Sometimes people feel that their own pain and sadness may increase as their compassion for others increases. This can only happen if we are merely focusing on the suffering rather than on the person. We can avoid this error by shifting our focus from the suffering itself to focus instead on the person and on how to free them from their sufferings. Using the analogy of a valuable object that falls into the fire, we do not sit pondering the sadness of the situation, nor do we waste time wondering about the temperature of the fire and how much damage it is doing. Rather our thoughts will turn to the valued object and we will seek the most effective means to extract it from the fire. In this way, the primary object of our meditation on compassion is the being whom we wish to protect and care for, and not simply the forms of suffering they face.
~ His Holiness the 17th Karmapa
Day Four of Autumn Teachings: Benefitting Insightfully / September 18, 2010