Stages of awakening
Compassion is the motivation to define better living conditions for creatures.
It is a two-stage process: first it is a feeling of sorrow for the suffering or troubles of another person; second, and most importantly, it is an urge to effectively help the person.
When the sorrow is experienced only intellectually, not felt, a definition separate from the suffering is created. Our intellectual response to "that" suffering is to avoid it. Maybe we whisper a thankful prayer that the suffering didn't land at our door. But beyond a sympathetic nod or two, we seldom do anything effective to help.
When the "my (definitions of)-self" are relaxed, the suffering of the world is recognized as a prevalent condition that afflicts, and will continue to afflict, all of us. This is the realization that stimulates you to align and undertake the task of defining better living conditions for all creatures.
...Sometimes life will break your jug for you. An unexpected promotion will demand that you assume responsibilities beyond your comfort level, or a personal tragedy will have you coping with things that you didn't believe you could handle. Suddenly you are out of the jug, growing again.
Ultimately you ask yourself the key questions, the questions that every being in the process of spiritual awakening asks:
What am I doing here?
What is this really about?
Why am I participating in this creation of life?
What is really valuable?
And you come to know the answer—know it as a faint intuitive impulse (faint because the intuition does not intrude on your free will, but waits for a moment of willing surrender). You feel it and are sustained by its profound and amazing grace—to contribute to the creation of an enlightened planetary civilization®.
from Seven Pillars of Enlightenment • The Avatar® Mini-Courses