Chapter

The Human Experience of Compassionate Love

Lynn G. Underwood

in Altruism and Altruistic Love

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195143584
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199848119 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195143584.003.0009
The Human Experience of Compassionate Love

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Compassion is a manifestation of love. And love, whatever else it may be, is something that involves choices. Choosing between options is a condition of freedom in finitude. Freedom is required to express fully compassionate love, yet each person's freedom is limited in a variety of ways. There are physical limitations, such as disability or material resource limits. There are emotional limitations as well. Compassion can also be expressed by making space for others to give. Allowing others to give is frequently an undervalued way of being compassionate. Self-reports are limited in a variety of ways and should not be relied on alone to determine whether a person is feeling and expressing compassionate love. Contemplative traditions have developed methods to help people in their religious development and discernment, methods that can aid in exploring and defining motives and thus help in discerning loving, compassionate action.

Keywords: compassion; freedom; physical limitations; emotional limitations; self-reports; contemplative study

Chapter.  7035 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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