The Charter for Compassion Videos — from

  Video of scholar Karen Armstrong introducing the Charter for Compassion


Talks on Compassion

These six speakers were chosen for many reasons. The five who are religious leaders are not just eloquent sermonists — each one is also known for his or her own compassionate leadership. And all six are known for their thoughtful efforts at explaining faith to the larger world.

Together, these six speakers bear witness to the fact that compassion and the Golden Rule lie at the heart of all religion and all morality.

One of the great blessings of the 20th century is the ability for different faith communities to learn more about one another in greater depth than ever before. We have discovered the profound unanimity that lies at the core of all religion and ethics, and will never be able to see either our own or other people’s faith in quite the same way again. Each tradition has its own particular genius, and we are now able to learn from one another, enriching thus our own quest for enlightenment. These six talks provide just such an opportunity, reminding us at this time of global tension, suspicion and conflict of what we hold in common. 


  1. Tenzin Robert Thurman: Expanding your circle of compassion

    It’s hard to always show compassion — even to the people we love, but Robert Thurman asks that we develop compassion for our enemies. He prescribes a seven-step meditation exercise to extend compassion beyond our inner circle.  (filmed at the Chautauqua Institution)



Robert Wright: The evolution of compassion

Robert Wright uses evolutionary biology and game theory to explain why we appreciate the Golden Rule ("Do unto others…"), why we sometimes ignore it and why there’s hope that, in the near future, we might all have the compassion to follow it.

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    Rev. James Forbes: Compassion at the dinner table

    Join Rev. James Forbes at the dinner table of his Southern childhood, where his mother and father taught him what compassion really means day to day — sharing with those who need love.  (filmed at the Chautauqua Institution )   18:38

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Rabbi Jackie Tabick: The balancing act of compassion


While we all agree that compassion is a great idea, Rabbi Tabick acknowledges there are challenges to its execution. She explains how a careful balance of compassion and justice allows us to do good deeds, and keep our sanity.  15:46

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Swami Dayananda Saraswati: The profound journey of compassion

Swami Dayananda Saraswati unravels the parallel paths of personal development and attaining true compassion. He walks us through each step of self-realization, from helpless infancy to the fearless act of caring for others. (filmed at the Chautauqua Institution 17:15

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Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf: Lose your ego, find your compassion

Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf combines the teachings of the Qur’an, the stories of Rumi, and the examples of Muhammad and Jesus, to demonstrate that only one obstacle stands between each of us and absolute compassion -- ourselves.  16:47

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T H E   C H A R T E R   F O R   C O M P A S S I O N


The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

Find out more about the Charter for Compassion by visiting the Charter web site.