Also, how does compassion fit with this? What is the Buddhist definition of compassion as well as how it works in practice? Thanks
The second Noble Truth states that suffering is caused by craving. Craving for sensual pleasures, craving for eternal existence, and (ironically?) craving for non-existence which can be interpreted in two ways. One is craving to end life; while the other is viewing life as nihilistic which has no other purpose except to enjoy life to the fullest while still alive, for after death nothing is left. This craving is caused by our ignorance about the true nature of life. To end this vicious cycle, we must have Right View, the first of the Noble 8fold Path, as presented in the 4th Noble Truth.
The path to understanding the true nature of this existence is explained in the Noble 8fold Path, which is the blueprint of the complete teachings of the Buddha. If you study carefully the explanation of the Noble 8fold Path you will find that everything that the Buddha taught is in this Path. "Compassion" is all-pervasive throughout the Path, especially in Right Thinking and Right Action.
"Compassion" is a very tall order. The dictionary explains "compassion" as "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it"
Can we be totally compassionate to others to alleviate all their sorrows and distress? Do we have the means and the ability? This would also require us to give up all our selfish desires. It is easy to FEEL or EXPRESS compassion, but to practise complete compassion is another cup of tea. We have to be honest with ourselves and to practise the level of compassion that we are comfortable with, while improving our level in due course.