Can a solitary develop compassion, or what the Buddhists call “bodhichitta”? For it seems that the highest compassion requires intense socializing, being with others in a large and public way. But compassion is not just pity in the sense of sorrowful identification with another. Such an attitude is easily codified by society into a paternalism, a condecension, a pharisaic morality.

True compassion begins by extending consciousness, by extending it into that collective consciousness where identity with others is the very sharing of a consciousness that is “built-in” to all of us and is not just an “add-on” of charity or philanthropy. The cry of pain in another human being — it can be half way around the world — can evoke the depth of our compassion because it emerges from (is) our (collective) consciousness. This compassion requires no “social” dimension because it exists at a level of awareness that is universal.