You say: “I have been reflecting on the difference between ‘feeling sorry’ for someone and ‘having compassion.’” And you can immediately see the difficulty: “feeling sorry” for someone and “having compassion” are exactly the same. The person who knows what compassion is cannot say “I have compassion,” he is simply compassionate. Having compassion is not possible – either you are compassionate or you are not; it is not a question of having. If you have compassion, it is the same, in different words, as feeling sorry for someone.
But language can give you great scope for playing games, mind games. “Feeling sorry” and “having compassion” are synonymous. Of course, feeling sorry and having compassion are synonymous, but feeling sorry and being compassionate are not synonymous. Being compassionate is a totally different phenomenon than having compassion. Having compassion, again you will have that idea, “I am far superior to the other. Look how much compassion I have!” And compassion is not something that you can possess, it is not something that you can have, you can only be it. Know the difference between having and being.
But you have been groping, and something significant has arisen out of your groping. You say: “It seems to me that to be sorry for someone has an element of condescension in it, as if you were superior to the other…” Yes, even the blind man can grope for the door and can sometimes find it, but still he will not be able to see it. It is just accidental, that’s why you are not certain. Seeing has absolute certainty about it. Seeing is knowing, and knowing is not approximate.
You say: “It seems to me…” Naturally, if you are reflecting, at the most it can seem to you, “This is the door,” “Perhaps this is the door.” The “perhaps” will always surround you, and with the perhaps one is in a kind of bondage: there will be ifs and buts, you will never be on certain ground. And without being on certain ground you cannot be centered: there will remain some wavering – “Maybe it is so, maybe it is not so.”
You say: “It seems to me that to be sorry for someone has an element of condescension in it…” It has! There is no question of being uncertain about it. In fact, people enjoy being sorry for others. They are always looking for situations where they can feel sorry for others – it is so ego-fulfilling, it is such a nourishment for the ego. If somebody’s house is on fire you go with tears in your eyes and you show great sympathy, you show so much concern, as if you are immensely pained. But deep down, if you look, you will find a certain joy, a certain glee.
But people never look within themselves. It is bound to be there, for two reasons: it is not your house which is on fire, “Thank God!” – that is the first thing. Secondly, you must be enjoying your tears, because when somebody builds a new house, a beautiful house, you feel jealous; great envy arises in you. You cannot enjoy, you cannot participate in his joy. You want to avoid it – you don’t even look at his house.