Question: Guru, how can I be more compassionate to others, especially those not on the spiritual path?

Sri Chinmoy: Think of yourself as a member of a family. When you were seven or eight years old, you made many mistakes. You committed even Himalayan blunders, let us say. But your elder brother forgave you, your father or your mother forgave you, because you were a child. Your elder brother was older than you in terms of years and your parents were older than you, so they forgave you. Automatically compassion descends when you feel that somebody is a child and does not know better.

People who have not consciously launched into the spiritual life deserve your special compassion because they are like little brothers. An unconscious, unaspiring person — a little brother — is someone who does not know how to walk along the path. He just stumbles. So the elder brothers in the family just go and pick him up.

Unaspiring people deserve our compassion. But this compassion is not pity. There is a great difference between compassion and pity. When we show compassion, at that time our whole heart becomes one with the suffering of others. If somebody is poverty-stricken and we offer our compassion, we become one with his poverty itself. But when we show pity to someone, we feel he is inferior to us and we maintain our own height. We remain on the Himalayan height and the person to whom we are showing pity is at the bottom of a chasm. We stand millions of miles away or thousands of miles higher than the reality of the other person. But in compassion we just come to him and become one. When God shows us His Compassion, He just becomes one with our deplorable reality.

So you can show compassion to these people only by becoming one with them. Feel that they are your little brothers. Today they do not know, but tomorrow they are going to learn. Once upon a time you were a little child; now you are in a position to run, not to speak of walking or marching. Similarly, these children will also start walking, then marching, then running, running the fastest towards their goal.