Question: Would you clarify, Guru, the difference between compassion and love?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two divine qualities or divine aspects of the Supreme: Love and Compassion. Now love, from the human point of view, is something general. Everybody loves or tries to love another person. Love is very mixed. In the physical world, love has been misused to such an extent that it is no longer love; it is something dangerous. Romantic love never lasts. It immediately meets with frustration. But divine love is very soothing; it is all concern and the feeling of true oneness. This oneness can enter into an animal, into a flower, into a tree, into a wall.

Compassion is something different. Compassion is a spiritual magnet. It pulls the object. When a divine person or a spiritual Master shows compassion, or when the Supreme shows Compassion through the spiritual Master, he expects that the disciple will immediately come close, closer, closest to him. Through compassion alone the disciple can become the closest to the Master.

Love is very often misunderstood. If a Guru shows love, then immediately we think that there is some motive behind it. We think that he is showing extra love because in that extra love an extra favour is expected. As regards the feeling of oneness, if the disciple is fifty per cent good and the Guru is fifty per cent good, then together they make one hundred per cent. This is human love. But when it is compassion, the Guru is one hundred per cent good and the disciple is zero per cent or at most one per cent good. With his one hundred per cent the Guru is trying to enter into a field of ignorance or a field of doubt, a field where nothing has been planted and nothing has germinated.

When compassion flows, it flies like an arrow and pierces the very veil of ignorance. Love touches ignorance. Love can even stay with ignorance. But compassion will not stay there. Compassion has to be successful, otherwise compassion will withdraw. Compassion will last for a few seconds, a few minutes or a few years; then compassion will have to withdraw, because it has to send a report to the Highest Authority about what it is doing in the lowest plane. Whether it is successful or not, it has to send the report constantly. Then there comes a time when the Highest Authority says, "It is a barren desert. Come back." Compassion at that time has to fly back to the Highest Authority.

Now, there is a great difference between Compassion and Grace. Here in the Western world, Compassion is used as a synonym for the word Grace. But Grace is universal, while Compassion is individual. Compassion has to be deserved and individually Compassion has to be accepted or rejected. Compassion is only for the select few. But Grace is like the sun's rays; it is for everyone. Grace always comes; it is bound to come. But again, through Grace, gradually, gradually one comes close to the spiritual Master. First he receives Grace from the Master and then, if he becomes really sincere in his spiritual life, he can enter deep into the Master's inner life. From that point Compassion has to come.