in life.
    Last night I re-watched Thich Nhat Hanh’s dvd called ‘Peace Is Every Step’ and skimmed across the books on my shelves he has Authored. It seems years since I have read/watched either. And tonight I come across your Blog, (through another Blog I follow) and read two of your posts mentioning this inspiring Vietnamese Buddhist teacher.

    How very strange to bump into Thich’s name 2 nights running (after so many years absence).

    • Thank you for stopping today Victoria. I find the same thing with synchronicity of events. Perhaps, as I aged, I take more time and pay attention differently. I find much great teaching in the writings and teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.


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