I'm always looking for brief quotes that, in a very few words, capture the essence of the Buddha's teachings. I came across this one yesterday:
Compassion: a cultivated interest in suffering.
"Cultivated"---if you think of this in terms of how a farmer tends his fields. He/she nurtures the soil, provides water, tills the space between the rows, protects against frost and disease. The singular focus is on the health and production of the crop. Sure, he/she is interested in the field, but more than that, they nurture and protect; a super-interest, if you will. And so it should be for all of us in the field of suffering. We must do what we can, when can, with a super-interest, to alleviate suffering. Our own and others. And, like the farmer, we will face bad weather and unexpected challenges, but just as the farmer is undeterred, so must we.